by Ken Blackwell
January 5, 2015
FRC Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, Ken Blackwell appears on Meet the Press to discuss the economy under the Obama Administration.
FRC Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, Ken Blackwell appears on Meet the Press to discuss the economy under the Obama Administration.
Hot Off the Press: Tony Perkins on CNN News
FRC’s President Tony Perkins, was on CNN this morning discussing the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) vote that would allow open homosexuals to become members and leaders. Perkins points out that the BSA has stood for moral principles for decades and that the boys should not have to worry about being with men or boys who are attracted to them. The BSA is designed to help raise boys into manhood. The Associated Press and the Washington Post has just reported that the BSA will not vote on the decision until May. Please be in prayer for the BSA that they would stand firm in their timeless values. You can share the ad from FRC via email, Facebook, Twitter and any other favorite media sites!
When it Comes to Religious Rights, “Accounting Gimmicks” Won’t do!
After the outcry of “foul play” from religious organizations, the Obama administration is offering a proposal which will allow faith-based organizations to be exempt from paying for contraceptives. Churches and synagogues can choose not to provide contraceptives. However, “non-profits with religious affiliations” are not exempt. Anna Higgins, FRC’s Director for the Center of Human Dignity, was quoted in a recent CBS News article and stated that:
“The accounting gimmicks HHS is now proposing under the latest regulation fail to satisfy the religious freedom protections that exist in other current laws and in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution”
How to Really Help the Economy: Save the Family
Dr. Patrick Fagan, Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at FRC, wrote an insightful article in The Public Discourse. Fagan’s research shows that even if the best of conservative economic plans were put into action, it still would not be enough to fix the economy. We must promote solid marriage, which produces solid children and productivity. As Fagan states:
“The intact married family with children is the household that generates the productive work, income, and savings that purchase houses, food, cars, and clothing, use energy, send children to school, and save for college and weddings.”
The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in theU.S.from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. TheU.S.birthrate peaked during the baby boom, at 122.7 in 1957.
Immigrant women, both legal and illegal, still have a higher birthrate than the U.S.population as a whole. Yet the rate for foreign-born women dropped 14% between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, compared with a 6% decline for U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births. The birthrate plunged 19% for immigrants of Hispanic origin during that period; among Mexicans, the largest group among Hispanics, the rate plunged 23% (emphasis added).
The article goes on to note that the United States has seen a slowdown in Mexican immigration, and that, though immigrants comprise only 13 percent of the total population, they comprise a relatively large share of total number of children born, because immigrant women are more likely to be of childbearing age.
The authors also note that dips in the American economy are accompanied by dips in the birthrate, and as the economy begins to recover, so does the birthrate. However, if our economy is to sustain itself and grow, and “if a society is to continue, stable fertile marriage is necessary,” as Henry Potrykus and Patrick Fagan note in the Marriage and Religion Research Institute publication Marriage, Contraception and The Future of Western Peoples.
Ross Douthat writes of the drop in the birth rate:
The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.
Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.
Recently, Values and Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute, has published a blog post about how Christian hipsters are declaring the demise of capitalism. First, I know what many of you are thinking…what exactly is a Christian hipster and how is capitalism over?
A Christian hipster, according to Brett McCracken, author of “Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide,” is a young evangelical who strays from the typical stereotypes of the evangelicals of the 80s and 90s and prefers the progressive viewpoints, as well as intellectual Christianity. While most evangelicals prefer to help Republicans, the Christian hipster prefers Barack Obama.
Now that we have this lined out, it should not surprise you that a Christian hipster would consider capitalism over.
Young Protestants today seem to be rebelling against the traditional Protestant work ethic because they associate it with a greedy, selfish, superficial version of the American Dream. Evangelical hipster culture implies that Christians should oppose capitalism and adopt pro-regulation, pro-environmentalism, pro-universal health care political positions to truly live a Christ-like life.
