n World Children's Day Letter to Barack Obama, Kamala Harris

To the Honorables Kamala Harris and Barack Obama,

Today is World Children’s Day, the special day designed to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. Our organization, Having Kids, is writing to you as leaders who have pushed boundaries in unique ways and have distinctive capacities to change universal norms, including the norms that surround how we choose to have children.

More specifically, we write because you both recently made key statements — you, Barack, about the need for “an informed citizenry and social cohesion,” and you, Kamala, about “rooting out structural racism” in the United States. In response, we write with this radical proposition and argue that neither of the things you want would be physically possible without ensuring a state of affairs that reflects this new human right:

Every child deserves a fair start in life, ecologically and socially. That is the first human right, the one that constitutes the communities of free and equal people envisioned by the International Bill of Human Rights. And as such, it overrides all competing norms and interests.

Establishing and promoting such a right would require reorienting family planning systems from their current focus on what parents want to a focus on what future kids need, and reinterpreting Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to prioritize the redistribution of resources to incentivize a new system of cooperative family planning. It would require using the Children’s Rights Convention as minimum standard for family planning. If we do that, the mitigating impact on the 1) climate crisis, 2) the gap between rich and poor, and 3) child poverty could be 10 to 20 times that of the downstream approaches we traditionally use. It’s time to take seriously an approach to family planning that is both ecologically and socially sustainable.

We are writing to ask you to consider supporting this change, which we call the Fair Start transition.

Because Fair Start is the first and foundational human right, we believe that political systems that are not implementing it — and that risk social and ecological collapse as a result — are fundamentally illegitimate. This is a claim we flesh out in peer-reviewed work and recent legal scholarship. What’s a concrete next step you all might support?

Many versions of “baby bond” legislation are being proposed at the state and federal levels. Having Kids would alter this concept to instead move toward leveling the entry field for all kids, through a steep progressive tax and benefit system designed to improve child welfare and equity, and 2) by using these incentives to universally promote smaller and more sustainable families. We believe the latter can help pay for the former, especially in the long run. More specifically, we see the legislation responding to the pandemic as a possible vehicle to begin to implement the transition to Fair Start. Our detailed proposal to Cory Booker is here.

Thank you for considering our unique approach.

The Team at Having Kids

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