Comments to SREC, March 2, 2013

Thank you for all that you do to make our party successful.  Along with County Chairs, and TFRW, the SREC is the lifeblood, the backbone of our party. We would not have been elected last year without your help.

It’s also my honor to be with you today on Texas Independence Day.  And, it happens to be Marijane and my oldest son, Shelton’s, 23rd Birthday.  In the past, I’ve talked to you about energy production and American energy independence.  These topics are critically important to our country as energy provides the foundation, the lifeblood of our economy.  Without energy, these lights aren’t on, you couldn’t drive here today, or refrigerate your food, type on your laptop, or talk, text or tweet on your cell phone.  Our entire modern economy runs on energy, and here in Texas we produce more energy and we consume more energy than any other state.  We also have the most productive, dynamic, and productive state economy in the country.  I’m proud to tell you that America is on the path to Energy Independence in a way that we haven’t been in 50 years.  Thanks to Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing techniques, invented and refined by George Mitchell (not the government), we are finding more oil and natural gas in America than we have in decades.  Our imports of crude oil are about half what they were in 2005, and we are rapidly moving to a position where the US will not have to import oil from any country other than our neighbor to the north, Canada.   Not from Saudi Arabia, not from Venezuela, and not from Russia. 

 Texas is leading the way by producing over 1.5 mm barrels of crude oil per day and 20 bcf of natural gas.  By 2020, we could be producing two to three times as much crude, NGLs.  For example, the Barnett Shale, where 12 tcf has been recovered, still has 44 tcf remaining to be recovered. This independence means that our money, our jobs, our troops, and our children can stay here in the US, and in particular stay here in the Lone Star State.  

 Today, I want to visit with you about a different kind of energy—human life energy.   And lets face it, Republicans are the party of life.  We honor life, we value life, and we want our citizens to enjoy life to the fullest.  237 years ago, our founding fathers wrote these words,  “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  These seven words, found in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, may be the most powerful English language sentence ever written, and give us the roadmap for successful living.    


  It should come as no surprise that “Life” is the first of these inalienable rights.  The founding fathers recognized that nothing matters if one has no life.  It’s common sense, but incredibly profound, and divinely inspired by God. The founding fathers were men of God and looked to God’s word for inspiration.  They believed, as I do, that God created man (and woman) in his own image for his own honor; and not that we evolved from pond scum, single cell amoebas, or monkeys over billions and billions of years.

God not only made man, he cared about him so much that he wrought retribution on those who killed or enslaved his chosen people, the Hebrews. You will recall that Pharaoh (in Exodus) bore the brunt of God’s wrath when he attempted to kill the first born of the Jews and then refused to let the Israelites go to their promised land as10 plagues were visited upon them by God. 

Much like the Chinese “one child” policy of today, which usually results in the birth of boy and often in the abortion of a girl, historical attempts at genocide do not go without inevitable “reckoning.”   We have in China today a live, modern example of what happens when a society does not honor “life.”  As it did for the Egyptians under Pharaoh, I predict that this too will end badly.

Introduced in 1979, the “one child” policy has, according to the Chinese Gov., “prevented” about 400 million births.  Whether the 400 mm is accurate or not, the one child policy has resulted in dramatically increased abortions (almost all female babies), female infanticide, female abandonment, females disproportionately found in orphanages, fines for couples who dare to have more than one child, and China’s dramatic sex imbalance, which is now approaching 120 males for 100 females.   China’s total fertility rate was 1.6 in 2009, and today is 1.5.   Often referred to euphemistically as “late, long, and few”, the Chinese Gov. has said that the one child policy will continue until at least 2015.

Under both President Reagan and President George W. Bush, the US pulled out of the United Nations Population Fund Activities (UNPFA), which is the primary international funding source for China’s “one child” policy.  However, President Obama, not surprisingly, resumed funding for UNPFA, in 2009. 

