Yep, I just insulted the NeoTsar.
Here's a quick blurb on Russia's collapsing demographics, and thoughts for the same in Europe.
Now, I'm sensitive to this stuff lately, since the Bunny and I started on the trying-for-kids thing very late in the game, but bear with me.
There's one overriding difference, though: Europeans are sufficiently full of themselves that they think they can ignore Economics 101. Go ahead, ask one, he'll tell you. He'll tell you how brilliant European politics and the "social market" is, especially compared to the obvious failures of the heartless and corrupt American system.
That'll last a while. But when push comes to shove, European egotism will give way. The technocrats, unlike the Vampire, aren't stupid. France is already starting to turn around its demographic issues. The French, for all their many serious domestic problems, are smart -- they understand that quality of life counts. They may choose to get there in a way that makes most Americans twitch, and God help them, they may figure out how to actually carry it off... but they know for a fact that you're not keeping a society alive with a QOL in the toilet.
Putin, for all his aspirations to restart the Cold War and dictate to the world from an angular Eurasian throne, doesn't get it. Paying a subsidy to women so that they'll create babies is a start. But the notion that women are going to agree to this for the good of Russia is nonsense. To start with, so is the notion that anything Putin would describe as good for Russia will trickle down to the average Russian subject. (Yeah, I said "subject," not citizens. Citizens have rights.) The Kremlin and its faction runs Russia for its own benefit. Putin and his cronies love to tout their status as an "energy power," but it's all hat and no cattle for international grandstanding and foreign cash... ask the Muscovites who froze their asses off this winter when the weather got a little colder than normal, because the Powers that Be could care less whether there's something resembling a decent domestic gas infrastructure. Why waste all that good gas on the little people?
QOL, Pootie-Poot, QOL. This dumbass, for all his pretentions to worldly glory, still doesn't grasp that it's not 1850, and still doesn't grasp the reasons the Soviet Empire got its ass kicked in the Cold War.
It sure wasn't the CIA. Hell, our intel guys were so bad, we couldn't turn a Polish agent who knew he was going home to be executed. (Then again, whatever the faults of the Poles are, we all know it isn't a lack of balls.) No, much as I hate the phrase, we whipped the crap out of the Soviets, because we had Human Capital. Human Capital let us innovate and grow the Soviets into the ground during the Arms Race (insert giant nod to Reagan here). In the modern world, middle-class civil society is geopolitical power. That's why everybody wants to do business with China, in spite of the banking practices that would be a national scandal here in the US. It's why the Canadians still punch above their weight in foreign policy, in spite of the fact that their military can't make numbers because they're openly despised at home.
And it's why the US still hasn't had quite had its financial meltdown. Our financial markets are two steps away from a serious fiscal crisis as the dollar teeters over a debt-excavated abyss -- but folks abroad know we have a reputation for economic growth and innovation that makes the dollar a decent bet, for all its many documented faults.
Am I waxing brilliant here? Am I saying anything that any economist who's had his morning coffee won't be happy to confirm? Nope. This is all Bozo territory.
So why doesn't this dumbass get it? Hey, Putin: you want some babies? Try keeping your prospective mommies from freezing their asses off all winter, and stop continuing to foster the conditions that keep your prospective daddies at a life expectancy in the low 50s.