Demography? Destiny? Decline of TEH WEST?

Since people on the other thread wanted to get all Spenglerian on me, perhaps a demography thread is timely, particularly with the release of Peter Costello’s latest Inter-generational report. Fertility, obviously, being his signature issue. I can’t put my fundamental objections to the manner in which this debate has played out in Australia better than Charles Richardson, writing in today’s Crikey does, so I’ll just quote him.

So let’s set out briefly some basic facts about the issue. (Apologies to regular readers who’ve heard some of this before — the message obviously hasn’t been getting through):

* Decreased birthrates are associated overwhelmingly with two things: increased standards of living and improved status of women. The demand to increase birthrates is, consciously or not, a demand to reverse one or both of those trends.
* The world does not suffer from an underpopulation problem. We can argue about how big a problem overcrowding is (I’m not a doomsayer on this), but it’s pretty clear that it’s more to be feared than the reverse.
* Australia is not an unpopular place to live. On the contrary, there are millions of people who would like to come and make this their home — we spend a small fortune on patrol boats and detention centres to try to keep them out.

If Australia wants more people, we don’t need to return our womenfolk to domestic drudgery in order to get them. We just need to open the door a bit wider.

That doesn’t satisfy proponents of fertility, because immigrants are the “wrong sort” of people. In a dangerous flirtation with racism last year, Costello made that point explicit, saying “Increasing immigration to cover natural population decline will change the composition of our population and raise concerns about social dislocation”.

The drivers of fertility crusades are racism and misogyny: keep the women barefoot and pregnant, keep the dark-skinned foreigners away from our shores, and build up our population with nice white Christian babies.

Peter Costello doesn’t belong with this crowd, but the media and the public need to tell him so much more clearly.

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Posted in Economics, feminism, immigration, politics, sociology
42 comments on “Demography? Destiny? Decline of TEH WEST?
  1. j_p_z says:

    Katz — I think that over time here, I’ve given sufficient evidence of being a fairly jolly, thick-skinned (and -headed) person, so that if I put on my frowny serious face for half a moment, I doubt that I can fairly be accused of being pouty, or pissy, or humorless.

    But your insinuation, on the other thread, that I view “black and brown persons” as being somehow ‘planet of the apes-like’ (and by inference, I suppose, in some way sub-human) was I think hitting below the belt in a rather egregious way. Not only was it utterly irrelevant to my line of thought, it bears no relation whatever to anything I have ever written on this site, or indeed, any place else on planet Earth. Now, there’s insults that one can and should take in stride, and then there’s the other sort. Yours was the sort of swipe that one cannot countenance with honor.

    I drew a bit of a box around it over there, in the hopes you would understand that an apology was in order; so far none has appeared. Now you’re certainly not obliged to apologise, if that is indeed what you honestly think of me. But if that’s the case, then I suggest you are living in Slumberland. That is your prerogative. Still, as a point of honor, I cannot possibly continue to converse with you about, well, pretty much anything, unless and until you unequivocally retract the insinuation. It’s a pity, because there’s holes in your thinking wide enough for the Eighth Route Army to march through.

    Personally I hate drama, and I’m not the sort of person to make demands of people; and anyway, I haven’t the right to ‘demand’ any particular thing. I only call your attention to what’s fair.

    back to the thread…

    Kim, this quote above about “racism and misogyny” is really altogether too simplistic and shrill. One would practically need to write a book to address the faults of its assumptions. Sadly, life’s too short.

  2. wbb says:

    But this tugging at the national loins is indeed about mild forms of misogyny and racism, j_p_z. Let’s call it social conservatism and nationalism, if you prefer.

    The call from the top to build up the national folk is odious. You need to remember that Australia is a country founded upon the deepest racism. It’s not so far back etc etc. (Yes, life is too short.)

    We do not need more people in this country just as we don’t need more people anywhere else on our over-flowing planet. Double our refugee program and start calling for domestic reproductive restraint, I say.

  3. Mercurius says:

    What are the social conservatives worried about? As long as they take their own medicine, then they’ll be popping out legions of happy-clapping white babies to replenish the volk, while us trendy terrorist-loving West-hating latte-sipping elites will simply unbreed outselves out of existence.