Today in China, despite what you might hear of its economic progress and dynamism, the country faces a looming demographic calamity.  Called the “4-2-1 Problem”, they have one child, who as a young adult is increasingly responsible for the care of two parents and sometimes four still living grandparents.  In addition, this only child, if he/she is still young, is often spoiled beyond belief by his parents, and with no siblings to share toys, food or clothing, these children have developed, according to one Chinese source, “social problems and personality disorders, are over indulged, lack self-discipline, and have little to no adaptive capabilities.”  Couple this with the child’s inevitable responsibility for taking care of mom, dad, grandpa and grandma, and you can see the potential problems.  One Chinese professor has suggested that the country should at least allow for two children saying, “The one child policy is too extreme.  It violates nature’s law. And in the long run, this will lead to mother-nature’s revenge.” 

I am increasingly concerned that in America we are developing our own “late, long and few” version of the one child policy, and we have chosen it without governmental mandate, and it will result in equally disastrous consequences.  Today, America’s total fertility rate is 1.9.  Among white, college educated women, its 1.6 (about where the Chinese are today).  The needed replacement fertility rate in America is 2.1.  Recently released 2011 numbers show a record low birth rate; in fact you have to go back to the 20s to find a birth rate this low.  In the late 50s and early 60s, it was twice the 2011 rate.   So, we are not making enough babies to replace Americans that are dying and as the “baby boom” generation ages, this relationship only gets worse.  Despite what you may have heard about the world becoming overpopulated and the need for fewer people in order to sustain the planet (a favorite line of Global Warming alarmists), growing populations of young people lead to innovation, creativity, a growing economy, and a cleaner, greener planet.  According to a recent WSJ article, “Human ingenuity, which requires humans, is the most precious of all resources.”  To quote commentator David Brooks, who is sometimes a conservative, “At some point over the past generation, people around the world entered what you might call the age of “possibility.”  They became intolerant of any arrangement that might close off their personal options.  {However}  People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want.  They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice—family, God, craft and country.  The surest way for people to bind themselves is through the family. . Our laws and attitudes should be biased toward family formation and fertility…”  

Inverse Pyramid societies, like China and increasingly like ours, don’t invest, innovate or project power around the globe— young people either spend to take care of the elderly, or they save money for when they become old.

Not only is this happening in China and in America.   It has already happened in Japan.  Today’s total fertility rate in Japan is 1.3.  By 2100, Japan’s population is projected to be one-half of what it is today.  Well, the Malthusians would say, fewer people, that’s good for Japan.  No, not really.  From 1950 through 1973, when the Japanese were still having lots of babies, the annual GDP growth rate was 5.4%.  From 1990 through 2006, it was .63%.  Today, in Japan, the annual economic growth rate is about 1%.  Lets be clear, the higher your GDP growth rate, the higher your citizens’ standard of living. 

While life is a fundamental, inalienable right given by God, it also turns out to be good economic policy.  Healthy birth rates equal a healthy economy.  Anemic birth rates equal a bad economy.  This dynamic is made even worse as poor future economic prospects lead to later marriage and few children, further compounding our economic problems.  Late, long, and few.  It’s a vicious cycle with no end in sight.

Our good friend David Barton has done some wonderful research on the relationship between Congressmen/ women that are pro-life, and their voting record on economic issues.  Turns out that Members of Congress with the best voting records on “right to life” issues also happen to have the best voting record on the economy.  For example, Mike Conaway and John Culberson, both Republicans from Texas, have a 100% voting record on life issues and a 100% voting record with Americans for Tax Reform.   Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, has a 0% voting record on life issues and a 0% voting record on economic issues.  As David so eloquently puts it, “if they wont’ protect life, why should you expect them to protect your wallet.”  Same holds true for a vote on the 2nd Amendment, –Conaway and Culberson are rated “A” by the NRA, Green is rated “F”.  A vote for abortion is also vote to take away your gun, take away your money, and probably take away your freedom to assemble, your freedom of speech, and your freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.  In other words, a supporter of life is a supporter of the entire Bill of Rights.  A denier of life is… well you get the picture. 

By the way, from a purely political perspective, states with higher fertility rates vote Red.  Those with lower, vote Blue.  Texas is 16 points higher than Connecticut.   According to NY magazine, “the postponement of marriage and parenting—the factors that shrink the birth rate—is the very best predictor of a person’s politics in the US, over even income and education levels.”

