Drop the spin and speak the truth…about babies

Columns

Drop the spin and speak the truth…about babies

Philippa Davies

Monday, March 02, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!


On January 15, 2020 President Vladimir Putin announced new measures to increase Russia's dwindling birth rate, including maternity capital (State funding for mothers) and free school meals, adding to the tax breaks already given to families with two or more children. With births averaging 1.5 children per woman “Russia's fate and its historical outlook depends on how many of us there are,” the president said.

The basic international replacement level is two children per woman.

In 2016 the Shinzo Abe-led Government in Japan established a ministerial post, minister of state for measures for declining birth rate, in recognising that the double whammy of a low birth rate (1.42 per woman) and a rapidly aging population is a serious economic matter. Policy programmes include nationwide support for marriage, pregnancy and child delivery.

And, after ending the draconian one-child policy in 2015, the Chinese Government is worried as the desired massive increase in births has not materialised (1.6 per woman). In fact, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has forecast that the State pension fund may “run out of money by 2035” because of a declining workforce and increasing dependent elderly population.

These three of the world's largest and more powerful economies openly admit a national crisis: They are running out of people — the stuff society's made of. Without people, especially the young, to work, build, and procreate, new generations of people and their countries could well become extinct.

This is not melodrama, it is reality. The leaders are at least to be commended for the courage to confront bad policies of the past, and also for their attempts to pursue national support for childbearing and -rearing in order to secure the future. But it isn't easy.

Miles away, in the western hemisphere, the Caribbean faces a similar dire predicament. We too are running out of people. Within the last three months or so, top policy officials in Jamaica — the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) — and now from the region — the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) — have warned of the looming economic crisis, because we too are experiencing a low birth rate and rapidly aging population. Without enough incoming young people to sustain the economy, and especially to pay into pensions for the increasing and longer-living retiree class, we are in big trouble.

But instead of doing like the bigger world leaders have done, our policymakers resort to avoidance by spin. They say, “Depopulation means more job opportunities and opportunities for migration from Africa.” Like seriously? That's their sustainable solution for our problems? The possibility of job opportunities does not automatically mean that there will be jobs or that they will be filled by job-seekers without more. Jamaican youth leaving educational institutions actually need jobs today and have been trained to fit into whatever is available. Furthermore, migration is simply shifting around an existing number of people. Each year, hundreds of Jamaicans are leaving Jamaica for other Western nations whose birth rates are drastically low. If Jamaicans with skills and youthful strength are migrating to build up the population-dying West, and if people from Africa and Asia with skills and youthful strength are also migrating to the dying Western nations, who exactly would the PIOJ and CDB be considering to migrate to the Caribbean?

The CDB suggests Africa, but please note that if trends change on the continent, Africa may well want to keep her human resources home very soon.

What has happened to Caribbean policymakers is what US President Donald Trump recently said in his speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: “The perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse... [and] foolish fortune-tellers …[predicted] an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s.” This has not happened.

There it is. We swallowed the lie of overpopulation and it has backfired — as expected, and as seen in other nations across the world who also fell for the lie. What the Caribbean urgently needs are leaders with the guts to call a spade a spade, to admit their wrong decisions, and turn to pursuing a path of engendering life. In other words, drop the spin and speak the truth about babies.

The truth is any society's most prized resource is their human resource. Economic performance is tied to the people in that economy. A well-functioning society with a future needs people to exist and to thrive. What the PIOJ and the CDB ought to do is promote pro-natalist policies. And these categorically have to begin with the primary formulae for stable family life; healthy man-woman relationships based on mutual honesty, commitment, fidelity and maturity.

The escalating news reports of intimate relationships gone tragically wrong is a wrecking ball against social stability and economic growth and development. Furthermore, any policy or legislative decision to sanction the killing of unborn babies in their mothers' wombs is a sure measure of expediting depopulation.

Unless Jamaican and other Caribbean policymakers position as a priority for 2020 and beyond, the health of man-woman relationships and their impact on children, the region will continue in the direction of demographic suicide with our eyes wide open.

Philippa Davies is an attorney-at-law and co-founder of #MarriageMattersJamaica, a movement promoting the public policy goods of marriage. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or marriagemattersja@gmail.com.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT