Almost as good as the real thing. This is the real thing.
Anyway, my son's even more of a political junkie than his mom, and living in Europe he gets to enjoy not only US politics, but all of Europe's too. Our conversations almost always end up political, and even though we don't always agree (he's much more libertarian than I am), the discussion is always good. He's the first person who I remember saying that California was headed to bankruptcy, and considering that he was still a teen at the time, I thought it fairly prescient.
Our conversation ranged over many topics, but one thing he said had me thinking...Western Civilization, he said, is on the path to destruction. Doomed, I think he said. For all our vaunted freedoms--and they are many--we have very little liberty. Everything we do is defined and constrained and beleaguered and belabored, to the point where any ability we once had to respond to the world's economic and political events with alacrity is all but gone. We talked about Steve Jobs' infamous claim that the iPhone could never have been built in California. Designed, yes. The brains that make Apple so successful are here, but the actual work is done in China.
Why? Because, as Michael said, for all China's lack of freedom, what it does have is the flexibility to respond quickly to the demands of the Market. As I remember the Jobs' anecdote off of my head, there was a problem with the iPhone and he would not release it until that problem was solved. It required last minute retooling of the assembly line and any number of fiddly details that would have taken months to do here, if it could have been done at all. There are labor laws and EPA regs and business licenses and on and on and on. It couldn't have happened in the--as I recall--four weeks that the Chinese factory was able to pull it off. No.way.Jose.
The East, said my son, is now where we were a century ago: people were numerous, and they made babies to keep the population up. People were willing to work hard to succeed and expected to work hard to make a better life for themselves, and their children. They didn't demand huge salaries, they expected to work their way up. Regulation was limited and companies had the ability to adjust their business practices in response to the changing market so they could stay in business.
Today, he said, Westerners are selfish. We want it all, and we want it now. He and his "girlfriend" (sorry, but that's a term I just have a hard time hearing a grown man call the woman who shares his house) have a group of good friends there in Oslo. These friends are all educated, professional, upwardly mobile, affluent, and cosmopolitan, primarily Europeans, probably ranging in age five years either side of thirty. He told me last night that they have conversations about why they don't have children, and you know why so many of them don't? They're just having too much fun! Life is good, and they think that all that will come to a crashing halt if they were to marry and start making babies, because duh, that's what happens. How can you dash away for weekends in Rome and Paris and London with a bunch of squalling infants in tow? I mean, c'mon. Really.
Yes, these young urbanites are too selfish to make any sacrifices to raise children. It boggles my mind. Western Civilization is doomed if that attitude doesn't get a reality check, and soon, because I can guarantee you that the people that ARE producing lots of offspring are not the educated urban elites of Oslo, London, and Paris. They're the uneducated immigrants who not only have babies, but have a lot of them. And have no intention at all at assimilating into Western Culture. Why should they? They take the long view and know that in a generation, my son's childless generation will be dying off and their descendants will be many. We're doomed.
So are you part of the problem or part of the solution? If you're a young adult you need to ask yourself that question and be honest about the answer.
Are you married? No, I don't mean living together, or a domestic partner, I mean married. If you aren't, you need to get married, and you need to stay married. That is the backbone of Western Civilization, and if we don't get back to that we're doomed.
Do you believe in God? Do you worship regularly? Are you in daily prayer to your Maker for guidance and strength? If not, you need to be, because that's the foundation of the family.
Do you have children? Granted, not everyone can, but you certainly should, and as many as you can possibly afford. This is vitally important. If you are too selfish to give up your affluent lifestyle you need to eat some humility pie and take the hit to your pleasures. Children may give you fits from time to time, but ask yourself...how important is Western Civ anyway?
I'd say pretty dang important.
I asked Michael if he thought Western Civilization was irrevocably doomed, and he said no. He thinks it can be salvaged if people make the right choices, and I agree. But the next question is are you willing to make those choices yourself?
Hard choices. Problems have solutions, but talking about them as a philosophical thought experiment isn't enough. You have to do something. Yes, you.