Here are a few items that while not directly related to each other do provide some insight into the challenges our culture, society and country are facing:
- In 2011, the total fertility rate in the U.S. was 1.89, the fourth year in a row it has been below the replacement rate of 2.1. For context, demographers have learned that a society must produce at minimum 2.1 live births per woman of child bearing age to maintain a stable population size. Higher fertility rates mean a population is growing while a rate lower than 2.1 means the population is gradually dying off. In general, the relatively rich and developed countries like those in much of Europe (mid-to-upper 1.X's) and even Japan(a depressing 1.4) are dying while the 'poor' but dynamic countries of Africa and the Middle East are statistically young and growing. Alarmingly, nearly 41 percent of babies in America were born out of wedlock. Short story, we're not making enough babies and half of those who are born are born into single-parent families. Full report here.
- Our education system is failing us, both in terms of actually providing a practical education in areas that lead to job potential (especially in the maths and sciences) but also in an understanding of the "hows and whys" of our country, its place in the world, and the themes that comprise Man's experiences in the world - i.e. a classical 'liberal arts' education that includes immersion in history and political science. Undermining any effort to correct this deficiency, perhaps even understanding that a deficiency exists, has been the rise of 'multiculturalism' and its lethal cousin 'campus censorship' both of which have dramatically reshaped what passes for 'education' on our college campuses. For more on this, see this item by Sohrab Ahmari.
- Of more immediate concern, Act II of this Administration's approach to federal control of and/or involvement in all aspects of America's commercial and private sectors (i.e. our business and personal lives). I'll simply direct your attention to the Wall Street Journals' take on the upcoming 'Regulatory Flood.' Scary reading especially when one considers the already heavily-discussed 'looming fiscal cliff' comprised of expiring tax cuts, mandated budget cuts, implementation of 'Obamacare' mandates, and a likely slide into another recession during 2013.
To what cause do I chalk most of this up to? A disinterested, uninvolved, and willfully uninformed public. Politicians, academics, and activists will do what they want unless checked by the public at large. If 'the people' want something different than what we have--and what we are soon to get--then they have to make that known. Otherwise, they'll get what someone else determines they should have. Pointing fingers at politicians, political parties, and extremists at both ends of the spectrum misses the point. The blame for our national problems lies with us, 'The People', who get what we ask for or don't oppose in sufficient numbers. Something to think about.