The Corner

The Consequences of No Consequences

Does anyone else notice the disconnect between stories such as this one, as noted by the estimable Walter Russell Mead:

The stakes in Italy are higher than many Italians seem to grasp. This isn’t just about Italy’s prosperity or its ability to stay in the euro. It is about survival. Italy’s birthrate is far below the natural rate of replacement; that is not unrelated to an economic system that makes it impossible for large numbers of young people to start households of their own.

Unless Italy becomes a country where twenty somethings can routinely leave home and build promising careers so that they have both the economic means to marry and the security to embrace the responsibilities of parenthood, Italians will become a demographic curiosity in their own country — and sooner rather than later.

And this one, about Sandra Fluke and her contraceptive demands:

Contraception activist Sandra Fluke tells MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that private insurance should cover contraception just like the government does. Fluke says that it is “completely untrue” that taxpayers would have to subsidize contraception.

“This is a program about private insurance. And it has nothing to do with government funding. The government does and should pay for contraception access for the very poorest women through programs like Medicaid, but it is important to be clear that this policy is not about that. This is about insurance that women pay for through their own premiums through their own employers and their universities,” she said.

Forget for the moment Read’s implied connection between the European welfare state and birth-rate death spiral evident in countries like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. And forget also Fluke’s disingenuousness about the true nature of the Obamacare mandate, which is unconstitutional government coercion of private, religious institutions. Let’s get right down to the cognitive dysfunction:

On the one hand — as NRO’s resident demography bore has been tirelessly pointing out — the Western world is facing an unparalleled demographic crisis brought on by a feminist-inspired modern twist on Lysistrata (showering sex but withholding children), while at the same time, the West’s vaunted “safety net” is collapsing because the system has been turned upside-down and a bevy of great-grandparents now coos over a single child.

Surely, this is the ultimate expression of the suicide cult that is the modern Left, a subset of libertine takers that so loathes itself that it will dragoon the makers into underwriting the chalices of tasty hemlock it’s so eager for everybody to quaff in order to put itself out of its misery. If, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, it feels good, do it! Alas, it does hurt somebody — it hurts society, by robbing it of its future and burdening those lucky kids who make it through the contraceptive/abortifacient gantlet with an unpayable debt to the very people who tried to get rid of them.

And for what? So that somebody might not be “punished” by a baby as a consequence of his or her personal behavior? 

Self-centered Baby Boomer liberalism emerged from the “sexual revolution” of the sixties, and for the past half century Boomers have been trying to escape the consequences of no consequences, which now threaten the underpinnings of the Left’s beloved, bankrupting welfare state. And yet, at the same time, women of child-bearing age demand that somebody — insurance companies, Washington, the pope in Rome — pay for universal contraceptive and abortion services in the name of “women’s health.” 

If this is not the definition of a suicide cult — one driven by the leftist insistence that sexual license be, well, licensed by the state, non-judgmentally and consequence-free — it’s hard to know what is. The Shakers had nothing on these people; at least they made furniture. But it’s what comes from treating pregnancy as a preventable disease, and viewing people as carbon-based pollutants instead of beings created in the image and likeness of God.

How do we save ourselves from the consequences of no consequences? As Phillip Longman notes:

The trick will be restoring what, in the days of family-owned farms and small businesses, was once true: that babies are an asset rather than a burden. Imagine a society in which parents get to keep more of the human capital they form by investing in their children. Imagine a society in which the family is no longer just a consumer unit, but a productive enterprise. The society that figures out how to restore the economic foundation of the family will own the future. 

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” That was the witticism that passed for cleverness back in the day. Who needs men in the Brave New World? We’re about to find out. 

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