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November 5, 2012

Spengler on 'Barack Obama and America's decline'

Topics: Political News and commentaries

This must-read essay appeared this morning at Asia Times Online.

Barack Obama and America's decline
By Spengler

America is in incipient decline, and this week's presidential election might be the last chance to reverse it. We are becoming a different sort of country, with a different people and different beliefs. Another four years of Barack Obama well might take us past the point of no return, although no-one, to be sure, knows quite where that lies. There is still time to change course. There might not be time by 2016.

Nearly a third of Americans now depend on food stamps, welfare, disability payments, or some other form of government support, compared with one out of five when George W Bush left office. This enormous shift has occurred before the detonation of a demographic time bomb that will explode towards the end of the present decade, and which will push America towards even greater dependency. This time bomb has four facets:

  • The baby boomers will retire, and the percentage of Americans over 60 will jump from a sixth to a quarter of the total population in little more than a decade;
  • The population that replaces the baby boomers will come to an increasing extent from families with the lowest level of educational attainment;
  • A new underclass is in formation due to the jump in the rate of births out of wedlock, which comprised two-fifths of total births in 2011;
  • Dependency on government support will rise sharply just as the federal government's capacity to finance the dependent population will fall.

chart051112.gifSource: UN World Population Prospects, Constant Fertility Scenario

When I sent my book How Civilizations Die to the publisher in the summer of 2011, the prospect of America's decline still seemed remote: America had the highest fertility rate among industrial countries, the strongest technological base, the most advanced universities, and the most optimistic people. But the preponderance of new data makes the prospect of American decline a real possibility.

The numbers shed light on some of aspects of the presidential election campaign which are, or at least should be, astonishing.

Why, for example, did the Obama administration provoke the hierarchy of the Catholic Church by demanding that Catholic institutions pay for abortion pills through employee health insurance? The Catholic bishops supported Obamacare from the beginning, and the administration's decision to alienate an ally in order to placate a nearly uncontested voter bloc (young unmarried women) seems impolitic.

The answer lies in the Obama's campaign confidence that Hispanics will vote on federal handouts rather than faith. "Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community," Obama told the Des Moines Register in an October 23 interview that was originally off the record but was published with the president's permission. The Register proceeded to endorse Mitt Romney, the first Republican it had supported in two generations.

Hispanics account for 70% of the growth in the Catholic population since 1960, and will be a majority of American Catholics somewhere between 2025 and 3030, according to Church projections.

Hispanics are hard workers; the labor force participation rate for Hispanics in October 2012 was 66.3%, higher than the 64.8% for the total population. They also seem less dependent on food stamps than the general population (the Department of Agriculture reports that only 10% of food stamp recipients are Hispanics, who comprise about 17% of the overall population, although it cannot identify the ethnicity of a fifth of total users).

But the Hispanic unemployment rate was 10%, compared to 7.9% overall. Higher Hispanic unemployment is entirely due to lower levels of education; the unemployment rate for Americans with a high-school diploma or less stood at 12.2%.

That explains why two-thirds of Latinos (according to a November 1 Fox News poll) plan to vote for Obama. They have fared worse during the past four years than the general population, and they have taken less government help than the general population, but their prospects are far poorer than the general population in a job market that requires more education.

As the Baby Boomers leave the labor force, they will be replace to an increasing extent by Hispanics, who comprise about 15% of the working-age population, but a quarter of American children.

A great transition downwards in American educational levels is pre-programmed: as the most successful generation in American economic history retires, they will be replaced to an increasing extent by children from families with very low educational levels and little cultural inclination to seek education for their children. By contrast, Asian-Americans comprise less than 12% of the total New York City school population but about three-quarters of the elite city high schools, where admission depends on entrance examinations. Income has nothing to do with the disparity; the new elite of New York City students come overwhelmingly from poor immigrant families.

No amount of government spending on education will fix the problem. Children learn how to learn, and acquire the motivation to learn, from their families. If families want to educate their children, nothing will stop them. New York's Asian-American children attend the same miserable public schools as everyone else, but their parents scrape together the tuition for cram school.

Continue reading Spengler's lengthy, highly informative, and insightful essay. Spengler goes on to say that one can't blame President Obama for the apparent decline of religious faith among young Hispanics or evangelicals, but the contempt he shows the Catholic Church surely makes matters worse. It is harder to raise one's children in a religious community when the president disdains the largest religious denomination. A generation less imbued with traditional values, and which weaker qualifications, is about to encounter a bleak future.

Hat tip - PJ Media.

Posted by Hyscience at November 5, 2012 1:31 PM



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