The Baby Shortage Downed Toys ‘R’ Us, And It’s Coming For Our Entire Tax Base

The Baby Shortage Downed Toys ‘R’ Us, And It’s Coming For Our Entire Tax Base

What doesn’t happen in the bedroom doesn’t stay in the bedroom. Toys 'R' Us can tell you that.
Glenn T. Stanton
By

It’s a terribly stubborn demographic truism: Somewhere close to 100 percent of babies never born will never become customers of your business. This is true of the more than 55 million American babies who never made it past the womb since abortion was legalized in 1973. It’s true of the untold millions who were never conceived because a potential mom and dad thought they had better things to do.

Of course, there is an inestimable, inherent worth and dignity to every human life, but we cannot ignore the social significance at play here as well. These invaluable lives-never-realized are a whole lot of missing customers. Not good for business. Not good. Nor will they be paying into social security or pensions to provide your part when that time comes either.

What if you’re in the toy business? Well then, this truism is super unfortunate seeing as your whole business model depends upon people called grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents. Others outside of these four types of folks are just not likely to pass through your doors. So you want the population of these four categories not only stable, but growing. The common denominator between all these folks is babies.

New, fresh-smelling little humans are what create grandparents, aunts, uncles and mothers and fathers. This is not a theoretical theorem. No one knows this better than the international toy giant Toys ‘R’ Us and baby supplier Babies R Us. They recently got majorly T-boned at the intersection of “Need for Growing Customer Base Avenue” and “Declining Birth Rate Boulevard.” Thus they are shuttering all of their U.S. stores. Putting it another way, Geoffrey the Giraffe had to be put down.

Of course, there were many market factors leading to the fall of such a long-standing and large company: Amazon, Walmart, increasing labor and union costs, impending tariffs, crumbling brick and mortar facilities are but a few. But the Toys ‘R’ Us brass noted the baby shortage as a major factor.

Their official statement noted: “Most of our end-customers are newborns and children and, as a result, our revenue are dependent on the birthrates in countries where we operate. In recent years, many countries’ birthrates have dropped or stagnated as their population ages” (emphasis mine).

You can’t become a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid if you never get to become a kid. The Washington Post could not overlook the intimate connection here. They report: “The change in the number of children born in the previous 12 years (and thus sitting right within the Toys ‘R’ Us demographic), tracks closely with the company’s changing annual revenue. … it’s nonetheless apparent that Toys ‘R’ Us’s fortunes rise and fall with the population of its target market.”

This is a big problem for everyone. Only one developed country in the world is producing enough children to replace and grow its national population. That’s Israel. This means not only declining fortunes for toy peddlers, but also for those in the diaper business (stunningly, some countries are on track to have adult diaper sales outpace baby diaper sales in the coming decades), formula, stroller and crib manufactures and all other industries that cater to parents and babies.

It means fewer consumers for every service and product that every business in the world offers. It means fewer taxpayers, entrepreneurs, inventors, educators, health-care workers, farmers, and military and law-enforcement professionals that are required by every nation and every community.

Many countries have been noting this with tremendous concern for more than a decade. Rather than the apocalyptic “population bomb” which was supposed to wipe out countries and lead to the starvation of millions, the exact opposite has happened. Governments across the world are working hard, and often with desperate creativity, to boost the number of new home-grown citizens in their nations.

It’s not because they believe that babies spruce up the joint. It’s purely pragmatic. They are realizing, with great trepidation, that without Chinese, Italian, Australian, Romanian, Turkish, British, and Canadian babies coming along, their national heritage and cultural, economic and social infrastructure will cease to exist. The America of tomorrow is built upon American babies today.

The most creative (and provocative) effort is “Do It For Denmark,” a major advertising campaign that explains the national dangers of falling population growth and encourages Danish couples to go on vacation. Why? Because, according to the stats presented in the commercials, 10 percent of all Danes were conceived on vacations, Danish couples have 46 percent more sex on holiday, and traveling to new places releases endorphins which can elevate sexual desire. Thus the “it” that couples are being called to do for Denmark. But wait, there’s more.

Couples are encouraged to book their travel through a dedicated website, apply for its special “ovulation discount” (yes, really!), go on their trip, let nature take its course, and then register their fertility success a few months hence and get included in a chance to win a truck-load of baby supplies and a child-friendly vacation. That sultry campaign was followed up with “Do It for Mom,” which appeals to couples to also do it, if not for God and Country, as least for their moms who dearly want grandchildren.

To ensure Denmark doesn’t merely get one-timer parents, these two campaigns are followed with the “Do It Forever for Denmark Loyalty Program,” asking these new parents to keep at it. The ad promises, “The more children you have, the bigger discounts you get” on your next vacation trip. (This third video is a bit too provocative for a writer from Focus on the Family and the wholesome Federalist to send you to.)

In Japan, scientists there created a robot baby they hope people will take home, love on, tickle and play with, and in doing so, catch the parenting bug for the genuine article. Hiroki Kunimura, one of the robot’s inventors, explained the rationale, “A robot can’t be human, but it’s great if this robot triggers human emotions, so humans want to have their own baby.” The Japanese government has realized that their long-declining birth rate has reduced their standing on the world stage as an economic powerhouse. They are desperate for anything — obviously — that might help solve the problem.

The small nation-state of Singapore has encouraged their couples to participate in “National Night” where, as its advertisement has it, “patriotic husbands” and “patriotic wives” are encouraged to get together and “manufacture a life” and help Singapore “get that baby bonus.”

Russia did Singapore one better. Vladimir Putin called their declining birth rate the most acute problem facing that nation. So they gave their people not just a night, but a “Day of Conception,” a day off from work for the sole purpose of getting busy so nine months later they might “give birth to a patriot.” Participating couples could win big money, cars and even refrigerators in the process. In some regions, birth rates increased three-fold over the average. Never underestimate the aphrodisial and ovulatory power of a new fridge.

Leaders in post-Soviet Georgia assembled a national dating service that is different than any other. You don’t opt in. You are drafted out of duty to country. Every single eligible man and woman in the country is included and advertised with their birthdate, weight, height and zodiac sign. You can’t get new Georgians if the people who make them are not connecting.

South Korea bought into the population bomb hysteria in the 1960s and ‘70s and found that not only did it not come true, but also that limiting national fertility is what brought danger. As just one hopeful solution to the problem, their government decided to turn out the lights early once a month in state office buildings, encouraging employees to get home and make more South Koreans. Like Putin, a government official explained the seriousness of the problem, “Korea may lose out in the global economic competition due to a lack of manpower. It is actually the most urgent and important issue the country is facing.”

Increasingly, nations are offering handsome tax incentives for couples to marry and do their civic duty and bring forth new citizens and things like housing allotment preference for those families that do.

Bottom line: Bad things happen when enough babies don’t come along. National epidemics of cancerous loneliness among the elderly, declining national industry and economic vitality, lack of caregiving and social support for the aging, inability for governments to fund essential new nation building projects and infrastructure maintenance, maintaining educational excellence and growth, declining military readiness, increased financial tax burden on younger generations and declining parity in mate-selection for future family formation and fertility, just to name a few. This is why so many nations are increasingly freaking out and unapologetically butting into their people’s sex lives.

What doesn’t happen in the bedroom doesn’t stay in the bedroom. Toys ‘R’ Us can tell you that.

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of eight books including "The Ring Makes All the Difference" (Moody, 2011) and "Loving My LGBT Neighbor" (Moody, 2014). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

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