There is something wrong here. I am pretty certain that many Christian hipsters work hard. If they don’t work hard, it becomes impossible to survive. In fact, if they would look at things, they would realize that they promote capitalism more than they think. Take for example, increased government regulations would squash freedom and innovation. This is surely something they might be against.
They do not realize though capitalism is all around them. After all, many of the products they use, whether it be Apple products or Starbucks coffee, received their start due to a capitalist society. It was the free market and innovation that brought many of the modern conveniences they rely upon to light.
So, is capitalism over? No. I have a feeling we will see a reversal from the Christian hipsters soon enough.
Strong families lead to a strong economy.
This thesis is proven substantially and repeatedly by FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute in studies of the effects of family formation on economic growth (see, for example, The Divorce Revolution Perpetually Reduces U.S. Economic Growth).
We are now witnessing the results of family dissolution inAmericas troubling employment situation. The intact family, in which a married mom and dad raise children and worship together weekly, results in a better education for the children and a higher incentive for a Dad, or if need be, for both parents, to provide for their family.
These facts augment this mornings disappointing job numbers, not only because those numbers reflect more than 25 percent fewer new jobs than had been anticipated, but also because a closer look shows them to indicate a growing undercurrent of hopelessness among job-seekers.
Heres how the Wall Street Journals Phil Izzo explains it:
The unemployment rate is calculated based on the number of unemployed people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The actively looking for work definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. That number declined by 250,000 in August, but it was overwhelmed by a 368,000 drop in the size of the labor force. That suggests that many of those 250,000 stopped looking for work not because they found a job, but because they dropped out of the labor force … (the labor force participation rate of) 63.5% is at the lowest levels since women first started entering the labor force in large numbers.
This interpretation is based not on partisan projections, but data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Heres what the BLS said this morning about the true nature of the unemployment situation:
In August, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier … There were 844,000 discouraged workers in August … Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
According to the BLS, there minimally are 23.1 million persons unemployed, underemployed, or too discouraged to look for work. These are federal, not conservative or Republican, statistics.
To bring it back to families: As Drs. Pat Fagan and Henry Potrykus demonstrate in their new paper, Non-Marriage Reduces U.S. Labor Participation:
The long decline of adult male labor participation represents a withdrawal of able-bodied workers from productive employment. A persistent ‘gap’ exists between the employment rates of married men and unmarried men … Given the cultural-demographic drift away from marriage the risk of (economic) depression will be exacerbated over time.
This paper shows how among working-age men, half of the current labor drop-off is caused by this gap and the population shift away from marriage.
Marriage and children incentivize work. Cohabitation, divorce, and fatherlessness create dependency on government, a fact born out by the fact that now roughly one in seven Americans are receiving food stamps.
Are there other factors, such as tax and trade policies? Sure. But even if we somehow get them completely right, we cannot we meet our need for stable growth, and cannot foster the intangible but essential belief that families and individuals can have a brighter financial future, without a family unit that is sound, secure, and vibrant.
In a characteristically perceptive op-ed titled “Downward Mobility,” Washington Post economics writer Robert Samuelson notes that “for young Americans, the future could be dimmer.” As he summarizes:
In 1990, there were 32 million Americans 65 and over; by 2040, that’s reckoned at 80 million. Rising costs for Social Security and Medicare have created a new political dynamic: If benefits for the elderly aren’t cut, burdens on the young will go up. Decaying infrastructure poses similar choices. Either pay for repairs or tolerate substandard roads and schools. If today’s weak recovery persists, the outlook darkens. Unemployment will remain high, say 7 percent to 9 percent. Wage increases will remain depressed. Young workers will have trouble finding jobs to develop the skills and contacts that lead to better jobs. Productivity growth might falter.
This is not a scenario anyone wants to contemplate, but contemplate it we must if we want our country to remain the economic engine and beacon of prosperity it for decades has been.
