Falling Birth Rates

Apparently, according to this article, U.S. women are having fewer babies. I find that hard to believe because it seems like every time I turn around, I find out someone is pregnant or I’m hearing about someone’s new baby, grand-baby, or god-baby. Maybe the “fewer babies” trend is mostly in the more “blue” states like New York and California, because here in North Carolina, I’m just not seeing evidence of it.

I do think the decline in birth rate could be caused by how hard it is to establish oneself in the world as a 20- or 30-something, especially given the Great Recession in 2009 from which we’re still recovering. People my age have student loan debt, which is hard to pay off when you’re also making an inflated rent payment because you can’t buy a house because the housing market is insane. Because women are working on their careers, they are having babies later, in their 30s, and they have fewer babies because their window of fertility is smaller. There’s talk about freezing eggs, but that process is expensive and probably risky.

Some people also have the mentality that it is irresponsible to have children when there is not enough food to go around or when the world is as polluted as it is. I think those issues are more a problem with the distribution of food because I remember hearing somewhere that the world produces way more than enough food for its population. Food is poorly distributed around the world because of government or environmental factors, but there is certainly enough of it.

Another factor could be that life is easier without kids. People in this day and age want a carefree, Instagram-able life, where they can do what they please whenever they please. People also want to buy classy cars and go on expensive trips and pour all their energy into their pets rather than add another child to the world. And I’m not gonna lie: Life is indeed easier without kids. But is it better? That’s a question that you can’t really answer unless you have kids, and most people who have kids would say that their life is enhanced by them.

But as life-enhancing as they are, kids cost a lot of money, and you can’t plan for many of the expenses associated with them. How to avoid these expenses? Don’t have kids, which is now much easier because of the more widespread use and availability of contraceptives. The pill and other forms of artificial birth control like the patch and IUDs have become incredibly effective (98%) over the years (of course, only when used properly). Honestly, I don’t believe abortion is much of a contributor to low birth rates.

Is human life in the United States in danger of dying out because of the low birth rate? I think it’s too soon to tell.

Thursday Three #48

Recent reads edition! SPOILER ALERT! I was in a rush, so I grabbed three random books out of the library, only glancing at the covers and blurbs for a quick second. Interestingly, all were part of a series (not the same series), but I didn’t know that when I picked them up.

  1. The Last Good Girl – Allison Leotta. Part of the Anna Curtis series, which centers on a lawyer working for the U.S. government. The book had an interesting premise: the dangers of the date-rape drug commonly used by unscrupulous people at college. Moral of the story: Men are evil. College boys, especially those associated with fraternities, are sex crazed and irredeemably evil, except when it serves the book’s plot for them to turn over a new leaf. All women are good, especially when they fight against injustices perpetuated by evil men.
  2. The Three – Sarah Lotz. There’s a sequel called Day Four. Both are horror novels describing an end-of-the-world scenario. Moral of the story: Fundamentalist Christians are evil. But then again, the entire human race, including gay people, little kids, the Japanese, and South Africans, is evil, and we deserve whatever apocalyptic terror we get. This book is much more like Stephen King’s novels than Bird Box because of its length and complexity, but the depth of characterization is just not there. At the point when I was getting to know and like the characters, the book was ending and/or said characters were dying or dead. This was a bleak one.
  3. A Sin Such as This – Ellen Hopkins.* This is the sequel to Love Lies Beneath, which most likely contains more of the main character’s morally disgusting sexual escapades (although she tries to justify it to herself) and unbridled arrogance. Moral of the story: Men are evil. Except when they can provide women with mind-numbingly good sex. Women’s moral failings can be attributed entirely to their parents and their upbringing; thus, women are blameless, even when they do the same morally reprehensible things as men. Because, wouldn’t you know, women are entitled to cheat on their husbands when they have been treated poorly!

Oh, the depth of misanthropy in these three books… will I read the others in the series? Maybe. All three books were entertaining and went pretty quickly, but I wasn’t particularly blown away by any of them.

*I’ve read a couple of Ellen Hopkins’ YA novels-in-verse, which are much more well known and greatly loved among teen audiences. She should stick to that genre. A Sin Such as This had a couple poems in it, and they just didn’t work for the book. It was like sprinkling powdered sugar over moldy cookies.

Bumper Stickers: Funny, Controversial, and Just Plain Stupid

Do you love or hate bumper stickers (and magnets/decals)? Some people see them as obnoxious because the person using them had the arrogance to state his opinions on his vehicle. Car enthusiasts hate them because they ruin the car. And some lame people, like me, love them because they give me something to look at while commuting.

There were a ton of stickers on my old car, and it was fun to gauge people’s reactions. I got a lot of “thumbs up,” but I also got some rude people, and I don’t think it was my imagination, but tailgaters seemed more vicious when I had my old car. I don’t think I’ll put any stickers on my new car until it’s at least 10 years old… or maybe I won’t put any on at all.

On the other hand, my husband’s car (same age as mine) is absolutely plastered with stickers, and they are all related to Catholicism. One time, someone passed us and held up his rosary in solidarity. Another time, someone waited for my husband outside a store and cursed him out. (Something to the tune of “How dare you support those pedophile priests?!?” but much more rude.)

Are bumper stickers foolish? Probably just as foolish as vanity plates, because they are attention getting, but in the best case, they could lead to interesting conversations or even friendships. In the days before social media, bumper stickers were a good way to share your opinions and beliefs with the world, but now, most people probably just consider them tacky.

My favorite sticker? A hard choice, but I pick this one. There’s another I like with “0.0” and below that, in smaller letters, it says, “I don’t run.” I guess it’s making fun of people who have those 26.2 and 13.1 stickers bragging to the world that they can run insanely long distances and are much healthier than the rest of us.

My least favorite sticker? This one, followed by the one that shows a curvy girl’s silhouette. They’re like those metal bull balls that some people put on their truck’s hitch: just plain stupid.