May 27, 2006


Children for Sale: Would $36,000 convince you to have another kid? (Daniel Gross, May 24, 2006, Slate)

Communism is officially dead in the Soviet Union, but the Marxist belief that men and women are essentially economic creatures is alive and well at the Kremlin. Earlier this month, Vladimir Putin, alarmed at Russia's declining population, which is falling thanks to short life expectancy and a plummeting birthrate (1.17 children per woman, down from about 2 in 1990), offered a bonus of 250,000 rubles (about $9,200) to women who would have a second child.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Europe, Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates is using the stick instead of the carrot to make babies. As part of a slate of reforms intended to simultaneously reform pension funding and reverse Portugal's declining birth rate (about 1.5 children per woman compared with 2.6 in the 1970s), Sócrates proposed tying tax rates for pensions to the number of children a worker has. Rates for those with two kids would remain constant, would fall for those with more than two, and would rise for those with fewer than two.

It's their materialism that's made them give up the future in the first place--monetizing lives won't help.

Child benefits may get boost to push births (Japan Times, 5/28/06)

The government is considering increasing the amount of benefits to households with infants as part of its efforts to stem the declining birthrate, officials said Saturday.

The measure, already proposed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, is intended to financially help households with small children as income levels of such households are relatively low, the officials said.

The Chinese are coming ... to Russia (Bertil Lintner , 5/27/06, Asia Times)
Economically, the Russian Far East is becoming separated from European Russia.

Before the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the Far East supplied European Russia and the other western republics with fish and crabs from the Sea of Okhotsk. The area's heavy industry produced steel, aircraft and even ships, and few foreign consumer goods were for sale.

Today, Chinese consumer goods - which are cheaper and better than those produced far away in European Russia - and even food are flooding the markets, while timber and raw materials are going south. Entire factories are being dismantled and sold as scrap metal to China. And the seafood is almost exclusively sold to South Korea and Japan.

In the long run this could also lead to demographic changes. There is a floating population of tens of thousands Chinese traders and seasonal workers who move back and forth across the border, and one day they may want to stay.

Russia's Far Eastern Federal District - a huge area covering 6,215,900 square kilometers - has only 7 million inhabitants, and that is down from 9 million in 1991. The population is declining rapidly as factories are closing down and military installations have been withdrawn.

Across the border, China's three northeastern provinces - Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning - are home to 100 million people, and the area has even by Chinese standards an unusually high unemployment rate. Or, as one Western analyst put it: "If the Russians continue to move out, the Chinese are ready to fill the resultant population vacuum in the area." And that could lead to more than just a change of the demographic balance in what still is the Russian Far East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 27, 2006 7:58 PM

It never really hit me, until this article, why you think libertarians are not much better than their arch-enemies, socialists. It is true that many libertarians view human endeavor in narrow economic terms.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 27, 2006 8:44 PM

Yes, as mere materialists they can't derive morality and, therefore, can never build a decent society except in their own heads.

Posted by: oj at May 27, 2006 8:52 PM

Material = Objects = That which is viewed objectively?

Posted by: ghostcat at May 27, 2006 9:13 PM

Materialism is subjective (individualist), but, therefore, does view others as objects, rather than subjects.

Posted by: oj at May 27, 2006 9:20 PM

The libertine materialists are even less substantial that that.

They are so childish and narcissistic as to feign ignorance that the solopsism they advocate for themselves would not result in catastrophe if adopted by mankind at large.

Thus they are no more than cynical parasites. They have foregone generation in reliance on others practicing less of their "virtue of selfishness."

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 27, 2006 11:09 PM

It has long seemed to me that the rational, logical aspect of the brain cannot (is structurally unable to) comprehend the subjectivity of others. Rationality is only able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the other's subjectivity, not comprehend it in any depth. I would go so far as to say that such a limitation is a prequisite of "sanity". Understanding the subjective reality of anything beyond the self is not a rational endeavor.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 28, 2006 12:05 AM

Yes, which is why reason is properly nothing more than a tool of faith. Order your life around Reason and you institutionalize evil.

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2006 8:27 AM