One thing Samuelson did not note, however, is that our economic crisis is significantly augmented by a lack of future employees. As my colleagues Drs. Pat Fagan and Henry Potrykus have demonstrated in their important study, “Decline of Economic Growth: Human Capital and Population Change,” “The slowdown of GDP growth is explained by the concentration of both population and human capital in the baby boom, which is now being replaced by lower human capital cohorts.” In sum, they argue, “the historical balance of population growth, human capital development, and physical capital investment is the optimum national path to economic growth. Growing our human capital is critical to our future economic growth.”
We cannot have a growing economy with a shrinking labor pool. Yet that is the grim demographic reality we are facing. Even the most extraordinary gains in productivity cannot compensate for a lack of one indispensable resource: people. Given that we are losing roughly 3,000 unborn children through abortion every day, is it any wonder that our economic future looks bleaker than ever?
The cost for businesses to buy health coverage for workers rose the most this year since 2005 and may reach $32,175 for a family in 2021, according to a survey of private and public employers. So reports Bloomberg News.
This is not news any family wants to read. The last thing our recession-bound country needs are rising health care costs, particularly when we know these costs will be augmented dramatically should the Obama health care plan go into effect.
Buried within the Bloomberg article is a story that is underreported but finally seeping-out into the mainstream press: Contributing to the rise in premiums are … fewer young and healthy people in the insurance pool. This assertion is being made by the respected insurance association president Karen Ignagni, but it is verified by cold data. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the following:
… by the end of the 2004 to 2014 period, most of the baby boomers will have turned fifty-five. Consequently, the age fifty-five and older segment of the labor force is expected to grow most rapidly, increasing by 11.3 million, or 49.1 percent. Because of the aging of the American population, this segment of the labor force will increase at almost five times the rate of the overall labor force (10 percent). The numbers of those twenty-five to fifty-four years of age in the labor force will grow by only 3.4 percent, a significantly lower growth than in the previous decade (8.8 percent). The growth rate of the youth labor force, workers between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, will actually decrease between 2004 and 2014 by 0.5 percent.
What does this blizzard of mathematical factoids mean? Simply that we have a shrinking number of people entering the laborforce, one that cannot sustain our so-called entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) and that is too small to infuse the insurance pool with enough youth and health to keep it fiscally viable.
My colleagues Pat Fagan, Henry Potrykus and I have explained this in detail in Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, and Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage. We argue that our current economic slowdown, coupled with the increased numbers of dependent citizens, makes closing the deficit impossible for President Obama or anyone else who uses the present welfare state as the economic model to be sustained. It cannot be. This reality arises from two facts: 1) We have proportionately fewer children … (and) up to 20 percent of these children are unequipped to compete in the modern economy because of a lack of essential skills formed within the intact married family.
Whats the bottom line? Husbands and wives need to have more children and truly parent those children if our economy is going to thrive. However substantial our technology-driven productivity gains, they will not compensate for a steadily declining supply of capable, teachable young men and women.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of population growth, referred to as the average annual percent change, is projected to decrease during the next six decades by about 50 percent, from 1.10 between 1990 and 1995 to 0.54 between 2040 and 2050. The decrease in the rate of growth is predominantly due to the aging of the population and, consequently, a dramatic increase in the number of deaths. In other words, we will have a larger population, but the rate of growth will slow to the point that existing citizens will live longer, not because of the size of our families.
For more on the crisis of Americas population and how it is grounded in the erosion of the family unit, visit the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at http://www.marri.frc.org/. Families are more critical to our nations economy, more than education or technology. As families fail, so fails our country.
Henry Potrykus, Ph.D., senior fellow at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at FRC was recently interviewed by North Carolina Family Policy Council President Bill Brooks on his radio show, “Family Policy Matters” this week. Henry discussed his new report, “Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, or Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage.”
Click below to listen to the interview:
Despite critiques of the U.N.s world population predictions, a recent Wall Street Journal article by Jonathan Last could have gone even further in pointing out how bleak the developed worlds demographic picture is.