    Or something. At least, if the demographic doomsayers’ argument holds any water.

    They should all retire to their bedrooms to save civilisation and leave the rest of us in peace.

  4. Katz says:

    Japerz, it wasn’t an insinuation. I asked a question.

    Would a US that maintains its institutional and cultural structures, though populated almost entirely by black and brown persons seem to Japerz to be too much like The Planet of the Apes?

    The curly thing on the end is called a question mark. I admit it was a rhetorical question, meaning that it conceived a scenario so extreme that I didn’t expect anyone to accept as real its premise. As such it was a reductio ad absurdum along the lines of: “Would you ever imagine that in a million years?” Now, I suppose a hypersensitive person could object that I was implying here that s/he was more than a million years old.

    In that case, in the interests of amity, I suppose an apology for insinuations of racism and of extreme age would be equally in order.

    This is the challenging bit, in that other post that seems to have got lost in the wash:

    Japerz’ argument is almost word-for-word the anti-Irish rhetoric that bloomed in England in the latter years of the 19th century.

    May I recommend L. P. Curtis, Apes and Angels. The Irishman in Victorian Caricature? as a primer of late nineteenth-century anti-Irish rhetoric. L. P. Curtis’s argument is that the ever-inventive English intelligentsia created a template that has been reproduced and recreated for different purposes around the world to this very day. As Curtis argues, these clever folk “tapped into a cultural aquifer” that has gushed ever since. Fascinatingly, however, as Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White argues, the Irish later became “white” again.

    Did Japerz know that the first English settlers in Virginia called the indigenes there “Irish”? It comes as a surprise today, but it should be no less surprising than calling them “Indians”.

  5. TimT says:

    There’s also a great deal of misanthropy in the perennial left-wing fear about increasing populations: it’s an argument that neatly complements fears about ‘immigrants’ or ‘lower classes’ taking jobs (just to use one example).

    Also – I really, really, really hate the ugly phrase ‘Teh’. It doesn’t convey any message or humour to me whatsoever – it’s just a mispelling that is used far too often.

    Sorry Kim!

  6. Bismarck says:

    I don’t think any of the arguments in the Crikey piece rise above a willingness to ascribe the basest motives to political opponents. The US has much higher birthrates than, say, Europe and Japan and has comparable standards of living. There are also many places with very low birthrates, e.g. Russia, with miserable living standards and crappy outcomes for women. Any correlation between birthrates and living standards should be treated with caution, especially when the comparisons are being made between developed nations.

    In addition, there are many excellent reasons for seeking to improve fertility in developed nations, chief among these being the danger of a demographic crunch in an ageing population. Increased immigration is only a partial answer to this for reasons that should be obvious: for a start, the numbers would have to be huge in comparison to what could be achieved with an increase of only 0.2 children per family. Mass immigration does have economic and social effects that require careful management. It is a much simpler and cheaper proposition for the incremental units of population (babies) to be raised in existing households. None of this remotely racist, nor is it intended to displace any role for immigration. The penultimate paragraph, which makes accusations of misogyny and racism against proponents of an increased birthrate, is a disgraceful rant designed to stifle any meaningful debate on the subject.

  7. Fiasco da Gama says:

    With respect, Katz, I think you’re in the wrong on this one. If you wanted to make a point about disbelief and distopia you could have picked any science fiction movie, not just Planet of the Apes. I thought it was poor form, and I’d have thought better of you.
    You had what could’ve been a good argument going and… and… you maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!
    Oh, and Gittins on demographic ageing is worth reading, if you can get past the glibness and anti-Costello tone.

  8. Jaysus, Katz, you REALLY miss CL, dontcha? Now that LP doesn’t have proper conservatives to rail against it seems you have to pick on moderates for your stoushing kicks. I don’t blame you – LP is hardly a “target-rich environment” any more – but wake up to yourself, man.

    OF COURSE you implied jpz was pursuing a racist line of thought. You did it to discredit the argument – and the hominis – without addressing the issue raised.

    And this turgid, ungracious apology was worthy of Strocchi:

    In that case, in the interests of amity, I suppose an apology for insinuations of racism and of extreme age would be equally in order.

    If you wanted to imply jpz was racist, fine, but spare us the erudite dissembling. You’re not fooling anyone, except perhaps yourself.

