“My editors made it clear they were guided by a very different idea: that human beings ought to be seen as minds rather than mouths.” That’s journalist William McGurn writing in today’s Wall Street Journal about his bosses at the editorial pages, explaining what makes them different from most papers and news outlets culture-wide. McGurn learned that idea well, adding his voice to “the hopeful writing about human possibility” being done by a handful of economists.
In his farewell column as he heads to the New York Post as editorial-page editor, the value of optimism about new life, or rather the implications of the “humans as mouths” view, is on display in another article three pages away. In “Slowing Birthrates Weigh on Europe’s Weak Economies,” we read the story of a city in Portugal where ongoing austerity measures are in view in Every area but one: birth incentives. “The awards of up to $1300 to new mothers, as well as free nursery services and tax breaks on homes for young couples” will continue in a desperate effort to encourage babies. Why? More people are dying there than being born and there aren’t enough young workers to support those aging out of the workforce.
Back when we were making our excuses for delaying starting a family, our professor Hubert Morken challenged our notions of what’s financially responsible:
“Budget for everything but babies,” he said. “Babies are wealth!”
I’m thankful for newspapermen like McGurn who see the reason for his exuberance for new life. (Dr. Morken was bullish on family for many reasons beyond the pragmatic, but that’s another post for another day.)
We wish you well in your new endeavor, Mr. McGurn, and hope your move will mean another newspaper that understands the good gift of human potential and possibility. We may have to add another paper to our morning routine.
(McGurn’s full column, “The Education of a Newspaperman,” is online)