Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Stork Has Gone AWOL

The newspapers have been going goo goo gaa gaa in the past few weeks covering all the baby talks. I would usually skip those articles for they really do not interest me.

I can explain my apathetic behavior.

Since the 1970s, the baby talks have been thriving. The well-known 'Stop-At-Two' campaign drove a strong and wild message across the island. It was a runaway success only to turn Singapore into a victim of her own success decades later. Now, we wish we can find some magic potions to make the procreation business flourish. That's right, after doing some sums, Singapore desperately needs babies.

After the 'Stop-At-Two' era, the much respected stick has since been replaced with carrots. Unfortunately, the carrots have not been doing a good job. The government dangled more carrots each time the birth rate dropped. This year, more carrots were offered when the Prime Minister announced a slew of pro-baby encouragement at the National Day Rally. It seems that the prolonged baby dearth has forced the policymakers to intrude into the bedroom.

Will the fatter carrots make any difference this time? I doubt it.

The problem is not with the size of the carrots. The problem is not with the fertility rate. The problem is also not with the lack of childcare support so claimed by many. To me, the real problem is the widespread ideal parenthood mentality. Singaporeans are looking for the path of least resistance to parenthood. In doing so, they await the path to be cleared. They want lots of encouragement and assurance that parenthood is not a money losing business. Their resistance over the years has been met with a myriad of ever more attractive baby bonuses.

I wonder if these goodies are encouraging the people to procreate or reaffirming their idealism?

I came across the term 'learned helplessness' and I think it is what we are experiencing now. Basically, it means that, if we are given increased help over the years, we learn to act helpless even if we have the ability to overcome the circumstances. So long as the state of 'helplessness' is not unlearned, I do not expect the birth rate to turn northward in the foreseeable future.

I do not enjoy seeing the idealism spiral down deeper into a chronic state of 'learned helplessness'. I empathize with the government's anxiety and I can accept that it is not entirely the people's fault that they are in a state of 'learned helplessness'. Basically I am just bored with the baby talks that have gone on for decades.

~sigh~ It is time to have a heart-to-heart talk with the stork.

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