While our events and trends create no reason to panic, our oozes—the slow-moving, long-term changes that show tendencies hard to reverse—are troubling. For example, reports publicized in December showed the U.S. fertility rate declining for the fourth consecutive year: It reached a record low of 59 births for every 1,000 women able to bear children, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. A Pew study showed the 2018 TFR—total fertility rate—was 1.7. This means women are having fewer than two children on average, well below replacement level for the general population.
J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, speculated about the connection of that ooze with another: “I’ve been blown away by some of the research that I’ve seen in the past year about the way in which pornography warps young adults’ minds, and how they interact with their environment.” Part of that interaction is less marriage: Vance wrote, “We made a political choice that the freedom to consume pornography was more important than public goods like marriage and family and happiness.”
Marriage and family also took a hit from the American Psychological Association: One of its task forces aimed to “promote awareness and inclusivity about consensual non-monogamy and diverse expressions of intimate relationships. These include … polyamory, open relationships, swinging, relationship anarchy. …” Meanwhile, the Journal of the American Medical Association announced that “drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases” sent American life expectancy down for the third straight year.
Oozes come when bad decisions by one generation affect the next. In Pakistan, investigators reported a result of China’s one-child policy, which led to the killing of many baby girls: Desperate Chinese men bought from traffickers 629 Pakistani women. In the United States, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality found rates of upward mobility have sharply declined, with those who only graduated from high school facing deteriorating economic prospects. A OnePoll survey reported that the average adult in the United States wakes up grumpy 300 times per year.