Where Have All the Babies Gone?

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February 3, 2018

The fertility rate continues to drop — and it’s affecting consumer trends in the United States

By John Clark, National Catholic Register,  2/1/18

When I worked as a stockbroker, I was often amused by mainstream media pundits who attempted to analyze the inner workings of the financial world. A recent story in Salon.com reminded me of these days. A company called Kimberly-Clark (no relation) recently announced that, due to a challenging market environment, it was instituting a restructuring program that included laying off workers. Here’s Salon.com’s take in an article titled “Kimberly-Clark celebrates the Trump tax cuts with massive layoffs, share buybacks”:

As President Donald Trump continues to praise himself for record-high stock market gains and job growth as a result of the GOP tax plan, Kimberly-Clark is the latest corporation to announce thousands of layoffs and closings worldwide…

How does the GOP tax plan play a role in all of this? The company stands to ‘net benefit’ from the newly passed tax cuts, so much so that it will be able to pay for its ‘restructuring’ plan, as Nathan Bomey of USA Today noted.

This makes it sound like the clear reason that Kimberly-Clark is laying off workers is the new tax plan. Apparently the windfall from the cut in corporate tax rates that has led so many other companies to hire and give bonuses has had the opposite effect on this poor company. After all, other what reason could there be? Let’s investigate.

Not that I would ever question the prevailing wisdom over at Salon.com, but one might wonder why a such a financial boon might cause a corporation’s contraction, rather than the expansion one sees in so many other companies. Indeed, one might proffer another reason given the fact that Kimberly-Clark is in the business of making diapers. And diaper sales are slowing down. Why is that, you ask? Well, fewer babies are being born. A lot fewer. In fact, the fertility rate is at an historical low.

This societal trend of having fewer children has affected other companies as well, as the demand for baby and child products falls. Last year, for instance, the children’s clothier Gymboree filed for bankruptcy protection.

Of course, from such trends one may reasonably conclude that fewer babies means fewer future producers and consumers as well.

Yet, rather than point out this rather transparent cause-and-effect relationship between the decline in the birth rates and slowing sales of diapers and child products, many mainstream pundits massage virtually any news item to further their false narrative that tax cuts cause misery—and specifically in this case, that tax cuts lead to unemployment. Essentially, that socialist position posits that resources are most beneficial when in the hands of governments; thus, high taxes equal harmony. But that position illustrates a misunderstanding of how products come to exist and denies the creativity of man. Some of today’s prevailing economic theory bears a striking relation to its theology. It’s not the creativity of God that explains creation, and it’s not the creativity of man—or even the existence of man—that explains economic production or consumption. It all just sort of… happens.

One last point. If you are searching for an ideological group upon whom to blame slow diaper sales, wouldn’t it make more sense to blame groups who have been against traditional marriage and in favor of abortion?

Here’s how the Salon.com story should have read:

As pro-abortion groups continue to praise themselves, Kimberly-Clark is the latest corporation to announce thousands of layoffs worldwide. How do pro-abortion groups play a role in all of this? By promoting abortion for decades, by claiming that contraception is ‘essential medicine’, by enacting socialist economic policies that financially disempower families, and most of all, by denying the fundamental ontological value of every human being as a human person, who is loved by God from the moment of conception.

That’s how I would have written it.