Socialism Leads to Sterilization, Literally
The despair economic stagnation produces encourages potential parents to give up on the future.
The scene is heartrending. Mothers stand in bread lines that stretch into the street, waiting so long that their newborn babies get sunburned. The economic chaos unleashed in Venezuela has led to such privation and hopelessness that it has caused some women to voluntarily seek out sterilization.
Call it socialist Malthusianism. Many women are collectively deciding that parenthood and poverty are too great a burden to bear. And according to Reuters, the joblessness, lack of basic services, and corresponding glut of tubal ligations are due to “Venezuela’s state-led economic model decaying.”
That is, socialism leads to sterilization.
The same cycle is at work in the United States, to a lesser extent since the U.S. government does less than Venezuela’s to wreck the economy. But the life-sapping effects remain the same across continents and cultures.
Witness the fact that, according to one recent study, due to the Great Recession 151,082 American women will never be mothers. Princeton researchers Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt found that more than 400,000 Americans will never be born, because women became skittish about marriage and childbearing after living through a period of high unemployment and the uncertainty it brings.
Social conservatives concerned about marriage and the nation’s plunging fertility rate, must remember that the economic downturn in question was ushered in by perverse economic incentives that created a housing bubble and prolonged by Obama’s economic programs that created the slowest recovery on record.
This underscores a simple yet underappreciated truth: Economic policy affects the health and well-being of families. Healthy family life and economic flourishing walk hand in hand. Free markets lead to prosperity that reduces the number of stressors that break down families.
Consider the way President Obama’s free-spending policies have promoted the economic conditions that lead to family, and societal, breakdown. His signature policy achievement, Obamacare, will destroy the equivalent of two million jobs over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. His decision to continually extend unemployment benefits increased the amount of time the average person spends out of work to its highest level in decades (currently 28.4 weeks). Even seven years after the putative end of the recession, median incomes are nearly $1,300 lower than they were when Obama was sworn into office.
Poorer people are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce. A new Harvard University study found marriages with an unemployed husband were more likely to end in divorce than those where the man is working. Divorced men are about twice as likely to commit suicide as married men over a 10 year period. (Additional studies have shown that the state of the economy and the suicide rate are correlated.)
Poverty leads to greater government dependence, which also leads to decreased marriage rates. Lower income couples are often “thinking about getting married, but they’re hesitant to do so for fear of losing access to Medicaid or food stamps,” W. Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, recently told The Washington Times. This is no small concern when 45.7 million Americans are on food stamps, one-third more people than when Obama took office.
Growing up in an marriageless home is now, belatedly, recognized as one of the chief determinants of an individual’s economic health and success over the long haul. Children who grow in intact families have significantly higher rates of educational attainment, employment, and lifetime income than those raised in other kinds of family structures.
Fiscal downturns reduce marriage rates, which reduce economic fortunes, creating a set of miseries that feed on each other.
And at the head of fiscal downturns are political policies that drain vitality and dynamism out of the market.
Compare Obama’s seven years of economic recovery with those of Ronald Reagan, who enjoyed annual GDP growth of up to 4.9 percent. President Obama is en route to becoming the first president never to have a single year of three percent economic growth. Were the economy recovering at the speed of Reaganomics, it would have 12 million more jobs. And as the Gipper said, “The best social program is a job.”
Now, I don’t buy into economic determinism. Many families persevere through difficult economic circumstances, holding true to their promise to cleave to one another “for richer or for poorer.” And many of the wealthiest people have had well-publicized marital issues. But we would be irresponsible not to notice that the economy affects the family and that the free market aids economic growth, setting the stage for family success. Economic and social conservatism can lead to similar ends.
Acknowledging that poverty and unemployment increase the stress that leads to break-ups is merely nodding to the limits of fallen human nature, the same in every nation and time. “Forsaking all others” requires that we forsake that most tempting of all mistresses: ourselves. Maintaining a faithful, lifelong bond with another human being through all the sacrifices, compromises and painful personal growth it demands is difficult enough – but it’s even harder when the government puts its thumb on the scale and crushes more of those dreams into dust.