18 May 2006

No children. No future.

Last week our President Putin (I am allowed to refer to him as "our" - my second claret-and-gold passport is comfortably curled up on top over the stark black Canadian proof of citizenship on my book shelf.) gave an official address to the nation. "For whom are we doing all this?", it began. V.V. chose to focus the majority of his speech on the dismal state of demographics in the Russian Federation during the past number of years. After all, the net decrease in Russian population exceeded 600,000 in the past year alone. He went on to propose an elaborate plan in a pragmatic, all-too-pragmatic, attempt to rectify the situation. This plan included improved social services for new mothers, doubled funding for the second child in the family as well as a substantial amount of capital - 250,000 roubles in the form of investments into the child's future education, downpayments for real estate, among others.

Critics were quick to point out the obvious - the potential for a dramatic increase in the number of orphans upon the plan's implementation, as a result of women hunting for the attractive financial offer. According to others, V.V.'s methodology was fault-ridden, as his reform would only displace already planned births to an earlier time period and thereby cause an additional gap in future population. They also suggested that significant economic changes were mandatory, because birth rates allegedly increase when the masses are certain of their financial stability.

None, however, noted that Europe experiences similar demographic decline to a lesser extent, despite positive economic factors, and that, in contrast, it is the so-called "third world" countries and their immigrants into Europe that maintain healthy-to-heavy reproductive rates, resulting in ethnic replacement of the populus in traditionally European locales. None seemed to have instead suggested to shift the focus onto cultural reform as the key supplemental factor to transforming Russia's demographic catastrophy. This reform would include patriotic stimuli, from historic glorification to reintroduction of current national hero-making, backed by a powerful, strictly defined moral system rooted in Russia's Eastern Orthodoxy, which would primarily include the reassertion of traditional gender roles with a particular focus paid to a woman's biologically-oriented destiny.

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