I can never remember. Is the West a drunken, decadent slut who deserves the smiting she’s going to get for her evil, evil ways or the last bastion of purity and goodness that must be protected from the onslaught of whichever teaming mass it is this week who means to do us harm?
My god. Can a whole civilization have a virgin/whore complex?
No, you know, shit, that makes a kind of sense. If the West is a boozy Tara Reid, conservatives see their roll as the bouncer who finally takes her out of the nightclub, talks some sense into her and gets her to check into rehab. If the West is more a delicate Dakota Fanning, or a very young Drew Barrymore with George C. Scott waiting for her to finally mature into a woman who can appreciate him… or something. My point being that both views of the West put conservatives in the roll of savior.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I’m just reminded that the difference between most conservatives and the libertarians I know is that the libertarians I know seem to have some grasp of how the world works (even if we differ in our interpretations) and use such knowledge to formulate their opinions, whereas a loud strain of conservative thinkers just spout out opinions as if saying it loud enough makes it so. Still, I’m compelled to keep trying to reach the conservatives who appear to have some smarts in order to get them to consider taking after their libertarian bretheren and sisteren more closely.
Which brings us to Kleinheider‘s post about Terry Frank’s post about how we’re being outbred by third-world and Muslim countries. As one might imagine, Kleinheider assumes that we’re not having quivers full of kids because we’re selfish. Which, I guess, means the inevitable death of the West. Or something.
I have some things I would like to ask my friend Carter to consider.
Right now the infant mortality rate in the United States is 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, which means, just to reiterate, that for every 1,000 babies born this year in the Unites States, about seven of them aren’t going to make it to their first birthday. Almost seven out of a thousand. There were 4.1 million babies born in the United States last year. If my math is correct, that’s almost twenty-seven thousand babies that aren’t going to make it through this whole year.
Can you imagine that? Twenty-seven thousand babies.
And yet, there are no third-world or Muslim countries with lower rates than that. In Afghanistan, it’s 163 deaths per 1,000 births. More than one in ten babies won’t make it to their first birthdays.
Do you think a woman would choose those odds for her child? If she could choose, do you really think a woman would say, “Gosh, yes, I want to bring a child into this world who has a one in ten chance of dying before he’s one.”?
Or consider maternal mortality rates. In Afghanistan in 2000, the maternal mortality rate was 1,900 dead women for every 100,000 births. Nineteen dead women for every thousand births. And that doesn’t account for multiple pregnancies. In sub-Saharan Africa, the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in sixteen.
One women in sixteen in sub-Saharan Africa will die due to complications during childbirth, often leaving behind other children. What woman would choose that? To orphan her children?
In general, women don’t want to die and we don’t want our children to die. If we can avail themselves of information and products that would make it possible for us to decide when and how often we have kids, we will. Not because we’re selfish whores inadvertently bringing about the downfall of Western civilization, but because we want to have kids if and when we can provide for them.
Women in other countries are not “outbreeding” us as a tactic for world-wide domination, but because they often don’t have any other choice. They often don’t have access to birth control or even information about birth control; they often have no legal right to tell men ‘no’, especially not their husbands; they, for all practical purposes, often have no control over whether they get pregnant.
Anyway, this is also what a woman’s right to choose is about, not just about whether or not to carry a baby to term, but the right to choose how many kids to have and when, a right that is fundamental not just for liberty’s sake, but for the sake of infant and maternal health.
A low birthrate isn’t a sign of a selfish culture; it’s the sign of a culture that respects the health and well-being of women and children (some of whom, I might point out, grow up to be men).