September 12, 2007

Sex day.

In Russia.
The governor of Ulyanovsk region in Russia is offering prizes to couples who have babies in exactly nine months - on Russia's national day on 12 June.

Sergei Morozov wants couples to take the day off work to have sex. If a baby is born on national day, they will receive cars, TVs or other prizes....

Demographers estimate that Russia could lose 40 million people - almost a third of its current population - by the middle of the century.

A combination of falling birth rates, emigration and an ailing health care system has led to the decline.

President Vladimir Putin has introduced a scheme to encourage more children.

Women who have a second or third child are eligible to receive $9,000 which can be used to pay for education or home purchases.
Got to have population. At some point, the government must offer incentives. No American in her right mind would produce a child for $9,000, but if $9,000 is a workable incentive in Russia, then the number will be $9,000.

If you are currently disinclined to have a child -- or another child -- and capable of producing one -- what would the government have to offer you to change your mind?

And as for calling it "sex day": That sounds amusing, but the days are long gone when the sex urge led to the population in modern countries. If the problem was that couples were just disinclined to have sex, incentives like a day off from work would work for most people -- assuming they've got a relationship.

This reminds me that I've been meaning to talk about the discussion I had with Moxie on that radio show a few weeks ago. Moxie is a very attractive woman in her 30s who is openly celibate (and proud of it). Imagine if this caught on -- or if this is more pervasive than you think -- and the government wanted to change that.

And by the way, what do you think of Moxie's notion of celibacy pride? I don't think it's like gay pride, because there's nothing that you want to do that you need to change anyone's mind about. Or is there?

69 comments:

Saul said...

Celibacy pride is about as dumb as gay pride. Who cares what does or does not go on between two consenting adults.

Jeff said...

"No American in her right mind would produce a child for $9,000..."

Believe me, many, many women in your own borough would have a baby for half that much.

Justin said...

Imagine if this caught on -- or if this is more pervasive than you think -- and the government wanted to change that.

Obviously the first step would be to stop giving out condoms in schools.

Meade said...

Procreative sex has been overrated and underfunded for countless generations.

For a subsidy of, oh, say, $5 mil, I'd be willing to think about marrying again and adopting and raising to adulthood an otherwise unwanted child.

But procreative sex? With all the dangers of dentata, etc.? Too risky.

Bob said...

Drudge linked a story about the Japanese problem with depopulation, and the Japanese solution: robots.

Justin said...

And by the way, what do you think of Moxie's notion of celibacy pride?

I think it's a little condescending and self-congratulatory. Yes, the kind of sex that she described in that post is risky and probably not worth the possible consequences. But there's a lot between that and celibacy.

She acts like the only way to have sex is to be a slut.

MadisonMan said...

Hmm.. Today is Sex Day, and I'm flying. But not through Minneapolis. My stance is not wide, either.

Michael said...

Did "chastity" become "celibacy" about the same time "sex" became "gender"?

Trooper York said...

I think Moxie turned to the Japanese solution...only with a smaller electrical device..err robot

B said...

No American in her right mind would produce a child for $9,000

How do you explain how we got to where almost 70% of black children in America are born to single mothers?

Paddy O. said...

Did "chastity" become "celibacy" about the same time "sex" became "gender"?

I think this is a distinction that goes much farther back. Celibacy is the refraining from sex. Chastity is more of the holistic innocence about sex.

A celibate woman is, for instance, someone who refrains from sex but very much struggles with lust and desire for physical intimacy. They want it but have reasons for not indulging which may or may not be their decision.

A chaste woman is someone whose thoughts are on other topics and who is celibate by choice and with joy.

I'm mixed on the idea celibacy pride. I think it can be very helpful to have an example of someone who has purposefully chosen not to find their identity in sex. So many pursue sex as a drug of sorts, to deaden pain, to give esteem, to use others. Knowing there are people who have chosen otherwise takes away some of the statements of popular culture that a person's worth is measured by how much they're getting.

On the other hand, though, celibacy pride is odd because it keeps sexuality as a person's identity. The goal of celibacy, in historic religious terms, is to base the identity of self on other characteristics such as holiness, or intellect, or devotion to a cause. Celibacy pride in contrast to those who say, "I am who I do" says, "I am what I do not do." But it's still about sex.

Moxie's stance, from what I can tell, is more of the former version, in which she sees herself as a model to others who may feel less self-esteem and so would be more eager to get it from sexual activity.

So, I guess it's fine. Certainly such a lifestyle would be immensely more effective than yet to be discovered vaccines in lowering the rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

Dogwood said...

