The Politics of Birth Rates: Declining Birth Rates Among Liberals Foreshadows A More Conservative Future

In a recent NPR interview, Phillip Longman, author of The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity And What to Do About It, explains how birth rates and political leanings are intertwined:

It turns out that people who hold a broad range of social attitudes that most of us would recognize as liberal or progressive on average have dramatically fewer children than people who hold attitudes that most of us recognize as socially conservative….

All around the world, fertility is falling, but it’s falling least among Mormons, Islamic Fundamentalists, Christian Fundamentalists, people who adhere to a more traditional and socially conservative way of life. The three big Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all relentlessly pro-natal. They counsel to go forth and multiply. So it’s not entirely surprising that people who take their scripture literally act on it.

He points out that the birth rates in Utah and Vermont, for example, vary by 40%. Dissecting the 2004 Unites States presidential race, Longman writes:

In states where Bush won a popular majority in 2000, the average woman bears 2.11 children in her lifetime — which is enough to replace the population. In states where Gore won a majority of votes in 2000, the average woman bears 1.89 children, which is not enough to avoid population decline. Indeed, if the Gore states seceded from the Bush states and formed a new nation, it would have the same fertility rate, and the same rapidly aging population, as France — that bastion of “old Europe.”

If Gore’s America (and presumably John Kerry’s) is reproducing at a slower pace than Bush’s America, what does this imply for the future? Well, as the comedian Dick Cavett remarked, “If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.” When secular-minded Americans decide to have few if any children, they unwittingly give a strong evolutionary advantage to the other side of the culture divide. Sure, some children who grow up in fundamentalist families will become secularists, and vice versa. But most people, particularly if they have children, wind up with pretty much the same religious and political orientations as their parents. If “Metros” don’t start having more children, America’s future is “Retro.”

And in a just-published article he says:

In Europe today, for example, how many children different people have, and under what circumstances, correlates strongly with their beliefs on a wide range of political and cultural attitudes. For instance, do you distrust the army? Then, according to polling data assembled by demographers Ronny Lesthaeghe and Johan Surkyn, you are less likely to be married and have kids—or ever to get married and have kids—than those who say they have no objection to the military. Or again, do you find soft drugs, homosexuality, and euthanasia acceptable? Do you seldom, if ever, attend church? For whatever reason, people answering affirmatively to such questions are far more likely to live alone, or in childless, cohabitating unions, than those who answer negatively.

Does your family size fit the liberal & progressive versus conservative categories described here?

 


Law Journals Have Come A Long Way Since 1995

It’s not often that you get to be a part of history. But in the Spring of 1995, I was part of a pioneering group of law students, led by Rick Klau (now Vice President of Business Development at FeedBurner), that published the Richmond Journal of Law & Technology, the first exclusively online law review. With institutions such as the University of Michigan, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall and others nipping at out heels, it was a mad dash to the finish in order to be able to claim the #1 spot.

Back then the idea of publishing exclusively online was revolutionary. In fact, many within the legal community thought it quite limiting. But as Rick explained, the advantages were clear:

“With the benefit of hind-sight and experience, I can safely say that the benefits to electronic publication far outweigh any concerns we might have…

On March 9 [1995], the First Circuit reversed the lower court in Lotus v. Borland. As soon as we realized this (the day before Spring Break no less), we quickly downloaded the opinion from Westlaw and updated all the cites in the three articles containing footnotes to this case. The significance of this cannot be overstated — with a publication date set for April 10, the issue would have already been sent to a printer and we would have been unable to make the necessary changes to keep the article current.

The benefits don’t just stop at the advantages it accords us, the publisher. The medium of the World Wide Web allows the reader to follow hypertext links to all ends of the world. By searching the web for related information to each article in The Journal, we have tried to show you just a sampling of the substantive information that is available out there.”

Now, a decade later, a new wave of legal research and scholarship is taking place. The latest example of this is Ian Best’s work (thanks to Diane Levin of  Online Guide to Mediation for the pointer). Best, a 3L at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, is creating a taxonomy of legal blogs on 3L Epiphany.

