“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” So thought President Ronald Reagan, and he was not wrong. Unfortunately, not only do we Europeans appear a little lacking in the willingness to fight for freedom, we are not doing very well on the children front, either.
Released to coincide with Children’s Day – one of that plethora of days to emerge from the Communist era designed to distract attention from the failings of that and every other day under the comrades – a report by the Adam Smith Centre has found that the cost of raising children in Poland is up to PLN 460,000 (Euro 112,000) for three children. Given the average Polish salary, according to the central statistical office, of PLN 3939.84 in the fourth quarter of 2014, it’s a wonder anybody in Poland is managing to have children at all.
And, of course, they are not or, rather, not in sufficient numbers. The report suggested that to avoid a significant demographic decline, Poland should boost its fertility rate of 1.3 (although Polish women in the UK do much better) to least two, and only last month the EU Commission predicted that Poland’s population is likely to fall by over five million by 2060, from 38.5 million to 33.2 million. The effect of continued emigration will only make matters worse other than to the extent this is balanced by immigration from countries such as Ukraine. Interestingly, Germany now has Europe’s lowest birth rate at 8.2 children per thousand inhabitants. With a rapidly aging population this will have a great effect on pensions, health care, and so on. Not a pretty picture. No wonder Mutti has said Germany belongs to the immigrants, an interesting contrast with kinder, küche, kirche.
Looking to the wider EU, the Commission projects that the population will rise from the current 507 million to 523, largely as result of immigration to the EU rather than demographic growth. Which, of course, is fine assuming we can find a steady stream of highly educated immigrants eager to share our values and able and willing to maintain us in the style to which we have become accustomed.
In this regard the plan, if there is one, does not appear to be well thought out. Humanitarian considerations aside, it is not entirely clear how the EU mission to scour the coastal waters of North Africa for migrants actually helps. The numbers are unstainable, most do not have the skills we need, and among them, alas, are folk who are arriving with the intent to do us ill will. We need a more imaginative response. At the same time we have, it appears, increasing numbers of children of a previous generation of immigrants who, unlike their parents, seem to think nipping off to Syria to take part in beheadings and general chaos beats going to university, joining the family business, or contributing to the common good, let alone the EU pension pot.
To this heady mix of population replacement and international chaos we can add defence cuts, feebleness in dealing with threats, whether from the soi disant Islamic State or anybody else, and a general reluctance to defend the freedoms we claim to espouse and on which our society was built. In this, the eight hundredth anniversary year of Magna Carta, it is shocking to see how governments in the USA and the UK – who above all should know better – seek to accrue ever more power over the citizen and in return offer ever less real security. Meanwhile, the coalition of the thin-skinned, pulchritudophobic and allied trades continues its collective trashing of Western values and culture, seeing no irony in requiring tolerance for their legion of “isms” which in turn are wholly intolerant of anything but their own views, enabling our enemies to despise rather than fear us. It is Brave New World meets 1984 and it is frightening.
Be that as it may, European civilization is dying out, actually and figuratively, and if we don’t start fighting for it again, it will be too late. Is this really the best we can do for our children? Poland, one of the few countries to increase defence spending, seems prepared to show willing. Where are the others? As Thomas Paine said, “I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace.”