WHEN the Soviet Union swept itself into the dustbin of history 21 years ago, Russians were so depressed that the birth rate dropped like a rock.
The United States has experienced the same thing, although on a smaller scale, over the last four years.
After reaching a peak of 4.3 million live births in 2007, the number of births gradually declined, hitting just 4 million live births in 2011.
The birth rate for women in their 20s hit a 70-year-old low. The only time it was lower was when Americans were still reeling from the Depression. The connection between the economy and the birth rate is clear.
But births declined by only 1 percent last year, so there is some hope. Underpopulation would be a problem when so many retirees depend on younger workers to provide Social Security, Medicare and other benefits.
IN late 2003, law firms filed a class action suit against Schering-Plough, which made Coppertone. Merck bought that corporation in 2009.
Plaintiffs objected to the use of "sunblock," "waterproof," "sweatproof," "all day," and "all day protection" in advertisements.
The Wall Street Journal reported that although the product met all U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards for broad-spectrum sun protection, Merck agreed to pay $3 million to $10 million "to avoid the burden, expense, risk and uncertainty" of continuing litigation.
While companies should be honest and straightforward with advertising, such suits are basically legalized extortion. Corporations now pay handsomely just to untangle themselves.
Don't think society is harmed by nuisance suits?
Think again.It's a pity nobody can file suit against the political class for misleading and deceptive advertising.