We do not have nobility but demographic trends means we treat our children as royalty. What does this entail for the Republic?
Royal: “having the status of a king or queen or a member of their family.”
Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution,“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.”
“What manner of the country was this that worshiped children to the extent that they were treated as royalty? - Author: Jude Deveraux
In his biographical article on Rollo, the first Viking ruler of Normandy, author Joshua Mark notes, “Rollo circa 860-c.930 CE, was a Viking raider and chieftain who became the founder and first ruler of the region of Normandy. He converted to Christianity as part of a deal with the Frankish king Charles the Simple (893-923 CE) in 911 CE (changing his name to Robert). he conducted raids in the Kingdom of West Francia.”
It was his great-great-grandson, William II of Normandy, who conquered England, becoming William I. All British royalty, including our current Elizabeth, Charles, and William, can all lay claim to a through the long centuries of Angevin, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, and Windsor few drops of Rollo’s blood. In other words, like all royalty, they descended from some warlord who was really good with a sword and inspiring other hard men to follow. For all of the pretensions to a somehow special kind of human being, the reality is something closer to the accident of birth. And even natural birth is no guarantee of success. Edward I, who reigned in the late 1200s, was martial, intelligent, clever, and ruthless. His son Edward II, not so much, and one tale has him murdered with a hot poker (you will have to learn upon the physical location of the poker on your own). It was his queen who perpetrated this act. I have always struggled with the concept of royalty. Perhaps it is a continuing strain of American tradition.
But as I will note, later on, that strain is beginning to whither. So instead, it is probably that the more one explores the beginning of monarchy, the more one finds some especially vicious and ruthless person, a Rollo, at the beginning.
In a different podcast, I wrote of the utility of having such an arrangement as a royal family in that they free up the real leader, the Prime Minister, to be what they are, a smarmy politician. I have never liked the trappings of the American presidency. I wouldn’t say I like the ceremonial part of the role because they are smarmy politicians. The inaugural ball, the receiving of winning sports teams, or when the president happens to correspond to the woke politics of the sports team. Here is a description from the Guardian of Obama’s first inaugural, “Barack Obama completed his inauguration with a slow, seemingly endless shuffle with first lady Michelle in front of thousands of supporters while being serenaded by Jennifer Hudson at the official inaugural ball in Washington.
Smiling broadly, the president sang into his wife’s ear as Hudson performed Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, the song which Obama claimed as his own when he unexpectedly broke into it at a campaign fundraising event a year ago. The ritual of the inaugural ball and the first couple’s waltz is as much about the first lady’s dress as celebrating the peaceful transition of power.” If I ever need to purge my body, I will not need an emetic; I can just read this over and over again.
Royals have affairs, obtain divorces, make dumb business deals and say stupid things in public. So when Prince Harry marries what would have been termed a social climber in the olden days, who then try to profit from the royal lineage grubbily, it is not the decision of a superior man but rather one who has succumbed to the charms of an attractive woman. In other words, billions of young men through history.
And do not get me started on what happened with Prince Andrew and Epstein Island. Mysterious and creepy islands aside, the Windsors seem very much like you and me, and therein lies the problem.
I have written extensively of our Roman origins and write this piece in the months of Augustus and September as exemplars of that influence. But right now, I am writing this on a Wednesday or Wodin’s day. Tomorrow is Thor’s day, and the next is Fria’s day. I note the Viking tradition here whose concept of royalty was the guy who could best chop the head off of the various enemies of his people. But even before the Vikings of the 800s, there were the Franks of 500-800. One of the more exciting aspects of Frankish royalty was their desire not to have a single heir but rather divide the holdings amongst all sons, and thus best man wins. Of course, like so much history, the real loser in this fashion would be the peasant whose landholdings would be seized, crops destroyed, livestock stolen as these sons, brothers, and nephews and their armies contended for power. But there was a certain level of egalitarianism in this concept. Even Charlemagne intended such a division. Unfortunately, it did not come about with his son, Louis the Pious, because of untimely deaths. Still, Charlemagne’s grandsons divided the Holy Roman Empire into three divisions to drive history for the next 1000 years.
Those who fantasize about reincarnation always seem to be born again as noblemen, princesses, or great scientists. George S. Patton thought he was descended from a Marshal of Napoleon. As this passage from We Are the Mighty History website (one finds the craziest, clean, websites in this genre), “When the Allies left North Africa to invade Sicily, British General Sir Harold Alexander told Patton that it had been alive in the 19th Century, Napoleon would have made him a marshal — to which Patton replied: “But I did.” Note he did not think he was some grunt from a French village who was ignominiously dispatched in some obscure valley fighting Spanish insurgents. But the reality is that before 150 years ago, the vast number of humans were … farmers. There were undoubtedly mine workers, sailors, trade apprentices, and soldiers, of course.
