On the occasion of the much-ballyhooed (or much-bemoaned, depending on which corner of the blogosphere you frequent) 300 millionth baby in the U.S. being born last week, Mark Steyn has responded to liberal hand-wringing:
"Three hundred million seems to be greeted more with hand-wringing ambivalence than chest-thumping pride," observed the Washington Post, which inclines toward the former even on the best of days. No chest-thumping up in Vermont, either. "Organizations such as the Shelburne-based Population Media Center are markingAfter responding to the tired ol' scare stories about over-population, Steyn wonders what other nightmares we could possibly be talking about:
the 300 million milestone with renewed warnings that world population growth is unsustainable," reported the Burlington Free Press. Across the country, the grim milestone prompted this reaction from a somber Dowell Myers. "At 300 million," noted the professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, "we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."
As for other degradations the weight of which is so crushing to Myers, name some. America is one of the most affordable property markets in the Western world. I was amazed to discover, back in the first summer of the Bush presidency, that a three-bedroom air-conditioned house in Crawford, Texas, could be yours for 30,000 bucks and, if that sounds a bit steep, a double-wide on a couple of acres would set you back about $6,000. And not just because Bush lives next door and serves as a kind of one-man psychological gated community keeping the NPR latte-sippers from moving in and ruining the neighborhood. The United States is about the cheapest developed country in which to get a nice home with a big yard and raise a family. That's one of the reasons why America, almost alone among Western nations, has a healthy fertility rate.Of course, if you've listened to all those economists who tell you that it will cost you $1.4 million or something like that to raise each child, you'd be scared silly to raise one, let alone raise a family who needs a big back yard. The truth is that those figures are promulgated largely by entities with an agenda, and that agenda does not include large families. "Large," of course, is a highly-relative term these days:
In America, there are 2.1 live births per woman. In 17 European countries, it's 1.3 or below -- that's what demographers call "lowest-low" fertility, a rate from which no society has ever recovered.
And so Steyn thinks that the milestone last week should be celebrated:
The reality is that in a Western world ever more wizened and barren the 300 millionth American is the most basic example of American exceptionalism. Happy birth day, kid, and here's to many more.Well, my grandson wasn't THE one, but my calculations tell me that he was about #299,999,989.