  9. Fiasco da Gama says:

    LP is hardly a “target-rich environmentâ€? any more

    Stick around, Curly. If after a half-dozen comments you can’t tell who the straw-conservative is—it’s you.

  10. Katz says:

    The US has much higher birthrates than, say, Europe and Japan and has comparable standards of living. There are also many places with very low birthrates, e.g. Russia, with miserable living standards and crappy outcomes for women. Any correlation between birthrates and living standards should be treated with caution, especially when the comparisons are being made between developed nations.

    Huh? see here.

    The difference between the US birthrate (14.14) and (let us say) the French birthrate (11.99) is much smaller than the difference between the US birthrate and the average world birthrate (20.05).

    Even if you ignore the population bombs of Africa, a perusal of this list demonstrates at least two things.

    a. The US is not exceptional in relation to other developed nations. (When is the right going to get over this myth of US exceptionalism?)

    b. There are no high birthrate countries (let us say above the average world birthrate) with the exceptions of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with high standards of living.

    Bismarck seems to have in the back of his mind a birthrate which is “ok”, (that is above the “national suicide Plimsoll Line”). He seems to imply that 14.14 is above that line.

    Is this true? And if so, why does 14.14 qualify?

  11. Curlywurly says:

    Don’t tease me, Wolfman.

  12. Katz says:

    You’re not fooling anyone, except perhaps yourself.

    I wasn’t fooling myself. I was amusing myself.

    That Strocchi crack was a bit sobering, however. To distance my self from any possibility of similarity to Strocchi, I apologise to j_p_z unreservedly.

    PS. Who is “C.L.”?

  13. Who is “C.L.â€??

    Wraow. Katty. You play a hard game, Katz. Hard but (mostly) fair.

  14. Bismarck says:

    Bismarck seems to have in the back of his mind a birthrate which is “okâ€?, (that is above the “national suicide Plimsoll Lineâ€?). He seems to imply that 14.14 is above that line.

    Where have I said or implied this? I said that birthrate is not strictly correlated to standard of living. The world average translates to about 2.59 children per woman and obviously nearly all of the developed world falls below that. There are miserable places like Russia, Georgia and Ukraine that are well below 1.5 and prosperous places like the US and France that are (just) above 2. The US and France (quite an outlier from the EU average) are well above places like Burma and Iran. It’s a simple observation and has nothing to do with putting my magisterial seal of approval on any particular birthrate. It is obvious that those countries with a birthrate below a level that replaces the generation above it will age in the absence of immigration, and there are costs associated with that which are higher than the cost of replacing the population domestically. Some countries will have trouble finding enough immigrants and will go into economic decline. That’s it. Sorry, but your amateur psychoanalysis of me is both wrong and unwelcome.

  15. derrida derider says:

    2.1 lifetime births per woman (ie the Total Fertility Rate – TFR) is the replacement rate in developed countries to maintain population size (she’s got to replace herself and her partner, and the extra 0.1 is to take account of kids who die before they get old enough to breed). What this translates to in the crude birth rates that Katz is using depends on the age structure of the population.

    Our TFR is currently 1.83 so if we don’t take migrants our population will eventually start shrinking. But the long-run impact on the standard of living of a shrinking population isn’t really clear, in spite of what Bismarck says. Yes, GDP shrinks(which is a worry if your main concern is the Yellow Peril or your abilty to take part in imperial adventures), but the GDP has to be shared amongst less people. You definitely lose some economies of scale, but then some diseconomies of scale (eg environmental pressure) are eased and you also don’t need to keep investing as much in long-lived infrastructure (new houses, roads and bridges, water supplies, etc).

    Charles Richardson’s Crikey piece misses the main point. The real problem with a rise in fertility from the taxman’s point of view is that it makes things worse for a long while before it makes things better. Having an extra baby doesn’t reduce the number of pensioners we’ve got, the kid won’t be paying much tax for two or three decades and in the meanwhile we all have to pay even more tax to educate the little blighter. And it also stuffs mum’s career so she pays less tax.

    But Costello is right, and Richardson wrong, about migration. Migrants grow old too. If you crunch the numbers you’ll see that even a huge influx of migrants wouldn’t make much difference for long to our age profile (as distinct from our population size).

