women changing world demographics, frida kahlo self portrait, common denominators of authoritarianism

The Reproductive Revolution: How Women Are Changing the Planet’s Future

Family planning experts used to say that women only started having fewer children when they got educated or escaped poverty. Pessimists feared that if rising population prevented the world’s poor from advancing, they would get caught in a cycle of poverty and large families. The poverty trap would become a demographic trap.

But the reality is proving very different. Round the world, women today are having half as many children as their mothers did. And often it is the poorest and least educated women who are in the vanguard. Women like Aisha, Miriam and Akhi.

There are holdouts, in parts of the Middle East and rural Africa. But more than 60 countries—containing approaching half of the world’s population—already have fertility rates at or below the rate needed to maintain their populations long-term. The club now includes most of the Caribbean islands, Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Brazil, Algeria, Kazakhstan and Tunisia.  Within 20 years, demographic giants like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico and India will in all probability also have below-replacement fertility.

Now is this happening?  For one thing, more and more women are leading independent working lives, rather than succumbing to a life of child bearing and raising. In many countries, women are staying single through their 20s and beyond. In 1960, two thirds of American women in their early 20s were already married; today the figure is less than a quarter. The habit is spreading fast.  As recently as 1980, a UN study found that nuptials were “near universal” across Asia, and half of Asian women were married by the age of 18. No more. In Japan, half of all 30-year-old women today are unmarried. In South Korea, the figure is 40 per cent.

At one time women had children for reasons of cultural coercion. Eventually that coercion became tradition. maybe even a needed one. Infant mortality was high and children were a poor family’s labor force and the inheritor’s of property. We’re obviously not in need of child laborers though that remains a problem in some countries. What is surprising about the trend toward later marriages and smaller families in poorer countries is that it has the qualities of a kind of wisdom gone viral or a wisdom of the crowd in unexpected places where communication and daily exposure to mass media is intermittent to almost nonexistent. In order to have a better quality of lives for themselves and the children they do have, these poor women realized they must have fewer children. Three of the women mentioned have a combined total of 22 siblings. Even in low regulated sweat shop economies that are widespread in Asia and South America there are not enough sweatshops to support seven children and down the road the seven children of each of those seven children. Religious and political orthodoxies are having little effect – with a few exceptions – Muslim or Catholic, secular or fundamentalist, socialists or free market, government policies that push one way or the other are being largely ignored.

Self-portrait with the plait 1941 by Frida Kahlo. the necklace is modeled on a prison inmate’s collar, but also includes  skull death symbols.

Did the GOP commission Fox to rewrite the history books?

Appearing on Fox & Friends, purported business expert Stuart Varney made extensive revisions to U.S. economic history, among them: the false suggestion that President Obama has not cut taxes; the false suggestion that President Bush presided over strong job growth; and the false claim that after President Clinton took office, the economy did not improve until Republicans took control of Congress.

[  ]…In fact, Recovery Act included significant tax relief for individuals, families, and businesses. As Media Matters for America has noted, the Recovery Act contained $288 billion in tax relief, including the Making Work Pay tax credit, which is a two-year annual credit of $400 per individual or $800 for families. In addition, the Recovery Act included a temporary increase in the earned income tax credit, a temporary increase in the refundable portion of the child tax credit, an increase in the first-time homebuyer tax credit, and tax incentives for businesses.

[   ]…By cherry-picking just four years of Bush’s administration, Varney erased two recessions; in fact, only 1 million new jobs were created during Bush presidency. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of nonfarm jobs increased from 132.5 million in January 2001 to 133.5 million in January 2009, an increase of only 1 million jobs. By contrast, employment increased by 22.7 million under Clinton, 16.1 million under Reagan, 10.3 million under Jimmy Carter, and 2.6 under George H.W. Bush.

Rewriting history is a never ending task for the extremist ideologue. I’m no walking encyclopedia of tax and employment figures, but I do have a general idea of the trends. The MSM does at best a mediocre job of presenting economic information in a way that is more digestible. Even given the media’s less than A level work in that regard, the real numbers are not that difficult to find. A headline at The Hill reads, Pelosi: We’ll stop blaming Bush when his problems go away. I saved a few of the comments,

Keep it up Queen Nancy! A majority of Americans blame the current economic mess on President Obama and your failed leadership.You’ve added trillions and trillions to the national debt. You’ve done nothing to get people back to work and the answer to all of our problems is tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend.You will go down as perhaps the worst Speaker in the history of the U.S. House and Obama will be the worst President in the history of this country. BY gmwilliams on 06/11/2010 at 09:47

Queen Botoxi’s excuse that “problems go away” is a great illustration of the “Progressive” DemoCrook strategy of pushing idealism over solutions. Problems must be fixed, not ignored…except in the fantasy realm of our inexperienced, morally bankrupt federal Administration and Legislive Branch! BY  Tim on 06/11/2010 at 10:17

the Dems have been running the show for going on 4 yrs now – they can blame Bush all they want – but after 9/11 the market soared, the economy was growing and then after ’06 mid-terms, Queen Bee Syndrome Nancy and Dems took over and it’s been downhill ever since – the electorate knows it and is sick of it…BY Dee on 06/11/2010 at 10:45

It’s as though they live in an alternate universe. They have no knowledge of Obama’s tax cuts, Bush’s history making dismal job creation record and year after year of deficit spending. The Pelosi haters are also going with the meme that America’s ingeniously devious and all powerful poor working class caused the housing bubble to burst – A Myth Debunked Here. These commenters, and there were hundreds, have genuine false memories. It is their intention to vote for candidates that will return the country back to the glorious days of their white picket fence and gingham dress memories of the Bush economy. Why they think it will not collapse a second time they do not say.

This story is related in how strong the idolatry-like worship of extremist ideas has roots that go deep and no one person, election, historical documentation or better idea can stop them, What Really Happened to Children in the Gulags? The Inside Story.

Our mutual acquaintance had told her that I was an American writing about the Gulag, and she wanted to make a few things clear. Most of all, she wanted to impress upon me how clean and orderly had been the children’s home, and to tell me how happy the children had been within its walls. She also wanted me to know that these children’s mothers were criminals who were all too happy to abandon them, that the nurses and caretakers had saved them from a terrible fate.

A subscriber to an extremist ideology. Her loyalty so deep that facts can be ignored. It is not uncommon for American conservatives to claim slavery and denying women the vote were not all that bad, just as the caretaker for Stalin’s orphans feels Stalin was kind hearted. Not having these fundamental human rights or social justice, relived them of the strain of responsibility.

When the propagandists said that Soviet citizens were becoming ever richer and better fed, many people were inclined to think that this could be true, even though they themselves lived poorly and badly. When the propagandists said that factories were booming and the harvest was successful, some people accepted this too, even though industrial products were unavailable and bread was rationed. And when the propagandists said that all Soviet citizens should thank Comrade Stalin for their happy Soviet childhood, many could not refuse this either. Even if they knew from personal experience that not all Soviet childhoods were happy, they could imagine that some really had been.

This phenomenon of denial is not just rampant among Pelosi and Obama hatters such as those at the Hill story, but is deeply rooted in U.S. conservatism and other authoritarian based political movements.

rome skyline and distant clouds