New York Times conservative op-ed writer Ross Douthat thinks gay marriage has become accepted because straight people are tired of being the ones who make babies. Douthat, who, as we often say here, excels at comparing apples with oranges and getting lemonade, today laments that “American fertility plunged with the stock market in 2008, and it hasn’t recovered.”
Last week, the Pew Research Center reported that U.S. birthrates hit the lowest rate ever recorded in 2011, with just 63 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. (The rate was 71 per 1,000 in 1990.) For the first time in recent memory, Americans are having fewer babies than the French or British.
Douthat takes time out of his curious anti-conservative edict Europe-bowing to “explain” why same-sex marriage has become accepted by the majority of Americans — although he leaves out that one particular data point:
Finally, there’s been a broader cultural shift away from a child-centric understanding of romance and marriage. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans told Pew that children were “very important” to a successful marriage; in 2007, just before the current baby bust, only 41 percent agreed. (That trend goes a long way toward explaining why gay marriage, which formally severs wedlock from sex differences and procreation, has gone from a nonstarter to a no-brainer for so many people.)
Douthat continues his bowing to European governments, (shockingly, since that’s illegal in Conservative Land,) noting, “the evidence from countries like Sweden and France suggests that reducing the ever-rising cost of having kids can help fertility rates rebound.”
In his excruciatingly ludicrous op-ed, Douthat also attacks President Obama, blaming him (and government, which, remember, as King Ronald Reagan said, is not the solution to our problem, but is the problem!) for having “no real family policy to speak of at the moment.”
Whether this means a more family-friendly tax code, a push for more flexible work hours, or an effort to reduce the cost of college, there’s clearly room for creative policy to make some difference.
By the way, Mr. Douthat, nice job there ignoring all President Obama has done on thee fronts, and all the GOP has done to block him.
Almost a year ago, as the Washington Post reported, President Obama “offered a plan … to reduce the costs of higher education by increasing the amount of federal grant money available for low-interest loans and tying it directly to colleges’ ability to reduce tuition,” and said “his administration was putting colleges ‘on notice’ that they must rein in soaring prices.”
And Politifact reported just one month ago, as “promise kept,” that:
As a candidate, Barack Obama made a three-part promise to “inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting.”
“In December 2010, he signed the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act of 2010,” Politifact adds, noting, “the Council of Economic Advisors released a March report concerning two parts of the promise, telecommuting and flexible work opportunities.”
It touted the benefits of telecommuting and explained how it has allowed employees in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) to better balance work and family responsibilities.
Just days after the report was released, the White House hosted a Forum on Workplace Flexibility. At this meeting, the Office of Personnel Management unveiled its pilot program on incorporating regular flexible workplace procedures.
So, maybe the bottom line here isn’t about people not having the number of babies Mr. Douthat would like them to, but that conservatives are ignoring the successes of the Obama administration, and are being radically not “pro-life,” but radically “pro-birth,” and anti-gay, all at the same time.
Maybe people aren’t having more babies because conservatives make it just too hard to offer them a better future?
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