But Emperors? There were 1 million inhabitants during Rome’s height, of which one was Emperor, roughly 2,000 nobility, 8000 Praetorian soldiers, and the rest? Everyday people. It is only in 21st Century America that the latest iteration of Amazon Prime’s Cinderella (because we really needed another one) features our heroine not rescued by the handsome prince from a life of deprivation and poverty but instead rejects said rescue because, after all, she has her own dreams. 21st century America means that every girl is a princess who does not need a prince.
From the 1960s to today, three key demographics are driving the mindset of Americans that get short shrift. Writing for National Affairs, W. Bradford Wilcox wrote this year, “From 1960 to 1980, the divorce rate more than doubled — from 9.2 divorces per 1,000 married women to 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women. This meant that while less than 20% of couples who married in 1950 ended up divorced, about 50% of couples married in 1970 did. And approximately half of the children born to married parents in the 1970s saw their parents part, compared to only about 11% of those born in the 1950s.”
In terms of historical birth rates, NPR noted this year, ‘The number of babies born in the U.S. dropped by 4% in 2020 compared with the previous year, according to a new federal report released Wednesday. According to the provisional data, the general fertility rate was 55.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, reaching yet another record low. “This is the sixth consecutive year that the number of births has declined after an increase in 2014, down an average of 2% per year, and the lowest number of births since 1979,” the National Center for Health Statistics said.”
This trend is not new but rather an acceleration of a fifty-year pattern; according to Pew research, From 1950 to 1955, the crude birth rate in the U.S. averaged 24.4 per 1,000 people. By 2010-2015, the crude birth rate in the U.S. had fallen to 13.2, much closer to the crude death rate of 8.3. By mid-century, from 2050 to 2055, the birth rate is projected to drop further to 12.2, the figure in 2021, and the death rate to rise to 10.2. Consequently, population growth from 2010 to 2050 should be much slower than from 1950 to 2010. As noted above, COVID has served as an accelerator to this trend as economically disadvantaged further delay having kids.
Then there is one final stat and something that gets even less attention. One constantly hears how busy we are, how stressed out. Yet actual leisure time, in other words, those activities not directly related to salary or wage-earning activities, has increased. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, On an average day in 2019, nearly everyone age 15 and older (95 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Moreover, men spent more time in leisure activities (5.5 hours) than did women (4.9 hours).
ON AVERAGE, watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time, accounting for just over half of all leisure time. Men spent 3 hours per day watching TV, while women spent 2.6 hours. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for just under 40 minutes a day for both men and women.
Writing for the St. Louis Fed, Kristie M Engemann, and Michael T Owyang note, “Numerous economic studies suggest that the number of hours that the average American works in a year have fallen by about 550 hours from 1900 to 2005.1 The cut in hours worked presumably comes with the benefit of increased time devoted to leisure. The authors estimated that the average employed person worked 55 hours per week in 1900 but only 37 hours per week in 2004. Because school and homework aim to enhance the productivity of future market work, Ramey and Francis included time spent on those activities as non-leisure. They found that school hours for those aged 5-22 rose from 330 to nearly 900 hours annually. After including commuting, time spent on market work and schooling per year declined by only 40 hours between 1900 and 2004.”
What does all this mean? Before getting married in the Catholic Church, my wife and I were required to attend a couples talk. I thought it quite anachronistic to hear thoughts of successful marriage by men who were never part of such an institution. But what priests know (the vast number of decent ones) is the commitment to an institution and what that entails, including and foremost the concept that compromise is the hallmark of success.
The big takeaway from these talks was that parents were the centers of the marriage and of the family. Take a look at the families you know? Does that exist? Or do the children form the nucleus? Schedules, savings (for college), focus, and energy are all focused on the kids.
And those stats cited above? When a divorced parent is with their children, there is no spouse to draw off attention; it is on the children. Fewer children mean even more focus. And the leisure time? Sure there is the TV watching, but anecdotally, when I played baseball as a child, I can count on one hand the games my parents attended. I biked to the games. For my children, BOTH myself and my wife were there for the majority, and so were the other parents.
Our children are royalty today.
There are enough books on marriage to fill a small library, but there are enough books on parenting (note the verb form, not a noun) to fill the Library of Congress. And think of the animal metaphors. Monique Keiran.
