Don’t miss the obvious in RI’s baby drain.
It is remarkable that Paul Edward Parker’s Providence Journal article about the “record-shattering baby shortage” in the Ocean State goes on as long as it does without making the key, irreducible point.
… The number being born in the Ocean State has ebbed to its lowest point in more than a century.
The phenomenon has been so pronounced that, for the first time since the state began keeping records in the 1850s, the yearly number of deaths eclipsed the number of births, creating a condition that demographers call “natural decrease.”
The problem, according to Parker, is that businesses need people to sell stuff to and to hire, not to mention the increased burden of an aging population and lost tax revenue. Parker’s most definitely not alone in this, but such analyses fall into the progressive trap of thinking of people as dehumanized pieces on the board and business as a static class.
Perhaps because it is so obvious that analysts don’t even think to notice it, the point missed is that people are the economy. It’s not just that they’re consumers who need services, which is a typical New England progressive way to look at the economy. They’re also producers and innovators and volunteers. The economy exists by their desire to turn their time and work into capital.
Parker puts forward the standard excuse-making line that Rhode Island mainly follows national trends, as if national trends always have to rule in RI, but the reality is that the sorts of people who would have children have no reason to be in our state. We cut off job opportunities, and our education system is terrible, especially for the cost. To the extent that our big spending on education does children any good, they’re apt to take our investment and move elsewhere for better opportunities.
Like a wild garden that grows where it can flourish, if our population isn’t growing, it’s because our social, economic, and cultural soil isn’t healthy. Some of that’s national, to be sure, but not all of it, or even most of it. The people who run our state (gov, media) are killing it. No wonder they want to miss that.
Featured image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.