November 2, 2006

biases and preconceptions...

I find the biases and preconceptions in this Washington Times piece fascinating...

BAGHDAD -- In the face of relentless violence, political chaos, economic uncertainty and nightly curfews, Iraq's maternity wards are experiencing an unlikely baby boom.

Despite the obstacles, the birthrate in Iraq actually has increased since the U.S.-led invasion 43 months ago, according to the country's Health Ministry. The rate of births in the country has jumped from 29 births per 1,000 people in 2003 to 37 per 1,000 last year, according to government figures.

In neighboring Iran, the birthrate is half that -- 21 per 1,000 population, while the average birthrate in the Middle East is 25, according to the World Bank. The birthrate in the United States is about 14 births per 1,000 people, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention....

Some preconceptions...

  1. That people in Iraq see their situation the same way western MSM writers do.
  2. That a level of violent deaths roughly comparable to American urban slums is something that people can't "get used to," and just carry on their lives during.
  3. That Saddam's Iraq had economic certainty.
  4. That people respond to times of sporadic violence by postponing children.
  5. That the situation in Iraq constitutes "political chaos."

I'd say:

  1. They probably don't, as witness the fact that several million refugees have returned to Iraq. Plus all those new babies.
  2. There have been lots of cases in history where people became accustomed to levels of violence and uncertainty much greater than Iraq's. And would routinely slip out to buy groceries when the firing died down, or when mortar fire moved to the next block. I've read stuff like that about Beirut.
  3. Among other things, the Ba'athists played games with the value of the currency, and people would be stuck with devalued dinars, while insiders made a killing. More importantly, true economic security—this will be incomprehensible to statists—comes with the marketplace. Things of value have value because people will pay for them, and free markets maximize this salability.
  4. The normal human response to dangerous times is to have more children, so as not to have all one's eggs of happiness in one basket. I suspect the author is a "Blue-Stater" who assumes that people respond to anything by postponing children.
  5. Just silly. Wishful thinking. Or maybe just sloppy writing
Posted by John Weidner at November 2, 2006 1:10 PM
Weblog by John Weidner