Writing for the Times Colonist notes, “Since when did parenting mean becoming a zoo animal? References to zoos and young families in the same breath are common enough. Families with young children visit zoos, petting farms, aquariums, and nature centers more than most other folks. Now, however, even parenting styles have assumed zoo-related references. If you’re authoritarian, you’re a tiger parent. If you’re permissive, you’re a jellyfish parent. If you are firm but flexible, you’re a dolphin parent. But the references have more to do with our social and cultural assumptions than with the actual animals.
American lawyer Amy Chua brought the expression “tiger mom” into everyday use with her 2011 book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which describes her efforts to raise her kids according to strict, traditional “Asian” parenting methods. Many readers saw the book as advocating for a strict, controlling, ethnically defined approach to parenting — one that uses psychological and emotional manipulation such as public shaming to control and direct children.” Add to that Grizzly moms and Lion parenting. “In keeping with the theme, here are a few other animal names to arbitrarily pin to parenting styles: Monkey parents monkey around with their kids and teaching them to fling crap at strangers they don’t like. Parrot parents teach kids by rote instruction, not example. Lemur’s parents blindly follow what other parents do, without question. Eagle parents raise other families’ stray kids — and red-tailed-hawk chicks — as their own. Spider parents eat their young for breakfast.” Okay, that last one was a little disturbing, but you get the point. When you have a massive subgenre, you know who is at the center of attention to an enormous subgenre.
If there is a common theme in all of this, it is that children need, in too many Americans’ estimation, to pursue their dreams (exclamation point). The problem with everyone pursuing their dream is the reality of, well, life itself. If in 1500s China not everyone could be the Emperor or a highly placed Mandarin because the nation at the time was already a staggering 100 million people, someone had to grow the rice to feed that many people. Others had to transport the crop or build boats along the canal to transport it. Or maintain the canal upon which the boat sat. Not everyone can be Emperor. The opportunity to staff that role is relatively remote.
As of this writing, in a post-pandemic America, the Biden Administration has policies to solve many ills. The problem is these are not nearly the most important ills. Instead of “human infrastructure,” we need, you know, the real kind as in larger, more efficient ports. So go ahead, take a break from my dulcet tones and search for Port of Los Angeles delays and you will see a real need that, god forbid, the government might have a role. But who is to staff these ports? Quick, how many of the tiger cub children grow up wanting to be a crane operator or be part of a container vessel?
It is not lost on the American people that labor shortages today consist of non-dreamy areas of life that include plumbers, carpenters, or wheel affixers at the Ford plant. It is a common misnomer among politicians of both parties that somehow China is preventing us from bringing back manufacturing jobs. I would guarantee that if China’s factory system somehow collapsed and that 500,000 manufacturing jobs were whistled up in a day, we could not fill them for lack of desire on the part of our princes and princesses to staff them. It is not just wages and efficiency that drive our manufacturing issues; it is that no one here wants the work.
There is also the simplicity of decision. As Kevin Williamson writing in the National Review, noted this past month, “We should understand the progressive dream of being “China for a day” as a close cousin to the perverse envy that some on the right evince for illiberal regimes such as those of Vladimir Putin or Viktor Orbán, and a near relation to the Trumpists’ grudging admiration of Xi Jinping: It is rooted in a desire for a simplified politics, one in which we liberate ourselves from the need to work out unsatisfying trade-offs between competing values by rejecting some of those values.
Biden is actually onto something with his focus on non-traditional college. But, as has been typical of Biden for 50 years and is clearly evident in his presidency, he is in the right neighborhood but too dumb to locate the right house. Encouraging Americans into vocational pursuits would have a triple effect: filling necessary jobs with skilled workers, alleviating the costs currently borne by Americans of not having enough of these skilled workers to help (go for, do it right now, call a plumber and find out how long)—and creating a stronger tax-paying based for the bloated government we already cannot pay for. And by encouraging, I do not mean transfer payments from one group of taxpayers to pay for this. By pressing, I mean stop trying to convince junior, he will be the next poet laureate, and by god, we do not need more activists.
Instead, go back to that crazy town idea of providing someone with a purpose that pays the bills with a decent amount leftover. But as noted, this is Biden, whose wife teaches English at a community college.
Because that is what we need in the nation today; more two-year English majors. And because of the woke curricula, they will need not read Shakespeare’s works on various royals, real and fictional. Reading King Lear, King John, Richard II, Henry IV, or Richard III would teach the would-be little prince that royalty is not all it's cracked up to be.