The Over-Regulated Family

The tighter the regulations bind, the fewer children there are to regulate.

Forget the crude scribblings of San Francisco anti-circumcision comic Monster Mohel, which missed its original publication date in Berlin by only seven decades, and think about the underlying idea behind the campaign instead. That direct democracy doesn't mean running the government, it means telling other people how to live their lives. It's not enough that you can choose how to raise your children, you have to be able to make other families raise them the same way.

There's something peculiar about a campaign to regulate what happens to children after they are born, in a city where the birth rate has been dropping sharply. San Francisco births are set to fall by 23% over the next decade as it becomes a city where there are more dogs than children.

Last year San Francisco's board of supervisors voted to ban Happy Meals to win the left's war on obesity. The measure is not actually named the "Make Kids Miserable in San Francisco" plan, but it might as well be. The War on Happy Meals and the anti-circumcision Monster Mohel come from the same dysfunctional mindset:  that it's regulators, not parents who raise children. It takes a village to raise a child, a village of Ivy League grads who are determined to raise everyone's children by way of the state.

Ironically, the wealthy white liberals are still having kids in San Francisco. It's the minority birth rate that's struggling. Higher tax rates have priced minorities out of this and many of the other trendier cities. African-Americans are leaving San Francisco to find jobs in more affordable parts of the country. The liberal regulatory state that is maintained for the benefit of minorities, in other words,  is driving them out. The urban liberal centers are becoming segregated as African-Americans who aspire to raise working families return to the South leaving behind subsidized welfare ghettos.

Studies of America show a country where marriage has become a class issue. In a country that is taxed to death, wealth has become a better predictor of marriage than love. Men and women with college degrees are sixteen percent more likely to marry than those without. The African-American family is vanishing, but the white working class family is in deep trouble too.

The American working class family was built on an industrial and manufacturing infrastructure that has been destroyed by regulators in the name of environmental and social justice. And the same activists who so intuitively understood that if you destroy wetlands, the spotted toad cannot survive, refuse to see that when you destroy the main source of working class jobs and raise the regulatory barriers to running a small business, you also destroy the ecosystem on which the working class family depends.

The obsessive regulation of children is a leftover from the days when activists and sociologists insisted that the only way to defeat poverty was through aggressive education and a dose of eugenics. We have plenty of both today, but the war has been going the other way. More Americans are sliding into poverty at the hands of the system created to fight poverty.

The regulatory state is limiting marriage to the well off and limiting children to two categories of parents: the well off and the welfare rolls. The middle class and the working class, which are expected to subsidize the regulatory initiatives of well off leftists and the social benefits of the badly off, are falling into the hole between them. These are not just the majority of the population, they are also the backbone of the country and the protectors of its democracy. In their absence, cities take on the characteristics of failed states, with gated communities divided from ghettos and barrios.

In the eyes of the nanny state, we are all children, especially the children. The helicopter parenting of leftist yuppies translates into regulatory helicopter parenting over the entire population. An elite no longer satisfied with keeping sugary drinks out of their own home wants to ban it from all homes.  But the tighter the regulations bind, the fewer children there are to regulate.

The countries with the tightest regulations also have the fewest children. Europe, which regulates children to a degree that most Americans can't even begin to imagine, is suffering catastrophic fertility failure.

Why have parents at all? Why not just pay host mothers to be artificially impregnated with children to be raised in carefully controlled environments without exposure to religion, racism, circumcision or Happy Meals? The Nazis took their own shot at it with the Lebensborn program. A modern Lebensborn program would raise genetically diverse children to think and believe the same things. And as outrageous as the comparison might be, the wheels of the regulatory state are slowly grinding that way.

Germany's criminalization of homeschooling has led to court cases, imprisonment and even a political asylum case. And yet Germany's birth rate is at a record low. Within a generation its working population will fall by a third. The German government has managed to raise it slightly with expensive social initiatives. But European governments, like their counterparts in the United States, are not interested in children per se, but only in the kind of children they approve of.