Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Works of Economic Fiction

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Works of Economic Fiction

Article excerpt

WORKS OF ECONOMIC FICTION

The Fatherless Series (books one and two), by Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner. FaithWords.

JAMES DOBSON and Kurt Bruner get three things right in their recent novels Fatherless and Childless: Euthanasia is wrong, married couples should make time to have hot sex, and stay-at-home moms should get some respect.

Pretty much everything else in the nov- els, the first two-thirds of a trilogy (book three, Godless, is due out in May 2014), is way off and internally incoherent. The plot starts in 2042, when an aging population and economic malaise have motivated the government to legalize euthana- sia. Businessman Kevin Tolbert, recently elected to Congress, lec- tures his peers about the need to stop euthanasia and encourage parenthood in order to revive the economy. His wife Angie's high school friend Julia Davidson, an allegedly progressive and femi- nist reporter, is assigned to write a story about him (lecture alert). Meanwhile Kevin and Angie struggle (with mercifully few lectures) with their third child's diagnosis of Down syn- drome. Subplots deal with a disabled teen and an elderly dementia victim who turn (or are pushed) to euthanasia.

Actual euthanasia, as disability-rights groups such as Not Dead Yet have docu- mented, often turns on society defining "dignity" according to physical ability and health instead of the innate value of a human being. These novels, however, ask us to believe the main impetus for euthana- sia would come from the drive to reduce the federal deficit, to deal with "swelling entitle- ment spending."

What spending? The novels' elderly and disabled characters are drawn or pushed toward euthanasia because of family finan- cial troubles: There is no mention of any Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid help going to any of them.

The one area where the novels appear to be coherent is in their anxiety about fall- ing U.S. birth rates, but this too is fantasy. In reality, the Social Security worker-to- retiree ratio has been trending down for decades-from 1955 to 1985 it fell from 8.6 to 3.3. At the same time, per-person income more than doubled and the national debt fell compared to the size of the economy. So in the 2040s, when the worker-to-retiree ratio will level off around 2, the sky won't fall. …

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