  16. FDB says:

    “But Costello is right, and Richardson wrong, about migration. Migrants grow old too. If you crunch the numbers you’ll see that even a huge influx of migrants wouldn’t make much difference for long to our age profile (as distinct from our population size).”

    But they breed like rabbits, don’t they?

    [/faux racism]

  17. j_p_z says:

    Katz — Horseshoes and hand-grenades, as we “good ole boys” say. Your responses so far have consisted of a weird lecture, followed by a smirking and indeed self-interested mumble. If you have that much contempt for me, then oh well; that in itself is significant, but I guess there’s not a lot I can do about it, except to opt out of the charms of your discourse.

    I’m not interested in a “personal” apology, because I am not “personally” offended. No one has broken my crayons on the playground. I am choosing to worry the point because to my mind it is about trying to maintain standards of political and intellectual integrity, and morally, it’s about a species of honor: one that for purposes here is not so much personal, but rather, necessary to being heard seriously in a forum like this. Irresponsible charges of racism are frightfully common in contemporary discourse, and too often they are used by cynical, extremist, or interested parties to shut down what is otherwise reasonable and indeed quite necessary debate in a free and self-governing society. For pete’s sake, look at the provocateur quotation in the substance of this very post. If enough people want to travel down that road, my suspicion is that it leads to a rather dark place indeed.

    If you can’t acknowledge any of that, then I’m sure I don’t know what else to tell you. But so far your replies have not, to my mind, remedied the thing. Still, you’re certainly entitled to think as you please, so I guess that’s that til further orders. Cheers.

  18. Mark says:

    The other question, dd, that’s always seemed relevant to me is how real are the dimensions of the alleged problem Costello is talking about? Note, for instance, what Monash health economist Jeff Richardson argues in the feature in the Australian today about the failure to assume productivity growth and thus GDP growth over time which will make extra costs of, say, health care more affordable. I’ve also seen the PC report on ageing criticised for making basically static assumptions. I’m no economist, but Richardson’s argument seems to make sense, and I’d be interested to see whether anyone has tried to refute it, and to justify the assumptions used by Costello.

  19. Mark says:

    Apologies, I meant to provide a link to the article containing Richardson’s comments:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21499693-28737,00.html

  20. anthony says:

    Demographics: a harness used for hitching the donkey of nationalism to the night soil cart of racism.

  21. Bismarck says:

    Tell it to the advertisers, anthony!

    To clarify, dd, I was referring to those countries with an ageing population and little to offer immigrants as being candidates for economic decline. The intended point was that a low birthrate is not, of itself, a magic ticket to prosperity.

  22. zorronsky says:

    but population explosion.is until……

  23. The population problem should never be considered out of the context of emerging key technologies which may extend and enhance life as we know it. The prospect of extended life-spans and artificial anthropomorphs give fertility discussions like this a naive and threadbare feel.

    Still, Kim and her cult manage to pack a lot of intellectual garbage into a constricted space. It deserves disposal.

    Charles Richardson says:

    If Australia wants more people, we don’t need to return our womenfolk to domestic drudgery in order to get them. We just need to open the door a bit wider.

    Like in the late seventies through late eighties when the immigration system was thoroughly rorted by the Cultural Left? That process has, from time to time, made parts of Sydney into war-zones. And brought Hansonism and Cronulla in its wake.

    This kind of thing never happened after WWII when immigration was selective and settlement was integrative. We need to go back to the post-Opperman-pre-Grassby immigration department. Howard is leading the way.

    Charles Richardson says:

    That doesn’t satisfy proponents of fertility, because immigrants are the “wrong sortâ€? of people. In a dangerous flirtation with racism last year, Costello made that point explicit, saying “Increasing immigration to cover natural population decline will change the composition of our population and raise concerns about social dislocationâ€?.

    Social dislocation is a race-neutral term. It is moral to oppose social upheaval given the appalling crimes committed in the train of chaos.

    But that does not stop race-hustlers on the Left from trying the smear conservatives if it suits their vicious political purposes.

    Conservatives need not and are not opposed to multiracialism. North East Asians are a different race to Caucasians but do not cause “social dislocation” since they have the instinct and intellect to “fit in” to the hegemonial culture of modernity.

