Ken Connor

A quick look at the population trends of many of the world's major industrialized nations reveals that these countries are dying—literally.  This problem has gotten so bad in places like Japan and Russia that their governments have established monetary incentives to encourage people to have more children.  While America is still relatively young and fruitful by comparison, there are many challenges on the horizon.  We are facing an enormous age wave as the leading edge of the Baby Boomers hits 65, seniors are living much longer than they used to, and entitlement programs for the elderly (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) are rapidly approaching bankruptcy.  In 1950, there were sixteen working Americans for every retiree.  In 2005, there were only three.  Since America's entitlement programs are run on a pay-as-you-go basis—and with our widening age-gap—it's clear that future generations will not see much of a return on their "investment" in these programs. 

So the question arises: If Americans stop having children in the name of going "green," who will sustain our society as it ages?  Who will finance housing, medicine, and other vital needs of the elderly?  Who will care for those unable to care for themselves in their twilight years?  How long before society's young workers decide that they are tired of supporting an ever-growing cohort of retirees with their tax dollars and come to regard the elderly as expendable?  In the face of scarce economic resources, who's likely to be deemed less worthy than others and pushed to the back of the line?

This mentality is already at work in the current debate over health care reform.  As America's population ages and demand for healthcare resources threatens to outstrip supply, proponents of a centralized approach promote ideas like "comparative effectiveness" as a way to ensure an "optimal" distribution of those resources.  Elsewhere in the developed world, the rationing approach to health care is already a daily reality for the very young, the very old, and the terminally ill.

Apparently, however, these problems don't register on the radar of the extreme environmentalists.  Through their myopic lens, humans are seen as a blight upon the earth that must be reduced and contained.  They view mankind as little more than "resource hogs."

A more balanced perspective is needed—a humanistic (note the small "h") perspective.  If western society wishes to preserve itself and occupy a healthy place in the future of the planet, it must restore the institutions of marriage and family to their rightful place and start having children again.  We should not sacrifice the vitality of Western society on the altar of a radical left-wing social agenda.  There are plenty of ways to live responsibly, reduce our carbon footprint, and care for the earth without making ourselves extinct.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.