Thursday, February 12, 2009

People, please, stop irresponsible childbreaing

I'm sure you've heard about the mother who gave birth to an octoplet while she already has six kids. This kind of irresponsible childbearing is happening everyday, yet we've no solution to tackle it.

Why is it irresponsible?

The argument is straightforward: even if you're very rich that you don't have to work at all (which is not true for 99.99% of the world's population), you just won't have time to take care of all of them. Yeah, you can hire nannies to help you. But, what's the point? To have as many offspring that bear your genes? Why would you want to do that?

In most cases, the parents are far from being very rich and they don't even have enough money to give their children a barely acceptable environment to grow up in. What happens next? Welfare, money that have alternative uses to solve other societal problems, comes in and pay for the child expenses. Since the welfare money is limited, the kids aren't likely to get the care, nutrition and education they need. As a result, they became troubled teens and in the worst case turn into criminals and cause harm to other people.

Come to think about it, this is bad for the parents, bad for the children and bad for society.

We're talking about lose-lose-lose situation here, which is very bad (usually there's upside and downside for a decision, like raising tax). Let's think about what we can do to alleviate this problem.

Can we resort to something like the One Child Policy in China? No, the human rights activists in the U.S. will use all means to make sure that it won't happen.

"It is a very basic human right for a woman to bear children!"

"That is a violation of our freedom!"

Anyone can easily think of a dozen of emotional and persuasive slogans like that. Well, yeah, if we practice our rights and freedom responsibly, why would we need any policy like that, huh?

Basic economics tell us that when a cost induced by a person is shared by other people, one will likely abuse it as long as the reward is greater than the portion of the cost s/he bears. That's why factories tend to pollute air/water when there's no law that forbid them from doing it.

When a woman has kids that she's unable to raise, the cost (welfare) is shared by all the taxpayers. I'm not sure what the reward is in this case (the happiness of having kids?), but, similar to the factory case, people will tend to abuse the system when they know they've a golden parachute to take care of their kids.

Although I don't know about the statistics, let's be optimistic and assume that the people who abuse the welfare system are the minority. In that case, we can focus on the people who do not have the intention to bear child irresponsibly but do it because of ignorance. I can think of the following reasons for this group of people:
  • they don't know how to use birth control
  • they don't know how to find out whether they're prepared (both mentally and financially) to raise kids
For the first case, the high schools in the U.S. are already providing some kind of sex education classes to the students. I don't know how effect those classes are but at least the government is doing something.

The second case is the one that the government isn't doing enough about. To solve this problem, high school students should be forced to take classes that teach them
  • what kind of responsibilities childbearing gives them and what it means to their lives
  • how much money will be needed to raise a kid (with all the expenses broken down that clearly show the money needed until their children get a college degree)
Yeah, this is a very big topic to be written about and it takes a lot of research to figure out the best solution. Can some politician work on this issue?

If you're reading this, I hope is that you'll think twice ten times before deciding to have kids. It's a lifelong commitment and if you're not ready for it, you ruin both the lives of you and your kids, not to mention the damage you do to society.

So, please, think.