    Other ethnic groups, no names no pack drill, seem to have more trouble. Often because they are egged on by corrupt and self-serving ethnic lobbies or idiot Cultural Leftists.

    Conservatives are opposed to hard-core multiculturalism, ie bringing in and bringing up immigrants to become the “wrong sort” of people. To conserve the tradition of modernity we need to evolve a polity made up of modern national citizens, not pre-modern tribal clansmen.

    Charles Richardson says:

    The drivers of fertility crusades are racism and misogyny: keep the women barefoot and pregnant, keep the dark-skinned foreigners away from our shores, and build up our population with nice white Christian babies.

    This is offensive and tendentious rubbish. Christianity is a good religion, as evidenced by its good works. There is nothing to be ashamed in bringing babies up as Christians. Australia is a good society in large part because it was founded by Christians and is living off the Christian moral capital accumulated over two millenia. A Kantian is just a Christian without fairy tales.

    Fertility should be maintained at replacement levels if suitable immigrants cannot be found. It is an open question how suitable immigrants can be if people of the likes of Richardson or Kim have anything to do with cultural policy. cf Londonistan for the terminal of their project.

    The racist smear is a furphy. Most of the ethnics who are at the centre of this controversy in the Culture War are Arabians, relatively light skinned and Caucasian. The “social dislocation” problem some of them bring in their train is cultural, not racial.

    MOreover, the integration problem centres around the mysogynist practices of some ethnics that people like Richardson and Kim want to bring in. These “liberals of convenience” licence depraved multicultural practices requiring the subjection of women. THey should be shamed and named as a consolidators of the misery and oppression of female and juvenile ethnics.

    But Great Liberal Death Wishers would prefer to massacre their own sacred cows so long as their cultural policies annoy social conservatives. They are hypocrites to the shallow core of their being.

  24. Another Kim says:

    How much night soil do you produce that has to be carted away, Anthony?

  25. anthony says:

    It’s not the quantity, it’s the quintile.

  26. Mark says:

    Australia is a good society in large part because it was founded by Christians and is living off the Christian moral capital accumulated over two millenia. A Kantian is just a Christian without fairy tales.

    Or Kant told a few Christian fairy tales?

    Jack, are you channelling Keith Windschuttle? To what degree was Australia “founded by Christians”? Please read some more history. The Rev. Samuel Marsden – the flogging parson magistrate? The British government hadn’t even seen it as a priority to provide a Chaplain for the first convict settlement. Rates of religious practice were nugatory for decades, except among the Irish when the Catholic Church managed to mobilise, and in urban areas in the late nineteenth century, were lower than the low figures for London at the same time. A lot of early colonial politics revolved around the fight to make education secular, and to de-fund churches (who initially had land endowments and paid clergy). We’re the original secular society, buddy. Sectarianism and wowserism was about as high profile as religion got in the late nineteenth century.

  27. Katz says:

    That’s it. Sorry, but your amateur psychoanalysis of me is both wrong and unwelcome.

    Double huh? What “pyschoanalysis”?

    I have proven, and you have accepted by inference, that the US does not have “a much higher” birthrate than “Europe”. In fact the US birthrate is merely somewhat higher.

    Given the small difference between the US birthrate and the birthrates of other developed nations, my reference to some notional “Plimsoll Line” that may be lurking in the back of your mind (that is your rational mind as opposed to the other kind of mind that is susceptible only to analysis by psychoanalysis) invited you to comment on the possibility that the small quantitative difference between the US and the rest of the developed world in fact adds up to a large qualitative difference due to its (the US birthrate’s) crossing some vital threshold.

    So, do you, Bismarck deem that the small quantitative differences between US birthrates and the birthrates of other developed societies constitutes a qualitative difference between US society and othe developed societies?

    If not, then there is nothing exceptional in this regard about US society.

    This is an attempt to arrive at the simple, rational (non-psychiatric) truth of the matter. Nothing more I assure you.

    /quip mode

    Watch the shiny bauble Bismarck. You are feeling drowsy …

    /end quip mode

  28. polluted skies says:

    “We’re the original secular society, buddy”

    Thank God for that .