Having now identified the problem—not enough American families with more than 1 child, we can’t just blame someone else, like they do in Washington DC—we are obligated to pursue policies which work to solve the problem.  So here are a few suggestions:

First and foremost, encourage those married couples of childbearing age to have many children, and then support policies that support having lots children.  Everything from the federal tax code to our state education code to energy and health care policy must support the needs of large families.  These should include making it easier for large families to leave failing public schools for other schools, or pursue home schooling or online options, and eventually get a college degree.  Today, four years of college at a Texas public university will cost you between $80,000 and $100,000!  Four years at a top private university, think $200,000 to $250,000!   I know, we have two at TAMU and a third going to college next year, possibly to a private school.  These numbers are outrageous and can place a college education beyond the reach of many middle-income families with lots of children.  I applaud Gov. Perry’s efforts to promote a $10,000 bachelor degree and his efforts to hold colleges and universities accountable for the ever increasing costs of college, the fact that many kids no longer graduate in four years, or that those who graduate haven’t been prepared for the real job market.

Property taxes, which are directly related to the size of your house, also penalize those who need lots of bedrooms and bathrooms.  This tax is regressive, unrelated to the ability of the homeowner to pay it, and keeps going up and up year after year.  Over ten years ago, I joined with my good friend Paul Bettencourt in petitioning the City of Houston, Harris County and other local taxing jurisdictions to hold the line on spending to the change in CPI + any increase in population.  We are still waiting for that to happen.   The City of Austin, where MJ and I live, charges dramatically more for electricity for those who consume over 500 kwh per month, while practically giving it away to those that consume less than 500.  This necessary means that a family of four or five or six pays a disproportionately higher bill.  The federal tax code should reward large families, whose children will eventually pay lots of taxes, by increasing deductions for children, placing families with children into a lower marginal tax bracket, or encourage medical or college savings accounts.  Obama Care I’m told, has a financial bias in favor of single adults.  And ever increasing federal budget deficit and federal debt places heavier and heavier burdens on our children and grandchildren.  This factor alone may discourage a young couple from having children, period.  .

Second, we should incent marriage and discourage single-parent households.  Thanks to Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty,” families continue to be rewarded for not having Dad around.  Today 26% of American families are headed by a single parent, the highest in the industrialized world.  In some ethnic communities, that number is 72%.  This is ludicrous; however the legacy of single household families continues from the 1960s to this day.  At a time when 48 million people receive food stamps (from the taxes YOU Pay), tax policy must be reworked to reward two-parent, married and living together, families.  Having the mother and father in the home is proven to be vastly better for children and better for the family’s overall economic well-being.  According to the Census Bureau, married couple families earn on average 3X that of single female head of household families.  (Several years ago, a prominent magazine published a piece which said that you only have to do three things to guarantee that you will live above the poverty line—graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, and get married and stay married). 

Third, we must do all in our power to discourage abortion.  Since Roe v. Wade, over 55 million children have been aborted in the last 40 years.  Assuming that half of those children killed would now be 20 or older, that half were male and half female, and that all of them were married and had two children, we would have had another 27.5 mm Americans.  So the travesty of abortion isn’t just the 55 million children that have been aborted, it’s those 55 mm, plus the 27.5 mm children who weren’t conceived because their parents themselves weren’t born.  I know it sounds somewhat metaphysical, but abortion has cost our country at least 82.5 mm people.  That’s about 27% of our current total population and probably close to 50% of our working age population, that we will never recover.  At a time when our federal debt is $16.5 trillion, having another $82.5 mm people, hitting their stride in work force, would add to the GDP and help propel our economy forward.

Efforts by our State Legislature, including last session’s sonogram bill, are making a real difference in reducing abortions.  However, we must be vigilant as new technologies, including the “morning after pill,” make it easier to eliminate a baby after it is conceived.  I encourage all of us to support new legislative efforts that discourage abortion and protect the rights of the unborn.

Let me make a personal appeal to the young guys out there – let me tell you what I tell my three sons – Take responsibility for your actions.  Having sexual relations with a woman is a serious matter, regardless of what Hollywood and the media want you to believe.  If your girlfriend becomes pregnant, marry her, and raise and support that child. Better yet, don’t have sex until you get married, and then have lots of kids! 

In conclusion, contrary to conventional wisdom, having lots of kids is a blessing for you, your wife, and the US economy.  Families, where children are taught how to be good, productive members of society, are, and will always be, the economic engine of our country.