This past May, the U.N. released its latest report on world demographics, saying that Italy, Poland, and the European Continent as a whole, have rosy demographic futures. Last correctly takes issue with these predictions saying that in order for the world to actually achieve the U.N.s projected numbers, one big assumption had to be made, that starting tomorrow, every country in the world with fertility below the replacement rate of 2.1 will increase its fertility. And this rise will continue unabated, year after year, until every First World country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) near replacement.
Mr. Last reasons that this projection is dubious, in part because the U.N.s model was based on data taken from a small group of mostly Scandinavian countries that have recovered (sort of) from sub replacement fertility. Last highlights Sweden, saying that its story is a complicated one, involving pro-natalist policies, culture and not a little luck, though somehow, the U.N. now assumes that all low-fertility, industrialized countries from Russia to Italy to South Korea will follow this same pattern.
While Last does highlight the dubious nature of the U.N.s projections, he has not gone far enough in emphasizing exactly how incorrect they are. His suspicion was correct that other countries will not necessarily follow Scandinavias supposed trend. Though it (reportedly) experienced positive fertility results, even if Swedens success were based on culture and policies, these are not universal. However, the fact of the matter is that any projection made based off the success of these countries will be incorrect.
Focusing on Sweden, the story of their fertility rates must be nuanced to differentiate between the fertility of nationals and the fertility of foreigners (immigrants). According to the Vienna Institute of Demographics, from 1986-2008, the increase in the total fertility rate of Swedens nationals went from 1.76 to 1.85, a difference that is statistically insignificant, and is actually because the dip to 1.76 in 1986 was a TFR underestimate! The total fertility rate of foreigners ranged from 2.24 (1986) to 2.55 (2008)a range that is above both the replacement level, as well as the level of Swedish nationals. Any increase in Swedish fertility levels must be understood with this division in mind, with the result that Sweden would not experience population increases of its young for any reason other than immigration. This casts the U.N.s model into question, as immigration is not a true account for the increase in a countrys fertility. Furthermore, immigration depends strongly on (relative) economic factors, something that varies between countries and is difficult to predict.
Additionally, we all know that Rome was not built in a dayit takes around 20 years before our newborns are ready to enter society as adults, and cultures change about as fast. Why then should the U.N. anticipate that Italy, Poland, Japan or any country would change over night? There is no reason to suspect that we will see a drastic positive change in the fertility habits of individuals and thus, nations any time soon. On the contrary, anti-natal trends are alive and well in the West, cultures are spawning no-kids-allowed movements: Malaysia airlines banned babies from many of their first-class cabins; McDains Restaurant, in Pennsylvania no longer allows children under 6 to dine; Double Windsor bar in New York bans babies after 5 p.m.; a Central Florida homeowners association is considering a ban on children from playing outside, and the examples continue. All of this is strong indication that the trend were seeing, and one modeled by more serious demographers than those at the U.N., is here to stay.
We are still slouching into a demographic crisis, and Last is right to highlight economic concerns that will spin off from low fertility rates.
The Social Conservative Review:
The Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News
June 24, 2010
FRC has recently published a comprehensive study of President Obama’s efforts to repeal the historic ban on homosexuals in the Armed Forces. Written by respected military analyst Lt. Col. (ret) Robert Maginnis, “Mission Compromised: How the Obama Administration is Drafting the Military into the Culture War” is an important contribution to the debate over this critical issue.
After over 30 years in the Marine Corps, including service as the senior military attorney, I know the serious risks present if the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and law are repealed. I am compelled to speak out since those currently on active duty cannot voice their opinions. Robert Maginnis uses facts, the law, and a dose of military perspective to debunk the myths put forward by those seeking change from the current law. James C. Walker, Brig.Gen. U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
The free PDF of this compelling study can be downloaded here.
Educational Freedom and Reform
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Homosexuality in the Military
Marriage and Family
Check out Persecution.com, one of the best websites regarding Christian persecution throughout the world.
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