One of the most interesting parts of his work, however, is related to his soon-to-be-published “Recent Development” article about Campbell v. General Dynamics Govt’ Sys. Corp, 407 F.3d 546 (1st Cir. 2005) for the Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution.

As Ian explains in his Footnote 123 post:

“This post you are reading is actually an electronic footnote…

That is, you are now reading the footnote of an article that does not yet exist in published form. The article still needs to go through a final editing process. My own editing is over, and I can therefore give this electronic footnote a number, ‘123,’ based on its number in the print version….

Part of the complexity of doing this is that if the numbering of the footnotes changes in the print version (for example if an earlier footnote is removed), it will change the number of this footnote. I will then need to create a new blog with the updated number in the URL and in the heading….

I will use this footnote to do further research on this case… [and] demonstrate how online media can transcend the time and space limitations of traditional publishing forms….

And one aspect of this footnote I consider to be especially significant: Before my Recent Development is published in JDR, I will post it here. This article will exist in its final form here, in this footnote you are reading now, before it exists as a hard copy. So the footnote will contain the article, which will contain the footnote, which will contain the article, ad infinitum….

I predict that this attempt to blend old and new forms of legal publishing will become more common among law reviews in the future. And even if a student doesn’t get into journal, he can always ‘self-publish’ his blog.”

He adds in a comment to his post:

“I’m not sure any law student has ever written a case note and then made the last footnote a reference to a blog post (on his own personal blog), where the footnote can be extended to include unlimited future information.”


Resources for Blogging in Politically Repressive Environments

Here are two important blogging resources for anyone opposed to censorship and supportive of free speech … and, most importantly, for any blogger working within a politically repressive environment.

On a related note, there is currently much talk about credibility, accountability and accuracy within the blogosphere. I’ve often thought that limiting the anonymity of bloggers or those who comment on blog posts is one way of increasing accountability. Spirit of America has challenged my view on this (see entire argument on Anonymous Blogging Apologia):

“Most of the bloggers who have been arrested in the past two years were easy to find because they followed the advice of some purist critics of anonymous blogging: They used their real names and details of their lives. Considering the likelihood that the harrassment of bloggers will continue, we believe anonymous blogging should remain a valid option and comprehensive instructions on how to do so should be available.”


Legislation Seeks to Avoid a Repeat of Katrina’s Pet Failure

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, pet owners were either forced to abandon their pets or risk their own lives in trying to protect their animal companions. Some people decided to stay behind, others were heartbroken by the decision they felt forced to make.

While stories of happy reunions between owners and their pets provide a small feel-good element in an otherwise tragic series of government failures, there are still reports of animals who are barely alive and desperately waiting to be rescued.

Seeking to avoid a repeat of Katrina, Reps. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and Chris Shays (R-CT) recently introduced the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2005 (H.R. 3858) to require state and local emergency preparedness operational plans to “take into account the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency.” PETS currently has over 60 co-sponsors. As explained in Congressman Lantos’ introductory statements:

“This legislation … requires states to include how they plan to accommodate their incumbent pet population as well as people with disabilities that are aided by service animals. FEMA will require the jurisdictions to submit their emergency preparedness plans in order to be eligible for FEMA funding assistance in the event of a disaster.”

While the legislation doesn’t require any specific rescue efforts by state or local governments, it serves as a starting point for discussing the practical steps needed to rescue people and their pets. So are any non-profits or advocacy groups using this bill as an opportunity to educate their members and the public? Here’s a partial list of national organizations that are:

· The Humane Society of the United States (go here)

· The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (go here)

· Last Chance for Animals (scroll to bottom of page here)

· United Animal Nations (go here)

· Doris Day Animal League (go here)

At a time when the wounds of Katrina are still fresh and people around the country are wondering what they would so if disaster struck them, all animal advocacy groups, whether national or local, large or small, should be using this legislation to raise awareness and mobilize their audiences into action.