Monday, November 05, 2007

A few more details

... about this comment on this post and the reality in Europe:

Hello! Wake up you obviously have no understanding of the urgency of the problem. Europe is being overrun by Muslim fanatics and the rate of demise of Europeans (particularly Germans, due to low birth rates and high death rates) has been noted by historians as bad as during the The Black Plague in the 1400s. While I recognize Eva Herman's praise for the Nazi era family building is distasteful, its helping provoke an important discussion about what needs to be done to save Europe.

First of all, I can't really see the relation between Miss Herman and Muslim fundamentalists. About Muslim fundamentalists in Europe (especially those who have been caught doing or planning terrorist acts), I do have one thing to say, though: about all of them were converts. So it doesn't really matter how many children a German woman has, they might all become Muslim fundamentalists themselves once they're adults.

In addition, one European country does already have high rate of Muslims (Turkey) and one has a high rate of Muslim immigrants (France, because of all their former colonies in Northern Africa). Nevertheless, the Muslim fundamentalists are not exactly running things in Europe, nor are they holding parades or controlling the media.

There is such a thing as a difference between "Muslim" and "Muslim fundamentalist", after all.

And about those death rates: I'm living in Germany and I'm not aware of high death rates in my country - quite the opposite in fact, as politicians always go on about the populace living longer and longer. Hence the raise of the pension age...

When it comes to Miss Herman and her theories, though, things are not that easy. The simple equation "less women working = higher birth rate" does not work, at least not in Europe on the whole. The two countries with the lowest rate of working women are also the countries with the lowest birth rate: Germany and Italy. Countries with a high rate of working women on the other hand also have high birth rates: the Scandinavian countries and France, for example. The Republic of Ireland, also a country with a high rate of working women, is even considered the 'youngest' country in Europe, seen from the average age of the populace.

In modern times - although there are still a lot of marriages that hold - marriage isn't a guaranty for a secure life afterwards. So a woman with a job is more likely to have children - provided the government gives her the means to combine both, in day care for younger children and full-time education for the older ones. In past decades (like the Fifties, which are obviously the time Miss Herman wants back), work places were almost guarantied. So, if the husband had work (the divorce rate was very low, mostly due to the divorce laws at that time which asked for one of the two to be 'guilty' and didn't accept unfaithfulness of the husband as 'guilt'), the wife could stay at home and care for children and household (and, quite often, her little collection of tasty spirits). But today, when even a married man with children can loose his job at a moment's notice, having a husband isn't a guaranty for having enough money to live off.

And real wages (not in figures, but in what I can buy with the money I earn) have not really gone up either, so the money one person brings home quite often isn't enough for the family to live off. Even in the middle class, a lot of women have to work.

Now, raising children surely isn't about money alone, so the last argument might not sound like an important one to you, but society in Germany isn't exactly children-friendly, either.

I think a lot of those people who are always calling for more children to be born can't really stand them. Why? Regularly playgrounds and kindergartens are closed, because the people living around them can't stand the noise of playing children. The school system - as I've written before - is outdated and doesn't really give German children the same chances children from other European countries have. What adults quite often want is a child that's already a taxes- and pensions-paying adult after five days or so - or so it seems. Children as a such are not popular in Germany.

And neither, unfortunately, are women with more than three children of their own. It's a difficult balance. Have no child or one child and you're not doing your best to keep the German populace up. Two children would be ideal and three are still acceptable, but have four and more of them and you're considered anti-social. Everyone will think you just had that many children so you didn't have to work and got more money from the government. That's the way it is.

The government does not provide real day care, either (and neither do the companies). Four hours a day is guarantied by the law. Even most part-time jobs require a mother to be absent for at least six hours (including the trip to work and back). Kindergartens are usually open between eight o'clock a.m. and five or six o'clock p.m. - and quite often children have to be picked up around noon, because the kindergarten does not serve lunch. Kindergartens are closed during all school breaks - and no working person in Germany has that many free days. And you can't take a child to kindergarten before the age of three, meaning a woman has to stay home for at least three years per child (although admittedly that doesn't mean nine years for three children, as most women get their children in smaller intervals than three years). And school later on only lasts until one o'clock p.m., too.

In France, for example, children can be taken to a nursery when they're six months of age. The kindergartens are open to heed to the needs of the women, so bringing in your child early or picking it up late is easy to manage. Schools last until well into the afternoon. Even the GDR had a better child-care-system than Western Germany had and still has - and I'm not even talking about the Scandinavian countries.

So Miss Herman isn't just talking nonsense about the Nazi who only wanted children so they would have a lot of soldiers later on and, by the way, didn't build the Autobahn either, that was mostly done before Hitler became ruler of Germany. She also ignores the realities about working women and birth rates in Europe. She was removed from her job because of the stupidity with which she talked about the past - and because of her inability to say the right thing when almost begged to simply state she 'had not meant it like that' but a little different. And she is not taken serious by most women, because she doesn't practice what she preaches (or at least, hasn't done so before she was fired).

Eva Herman is a woman regurgitating the ideas of the past and surely not the last warning voice to keep us from being overrun by Muslim fundamentalists.

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