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From the Scrapbook

Aug 1, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 43 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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It’s tempting to dismiss the Guardian’s criticism as simple enviro-Malthusian drivel, but it’s actually much worse: It’s authoritarianism dressed up as enviro-Malthus. As it happens, the United Kingdom—in fact, all of Europe—has already had the “debate” about fertility rates that the Guardian calls for. And the anti-child, environmentalist Guardianistas won!

Today the average woman in the United Kingdom has 1.9 children, less than the number needed to keep the country’s population from shrinking (absent immigration). The U.K. has been below the replacement level—that is, 2.1 births per woman—since 1974. Even when it comes to “aspirational fertility”—that is, the number of children they would have in an ideal world—Brits say that only 2.4 children is ideal. And that number, too, has been falling over the last 40 years. (No European country has a fertility rate above replacement, and in several of them even the “ideal” number is now sub-replacement.)

Seen in this light, the Beckhams and their four children aren’t “encouraging irresponsible behavior.” They’re dissidents who have chosen to live differently than the reigning ethos demands. 

The Guardian’s chastisement demonstrates that, like other forms of authoritarianism, the environmental movement will not tolerate dissent even on matters which have been settled in its favor.

Must Reading

Elsewhere in this issue, you should check out Helen Rittelmeyer’s review of Naomi Schaefer Riley’s The Faculty Lounges. Riley, as it happens, has had a productive year, also publishing, with coeditor Christine Rosen, a terrific collection of essays called Acculturated. Highlighting recent trends in popular culture (unsavory ones, for the most part, if that doesn’t go without saying), the book features the likes of Kay Hymowitz writing about YouTube and Eliot Spitzer and Joe Queenan on pro sports. 

Not to mention wonderful stuff by such other Weekly Standard contributors as Judy Bachrach, Emily Esfahani Smith, Bill McClay, and Pia Catton. And worth the price of admission all by itself is the essay by the Scrapbook’s colleague Jonathan V. Last on video games as a vehicle for sociability.

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