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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,


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Mar. 30th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
This was absolutely fascinating and sad...

Mar. 31st, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
In a way it's kind of exciting too, though, to think that maybe we're on the verge of coming up with some new way of thinking about success. I'm kind of curious to see what a post-consumer society would look like. Of course we'll need several major wars to kill off the excess people, that's a bit of drawback...

(And is it Evil of me to secretly hope that Rick Santorum's kids end up unemployed and not paying a dime into Social Security for him and his wife?)
Mar. 30th, 2011 10:45 am (UTC)
Well, considering the current definition of growth and consumption largely means "let's rape the planet!" (I hope Santorum's kids like living on a world that's pretty much FUBAR), we'll have to switch to new systems at some point. Or have a new system forced on us by cold, hard reality, which is probably what will actually happen because the Republicans (and plenty of other politicians, to be fair), have an extraordinary ability to deny reality.

Maybe they think that we will colonize Mars in order to continue to consume away. But developing technology to get to Mars is Bad, Bad, Bad Government spending, and possibly socialism! But we must make an exception to continue our non-negotiable lifestyle of blatant waste! But if the Chinese develop the technology first, and get there first, and get the largest slice of Mars-pie, will we have to wage SPACE WAR to get our God-given share?!?!? Oh, the ideological conundrums!
Mar. 31st, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
Yes, it is kind of ironic when people are forced to realize one cannot have one's cake and eat it too. Especially when they have been shouting very loudly that they're the only ones who really understand cake, and that keeping more cake for yourself somehow magically will result in more cake to go round for everybody else!
Mar. 31st, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
I think this calls for a Congressional Sub-Committee hearing on cake, in which the good Senators discuss one egg vs. two egg cakes, the challenges of making a vegan sponge cake that is still light and fluffy, icing vs. frosting, and whether raisins belong in carrot cake.

Mar. 31st, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good idea! On that note, here are two humorous cake-related videos to brighten your Thursday:

"Carrot cake, carrot cake, have ye any nuts?" and "I luv dee caaaaake!"

Edited at 2011-03-31 04:56 pm (UTC)
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Mar. 31st, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
*snerk* That is a distinct possibility ;)
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