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Child Vouchers

Allow breeding for those that can support kids.
(+20, -20)
  [vote for,

OK. Every adult gets one "Child Voucher". A married couple thus automatically gets two vouchers. Each time you successfully give birth, you give up a voucher. You get yours when you become an adult.

If you want another voucher, you can buy one from someone else. There will be an official established market and a minimum price, so someone can't sell their voucher while they're drunk for $15. A voucher may also be bought from the government for some price. I'm thinking of min-maxing at $20000 - $75000.

Naturally, there are exceptions. If a woman is pregnant without a voucher, she must either buy one (on an installment plan, if necessary. Have a time limit), abort (as long as it's legal), or give it up for adoption. The second time this happens, though, one or both parents are sterilized, and the baby is either aborted or given up for adoption. Naturally, make an exemption for babies created from incest or rape (charges must be filed, etc. Lots of stuff to be done here) If your child dies before they're an adult, then the parents get the voucher back. If you have more than one child, then you can keep them all. If you want more kids after, then you have to buy vouchers for all of them first.

And of course, the gov't will have to provide some form of widespread oversight.

bartkusa, Jan 06 2001

VHEMT http://www.google.com/search?q=vhemt
Somewhat more radical population control movement. [egnor, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) Population growth by region http://www.imcgloba...m/cropnut/over3.htm
[Monkfish, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) CRACK - Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity http://www.cashforbirthcontrol.com/
Stopping druggies from having kids one step at a time! [bartkusa, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) Mass Sterilization http://www.halfbake...ass_20Sterilization
In case you really can't get enough of this sort of thing. [Monkfish, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) World Population Projections http://www.igc.org/...r-98-99/popgrow.htm
A bit of information. [Monkfish, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) Free Speech America http://communities....echAmerica/homepage
A purely political forum which overflows with halkbaked political ideas and assessments. Don't let anybody tell you Global politics are not welcome. [Scott_D, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) FBI To Require Background Checks For Child-Care Providers: Child-Havers Unaffected http://www.theonion...hild_providers.html
A (*ahem*) baby step in this direction? [Uncle Nutsy, Jan 06 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) A comment on the family recently featured heavily in the UK media. http://www.holdthef...5may/barry169.shtml
"Before any woman under the age of 25 is allowed to have a child, she must first obtain a Baby Licence. She will only be able to do this by first proving that she has the basic intelligence, the financial means, and the secure family structure that will allow her to bring up the child properly." [angel, Jun 01 2005]

Larry Niven and " Gil the ARM " https://books.googl...%20hunts%22&f=false
Mother hunts were no fun - people looked for other cases to be working on when that duty came around .... [normzone, Nov 08 2017]


       Sounds ideal, except that I wouldn't min-max the price. We don't impose such a limit on other valuable goods, and few people sell their cars for $15 while drunk. There would be a formal title transfer process, anyway.   

       Also, I might extend it to cover immigration and emigration. If you emigrate, you gain a "child voucher" which you can sell to would-be parents. If you immigrate, you must buy a "child voucher" for yourself and anyone you bring with you (in addition to any children you want to have, of course). These are really "population credits".   

       (If other countries follow this scheme, you could use the money from the sale of your voucher in one country to pay for the purchase in another. Sure, some countries would be more expensive than others, but that's how the cookie crumbles.)   

       One interesting question is whether a seller is allowed to discriminate. If I plan to remain childless, can I sell my child credit only to someone I think will be a "good parent"? Who shares my religion? I think that's OK, but I'm not sure.
egnor, Jan 06 2001

       What happens to unused vouchers when a person dies? What do we do about twins, etc? I don't think the vouchers should cost that much, since it costs so much just to raise kids.
centauri, Jan 07 2001

       If by "fascist" you mean "forcing people to account for the social impact of their actions", then, yes, it's "fascist". It's all about turning externalities into marketable commodities. You're not buying a child; you're buying the resources the child will consume.   

       In my book, people who want to have more than two children and make me bear the social cost of an exploding population are the "fascists".   

       What? Your extra children are better than everyone else's extra children? Perfect little darlings who will more than make up for their added impact on the world? I see.   


       Centauri: Unused vouchers are part of the person's estate, just like any other asset. They go to the person's beneficiaries. Feel free to assign them specifically in your will, if you want. (What happens to someone's car when they die?)   

