By Michael R. Shannon
Displaying that tone of pretentious concern that it made famous, the New York Times writes that as of 2014 the US birthrate has declined for the sixth consecutive year. One would think the Times, of all papers, would be overjoyed by this development since the decline means a reduction in number of little carbon producers in the future.
Although it's too late for Cecil the Lion, maybe polar bears will have a fighting chance.
The decline is also counterintuitive "because the number of women in their prime childbearing years, 20 to 39, has been growing since 2007."
This means the drop in absolute numbers is cushioned due to the larger population of potential mothers. "The National Center for Health Statistics reported Thursday that there were 3.93 million births in the United States in 2013, down slightly from 3.95 million in 2012, but 9 percent below the high in 2007.
Some think this could be a problem in the Boomer's golden years, when there's no one around to push the wheelchair even at a $15/hr. minimum wage. Demographer Andrew J. Cherlin assures us, "Americans haven't worried much about birthrates in the past, because we have the faucet of immigration to turn on and off." Actually, that's not true. Every high school kid that's got it on in the back seat has worried the next morning about birthrates. But for the nation as a whole, Cherlin says we can decide whether we want to become Mexico slowly or rápido.
There is even hope for reinforcements from the hard–boiled egg crowd. The report found an increase of 14 percent in births for women ages 45 – 49, which explains the little guys in the maternity ward that appear to need a shave.
The Times blames the economy for the baby bust, but I blame mom and dad.
The Daily Mail has found "One in three young adults is still living at home with their parents, despite years of economic recovery which have seen more of them bag jobs and bigger pay packets." And many of them are still leaving their dirty clothes in a pile on the floor.
If that's not birth dearth cause and effect I don't know what is.
"Young adults" is defined as the 18 to 34 age group. At the low end you've got college students and recent high school grads. It makes sense for them to still be at home. After age 24 though, it's time to hit the road. One of the few things Obamacare doesn't require is the kids still be at home to be covered by dad's policy.
The lack of little bundles of joy prove there are real trade–offs for getting a bundle of laundry done for free. Walking a date of either sex in the front door and seeing pops in bathrobe and slippers watching Duck Dynasty is a rapid romance reducer. Once the introductions are over so is any hope of extra–curricular activity.
A logical solution would be to use dad's bathrobe as motivation to find someone, fall in love and get your own place out from under the ‘rents prying eyes and ears. But for this generation a tattoo is the only permanent commitment they will ever make.
Explaining the parent's lassitude is easy enough. If they were okay with everyone getting a trophy on the soccer team, they are probably still okay with junior in the basement.
Eagle–eyed Elizabeth Harrington, of the Washington Free Beacon, spotted a National Science Foundation program that may fill the breach where births have not. Taxpayers are spending $1.2 million on a project to design robots to dress the elderly who don't have a descendent at home.
The grant explains, "Physical disabilities due to illness, injury, or aging can result in people having difficulty dressing themselves, and the healthcare community has found that dressing is an important task for independent living."
It goes without saying that if you leave the house naked your days of "independent living" will be drawing to a close. Still the algorithm for coping with "passive–aggressive" oldsters will be an interesting programming challenge. I'd pay money to watch a robot dress my mother while she still has a burning cigarette clutched in her hand.
The grant also has the usual blather about "fruitful collaborations (sic) between robots and humans" and a "simulation that can mix and match numerous outfit combinations." Maybe if the robots were dressing hipsters and Millennials, but my mother still uses a dial telephone made by Western Electric.
My suggestion is a dual programming effort to solve both problems. A simple switch on the robot for either dress granny or kick junior in the behind and get him out of the house.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!).