One thing that’s becoming more prominent to me since leaving Islām is just how Arabocentric it is. As a muslim I’d been made to believe Islām was a universalist religion that gave no priority to any cultural/ ethnic/ national background over any other, and that Allah chose Muhammad to be his final prophet for the world because Continue reading Islām & Illustrious “Arab” Ancestry™
Everyone’s Missing the Obvious About the Declining U.S. Birth Rate
7 COUNTERARGUMENTS IN RESPONSE TO ANYONE WHO BLAMES THE BABY BUST ON WOMEN OR MILLENNIALS.
For the past several days, my Facebook feed, Twitter timeline, and evening news have been filled with stories on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report about the declining birth rate of U.S. women.
Despite the breadth of the data included in its January 2019 vital statistics update, the CDC statistic generating the biggest headlines is the one that calculates the birth rate in the U.S. to be 16 percent below the amount needed to replace our population over time.
Most of the stories dominating the news cycle have sensational, clickbait headlines: “Women in the U.S. Are Having Fewer Babies” (Time); “U.S. Fertility Rates Have Plummeted Into Uncharted Territory, and Nobody Knows Why” (Science Alert); “The U.S. Is in the Danger Zone for a ‘Demographic Time Bomb’” (Insider); and “Florida, U.S. Have a Baby Problem” (Orlando Sentinel). Among my personal favorites are the headlines where women are blamed as if it’s all immaculate conception — “Women Aren’t Having Enough Babies to Replace Ourselves” (Moms).
But all of the news noise is missing the glaringly obvious facts that every millennial I know recognizes immediately. Here are seven real reasons behind the declining birth rate:
1. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed countries.
When NPR and ProPublica investigated maternal mortality in the U.S., their findings were clear: “More American women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country. Only in the U.S. has the rate of women who die been rising.”
Here, around 26 out of every 100,000 pregnant women die each year, and while some European and Eurasian countries have rates in the teens, the U.S. maternal mortality rate is rising while most other countries are seeing their rates decline. The U.K., for example, has a rate of around nine in every 100,000 women dying, but the Lancet noted that country’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality has meant “being pregnant in the U.K. has never been safer.” Not to mention that our rate remains three times greater and is increasing.
The lowest rates around the globe are three deaths per 100,000. Which means that compared with women in places like Finland, Iceland, and Greece, mothers in the U.S. are dying at a rate that’s nine times greater. That’s not even taking race into account.
But it’s not just a higher risk of death here in the U.S. that makes birth difficult, it’s also a matter of cost.
2. Giving birth in the U.S. is exceedingly expensive.
The United States is the most expensive place in the world to give birth. In the Guardian’s analysis, it costs around $32,000 to give birth vaginally in the U.S. if you don’t have insurance. If you require a C-section, those costs increase to around $51,000.
Think about that: Without insurance, it’s the financial equivalent of an extremely nice car or multiple years of tuition at a state university merely to have a baby. And that’s if everything goes well. If there are complications — either for the child or the mother — those costs can quickly escalate to six figures or more.
Say you’re lucky enough to have great insurance, though — even then, insurers only negotiate the cost down to around $10,000 for a vaginal birth. In Spain (which has the supposedly dreadful socialized medicine), it costs insurance companies a mere average $1,950 for women to give birth vaginally.
That’s not a matter of lower cost for less quality; Spain’s maternal mortality rate is five times lower than the U.S. So while pregnant women in the U.S. with insurance might be paying less out of pocket, the costs paid by their insurance companies are still astronomically high and are no doubt reclaimed by charging higher insurance rates.
What we have in the U.S. then, is — on top of a high mortality rate — the added burden of giving birth made to be ridiculously expensive. And once you have the baby, we’ve created a system that fails to take care of U.S. mothers further.
3. The U.S. has no national mandate for paid parental leave.
In another disappointing distinction, the United States remains just about the only industrialized country, and the only OECD member country, not to require paid parental leave. It’s up to the discretion of individual employers to decide whether or not to offer paid maternal or parental leave.