       If you have twins, and you only have one voucher, you're allowed the extra child. But if you want a third child, you'll have to pay for the children as well. If the first twin was illicit, so is the second twin.   

       You don't think vouchers should cost that much? I don't think there should be an artificial $20,000 "floor", but if the market sets a high price for these vouchers, so be it. Apparently there were some hidden costs of raising children. Maybe you should think twice about having extras.   


       Pro-lifers will scream bloody murder (literally!) at this idea, claiming that it encourages abortion. To overcome those objections, I think it needs to be accompanied by a high-quality, state-sponsored adoption agency. Since adopting a child won't cost a voucher, it should become a more popular option (which is a good thing!).
egnor, Jan 07 2001

       I never imagined that I'd one day take PeterSealy's side against egnor, but here we are.   

       The idea: It seems like reversing child tax credits would be a much saner way to do the same thing (if a convincing case can be made that it should be done, which doesn't seem likely).   

       Commoditizing the right to breed is indeed pretty distasteful (the rich get to have babies and the poor don't? Super); it's also completely unenforceable without the worst kind of police state, as PS points out.   


       egnor's postings: I disagree with everything except the statement that price floors and ceilings would be a bad idea. Anyone who cares to can read some of the reasons why:   

       (People who want to have multiple children are not "fascists", as long as we are willing to prefer the narrower meaning of the word to the secondary sense it appears to have which means "people who do things which I believe may inconvenience me".)   

       You're not bearing the cost of an exploding population. The population of your country is not exploding (natural increase of about 0.5%). The whole developed world is quite stable demographically, and increasingly so. It may be that you're upset instead because you believe that there's some sort of zero-sum game going on worldwide with non-renewable resources, and that new babies are making your slice smaller. This is more complicated, but I'd suggest that you're still wrong. Basically, I don't understand what the "social costs" are that concern you so much. Since people where you are produce more than they consume over the course of their lives, I'm not sure how baby-production necessarily makes things worse for anyone over the long term.   

       (Later note: It is true that population growth does (in a simple sense) dilute economic gains / slow growth; so it is possible to argue that there is a "social" cost to it. But the relationship is very complex, this isn't significant anyway at near-zero growth, and it wouldn't justify this sort of approach if it were).   

       It may be that you're bothered instead by that small proportion of your taxes which goes to services provided to kids. This is actually a smallish sum -- public spending per head tends to rise over the course of their lifetime. Parents pretty much support their offspring themselves. If this is the case, consider tax-based solutions as an alternative.   

       The idea for extending this to "population credits" is even worse.   

       Basically, the problem seems either non-existent or trivial, and the solution hideous. The one only reasonable route to a stable population is development. Apologies for length, dreariness, lack of rational organization, lack of rigour, and preachiness.
Monkfish, Jan 07 2001

       Y'all have brought up some good points. I think I will nix the floor price, cuz of the title thing someone brought up. I suppose it's not really needed. I would worry that someone might end up getting a voucher for $60 or something. However, I suppose that wouldn't happen often or often enough to matter. I'll trust capitalism and market forces on this one.   

       Someone brought up a good point about estates. That was really smart. I'll have to fix that. I don't want people passing on these vouchers.   

       This may sound facist, but I assure you, it quite isn't. Nobody is absolutely prevented from having a child. Every person is allowed at least one child, two if you marry. And it makes people have better children. Think. You're poor and have a kid. Sell off another voucher (if you're married), save and invest the money for college. Of course, some ppl will just buy a decade's worth of beer, but this is still a better option. I could see the sterilization being fascist, but what other way is there to punish the parent without hurting the child.   

       Anyone notice that this makes teen pregnancies illegal? :)
bartkusa, Jan 07 2001

       Leaving the word 'fascist' to one side, it seems like forced abortions, sterilizations, and state baby-nappings would require a fairly unpleasant sort of government -- complete with secret police (how else would you know about illicit, back-alley birthings?).   

       What exactly was the problem this was supposed to solve that makes this sort of thing worthwhile?
Monkfish, Jan 07 2001


       The "simple math" is that this scheme will result in zero population growth, not an implosion. Remember, people who die without children still have child vouchers assigned to them, and those child vouchers will end up in the market. Some people will have more than two children (paying for their vouchers), some will have less, but it will balance out. (That balancing effect is one reason not to impose artificial price limitations.)   