If you are currently disinclined to have a child -- or another child -- and capable of producing one -- what would the government have to offer you to change your mind?

Probably an even $1 million. We have two kids and my wife wouldn't mind having another child if she didn't have to change diapers for the first two years.

I think $1 million in cash, tax free, would be enough incentive to overcome the diaper hurdle.

Although a housekeeper would help, too.

ricpic said...

Gimme that ol' time Russian Orthodoxy.

The Russkies gotta get with God and stop with the wombjerk abortions, already.

Ron said...

Maybe health care could be tied to reproduction in Russia. No children, you're on your own. 1 child, some health care, 2 even more, etc...

jimbino said...

Most of you are probably too young to remember Ann Landers' poll asking her readers to respond to the question along the lines of, "If you had it to do over, would you breed?"

happilychildfree.com/ann.htm

I'd like to know how the poll would come out today, now that all of us non-breeders are so much more heavily taxed for support of the perinatal care, healthcare and mis-education of other folks' brats.

I'd also like to see the figures on how much it takes to rear a kid through college and the portion that is paid by the non-breeders.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"No American in her right mind would produce a child for $9,000..."

No, but more than a few produce one (or more) for free who don't have two nickeles to rub together to even take care of them.

Roost on the Moon said...

Jeff & B,

"Believe me, many, many women in your own borough would have a baby for half that much."

"How do you explain how we got to where almost 70% of black children in America are born to single mothers?"

I think "poor conditions and decisions" is probably a better explanation than "calculated analysis", don't you?

If not, a modest proposal:

Stop teaching them math. If they can't figure the benefits, they can't continue to game the system and take advantage of you hard-working schmucks.

SteveR said...

So I see the Russians are deciding against the Western European solution of allowing mass immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. I wonder why?

P. Rich said...

"Sex: the expense is damnable, the position is ridiculous, and the pleasure fleeting." Samuel Johnson

Radical feminists have been preaching the uselessness of men [for everything including sex and procreation] for decades now. It isn't too surprising to see the results in various guises. Or not.

paul a'barge said...

Moxie is a very attractive woman in her 30s who is openly celibate (and proud of it). Imagine if this caught on -- or if this is more pervasive than you think -- and the government wanted to change that.

Please. Look, the pro-population movement is not about women not being celibate, it is about 2-parent, mother+father married couples having babies and raising those children.

How could you miss or confuse this point?

Paddy O. said...

How could you miss or confuse this point?

I could be wrong, Paul, but I think Moxie was a tangent topic, not a continuation of Russian procreation problems.

Pogo said...

Notably, the dearth of pregnancies affects not only Russia, but is prevalent across the EU. Countries like Italy and Spain will see their native stock reduced by half within a single generation.

The only fecund group are immigrants, virtually all of them Islamic. Demography, rather than terrorism, will turn these nations into Caliphates in our life time.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

No American in her right mind would produce a child for $9,000...

No rational person would produces a child for $9,000, if they did not already have some interest in having a child. But incentives do not need to be large enough to cover all the costs in order to be effective.

Economics is all about the marginal case. There are some people who weigh the pros and cons and decide that the cons slightly outweigh the pros. Add $9,000 and the balance tips the other way.

If you want a certain number of additional babies, you just need to figure out how large an incentive is needed to tip the balance for that many couples.

Anthony said...

I couldn't figure out quite what she meant by 'celibate' either, and as someone said above "She acts like the only way to have sex is to be a slut." That's what I was thinking. Does she not date at all? If she did find a steady BF, would she have sex with him? It almost seems as weird as those people in NYC who decided they wouldn't flush their toilet or whatever it was for a year.

Mortimer Brezny said...

She acts like the only way to have sex is to be a slut.

You'd probably have to break down notions of what being a slut is, without breaking down norms of masculinity that lead to men feeling good about themselves and openly trying to get laid. (So none of that: "when men do it blah blah, but when women do it blah blah" -- guilt trips and nagging don't encourage fun-having.) You'd also have to attack the obesity problem without turning everyone into a bodybuilder, because hardcore athletes delay sex (too focused on winning -- no, that's true).

You'd also have to create more of a sex culture, meaning raunchier tv (make it all like Cinemax and HBO), raunchier music, and sexified clothing targeted at kids. Then you'd also have to get the kids to swear to be abstinent, because that would lead to teen rebellion in all sorts of imaginative ways and they'd lose their virginity quicker. And subsidize sex rather than the porn industry: get rid of those Congressional laws that commercialized everything and locked content up behind those age verification services. Also, legalize prostitution.

