Europeans want cradle to grave security guaranteed by the state. But lately there are a lot fewer cradles in Europe, with the EU beginning to look more like a continent-sized grave. What do you say to a continent that refuses to have enough children to replace its population -- yet is willing to riot and strike to prevent the state from reducing generous handouts and pensions? There is very little left to say.
Germany is shrinking — fast. New figures released on May 17 show the birth rate in Europe's biggest economy has plummeted to a historic low, dropping to a level not seen since 1946. As demographers warn of the consequences of not making enough babies to replace and support an aging population, the latest figures have triggered a bout of national soul-searching and cast a harsh light on Chancellor Angela Merkel's family policies.There are limits to the state-supported urban lifestyle, and the shrinking populations of Europe, Russia, Japan, and other "advanced" nations are starting to feel the squeeze. Germany is very close to the point of no return.
According to a preliminary analysis by the Federal Statistics Office, 651,000 children were born in Germany in 2009 — 30,000 fewer than in 2008, a dip of 3.6%. In 1990, German mothers were having on average 1.5 children each; today that average is down to 1.38 children per mother. With a shortfall of 190,000 between the number of people who died and the number of children who were born, Germany's birth rate is well below the level required to keep the population stable.
...The Federal Statistics Office says Germany's population of 82 million could drop by up to 17 million over the next 50 years. Demographers fear a shrinking workforce will stymie growth and struggle to foot the bill for a rapidly aging population. "Germany's working-age population is likely to decrease 30% over the next few decades," says Kröhnert of the Berlin Institute for Population Development. "Rural areas will see a massive population decline and some villages will simply disappear — Germany will become a weak economic power in the future."_Time
But why focus on Germany? Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Japan, and Eastern Europe are worse off than Germany in almost every way.
But it is precisely for that reason that one must focus on Germany's demographic meltdown. Germany is the most successful country in Europe -- and yet it has chosen the path of childless national suicide. What hope, therefore, do the rest of the hyper-indebted, under-procreating, proudly entitled, union obligated state disasters of Europe have?
Not that North America is doing much better. California, Michigan, and Illinois are drowning in public sector union debt and corruption. New Jersey has the chance to save itself, with a rare governor willing to go out on the political limb to save the state -- even at the risk of his own career. And what do New Jersey's unions do? Threaten to strike, riot, and even joke about assassinating the governor. The California governator has turned into a wimp in the face of public sector union threats. The US president is a Chicago Way machine politician steeped in the corrupt, fascist, populist pandering, union dominated, self-defeating styles of government that are bringing so much of the western world down.
North American demographics are slightly better than Europe's, but that is due to immigration -- and the significantly higher birthrates of new immigrants to America compared to multi-generational North Americans.
Can new technology save the developed world from itself? Automated industry and commerce? Nanotechnological fabricators? New longevity procedures and technologies for longer and healthier lives? Artificial wombs to allow high achieving women to have children AND continue their career paths? A partial reversal of urbanisation, with new farm and ranch technologies that allow for more pleasurable and profitable urban lifestyles?
We need new frontiers, big new challenges that can bring out the atavist in the young and the young at heart. We need to find tasks and places that force us to tap the deep strength of the primitive drives within ourselves at the same time we are utilising advanced skills and technologies undreamed of even a few years ago. Most of all, we need to raise our children to seek these new challenges and risks.
What we are doing now clearly isn't working.
Deep budget cuts are under way across Europe. Although the first round is focused mostly on government payrolls — the least politically explosive target — welfare benefits are looking increasingly vulnerable.
"The current welfare state is unaffordable," said Uri Dadush, director of the Carnegie Endowment's International Economics Program...."We have to adjust our social security systems in a way that they motivate people to accept regular work and do not give counterproductive incentives," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told news weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung on Saturday.
The uncertainty over the future of the welfare state is undermining the continent's self-image at a time when other key elements of post-war European identity are fraying. Large-scale immigration from outside Europe is challenging the continent's assumptions about its dedication to tolerance and liberty as countries move to control individual clothing — the Islamic veil — in the name of freedom and equality....
...Demographers and economists began warning decades ago that social welfare was doomed by the aging of Europe's baby boomers. Some governments had been trimming and reforming, but now almost all are scrambling to close deficits in order to prevent a wider collapse of confidence in the euro...
...Southern European countries that have not moved toward reforming welfare in the same ways are paying a steep price. _SFEx
Cross posted from Al Fin