  29. John Greenfield says:

    I have to say the tendency of the luvvie-left to reduce every political debate to how racist everybody else who does not agree with them is getting out of hand.

    wwb’s presumption crosses beyond ignorance into just plain ugly with this:

    But this tugging at the national loins is indeed about mild forms of misogyny and racism

    Get a grip. Was Paul Keating a racist and misogynist for establishing compulsory superannuation to address a demographic problem? We all know he was racist in his use of immigration policy as an ALP branch-stacking tactic, but that is another matter.

  30. John Greenfield says:

    To argue that Australia was not born sui generis as a cultural and political expression of Protestanism is just silly.

  31. Mark says:

    Well, let’s hear you explain why, for once, John, rather than making a magisterial pronouncement.

  32. Nabakov says:

    OK, who put the hyphen in Anglo-Saxon? C’mon speak up, I’m sure at least one person here has a guilty ancestor.

    And speaking as someone descended from a long line of folks who slaughtered picts, celts and papist scum in order to turn England into Great Britain, I will say the best thing that ever happened to the place over the last 200 years was getting Indianised.

    Been to the old Dart lately? The 2nd and 3rd generation home island-born subcontinenties are generally far more respectable, polite, hardworking, funny and proud about being British than many of the bloodline locals.

    A barrister mate of mine (Turkish descent out of Melbourne) with chambers at the Inner Temple in London who specialises in gang warfare cases put it (and I quote from memory here):

    “I deal with Yardies fighting Romanians fighting Ukrainians fighting Georgians fighting Yardies. Then I go unwind at at a Cypriot bistro that serves the best curries on Fleet Street and utterly ignores the drinking hours.”

    “So do you get many Indian/Pak gang cases Ed?”

    “Never! No one does. Look around – (Inner Temple dining room) – they’re all in here working on being Lord Chancellor or head of Lloyd’s legal division.”

    And yes he was right. You’d hafta to look twice to spot a white male face now in that ancient pinnacle of Anglosphere law. This ancient and royal shrine of WASP professional disputation has rediscovered its roots as a genuine meritocrasy. And at lunch in the historic majestic panneled dining room you had choice of roast lamb with mint sauce and new potatoes or Beef Vindaloo. And some weird vegetarian offering as well that I do not wish to recall.

    I look forward to the first Indian Lord Chancellor. He or she is gonna be more British that the Brits. And a fuck of a lot smarter about handing down dodgy Gov-favouring decisions than Lord Falconer and co.

    As Senator Bulworth said – Bring on the voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep f***in’ everybody ’til they’re all the same color.

    We’ll all end up bland technocratic westerners anyway.

  33. Mark on 4 April 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Jack, are you channelling Keith Windschuttle? To what degree was Australia “founded by Christiansâ€?? Please read some more history.

    Mark if you believe that AUstralian settler culture was without Christian foundation then I have a semi-circular bridge that you might be interested in buying. I dont know what history you are reading but whatever it is I suggest you drop it into the same Dustbin which currently holds your discredited cultural philosophy.

    mark says:

    The Rev. Samuel Marsden – the flogging parson magistrate?

    For every Marsden I can find a dozen do-gooding Christians to over-compensate. Ever heard of Caroline Chisolm?

    mark says:

    The British government hadn’t even seen it as a priority to provide a Chaplain for the first convict settlement.

    Wrong. Let me the record straight. The British government did provide a Christian chaplain in the first fleet: Rev Richard Johnson. He built Australia’s first Church and established Australia’s first schools. The no-founding-chaplain story seems to be a Left-wing myth, fashionable amongst the black-armbanders.

    mark says:

    Rates of religious practice were nugatory for decades, except among the Irish when the Catholic Church managed to mobilise, and in urban areas in the late nineteenth century, were lower than the low figures for London at the same time.

    It is true that Australia, relatively speaking, is more secular than the UK and US. And it is definitely the most secular nation in the world right now. (Although still living off its Christian moral inheritance.)

    It is also true that convicts were less godly than law-abiding. You would expect this. About one in three were active in church observance. That is a long way from saying that Australia was a godless country. Convicts believed in God alright, they were just too fagged, mischievous or lazy to do much about it.

