Thanks to Bob Walker for bringing my attention to an editorial that is in urgent need of response. Laura Vanderkam’s column on page 11A of the May 6 USA Today is entitled, “Bring on the Baby Boom.” The link is posted below and the article, itself, is pasted below. Here are some possible talking points. Please share this information widely. This opinion piece demands careful and reasoned responses. While it acknowledges the concerns expressed by environmentalists, it swiftly dismisses them, suggesting that we should be more concerned about making Social Security and Medicare solvent.
Some critical talking points:
• With teenage pregnancy rates on the rise and large numbers of women reporting unintended or unwanted pregnancies, this is no time to be cheering rising fertility. Rather than saluting rising fertility rates, we should be expanding comprehensive sex education in the schools and increasing eligibility under Medicaid for family planning services.
• The U.S. is already on track to grow from 306 million today to 439 million by 2050—an increase of 40% in just 40 years. An increase in fertility to 2.4 or 2.5 children per women, combined with projected immigration trends, could easily push U.S. population over the 1 billion mark by the end of the century.
• World population, currently 6.8 billion, is on track to grow to 9.2 billion or higher over then next forty years.
• A child born in America has a much larger “ecological footprint” than a child born in a developing country.
• The U.S., by many estimates, is already living beyond sustainable limits. With just five percent of the world population, we already account for about 25 percent of the world’s consumption of scarce resources, like oil, and we emit at least 20 percent of all greenhouse gases. A rapidly rising U.S. population will only increase our disproportionate use of the world’s resources.
• According the Global Footprint Network, we are already exceeding our bio-capacity. Many experts suggest that America’s natural resource base is only capable of supporting 200 million people or less on a long-term basis.
• In a world of rising food prices, growing water scarcity, climate change, and projected energy shortfalls, population growth rates—particularly in the U.S.—pose far greater risks to the environment and economic well-being than any benefit that would be derived by shoring up the fiscal solvency of Social Security.
• On the scale of human challenges that we face, making Social Security solvent is an insignificant challenge compared to figuring out how we are going to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also meeting the water, food, and energy needs of another 2.5 billion on the planet by 2050. Using what amounts to a Ponzi scheme to attempt to fix Social Security, while simultaneously destroying the environment and the habitability of the planet, makes no sense.
• Dependency ratio calculations commonly assume the retirement age will be 65. That age of retirement was established by Bismarck in Germany during the late 19th century, when life expectancy was 45. Our circumstances have changed since then, and many people can work well into their 70s or 80s. In addition, many retirees in America have savings that make them independent for most of their retirement years.
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Bring on the baby boom
By Laura Vanderkam
With one toddler and a baby on the way, life is already intense at my house. That might explain why I’m strangely drawn to TLC’s recent boom in shows about families that put my brood to shame.
About two years ago, TLC launched the series Jon & Kate Plus 8, about the Gosselin clan in Pennsylvania with its twins and sextuplets. This soon became TLC’s highest-rated series, particularly among the young mom demographic. So the channel added 17 Kids and Counting about the Duggar family of Arkansas. It’s now 18 Kids and Counting for reasons you can guess. When moms lapped this up, too, TLC added Table for 12 about the Hayes family of New Jersey, who match the Gosselins and raise them a set of twins. “We are fascinated by megafamilies,” TLC President Eileen O’Neill tells me.
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