Highlights from the week online

Has Poland crafted a baby boom?

At firstthings.com, Lyman Stone examined the impact of a new policy from Poland’s Law and Justice party, which is trying to boost the country’s birth rate. Since 2015, the state gives Polish families “500 złotys, or about $150, per month for every child they have after their first. For a family with three children, that’s about $300 per month in untaxed cash income”.

The government has claimed success: birth rates are indeed rising. Stone suggested caution – it’s not clear what prompted this rise, which actually began before the policy came into effect – but “there was a real recovery in 2016 and 2017, and it may have been helped along” by the benefits programme. Bringing the programme in the US would be hugely expensive, Stone wrote. But “A mixture of financial support and leave time would be helpful, as would reforms to key gatekeepers of the economic life cycle (such as universities) and shifts in cultural attitudes about family, community, and childcare.”

If Rousseau had met St Augustine

At epicpew.com, Theresa Williams reflected on Benjamin Wiker’s book Saints vs Scoundrels, which asks how history might have been changed if, say, Rousseau could have spoken to St Augustine. “Possibly,” Williams says, “there would have been no sexual revolution, no French Revolution, no Marxist Revolution”.)

The book reminds us, Williams, says, that “philosophy made in the image of man will always fall short”. Influential thinkers, when they try to find truth outside Catholicism, often end up merely reflecting their own personalities. Ayn Rand’s “narcissistic view of the world, for instance, was “a mechanism she built to help her cope with her childhood with a family who paid her very little mind”.

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