       If, for some reason, we decide as a society that we want to have more (or less!) than ZPG, the government can simply institute a sell-of or buy-back of child vouchers.   


       First, the easy part. The rich get bigger houses, better cars, fancier food, nicer clothes, better schools and generally more of everything. That's what "being rich" means. Assuming you don't want to abolish rich people altogether (that's an orthogonal issue), why shouldn't rich people have more babies as well? If we assume that wealth is hereditary (and, by and large, it tends to be), then we will end up with more rich people and less poor people, and that's fine by me. I don't believe childbearing is an inalienable right. Perhaps this is just a matter of axiomatic belief.   

       Now, for the harder part. Why are you assuming that this applies only to the developing world? The idea doesn't say "USA" or "First World" anywhere in it. Population growth in the developing world is a major, major problem. A market-based system is ultimately more fair, I believe, than any other form of population control.   

       You claim "people where [I am] produce more than they consume over the course of their lives", but you are clearly not measuring natural resources. During the course of my life, I will consume infinitely more fossil fuel than I produce. Ditto oxygen, ditto land area, ditto ecological diversity, ditto ditto ditto. Some of these things (oxygen flow) will revert after I die; others (fossil fuel, ecological diversity) will not. Either way, increased population does consume resources that they cannot replace. Children do consume these resources. If I have 20 children and you have 2, I have taken 18 persons' worth of natural resources from your offspring. That is not fascism, that is simple theft.   

       This brings me to the core of my argument, which, you are right, is complex. At some point in the future, one of the following will be true:   

       1. There are no limits to growth, not even total biosphere volume; population will start emigrating from the Earth's surface. This isn't happenning any time soon, but if this does happen, we can simply grant a new voucher for every such emigrant.   

       2. People will start desiring fewer children, possibly because they're more "developed" (better educated, or whatever it is that make people in developed countries less prolific), and worldwide population growth will stop.   

       3. People will be biologically unable to have children (even though they want them), either because they die first, or are so resource-starved that they cannot breed, and worldwide population growth will stop. We don't want this.   

       4. People will be forced by other people not to have children (even though they want them).   

       #1 is unlikely and #3 is undesirable. #2 is the clear winner; under this scenario, bartkusa's proposal does no harm -- if there are more available child vouchers than people who want children, they will be cheap or free. That leaves scenario #4, and I believe that in that scenario "child vouchers" are the form of control that leaves people the most freedom of personal choice.   

       "But, but," you say, "that leaves no room for population growth now which is annulled later in scenario #2". That's true. Ideally, it would be possible to purchase child credits from that rosy future and sell them now. Specifically, it should be possible to take the funds raised by that endeavor and apply them to efforts (such as development) which will lead to scenario #2 coming about!   

       I see no reason why we could not set up the child voucher market to allow "short selling" of child vouchers in just that way. If you truly believe in futures #1 or #2, then you should start selling child vouchers today "on margin". Use the money raised by those voucher sales to pay for development efforts. When those efforts pay off and the market price of child vouchers collapses as a result, "buy to cover" and make a bundle of money!   


       I have no idea why you would want to ban estate sales.   


       What child vouchers allow the people as a whole (as represented by their government) to do is to set population growth policy *without* curtailing individual freedom. (I agree that enforcement poses a difficult problem, but I don't believe that it's impossible. I also suspect that even if that problem were rendered trivial, those of you who oppose this idea would continue to oppose this idea.)   

       Now, I do agree that this will never happen, and the reason is that we are biologically programmed to want kids, kids, KIDS, NOW NOW NOW, ME ME ME!, more strongly (if less intensely) than we want almost anything else in our life. (It's pretty obvious where this urge comes from, evolutionarily speaking!) As such, nobody is willing to cede the right to children to any authority, even if they agree that in theory it is for the greater good. (They will typically make flawed but rational-sounding arguments that population control is not, in fact, for the greater good.)
egnor, Jan 07 2001

       Child vouchers should appreciate with age.   

       If Ann has a career first and waits until she's 36 before having a kid, and Betty gets one as soon as it's legal for her to do so (let's say at 18), Betty's taking up more resources (if early breeding is hereditary, geometrically so) than Ann.   