Governments in other countries provide weeks or even years with varying amounts of assured income to moms and, increasingly, dads. It’s a simple argument — as Christopher Ingram writes in the Washington Post:
At the risk of stating the obvious, having kids is a necessary condition for our biological and economic survival. The species must perpetuate itself, and at the country level, if economic growth is to continue, it behooves couples to churn out as many future employees and taxpayers as possible.
Not only is it more dangerous and more expensive to have a child in the United States, but even after that, we’re not going to provide parents with the financial security to ensure they can take time to be with their newborn. With these facts, is it really that shocking that we have a declining birth rate?
Even if you manage to get past all of this, there’s an additional financial burden that becomes a major factor in keeping people from having kids.
4. Child care can cost as much as rent.
Care.com’s latest annual survey, which factors in parents who use nannies as well as those who opt for daycare, put the national average of child care expenses at $1,500 per month, or $18,000 per year. That’s equivalent to a national-average rent payment, which Rent Cafe put at $1,405.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that child care is considered “affordable” if it costs no more than 10 percent of a family’s income. Using Care.com’s average of $18,000, that’d require a combined household income of $180,000. But the latest figures from the Census put the median household income at $61,372, meaning child care for the average family is likely closer to nearly 30 percent.
Contributing almost 30 percent of your household income to child care is untenable for many multi-income families, much less single-parent households. Especially considering the state of most people’s personal finances.
5. Wages have remained nearly stagnant for 40 years.
Pew Research found that “today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.”
This means that as the cost of living continues to skyrocket, wages aren’t keeping pace for most of us. This makes it all that much harder to afford both quality health care and quality child care. Plus, while wages have barely budged, our debt is crushing us.
6. We are struggling to make ends meet even before having children.
Our level of debt — which for many young people today is student loan debt — drastically outpaces any other generation before us, according to the Federal Reserve. Its most recent study flat out states that “millennials are less financially well-off than members of earlier generations when they were the same ages, with ‘lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth.’”
If high maternal mortality rates, the high cost of having a baby plus the lack of guaranteed income after having that baby, and child care that costs a significant percentage of already stagnant wages for a generation that’s openly worse off financially than previous ones isn’t enough to evidence as to why the birth rate is decreasing, there’s one more factor to bring it home.
7. We’re disillusioned and burned out.
If you haven’t read Anne Helen Peterson’s brilliant piece on how millennials are the burnout generation, you really should. She explains how our parents raised us in relatively stable economic and political times and reared us with an eye to our hard-working futures with the belief we’d be even better off than they were. From purposeful play time to post-graduate school expectations, we have, as Peterson writes, “internalized the idea that [we] should be working all the time.” But we very rarely reach the dangling carrot. Saddled with the nation’s financial crisis on top of our own mountains of debt and the idea that we are failures if we stop, we are — quite simply — exhausted.
Now, I’m not saying that no one should have children. I have many friends who have amazing kids, and I love them. But if you’re going to act shocked at why the birth rate is decreasing, or worse, try to analyze it while ignoring all of the above realities, then you’re doing everyone a disservice.
Originally posted on Medium.
Something to really think about…
Marcus Garvey’s views on the KKK in his own words:
“I interviewed the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan to find out the Klan’s attitude toward the race. You may believe it or not-I made several statements to him, in which he said this: Continue reading Marcus Garvey’s views on the KKK in his own words
Thulasi is a Dalit, a girl from the lowest rung of the antiquated caste system in India. If you’re not familiar with the dangers of being an “untouchable”, this piece by Dalit artist and filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan paints an accurate and bleak picture. “Your family’s caste determines the whole of your life – your job, your level of spiritual purity and your social standing,” she explains. “We live in a caste apartheid with separate villages, places of worship, and even schools. It is a lethal system where, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, four Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched every day.” (Sadly, the incidence of sexual abuse among women in India stretches much further.)
Unwilling to follow a set path laid out by her country or society, 24-year-old Thulasi sees herself as a free bird fleeing from marital subservience, the “jail life” as she calls it. Boxing, a passion for more than 10 years, is her ticket to brighter days. She is in a race against time to win selection for the national games and secure a well-paid job through a national program for athletes, before she reaches her 25th birthday. The training is gruelling, an injury threatens to knock her off course and those in charge at her local boxing club seem less than supportive. Something is amiss.