And then, you'd have to make military service mandatory and exempt men from military service whose wives produce more than 3 kids (by them) or if they can prove they've had more than 25 female sexual partners without paying for it.

But I don't think most people want this. At all.

Hoosier Daddy said...

So I see the Russians are deciding against the Western European solution of allowing mass immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. I wonder why?

I'm betting Western Europe has more incentives in term of social welfare benefits versus Russia. Not to mention the fact Russia is hardly considered the garden spot of Europe in terms of political climate.

Then again, Chechnya could probably use some re-population....

David said...

I guess the Soviet-style ideas of central planning are not dead yet.

The probability of pregnancy is of course closely linked to a woman's cycle, so the optimum "sex day" varies according to the individual.

With central planners, it's all about the grand gesture, not about the results.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Am I the only one who finds this funny?

"Obama lays out plan for Iraq today in Clinton
By Ed Tibbetts | Wednesday, September 12, 2007"

Maxine Weiss said...

Hey Kids: Didja know it's legal for two first cousins to marry?

I wonder if a nephew and aunt could also marry...

Just curious.

SGT Ted said...

I couldn't figure out quite what she meant by 'celibate' either, and as someone said above "She acts like the only way to have sex is to be a slut." That's what I was thinking. Does she not date at all? If she did find a steady BF, would she have sex with him? It almost seems as weird as those people in NYC who decided they wouldn't flush their toilet or whatever it was for a year.

Really? Someone deciding not to have sex outside of marriage is weird?

If you can't grasp the word celibate...

Being a guy, I'd say that if the BF can't handle no nookie, then he's not really a BF, he's just looking for a monogamous, extended hook-up. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I say that someone who is deciding to remain celibate knows what they want out of their life and it doesn't revolve around spreading their legs for affection and approval.

Flexo said...

I regret that I need to correct you, Paddy, but celibacy is not "the refraining from sex."

Classicly and properly defined, "celibacy" is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity. "Chastity" means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Although celibacy means refraining from marriage (to another person), it came to be thought of as refraining from sex because, in an earlier time, one who was not married did not have sex.

As for the bigger issue, it is clear that "Children of Men" is coming to be more and more a picture of our own future. When sex becomes purely recreational, and relations between persons are increasingly utilitarian, society will start to die.

Anthony said...

Really? Someone deciding not to have sex outside of marriage is weird?

Not at all. But that's not celibacy.

Steven said...

Well, the words have been misunderstood out of their original meanings.

Originally, "celibacy" was not being married. "Chastity" was not having prohibited sex -- for example, sex outside of marriage.

So, a Catholic priest who had sex every other day with his mistress was remaining perfectly celibate, in accordance with the rules for priests. At the same time he was utterly failing to be chaste, which was the rule for everybody.

His sister, who had sex with her husband twice a day, and never had sex with anyone else, was not celibate (and not expected to be), but she was perfectly chaste, even in the middle of having sex.

The priest's brother, a married man having sex with his mistress once a week, was neither celibate nor chaste.

The other priest in town, who was neither married nor having sex, was both celibate and chaste . . . as was the eighteen-year-old "saving herself" for marriage.

Chastity wound up getting redefined by misunderstandings among the common people; the injunctions for the unmarried to remain chaste (by abstaining from sex until married) being understood instead as injunctions to remain chaste until married (by abstaining from sex).

Much later, another oversimplification occurred, where the rule of celibacy for priests and religious was taken to directly prohibit sex, instead of the abstinence requirement deriving from the confluence of the general rule of chastity and the specific stricture of celibacy.

So "sexually abstinent" is fully correct for "not having sex"; "chaste" with that maning is correct, because centuries of misuse equals a meaning shift; "celibate" as meaning "not having sex" is a recent bastardization which should be strangled, but will probably become standard anyway.

SteveR said...

Hoosier Daddy: Then again, Chechnya could probably use some re-population....

I don't think if the Russians were open to it, any lack of incentives would matter. They recognize open warfare when they see it.

EnigmatiCore said...

So what is Russian for "Tube Snake Boogie" anyway?

Paddy O. said...

I regret that I need to correct you, Paddy, but celibacy is not "the refraining from sex."

No worries. My use of language tends towards the common and accepted definitions rather than the classical. And as the OED allows me the definition "abstaining from sexual intercourse" I feel okay about using it that way especially in the contemporary moral climate where sex outside of marriage is assumed.

Interestingly enough the OED offers as one definition of chaste as "unmarried, single". So, I guess we're left to admit there is a difference of nuance while also understanding an overlap and change of meaning according to society's particular need for a word.