       Maybe a dividend or pension could be paid to the non-breeding owner?
jutta, Jan 07 2001

       By all means, let us apply a "commodity value" to human life - we clearly evolved from shrewlike organisms for the express purpose of becoming wealthy. But this whole parental liscencing thing is distincly unworkable, and was roundly rejected the last time it came up for serious debate, following the Publication of "The Bell Curve", mostly due to the same objections presented here: too much power to the State, difficulty of enforcement, etc.   

       The most direct solution, which social eugenicists have been pussyfooting around, is an idea I first read in a short story in Playboy, many years ago, called "Time is Money", in which upon reaching employable age, a micrchip attached to a small explosive device is implanted at the base of the brain - the microchip holds your bankaccount balance, net worth, etc, and when this reaches 0, the chip triggers the explosive, causing instant painless, and non-messy termination of now valuless organism.   

       This is by far the most direct and equitable solution, and much expense of time and effort of enforcement, and time wasted in moral debate can be avoided. Equitable, since theoretically, in Capitalism, all individuals are free to compete for resources, and direct, since this would preserve those who "contribute" to society, and noiselessy remove the useless eaters who are holding back the economic progress that is the sole purpose for our existence, without any undue confusion over ineffable questions of "rights" or "responsibility".
Scott_D, Jan 07 2001


       That's an interesting point. In theory, it is offset by the fact that by the time Appropriate Ann has her first child, Bouncing Betty's child will be ready for children of her own, which means that Betty's "family line" will end up paying for twice as many child vouchers in the same period of time as Ann's "family line". (This is assuming they're having extra children, of course. If both simply use their own "built-in" voucher, neither pays anything, and the net result in both cases is the same, even though there are more Bettys alive at any given moment than Anns.)   


       If a child dies before reaching child-bearing age, their voucher reverts to the parents. (This is actually stated in the idea.) If enough people really believe the population should not grow, don't they have a right to do their part? If they are outvoted, then the government can exercise "population policy" and sell off more vouchers to achieve the desired rate of population growth.   

       Peter, you are missing the point, which is that population vouchers allow society to control its growth rate in a fair way! If we want the population to grow, we sell more vouchers. If we want the population to shrink, we buy some vouchers back. There is no population implosion problem!   


       You're attacking a strawman; can you please enjoin from emotionally manipulative but fallacious argument?   

       There is a world of difference between denying someone the ability to have a child, and killing a person. You may believe in an inalienable right to have children; I disagree. I do believe in an inalienable right to a life free of explosives in your head (debtor's prison meets the death penalty), but that is unrelated to the first. Broad overgeneralizations like "applying commodity value to human life" are meaningless.   

       I will note that nowhere in any declaration of human rights that I am aware of is the right to bear children listed. The right to "liberty" is often listed, but liberty does not include the freedom to steal from others. When you have more than your share of children, you are consuming more than your share of the world's resources.   

       (As I have stated before, because overpopulation is not a problem in the US does not mean it is not a problem worldwide.)
egnor, Jan 07 2001

       Well, yes, it does. There is no worldwide overpopulation problem. There is a local problem of rapid population growth in certain poor areas of the world.   

       These areas represent aberrations. They are caught in a development trap; their peoples are still in a position where large families can be considered socially and economically advantageous and where the usual (Malthusian) checks on population growth have been largely stripped away. This situation disappears with development. This relationship has thus far been universal. You overstate the strength of the imperative to reproduce. Ignore what the comically-overused evolutionary anthropological approach ("people's behaviour is dictated entirely by a small set of biological imperatives") suggests and consider the evidence.   

       Overpopulation is not therefore a rationale for this scheme in the developed world. Since it is the main justification you have put forward, we can perhaps concentrate on the developing world.   

       Where to start? It is impractical there to such a degree that I can't think of any superlatives superlative enough to sufficiently emphasize this. Health-care budgets of a few dollars per person. One second note, ignoring the dozens of others: In agricultural societies, larger families can be (comparatively speaking) economically beneficial (which is one reason they are so popular). The incentives which this scheme tries to work with are therefore inverted in the areas in which it would need to work.   

       Finally, I believe that your ideas about resources are almost entirely mistaken. Resources worldwide are not divided among the inhabitants of the planet. The depletion of non-renewable resources is a much more minor problem than you would think. Your view of the world is that of a poor family huddled over a table carving up a potato for dinner. You believe that extra noses at the trough will reduce your share. This is basically a deeply mistaken, grossly oversimple view that is at least two hundred years out of date.   