    Free settlers were typically more observant than the forced ones. By the time of federation about 95% of citizens were Christian denomination. To be non-Christian in federating AUstralia was to be, statistically speaking, a deviant.

    mark says:

    A lot of early colonial politics revolved around the fight to make education secular, and to de-fund churches (who initially had land endowments and paid clergy).

    A lot of late federal politics revolved around the fight to make religious schools state funded. This fact would seem to point in the opposite direction to your point.

    mark says:

    We’re the original secular society, buddy. Sectarianism and wowserism was about as high profile as religion got in the late nineteenth century.

    No. To define Christian influence in early Australian history as mostly “sectarian and wowser” is to fall for black-armbanding at its worst. No wonder Windschuttle and Blamey get a sympathetic hearing with rubbish like that to refute.

    Australia was originally founded by persons professing and observing the Christian faith. Most of its key institutions (parliament, schools, hospitals, military, welfare agencies, trade unions, parties) were established and imbued by people of strong Christian faith. There are crosses plastered all over them, including the flag [x 2].

    The same goes for the populus. For most of Australia’s history the majority of people routinely observed their faith on a regular basis. Almost everyone sought Christian sacraments to mark their rites of passage. Next time you pass a cemetery have a look at the shape and script on the monuments.

    I know that Australia’s Christian foundationalism is annoying to Left-wingers trying desperately to be revisionist. But facts are awkward things. Get over it.

  34. Fiasco da Gama says:

    And it is definitely the most secular nation in the world right now.

    How about the People’s Republic of China, Jack?
    By the way, on Christian sacraments and everyday life in Australian history—I prescribe a rereading of Ken Inglis. Secular religious observances have been just as important if not more so in identity-building.
    Also, the Union Jack has three crosses, not two.

  35. Bismarck says:

    So, do you, Bismarck deem that the small quantitative differences between US birthrates and the birthrates of other developed societies constitutes a qualitative difference between US society and othe developed societies?

    Sigh. The EU fertility rate is 1.47 children per woman. The US fertility rate is 2.09. That is a difference of 42%, which is significant in anyone’s language. However – and this is what makes any discussion with you so frustrating, Katz – you somehow divine some overarching agenda in my comments that is simply not there. I have not made any claims for US exceptionalism anywhere in my comments. No Plimsoll Line, no vital threshhold. I have simply said that it cannot be assumed that lower birthrates are “overwhelmingly associated with increased standards of living and improved status of women” in the developed world. No-one is suggesting that we embark on a project to get our fertility rate up to that of Africa. Bear in mind that this is all in the context of it being somehow racist or misogynist to encourage a small increase in the fertility rate of a country like Australia.

    So, to return to your question: No. I have used the US (or France, if you like, both having significantly increased their fertility rates in recent years) as an example of the proposition that you can have a higher birthrate than Australia (or Cuba, or Tunisia, or Romania, if you like) without destroying your living standards or enslaving women.

  36. Katz says:

    So Bismarck admits that I wasn’t attempting to psychoanalyse him.

    No. I have used the US (or France, if you like, both having significantly increased their fertility rates in recent years)

    Huh, again. Peruse the following chart for US births since 1910 extracted from here

    Year Births Rate
    1910 2,777,000 30.1

    1950 3,632,000 24.1

    1960 4,257,850 23.7

    1970 3,731,386 18.4

    1980 3,612,258 15.9

    1990 4,179,000 16.7
    1991 4,111,000 16.2
    1992 4,084,000 16.0
    1993 4,039,000 15.7
    1994 3,979,000 15.3
    1995 3,892,000 14.8
    1996 3,899,000 14.7
    1997 3,882,000 14.5
    1998 3,941,553 14.6
    1999 3,959,417 14.5
    2000 4,058,814 14.7

    Please point out the “significant increase” in recent US fertility rates. Your portrait of the US is belied by facts.

  37. Bismarck says:

    So Bismarck admits that I wasn’t attempting to psychoanalyse him.

    Wait a minute. You raised the assertion that I have a benchmark birthrate in mind, motivated by a belief in US exceptionalism. I denied it, and explained what I was trying to say. Whay don’t you admit that nothing I have said supports your theory of my motivation (i.e. your perceived insights into the basis of my comments, or ‘psychoanalysis’ for short)?