English is a funny language that way. Personally, I think that celibacy is a useful term as I used it as it immediately suggests sex rather than marriage in popular parlance. The language has evolved in usage and so the choice is whether to communicate quickly or communicate classically which may or may not be consistent at any point.

The distinction remains between it and chastity, which you define wonderfully.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Being a guy, I'd say that if the BF can't handle no nookie, then he's not really a BF

I don't know about that. Sex is an integral part of any loving relationship IMO. If having a GF who wants to abstain from sex at least until she is willing to marry yet that is on hold for whatever reason than she's not really a GF either.

stoqboy said...

My wife read the article and decided to create a "Russian Day" holiday. We picked Ground Hog Day (but Feb 4 since we want to take the day off) and we are planning the day around vodka and sex. Feel free to plan your own "Russian Day."

Mortimer Brezny said...

I mean, they could have phrased the title: "In Clinton, Obama vows to pullout"

Hoosier Daddy said...

Feel free to plan your own "Russian Day."

Actually we're doing a German Day which is where all day we eat brats, sauerkraut, drink copious amounts of beer and then invade my neighbors and take all thier artwork.

hdhouse said...

actually it is a very smart move. there is a fairly set ratio that sets out the relationship between productive, taxed, or program contributors (i.e. pension, etc.) to those who draw from the system upon retirement or old age.

China's seemingly draconian 1 child law is for a purpose as it has optimized their economy or is working toward it. India is the same...our birth rate, is significantly higher than Russia's (5/1000 higher) and our longevity is 13 years more.

that difference is one reason why our entitlement programs are in trouble. russia has such a low life expectancy and their birth rate can't keep up.

there was a very good article in the new yorker about this last fall. the balance between supplying "new" into a system is a difficult issue, particularly when the aged population grows or, in russia's case, dies off at an age far lower than one would expect.

ron st.amant said...

damn...we're not Russian and our second child is due in February rather than June...I'd love a Plasma TV and a car though...and I wouldn't pass up the cash either...I don't think I could convince the wife to immigrate to Russia...and the baby holding off 4 months?? that's a non starter.

oh well...I'll just have to settle for cooing, kisses, and lullabys...I'm good with that.

rhhardin said...

$9,000 just reduces the existing reluctance by that amount.

If somebody is within $9,000 of feeling they'd come off ahead, then they'll go ahead now.

That might be a lot of people, or it might not.

It's like running an occasional sale in a supermarket. You then pick up the marginal shoppers, without having to let eager shoppers buy at the bargain price most of the time.

In effect you sell at a higher price to eager shoppers, and at a lower price to reluctant ones, to get their business too.

It's a sale on parenthood : On the edge? Now's the time.

The hazard might be that even eager people will start waiting for the next sale, after this.

Ron said...

Hoosier: German day? ummm...remind me not to open your broiler!

serket said...

The news segment I saw called it conception day. They showed one woman who was very happy to be doing what the government expected of her. There are probably a lot of her type in Russia.

Revenant said...

How do you explain how we got to where almost 70% of black children in America are born to single mothers?

Welfare -- which paid out a LOT more than $9000 per child.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hoosier: German day? ummm...remind me not to open your broiler!

Wow...tough crowd here...

Maybe I should have said French Day where I eat cheese, snails, drink wine have sex with all my neighbors and then give up my house to the first person who comes over.

Pogo said...

It isn't just modern Russia for which women refuse to bear children. Communist USSR created conditions so poor that abortions were an extremely common method of birth control.

Any nation whose people no longer marry and raise their own children will fall into the dustbin of history. Any nation which kills off such huge numbers of its progeny via abortion cannot expect to survive.

Lack of desire to raise children demonstrates a lack of faith in the nation's future. In some nation's, however, the lack of desire to raise children stems from a culture that favors narcissism and rejects sacrifice.

XWL said...

In America you screw on Sex day. In Russia, Sex day screws you.

(This thread needed some Yakov Smirnoffizing)

Coincidence that Putin waits till "Sex day" to dissolve the government?

Maxine Weiss said...

Althouse making plans to move to Irvine:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ucilaw13sep13,0,5893599.story?coll=la-home-center

birdie bob said...

Pogo,
Re: your 2:18 post, I pray you haven't also described the US in the last 2 paragraphs

Paddy O. said...

Moving to Irvine? That's a great rumor to start, Maxine.

Would be a fine next step really. And your varied politics would seemingly fit in nicely there.

Of course, don't live there. Live in Newport Beach with all the pretty people.

I heartily recommend OCC's school of sailing for weekend activities.

EnigmatiCore said...