       (The sense in which national population growth slows growth is a consequence of the dilution of capital; it is not resource-related).   

       Finally, the soft stuff: This remains an unpleasant solution to an imaginary problem. The idea that any rights are absolute or inalienable is a delusion; but my position -- and this is indeed a relative, subjective and arbitrary valuation -- is that reproductive freedom is one of those ones that should not be interfered with unless there are compelling reasons to do so. There aren't. And if there were, this would be probably the last scheme I would vote for.   

       More generally: The world is full of externalities. A person is nothing but a bundle of them. The idea that a price can be put on everything and that the market can sort them out is as deeply (and potentially tragically) mistaken as the notion that the state can organize and control everything to everyone's benefit. Life and economics are necessarily messy. There is a large class of issues for which any engineered solution will be worse than leaving it be.
Monkfish, Jan 07 2001

       How am I supposed to reply if you keep editing your annotation? : )   

       Please explain, Monkfish, how the Earth's resources are not, in fact, limited. The volume of the biosphere is fixed; the available energy flux is limited by insolation and surface geothermal output. Where is the fallacy here? I see a potato being sliced; how is it that you do not? You claim my views are "two hundred years out of date," but I do not see how the basic facts of Nature change with time.   

       In general, Monkfish, you make a number of blanket assertions that "(some problem) is not nearly as serious as you think". How do you justify these assertions? I can certainly justify the statement that "population growth is a problem" by pointing out that it is exponential and has not abated. Malthus may have been wrong about where the limit lies (and I don't claim to know where it is), but there are limits to growth, and continued exponential expansion must hit them sooner or later.   

       You also minimize the imperative to procreate, but I point out that while we in the developed world are willing to trade away a great many freedoms (some as trivial as the ability to smoke pot in the privacy of our homes; some as important as the right to free speech), almost everyone views population control as "monstrous" or "fascist". Where does that view come from, if not an incredibly inflexible desire to procreate? What is there about child-bearing that is more inalienable than pot-smoking?   

       (I'm not saying I support the War on Drugs. I am saying that the people do, or at least are not nearly as violently opposed to it as they would be to the "War on Procreation".)   

       Finally, I agree that life and economics are definitely messy, but you seem to believe that the only choice when faced with a mess is a complete laissez-faire attitude. That sort of "naturalistic" thinking is also deeply flawed. "Engineered" solutions must be used carefully, designed to be flexible, and monitored after application, but simply claiming "the world is complex, therefore the best solution is simply to let it take its course" is fundamentally defeatist.   

       If there *were* compelling reasons to interfere with reproductive freedom, what schemes would you vote for? Any other scheme seems to me to take even more freedom away.
egnor, Jan 07 2001

       (Edits: Sorry about that. Things have been moving a little too fast for me here. I figure that editing is fair until there are replies, and I like to do a second pass for misspellings, redundancies and stupidicisms (and rarely fail to find 'em).)   

       Okay. We are indeed working from different assumptions. Mine is that population will tend to level off by itself. Yours is that it will continue to grow without limit because people like babies. (This is one half of Malthus' fallacy). Population growth is not exponential. It has often abated, often resumed, and slows to a crawl as welfare rises (I will now try to stop harping quite so much on this fact).   

       Demographic projections do fairly universally predict levelling-off, and there's much historical evidence to suggest that this will happen, so I like to think that my view is the more probable one. However, we do have time to wait and see. If the population approaches genuine unsustainability, there will be time for schemes like this one.   

       I didn't claim that the planet's carrying capacity wasn't limited; it's a bit unfair to ask me to defend indefensible statements I did not make. I am suggesting that the supply of resources necessary for life is elastic up to some final limit which is, as you say, who-knows-where. There is, effectively, a growing potato, and there is no reason that the potato can not grow more quickly than the population -- consider the standard of living and the level of population today in comparison to those of the premodern world. (This is the other half).   

       If I accepted that population growth would continue without limit, I would have to admit that there would be a need for population-control at some point. I don't accept the former, though, so I can get away with not admitting the latter.   