Apparently, “talent is all you need to succeed” at the club, according to the head official at the Tamil Nadu State Amateur Boxing Association. And Thulasi has it in abundance: we learn that she has already defeated five-time world champion Mary Kom. However as the story unfolds we realise that these women must be willing to give a little more than that behind closed doors.
Away from the ring, Thulasi is living hand to mouth with a surrogate family, adrift from her own. “I walked out of my house because I refused to get my religion changed along with other family members,” she later explained to The Hindu. “My parents were unhappy about my decision and I had to leave. There were times when I would get back home late and there would be lechers making a pass at me. I would beat them up. No one should ever question the strength of a woman, boxer or otherwise.”
When this defiance threatens to deny her a fresh start and alienate her even more, we are left wondering whether resistance is futile for an impoverished woman living in a patriarchal state of India. But Thulasi is an indomitable spirit – taking on a male-dominated society in a male-dominated sport – and you can’t help but have faith in her to find a way through. The signs are encouraging: now a trainer at a gym called Combat Kinetics, she plans to open her own boxing club one day.
New generations using sport to overcome financial, political and class handicaps have often made excellent subject matter for filmmakers. Sons of Cuba immediately springs to mind. And like all good documentaries, Like Fly, Fly High makes us care about the star – we’re rooting for her from the off. First-time directors Beathe Hofseth and Susann Østigaard let the drama of everyday life take hold – employing a fly-on-the-wall style with minimal narration – never once trying to heavy-handedly disparage a character or engineer tension. The struggle for freedom and progress is something that we can all identify with, wherever we come from. Thulasi is a compelling subject, commanding the screen in any number of situations: contemplating life on her bed, debating the subject of marriage with surrogate mother Helenma or throwing lefts and rights in the ring.
Inspired by Miriam Dalsgaard’s photo essay about female boxers in India, Hofseth and Østigaard began thinking about making a film as early as 2005 but it wasn’t until they met Thulasi at Nehru stadium in 2010 that they realised they had to make this film. So off they went on a three-year journey to tell her story, during which time they witnessed a troubled girl becoming a confident young woman. Their ability to capture candid moments about corruption and sexual abuse (a huge taboo) is very impressive, but as they explained at a recent event, their star was always determined to change the world by being true to herself…
“In one of the very first interviews we did with Thulasi, she told us that in India most girls sit on the back of their father’s, brother’s or husband’s motorbikes. But one day she was going to drive her very own bike, so that Indian father´s could look at her and realize what their daughters are capable of. She said she wanted to show people that there doesn’t have to be a difference between boys and girls. The fact that Thulasi herself wanted to be a role model to others is what eventually made us decide that we wanted to make a documentary about her. Thulasi is a feminist, without even knowing the meaning of that word, she has a message and we felt that her voice deserved to be heard.”
That interview obviously made a huge impression on the directors. Look at the opening and closing moments of the film and you’ll see what I mean. Highly recommended and compelling to the core.
‘Light Fly, Fly High’, winner of the 2013 Oxfam Global Justice Award and the Best Documentary award at the 2014 One World Media Awards, will be shown at selected film festivals throughout the summer. For forthcoming screenings, click here.
(based mainly on David Mac Ritchie’s Ancient and Modern Britons Volume 1, ISBN 9781592322251)
In keeping with accuracy, Britain does not mean just England. I mean it as synonymous with British Isles (the collective name of the island containing England, Scotland & Wales – what used to be called Albion/ Prettania/ Brettania/ Alouíōn), Ireland (Northern & Republic – what used to be called Ierne/ Hibernia/ Iouernía), and the surrounding smaller islands.
When I first heard of this book I knew I wanted it. Now I’ve got it, it’s quickly becoming one of the most fascinating books on ‘race’ I’ve ever read. Mac Ritchie was a ‘white’ Scottish historian & folklorist, yet the information he delivers will probably be nothing short of miraculous to ‘black’ people interested in ‘black’ history.
Disclaimer: As informative as it is, it must be remembered it was written in the 1800s before knowledge of DNA was available to corroborate. It was also the time when scientific racism was at its peak. I just present this info as a potentially useful guideline and insight into the mindset of the past. If you want to see how true the claims are, please do your own research to independently verify.