Robbing the Cradle

Recently Nancy Pelosi attempted to insert contraceptives as part of the $825 billion dollar so called “stimulus package.” She stated that family planning, (a.k.a, reduction of births in the lower income brackets) would “ reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”

Thankfully this measure was struck from the package, yet as James Pethokoukis wrote in his blog, the proposal was unacceptable for many reasons. First it reduces children to an economical consideration. No longer is life priceless. Rather, the government can and does put an economical price on the children; the money that will be saved from them never being born. Not only does this seem wrong for government to be making such a consideration, it even flies in the face of sound economical theory.

Mr. Pethokoukis went on to cite Phil Longman’s work Empty Cradle:

“Population aging also depresses the growth of government revenues. Population growth is a major source of economic growth: more people create more demand for the products capitalists sell, and more supply of the labor capitalists buy. Economists may be able to construct models of how economies could grow amid a shrinking population, but in the real world, it has never happened. A nation’s GDP is literally the sum of its labor force times average output per worker. Thus a decline in the number of workers implies a decline in an economy’s growth potential. When the size of the work force falls, economic growth can occur only if productivity increases enough to compensate.”

So if for nothing else, the federal government should want increased population for future potential growth of the economy. Yet I believe that there is a much greater moral argument to be made. And probably one of those arguments would be for government to stop perpetuating a welfare system that provides economic incentives for lower income mothers to have children out of wedlock.

Government may be dealing with the problems of a situation they created a long time ago. So rather than simply trying to prevent births, maybe government should begin to take the steps to reform welfare so as to limit the economical incentives that encourage births out of wedlock. Consequently, maybe government could prevent itself from trying to reduce the value of a child to a lump sum.

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