       I also didn't claim that any rights are inalienable. But I would say that most people would object more strongly to reproductive-freedom laws than to anti-drug ones because having babies is more important to people than smoking pot.   

       Finally, that's not really my attitude towards messy problems at all. If they're really problems, we certainly must have a go at them. What you take for defeatism was intended as a pragmatism check. I may try to come back and re-state it more generally.   

       Your last question is perfectly fair. I'll try to reply to it a little later.
Monkfish, Jan 07 2001

       I don't see what's wrong with this idea. Parents get all kinds of tax breaks. Childless people still pay for the schools for other peoples' children and get no special tax breaks for not using more resources. Resources are limited. Where do you live? How can the solution be development? Development erases resources. How can anyone say it's not more crowded where they live than it was ten years ago? Or is it just on the east coast this is happening? Didn't development kill half the small cities in this country? Is urban sprawl a good thing? I think if a couple really wants to have more than 2 children, there is nothing wrong with making them pay extra for it.
smylly, Jan 08 2001

       The facetiousness of my argument clearly failed to penetrate your conciousness, Egnor.

       Parental liscensing schemes usually arise when economic disparities arise, with their attendent behavioral problems, which are never blamed on economics by their proponenets, but justified by them, as you have said, Egnor, in reference to the costs you must bear. These schemes are invariably directed at the victims of this inequality, although this is usually left unspoken. The feeling seems to be that this would be a cost effective solution than the educational and economic reforms that might restore some health to these stressed subcultures and classes.

       In fact, I don't know if you've been paying attention Engor, but there is currently a shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labor in this country, and the situation is the direct result of the Economic policies of the Eighties, where the the flow of National income was heavily tilted toward the creditor class - this was supossed to cause a tide which would "lift all economic boats" - what they didn't tell you, is that a decline in wages and family incomes is engineered in to prevent the economy from becoming inflationary, while cost are cut in education and social programs.

       Poor performance by economically and socially stressed students is then blamed on the "educational system" by Conservatives, who call for prayer in school, while simultaneously screeching about teaching personal finance and promoting birth control and sex education being a "socialist conspiricy".

       The result is an excessively tight skilled and semi-skilled labor market, and a saturated unskilled labor market, overflowing prisons. and a legal system strained to the breaking point - inflation and social breakdown.

       You are not talking about quantity here, you are talking about quality, and I think it's about time Capitalisms "booster club" took investment in the labor market seriously, instead of going spastic over next quarters earnings, or risk the discrediting of Capitalisms social efficacy - again.

       The shift from a wage based, manufacturing economy, to a creditor based, financial service economy is an economic dead end, as will become appearent in time - production is declining as every dime is squeezed out of companies in profits, while investment in new equipment and processes declines, and banks become increasingly destabilized by speculative loans - this is the same thing that resulted in the Crash of 29, and the markets should properly have crashed ten years ago, but were propped up by the Fed, and financed by public debt - a curious relience of "Capitalists" on socialism when it comes to lining their pockets, while defining the human value of labor markets as uneccessary expense - in word: stupid.
Scott_D, Jan 08 2001


       My name is "Egnor".   

       Your facetiousness was blindingly obvious, never fear. I wish I could say the same for your point. What does any of that have to do with population control? For one thing, you seem to be talking about the US, or at least the "first world", where population growth isn't currently much of a problem.   

       (Notably, if a global population voucher system were instituted, I expect the price would be trivial to afford for most US residents.)   


       Yes, it's more crowded where most people live. Duh, that's because that's where most people live.   

       Rural areas in the US are actually losing population (and have been for the last century or so). You don't live in Small Town, Nebraska, and neither do I, but if we did, we wouldn't be talking about crowding. I grew up in Small Town, New York, and like most of the other people I know who grew up there, I eventually moved to the city.   

       Development does indeed increase per capita resource consumption, but it also tends to decrease (or at least stabilize) the number of capita. As a result, total resource consumption can also stabilize in a way that it does not with unbounded slum growth.   

       I'm arguing against my own position here, but you should at least get the basics straight. Monkfish is not completely wrong, though I think he draws the wrong conclusions.
egnor, Jan 08 2001

       The same goes Globally, Egnor, populations under stress tend to breed indisciminantly, a continuous lament of the overcapitalized - perhaps it's a stress triggered response to infant mortality rates, exacerbated as arable land and renewable resources are developed, or when natural disaster leads to resource hording and speculative opportunism, as the case so often in Africa. Or as Peter suggested, the advantage of cheap labor a large family affords, while a rising standard of living, and decrease in infant mortality generally leads to a lower childbirth rate.   

