Children are our future?

Posted on October 19, 2011

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I watched CNN’s Western Republican Debates this morning (thank you to @miserablyglorious for posting the full program which I couldn’t find in full at a single mainstream news outlet). Within the first 15 minutes, Rick Santorum made an assumption I think we Americans should carefully reconsider. To criticize Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, Santorum pointed out that families with children would not receive a tax break for having reproduced. They would be taxed at the same rate as single people. He pointed out that ever since the income tax was invented in 1913, we prejudiced the tax system toward people who made babies. He said we should keep

People don't need any encouragement to have babies.

doing this because look at what happened to the birthrate in europe. You can watch the word-for-word here at the end of the clip.

His assumption: “We want to encourage people to have children.”

These are the types of proclamations that politicians make as if they are social axioms: “We want to encourage people to have children. QED.”  Now back the pony-cart up. I think we should re-evaluate whether we, the government, really want to encourage people to have children.

What if instead of giving families with kids a tax break, the government used that money as additional funding for public schools? Rather poetic, don’t you think?

While I am at it, I think I can solve immigration and the jobs shortage in one generation simply by refusing to encourage children. If fewer babies were born, we would get our population under control while making it more manageable to educate and nurture the children that are produced. A small generation would mean smaller classroom sizes for getting them world-class education. When they are adults, the smaller number of workers will mean gainful employment for all. If there is a shortage of workers for routine jobs, bring on the robots! For shortages in other fields, we should snipe the best and brightest from other countries. We could offer these immigrants education at our colleges and citizenship. Bam! All of our problems solved, just by questioning whether we want to give tax breaks to families with children.

In fact, this vision sounds so good, we could go the other way—discourage children. The government could subsidize IUDs and higher education for woman (as the more educated the female is, the fewer children are produced). Imagine what a glorious world this would be. Take that, Malthus.

My point with this little exercise is not to demonize children. My point is that our fine country stands on an occupied precipice. The People are ready to throw out everything from the tax system to the Fed and start all over. We are in the correct collective mental state to  thoughtfully redesign our government…but this will only happen if we question our dearly held assumptions.

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Posted in: Governance