"How do you explain how we got to where almost 70% of black children in America are born to single mothers?

Welfare -- which paid out a LOT more than $9000 per child."

Don't forget no-fault divorce laws. Nice for some, but the results have been devastating to the poor, who are significantly overrepresented by blacks.

Maxine Weiss said...

She'll have to give up her blog! Teacher with a controversial blog (no matter what the ideology) would be too radical for Irvine.

Also, they want top-20 schools. Is Madison a top-20 school?

Maxine Weiss said...

Irvine is a great place to live.

I came very close to doing undergrad at UCI.

The Exalted said...

offtopic, but suggested topic for post:

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/09/12/the-oc-law-school-edition/

Maxine Weiss said...

It's hard to believe they didn't know who they were hiring, and what with Donald Bren being a very well-known OC Repulican....I wonder how it even got as far as it did.

Actually, it doesn't really matter who they hire. The school will do well because it's "UC", and the UC name means a lot, no matter who runs it.

Labels are what counts, nothing else.

knoxwhirled said...

Wow, there's a dearth of female commenters on Althouse, isn't there? I was hoping to hear what some other ladies had to say on the subject.

Anyhoo, to answer the question: We have not absolutely ruled out having another child (we have 2 now), so if the government were to offer a big incentive--say, $100,000--I'd probably bite. But if we absolutely didn't want any more kids, I can't think of any amount of money that would convince us to do it. Parenting is an absolute joy, but an enormous commitment and a lot of work. Perhaps if we were broke I'd feel differently?

For Russia, isn't this survival of the fittest in action? Maybe it's time for them to give it up.

rhhardin said...

Back in the 60s, an office mate was grousing that his wife was pregnant, pacing around, making it clear that that was on his mind. ``I know just when it happened,'' he exclaimed one day.

One of his better lines was that it costs $250,000 to raise an 18 year old, which apparently he had discovered, and for $250,000 you can buy one hell of a nice 18 year old.

I imagine he settled down eventually. They usually do.

Conserve Liberty said...

What premium would it take for us to have an additional child?

Discounted present value of an additional child at 3% general economic inflation, 6% private college all-in-cost inflation (starting at $126,000 / 4 years) and a 7.5% IRR on investment is $325,000. I would want some cash return above the cash cost to compensate me for satisfying the needs of the state, so let's just say, round numbers, $500,000.

That doesn't count the cost of a larger house and car you buy if the addition requires it (happened to us with the third child - 4BR house vs. 3BR, minivan vs. Civic, etc.)

Also doesn't count the unexpected "required" purchases such as iPods, cell phones, computers that didn't even exist when baby was in diapers, and the cost of use of the Civic that wasn't traded in, etc.

God forbid this (or any) child should need a car at college. So far none of ours has won that argument.

No wonder the baby boomers have not saved enough for retirement.

I know some will say these are extravagances - but I live in a middle-class, older suburb in the Midwest, and these are very common expenditures.

ricpic said...

It's easy for a woman to be celibate, she doesn't make a million sperm each day.

igbalonigbanlo said...

Lol @ ricpic

reader_iam said...

Give me back six years, and I'll do it for free. Twice.

reader_iam said...

By the way--and I kid you not--guess what my son's birthdate is?

reader_iam said...

It is true that my son was born exactly one day late. L-o-o-o-n-g labors are a bitch--but contemplating how to spend nine grand might very well have been a nice distraction, much better than the "Zen" music that annoying birth aide kept suggesting we play.

LOL.

blake said...

Jimbino--

When you're calculating how much you're paying out for others' brats, make sure you calculate how much you'll be receiving from said brats when you're old and sick.

Modern Otter said...

The governor of Ulyanovsk region in Russia is offering prizes to couples who have babies in exactly nine months - on Russia's national day on 12 June.

Kind of reminds me of a Les Nessman report from the days of WKRP:

"In the top story of the day, General Wallace Nasami, head of the emerging nation of Nibia, denied his new government was a dictatorship and promised free elections as soon as each citizen of the small country learned to play a musical instrument."

jimbino said...

Yo Blake,

Wake up--what I will receive in retirement will be a result of my own labors, no gift from the gummint or the fruit of any brat's labors, though I do have preceding generations to thank for their sacrifices. I figure if the gummint hadn't been stealing FICA fees from me for 45 years, I'd now be over $2,000,000 richer. Where'd you learn math and econ?

dbp said...

When I first read this posting last night, I figured $50,000 would be enough of an incentive for my wife and I to have a fourth child. Later, talking it over with her, I found out that the actual amount is more like $500,000.