School Vouchers, Not Child Credits, Can Bring the Birthrate Back Up

As birthrates decline across the world, countries including the U.S., South Korea, and most famously Hungary have devised various incentives to encourage citizens to have more children. So far, they have little to show for the effort. The economist Catherine Pakaluk believes such policies, which focus on tax breaks, cash payments, and perks like free daycare, are doomed to fail. Instead, she argues, countries should look to religion, and the demographic success of Israel. M.J. Koch writes:

Women can’t simply be bribed into having more children. What’s needed, instead, is a more pro-children culture. “Free market solutions are the only ones that stand a chance,” Ms. Pakaluk, herself a mother of fourteen, tells the Sun.

America could instead learn from a country that has been immune to cratering birth rates around the world—Israel. “They have a larger percentage of people who have religiously devout families who believe children are blessings, and that it’s worth taking on these extra sacrifices,” Ms. Pakaluk says. If a substantial minority of the population is forming large families, there can be spillover effects that make the whole culture more family-friendly and inspire more people who are on the fence about having children to go ahead and do it.

In America, organized religion is in a decades-long decline and faith-based education has grown more expensive. “Intergenerational transmission of values is much stronger when parents are working together with churches, which pass on their values to their children,” says Ms. Pakaluk. “Schools are an enormous way in which that channel of passing on faith gets broken.”

To help reverse the inverting pyramid of America’s population, Ms. Pakaluk advocates for giving parents more “educational freedom” in deciding whether to send their children to school, and giving churches a greater role in shaping people’s values.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: American society, Fertility, Israeli society, Religion

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security