For the moment, at least. The Donald is running him a close second, but this complete and utter geyser of stupidity
will really take some beating.
Rick Santorum, speaking in New Hampshire, blames "the abortion culture" in American for -- guess what? The failure of Social Security!! Yes, apparently the problem is that American women aren't breeding like rabbits and producing new little taxpayers at a high enough rate for Mr. Santorum. He goes on to say, apparently with a straight face, "We have seven children so we're doing our part to fund the Social Security system." Srsly?? The reason for having children is to create new little cogs in the great consumer machine, whose sole purpose in life is to work and pay taxes and have seven children in their turn to do the same?? Just breed, work and die?? Appalling. I really really hope his wife and children kick him somewhere painful for this colossally ignorant statement.
What makes it all the more funny/terrifying/ironic is that I just finished reading The World Inside
, which takes Santorum's viewpoint to its logical, albeit extreme, conclusion. Makes me sick. The solution to the problem of too many people to support is not to create more
people. Unless you're Rick Santorum, of course, in which case you buy into the idea that we can consume our way out of any problem.
David Brooks had a terrific column
on this very issue last month. He points out that most of what we're consuming today costs little or nothing to consume and creates very few jobs (FaceBook only employs about 2000 people). We are increasingly chasing gadgets to boost our quality of life without adding any value or creating any wealth.
Wealth has to come from somewhere. You have to create it by adding value to something, value that someone else wants and will pay for. Instead, we're only adding value to our own stuff -- our FaceBook pages, our Flickr accounts, and yes, our LiveJournals -- which our friends and family may enjoy but no one will buy.
What this means is that we have to find a new approach to -- or new definition of -- a healthy economy. Double-digit growth and constant consumption won't cut it any more, it isn't the kind of consumption that provides millions of jobs and creates wealth that flows around to others.
And maybe -- just maybe -- we'll get to the point where both parents don't have to work, where we can have a bit less emphasis on acquisition and a bit more emphasis on enjoyment. That wouldn't be a bad trade-off as long as we adjust the birth rate down (are you listening, Rick?) and learn to measure our success in quality, not quantity,