So Ross Douthat thinks that America is having too few babies.
Well, there's just two things wrong with this.
One, he proposes nothing to make it easier for American women to have an easier time of it raising children while often still working full time, either by choice or by necessity. No Scandinavian-style, or even French-style, paid maternal (let alone paternal) leave. No true national health care system to help with prenatal and neonatal health, etc. He actually mentions that France is spending more money than us on child-rearing related issues without spelling out all of what it involves.
Two, he doesn't address how a new population boom in the most energy-profligate country in the history of the globe (even as he lauds semi-low-density suburbia and very-low-density exurbia) will negatively impact both climate change/global warming and Peak Oil.
And, in addressing his critics in a blog post about this column, he still doesn't address the resource consumption issue, or even acknowledge that any critics mention it.
He is also selective on his definition of "emerging powers." Yes, Brazil has a lower birth rate than us. But India has a much higher one, and has Hindu nationalists explicitly urging "birther" policies (in this case, to pass China in total population) of the same sort that Douthat urges here. Argentina and Turkey are two other developing to semi-developed nations with higher birth rates than ours, per Wikipedia, which also notes that some "social democratic" advanced nations, like New Zealand and Iceland, are still above "replacement level" birth rates. In fact, scarily (which Douthat doesn't note) India is still above the world average.
Oh, other than that, there's nothing wrong with what has to be in the running for his most ill-informed column ever.
Beyond that is the open question of whether his "more babies" comment is actually meant for all Americans, or whether this was a dogwhistle to conservative whites. And, not to be too uncharitable, but given that this is the same type of claptrap that the likes of tea partiers and Charles Murray spout, I'd say it could be a dogwhistle. His use of the word "decadence" certainly underscores that.
Besides, contra Douthat's hints and the outright comments of a Murray, aren't squeaky-clean, high-breeding Mormons like the Romneys right enough for Douthat and his ilk?
Finally, Douthat is wrong in an implication, namely that one must have a "homogenous" society for social democracy. Reality? Canada has two national languages, a larger black population by percentage than any Scandanavian country, and large East and South Indian populations, as well as a growing Hispanic body. France has an Afro-Francian population about as big, by percentage, as African-Americans in the US.
These factors, all added up, including the fact that Douthat had the chance to address some of them, or even acknowledge their existence, which he didn't, in his follow-up blog post, means that this is indeed, from where I sit, the worst column he's written at the NYT.
And, Bill Moyers? I know that you consider, or have considered, Douthat a "sensible" enough conservative, especially on matters of religion, to have him on your show in the past. Please don't do that again. Repent of the idea if it's in your mind.
(Megan McArdle has now taken up the cudgels of Douthat's position. She's marginally better, but no more. While she notes the environmental degradation concerns, she passes them off with less than 3 percent of her total content. And, "good" libertarian that she is, she ignores state-funded efforts to help women raise children more easily.