Paul Ryan is pushing women to have more kids, saying that “he did his part” by having three kids. Ryan wants women to produce more workers for the economy, which is part a larger Republican push that includes an increase in child tax credits they tout as a way to nudge people to create bigger families.
It’s a move some are calling an outtake from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Ryan’s version of good family planning means pumping out lots of kids and hoping for the best.
What’s wrong with that?
Given that having smaller families is the most effective way for the average person to mitigate climate change, and that the Pentagon recognizes climate change as a national security threat, Ryan’s push amounts to threatening national security. Shouldn’t we be having fewer children and investing more in each child to build a resilient and highly developed future populace that can thrive, despite climate change?
Ryan’s push also ignores an obvious fact: Even with lower birthrates U.S. population is still projected to climb drastically, adding another 100 million people in the next fifty years. What about the quality of your daily life – from climate change, to the cost of housing, to hours spent in traffic, to the level of parenting that went into the people around you, etc. – suggests we just don’t have enough people? Does that really feel like the problem?
Ryan’s push would also exacerbate what David Brooks called pediacracy, or the locking in of economic inequality from birth, something he blames for “ruining America.” That, plus Ryan’s tax reform policies which are themselves expected to exacerbate inequality, amount to chipping away at the social foundations of the country. At what point does the gap get big enough that the foundation gives? At what point should it give? Why push more children through a system that increasingly fails to develop them, and increasingly hurts moms and kids? If we are desperately trying to fix a particular system, is pushing more people through it a good idea?
Our Offer to Ryan
This is the offer we sent Ryan today, who despite his working-class rhetoric, comes from the privileged position of a wealthy family. It addresses all of the problems above, and would allow Ryan to lead in shifting the country to better family planning.
Having Kids, Inc. will pay you, Paul Ryan, $25,000 on the conditions that you 1) undergo a successful vasectomy procedure within the next two months, as well as 2) publicly announce that you have donated an amount of your choice to a charity of your choice for the purpose of moving at least one child living in a U.S. household falling beneath the 2017 Federal Poverty Guidelines closer to a fair start in life, i.e. closer to the privileges and opportunities in life that your own children now have.
An Alternative Proposal
The best way to address the twin threats of climate change and growing inequality is to directly link our child development and family planning systems, and incentivize smaller families that cooperatively plan for and invest more in each child. It’s call Fair Start family planning. It’s not only sound policy, but it’s mandated as fundamental human right, the best interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee of the “right to found a family.”
What would that mean exactly? Recently, Republicans moved to modify tax-advantaged “529” educational savings accounts to allow fetuses to become beneficiaries. Instead, why not work with states to fully fund those accounts for prospective parents and children, including college tuition, through progressively scaled contributions that also require some cooperative and progressively scaled contribution from parents, before they have kids? Learn more about that here.
Anne Green, Executive Director of Having Kids, has this to say. “Having kids means thinking about the future, and better family planning policies that will produce sustainable, equitable, and democratic communities. What children need to become parts of the economy is a lot less than what they need to be capable participants in a democratic community, and democracy comes first.”