Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Gipper by the Dozen

Today, a goodly number of blogs took up the challenge to find some silver lining in Phill Longman's cloudy prediction that the fecundamentalists will swamp us liberals with their teeming spawn.

I imagine that this whole line of inquiry is offensive to parents who have chosen to have large families. For those whose motives or calculations in filling the bedrooms and classrooms includes a conscious attempt to out-produce other sects or ethnic groups, the topic, discussed as we have been discussing it, may be both threatening and justifying their progeny program. To the latter I offer no apology: share the damned planet or damn the shared planet...your move!
To others who just wound up driving a van to take the kids to the library because thats what your people always did and you love it, I offer faint apology. We oughta talk because I want to make sure you are holding up your end of the bargain as far as natural resouces.

Longman's scenario may have circumstantial evidence to back it. But based on what I have observed about the dynamics of sibling resource sharing in large families the bigger issue than how the children vote will be how adept individuals in this cohort will be at fighting or conniving for more than their share of the pie. Large families with meager resources foster such calloused skill even in the midst of clear demonstration of the need to share. That is to say, I fear that psychology more than any explicitly communicated "values" will make natural born republicans because people who weaned by "sucking the hind tit", as we farmers used to say, are as bent by that experience as they are by a "stern father".

Against that speculation, we can weigh some realities. If Krugman has reported the numbers accurately, only the affluent few have enjoyed the income gains that make educating and providing health care for a large brood a non-issue. The rest of US society can , if anything, afford fewer children, considering what a huge outlay of cash is needed to successfully launch a prosperous and productive human life in the US in 2006. Most people understand that division by a larger number produces a smaller quotient. I would like to think no parents say to themselves "NO, we don't want no college learnin' in our family...we're upright folks and don't want no corruptin'". We are not a 3rd world economy yet but Bush is working hard to get us there. While the 80% of the families that are sliding back toward poverty under the Bush and Reagan economics contain the lion's share of the putative fecundamentalist population explosion, their plight can not continue to worsen and still leave them in the grip of neocon/fundy rhetoric. That ill considered alliance will crack if not explode. The evangelicals who take their stewardship of the earth seriously ,of whom I have written before, will have increasing incentive to distance themselves from "conservatives" while that word means the mindless herds that voted for Bush and acquiesce to his policies. It is only a matter of what threshold of misery is required to trigger a realization that "be fruitful and multiply" was drafted before there were even a billion people and long before we burnt coal and oil at the rate of tons per person per year. Liberals just reach that threshold sooner. And I hardly need point out that a woman in complete and uncoerced control of her reproductive activity is a powerful force for stopping fecundamental madness.

Remember that eastern European immigrants arrived poor, often with large families as was the norm in the societies they left in the late 1800s. They moved to the cities of a nation that already trended away from large families except for farming. Remember that they staffed the settlement houses and aid societies and were in the front lines of the labor organizers once they found out that the American dream meant sweat shops for them and their children.

Eager though it is to do so, there is only so much reality that conservatism can hide from children.

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