    My comments re French and US fertility rates were based on the following:

    France 1.89 children/woman in 2000; 2.01 in 2006 ( 6.3%)
    USA 2.06 children/woman in 2000; 2.09 in 2006 ( 1.5%)

    Modest but significant increases in recent years. I have not painted any ‘portrait’ of the United States in this: I have simply indicated that I disagree with the conclusion that any increase in the birthrate of a developed nation has the effects alleged in the article quoted in the original post.

  38. Katz says:

    Modest but significant increases in recent years.

    1.5%?? Please say you are jesting.

    Modest to the point of nugatory, more like it.

    Enough of your special pleading Bismarck. Admit it. There has been no siginificant upswing in US birthrates since the days of the post WWII baby boom.

    For most of the last century it has been down, down, down, except for the occasional tiny (1.5%) uptick that can be explained by random variation.

  39. Bismarck says:

    However you treat the recent movements in US birthrate, Katz, it is still the highest in the developed world. There is no special pleading here – it is an observation germane to the point in the original post, i.e., that a relatively modest increase in the Australian birthrate to the approximate levels in, for example, the US or France would not adversely affect our standard of living or subjugate Australian women. I am not even advocating this, simply pointing out that the argument in the Crikey article is specious.

    This is not the first time, even on this thread, that you have misread someone’s comments and imputed motivations to them that are completely unsupportable. You challenged me to accept or deny a proposition entirely of your own making, that “the small quantitative differences between US birthrates and the birthrates of other developed societies constitutes a qualitative difference between US society and othe developed societies.” When I denied that I had said anything of the sort, you took that to be a vindication of, well … what exactly? That because your perception of my motivations was wrong, I no longer thought you were trying impute motivations to me? Bizarre.

  40. Katz says:

    So Bismarck finally admits that there has been no significant recent upswing in US birthrates.

    Now we can turn to the reasons why Bismarck persisted so long in the face of evidence to the contrary that there have been

    Modest but significant increases in recent years.

    How do you explain yourself Bismarck?

    On a not unrelated topic, Bismarck twist the following entirely open-ended and non-rhetorical question:

    So, do you, Bismarck deem that the small quantitative differences between US birthrates and the birthrates of other developed societies constitutes a qualitative difference between US society and othe developed societies?

    into this scary, rhetorical and leading statement:

    You challenged me to accept or deny a proposition entirely of your own making, that “the small quantitative differences between US birthrates and the birthrates of other developed societies constitutes a qualitative difference between US society and othe developed societies.â€?

    These debaters’ tricks won’t work Bismarck.

  41. Bismarck says:

    This is tiresome, Katz. We can quibble all day about how significant recent increases in the US birthrate are. My description of them as being on the increase was parenthetical, the relevant point being that some other prosperous and successful nations have higher birthrates than we do and the sky won’t fall if ours goes up slightly.

    Your question – quantitative birthrates and its relation to qualitative differences in the US and elsewhere: yes or no? – was in fact a closed and leading question. Go back and read the rest of the post. Its foundation was an assumption on your part that I believed, or that it was a logical extension of my comments, that “the small quantitative difference between the US and the rest of the developed world in fact adds up to a large qualitative difference due to its (the US birthrate’s) crossing some vital threshold.”

    To get this argument out of its rut, I can tell you:

    (1) Whether the birthrates in the US or France are trending upwards or downwards makes no difference to my views. They are higher than they are here.

    (2) I have no views as to how the birthrate in the US or France affects qualitative differences between those societies and others, other than to say it does not seem to be unduly destructive.

    (3) The US and French birthrates do not represent any sort of benchmark. They are examples of prosperous societies with higher birthrates than ours. Other examples: Italy’s are lower than ours and it’s delightful. Niger’s are much, much higher and it’s a shithole. Ukraine’s are much, much lower and I wouldn’t live there for quids. Singapore’s are even lower and, eh, I could take it in small doses. In summary, would a small increase in Australia’s birthrate harm our standard of living and return women to the Victorian era? There is no evidence to suggest that it would.

  42. Thank you for your interesting post!
    I thought perhaps you may also find this related publication interesting to you:
    Aging of Population
    http://longevity-science.org/Population_Aging.htm

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