There are jobs for anyone who wants to work here in Maine but nearly every small contractor and small business person I hear from tells me they cannot find enough help. It’s true in western Maine and in the Portland area as well. When South Portland’s famous Scratch Bakery recently opened a branch facility in a converted gas station down the street from our South Portland home, it was packed with customers. Then, suddenly, it closed.
Why? The Portland Press Herald reported last month that the new bakery couldn’t get enough people to work there. Further out in Cape Elizabeth, a recently built restaurant called the Bird Dog Roadhouse shut its doors for the same reason.
My wife and I drove by and noticed the empty parking lot as well as a sign on the door saying: “Due to an acute ongoing staffing shortage, we’ve reluctantly hit the ‘pause button’ here at BDR. We are not closing. We have a beautiful restaurant, a wonderful location and fantastic guests. Our business is sound. All of our employees and vendors are paid. We are simply pausing restaurant service operations until proper staffing levels can be achieved. …”
The economy is booming and wages are rising, so what’s going on? Lots of things: For one, people just aren’t having babies like they used to. Last Saturday, Forbes reported Centers for Disease Control data showing fertility rates in the U.S. at a record low for 2018. Just to keep the population stable, each woman must have 2.1 children in her lifetime. In the U.S., however, that rate has declined to just over 1.7 and is still going down.
It’s the lowest since the 1970s, when Roe v. Wade was enacted and abortion skyrocketed. Their headline read: “Another Record Low: Will The U.S. Fertility Rate’s Collapse Ever End?”
Not unless and until marriage rates increase, according to economist and researcher Lyman Stone. His 2018 research study called: “No Ring, No Baby: How Marriage Trends Impact Fertility” makes a solid case that married women of child-bearing age have by far the most children, but fewer and fewer young women are getting married. He cites several possible reasons, including student loan debt, but also that women now are generally more educated than men, making it harder for them to find compatible mates.
The biggest factor, Stone hints, is: “Changing cultural norms and values about sex, family, and religion may have reduced the value of the marriage proposition and tightened the criteria for ‘eligibility’ for marriage.” Is he saying that young people today lack the values of their parents and grandparents? Not explicitly, but he hints strongly at it. Unless you live in a cloistered religious community and never watch television, you’ll see evidence. I’ve written several times on this subject, and I’m not hopeful that the trend will reverse anytime soon.
If I’m right, it would seem that the only way to avoid economic decline would be to increase immigration. It has been increasing, but mostly of the unskilled, nearly-illiterate, illegal variety or of “asylum-seeking” Africans, most non-English-speaking, coming over our southern border. Unable to support themselves, they tend to be more of an economic drain than a boost. If we simply returned to pre-1965 immigration policies that required immigrants to be sponsored and ineligible for social services, and then we eliminated chain migration for relatives who were not self-supporting, our country would be much better served.
As it stands now, every 2020 Democrat running for president is pro-abortion. The last pro-life Democratic candidate was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
For more than 40 years now, preserving Roe v. Wade seems to be the most important issue for the Democratic Party.
Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, there have been more than a million abortions every year in the United States. That’s about 50 million Americans who were never born. If they had been allowed to live they would have had at least another 50 million children of their own. Even if Roe v. Wade were repealed by Trump-appointed judges, legality of abortion would simply revert back to the states and not be likely to decline very much.
Although most would deny it, open borders is now the Democrats’ second-most important issue. Every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate claims getting rid of President Donald Trump is their biggest goal, but then what have Trump’s priorities been? Appointing conservative (pro-life) judges and stopping illegal immigration are highest on his agenda. That’s what got him elected, and if present trends continue, those issues may well propel him into another term.
Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at tommclaughlin.blogspot.com.