Sunday, August 18, 2013
Child- FREE Couples Merit Respect - Not Hysterical Over-reaction And Contempt!
Isaac Asimov delivering a lecture in Barbados, in February, 1976. He avidly praised the childless woman as the new heroine of our planet.
If the recent (Aug. 12) TIME featured cover story ('NONE is Enough', p.38) did one thing, performed one service, it showed that child -free couples (those who choose not to have children), are not the demons of society that hysterical reactionaries have claimed. The article cites (p. 41) a UK National Child Development Study, for example, which followed a set of people for 50 years and "found that high intelligence correlated with early - and lifelong- adoption of childlessness."
The principal author found that (ibid.)
"Among girls in the study, an increase of 15 IQ points decreased the odds of their being a mother by 25%"
Of course, it is true that correlation is not causation, but if one even moves among one's circle of friends and acquaintances it is nothing short of amazing how many couples with college educations have chosen to have no kids or maybe one at the most. It is a recurring theme, certainly in my own circle.
This ought not be so astounding. The recent news that it costs on average $241,000 to raise one child to age 18 is enough to put off any person of even moderate sentience, especially in the wake of the still limping economy and 2008 financial meltdown. This economy, not to put too fine a point on it, barely generates jobs above the population replacement level. It follows that lowering the population incoming for job searches will therefore open up the employment market for more people. Having more kids merely generates a higher surplus labor force that puts all the employers, companies in the role of pick and choose masters - with the accompanying cheesy benefits and pay scales! ("Don't want to do unpaid overtime, pally? Well, there's a hundred folks standing in line for your job!")
Yet what do we find? Well, anti-child free reactionaries more and more yelping about our choice. (Yes, my wife and I are among those couples. We decided very early kids weren't for us, based on temperament and okay, other priorities.)
For example, Jonathan Last who I already blasted, e.g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/03/jonathan-lasts-false-alarm-about.html
has made the specious case in his book, What To Expect When No One's Expecting, that "the selfishness of the childless American is responsible for no less than the possible destruction of our economic future by reducing the number of consumers and taxpayers."
Well, as I've said before, the tax issue is easily resolvable by raising taxes on the wealthiest, certainly to the pre-Reagan levels. A proportionate increase in tax rates would therefore compensate for any loss of tax paying base. As for the consumers angle, that is pure horse pockey. It's based on the well known stat that consumers contribute 70% to the nation's GDP. But as I pointed out in previous blog posts, if you're going to use that as an economic barometer of the nation's financial health then you either better change its economic system of infantile consumerist capitalism ...or...change the GDP to another index. (Prof. Herman Daly has suggested instead an "index of sustainable economic welfare" Or ISEW.)
One can also look from another angle: Isn't it much better to have people choosing childlessness, i.e. who lack the temperaments for proper care, than to have increased rates of children being ignored, battered, abandoned or emotionally abused? I'm not saying any of the intelligent child free would necessarily resort to such behavior, only saying that if we actually had a parental licensing scheme like we have for operating motor vehicles- but including psychological testing- you'd see a lot less malfeasance in child rearing! A lot fewer kids having to be funneled into foster care, already stretched for dollars, or ending up homeless, abandoned or dead (see article at end of this paragraph from Miami Herald). This the underside of the pro -child hype that none of these dimwits (like Last) will tell you. But it also underscores that a childless choice based on temperament may well be an innate "psychological test" the couple has already applied to itself! (See also: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/18/3570055/at-dcf-an-untold-epidemic-of-abuse.html)
Then there is another twit, named Ross Douthat, also quoted in TIME. who made his claim to hysterical fame in a December column featured in The New York Times: 'More Babies, Please!'
This moron (almost equal to Thomas Friedman, Neolib hack), argued that:
"the retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late modern exhaustion, an indicator of decadence, revealing a spirit that privileges the present over the future."
Of course, this can be countered at multiple levels. Probably the most compelling is that we simply can't afford to put any more U.S. affluent people (even middle class people) with their relatively large carbon footprints on this planet! Hence, those of us who WANT a future - free of polluted water, air, food and carcinogens, ARE planning for that by NOT having more carbon consumption units!
We also want a more sustainable world, including in the economic sphere. Fewer people translates into more economic opportunity because a large surplus labor pool can be avoided. Fewer people also translates into fewer military invasions, occupations, because there won't be the numbers to support those derelict uses of tax payer money. Above all, fewer humans - especially born in these United States- translates into a chance to at least contain global warming to a level that we can adapt to the changes, as opposed to a runaway greenhouse which will mark the end of humanity. (See e.g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/08/hell-is-coming-can-humans-deal-with-it.html
It's our choice! But it seems that in the U.S. everyone and his uncle believes a child free choice is their business. Though the decision to have a child or not ought to be a private one, the common question most asked of child -free women is: "Why don't you have children?" as opposed to say, "Why do you have children? Don't you understand their impact on the planet's carbon footprint?"
That's not being cheeky at all! At our present rate of population growth and resource consumption we are gobbling up the equivalent of 1.5 Earths each year. This means we will either turn this whole planet into a massive crapper very soon (check out the background of the new sci-fi flick "Elysium" to get an idea of what I mean) or we will have to move as many as we can to a new "Earth" (as depicted in the 1990s sci-fi series, "Earth 2".) Of course, if we don't control our reproduction we'd likely fuck up that other Earth TOO!
When Isaac Asimov, the noted science and science fiction author, visited Barbados in February, 1976, he delivered a stirring lecture to a packed Queen's Park Theater. It touched on many points, including the limits we humans face living on a finite planet and why our numbers therefore need to be controlled. Asimov, as part of his lecture, warned that humans had two choices: decrease their population to the Earth's carrying capacity limit to live in an equilibrium with the Earth and its resources, or let nature “increase the human death rate” (e.g. by starvation, pestilence, wars over resources etc.) He also remarked:
"It is now the willingly childless woman who is the heroine of our planet. She is the one who now deserves all the kudos and praise, for helping to do what is necessary to spare humanity from the ravages of over-population"
Spoken like a true, and long time, former member of Mensa!