Friday, March 28, 2003

So it's things like this that make me wonder why so many people want to be like the Europeans.

Negative birthrates mean a shrinking population. As any student of history knows, the trick to increasing economic, military, and social power lies in birthrates: The British Empire was born (and borne) on the backs of a massive baby boom. (Insert joke about who else's back was bearing it here.) The Roman Republic dominated the Mediterranean on the strength of some very fertile Roman matrons. The baby boom in this country helped provide us the economic and military power to hold off, and defeat, the Soviet Union.

The flip side is rarer, but conveniently, we have a model to work off of: Europe after World War I. The loss of millions of young men in Britain, France, and Germany altered the calculus of those nations for decades. Indeed, I'd say the British Empire was lost in World War I, not because of the cost of the war in pounds, but because a million young, healthy men who could have (and largely did) administer the Empire, fight its wars, and, at least as importantly, take part in the millions of tiny economic interactions that make an Empire possible. Britain still hasn't recovered. France had another revolution (or whatever it is they have every forty years), and the old social and economic order was smashed. And, yes, they still haven't recovered. Germany... well, you know what happened to them.

And we want to be like them why? To lose our economic pull? Our strength? Our will to fight the good fight?

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