That children are themselves a cause of poverty is a valid point, I know several families bankrupted by the complications of a single childbirth, which for the uninsured or underinsured can be as devastaing as any natural disaster - again this only gets worse without prenatal care or affordable insurance.
Scott_D, Jan 08 2001

       Wow. I didn't know people this intelligent existed. Anyway, let me get started on my massive miles of response...   

       First of all, I see this argument going the wrong way. While I originally heard this idea while discussing population control, I've seen that it's not nearly as valuable for that purpose as it is for helping the poor, as well as insuring that children can get proper parents. Really, this is about wealth distribution and guiding parents. We want a nation that makes better kids, not more of them. This is assuming that this system will be for the US alone. And that's what I propose.   

       Poor people sell their vouchers and get money. If a poor couple sells one voucher, they can use that money on their child.   

       Also, some people might sell their vouchers in order to satiate some vice, like drugs or alcohol. These are not the people that I want to be parents. I cite http://www.cashforbirthcontrol.com/ as evidence. If we could implement this on a wider scale, then I'm all for it. Can someone tell me how to add a link under the first post?   

       Fluctuating market price stuff - I've heard some interesting ideas that I have to quash. I hadn't thought of a Treasury-Bondish thing where if we want more kids, we change the price, etc. However, the government should only buy these vouchers back for a very low price! I'd like to see most of these vouchers go to other prospective parents. Also, this could be a drain on us. I haven't any idea of statistics, though. This is an interesting economy. I'd much rather see regulation of things by raising or lowering the cost of buying a voucher from the government. Ranging from $40k-100k.   

       I don't think a "police state" is necessary. Simply, if you are born without a child voucher, you don't exist. This could be put on your birth certificate, as well as a national database. "Back-alley births" would not be afforded health care or education or even some legal protection until their parents give them up. If you can hide the kid from society and the authorities for 18 or 21 years, then go ahead and try. But if we find you, you're screwed. Not only do you suffer the effects of this law, but you could probably be tried for child abuse and stuff.   

       People have said that forced abortions and sterilizations and baby-nappings are facist. I rebut: what better way is there under this system? The abortions aren't forced: that's the choice of the parent. The sterilizations? By violating this system, you've proved that you're irresponsible. And I don't want irresponsible parents. And by the same token, they shouldn't be allowed to keep their kids. Also, what way is there to punish only the parent and not the child?   

       I see no reason why people should be allowed to inherit vouchers.   

       jetta proposed that we pay people for having babies later. While I wouldn't say pay them outright with a pension or dividend, I would say that they should get some sort of tax credit.
bartkusa, Jan 08 2001

       You may not see it as Fascist, but it remains that you are regulating perhaps the most natural and central functions of the Human race, you might even define it as the purpose of our existence - any regulation of this in the ways you have described are by definition, Social eugenics, and their implementation would make a mockery of any notion of a "free" society. The social efficacy of any system which requires such micromanagement is in serious doubt, and I think you'll find that besides the ethical questions involved, the administrative costs involved in implementing and enforcing such a scheme will far exceed any benefit revieved - you are far better off implementing free market solutions that are self regulating, such as public education, and health insurance, even if you must abet them by some species of Socialist sub-system.

       This is in no way contrary to the formulations and recomendations of Adam Smith, and his logic in this was, I believe, sound, and are in fact key to his concepts of labor market self regulation - advances in predicting human behaviour mean that his concepts may be implemented in the spirit of their functionality without recourse to his archaic relience on the infant and child mortality rate to regulate the production of the labor supply - a Phd. can dig a ditch as well as anyone, while the reverse is not neccessarily true.
Scott_D, Jan 08 2001

       Give me a break! I have to get a license for my dog and I am required by law to get certain vaccinations for him/her. I have to obey the leash laws. But to have a child is nothing (yes, it's natural, but so is having sex indiscriminately) and I even get a tax break. Letting things work themselves out is fine for the big picture, but it glosses over all the child abuse, neglect and poverty that exists (yes, here in America).
smylly, Jan 08 2001

       that's weak, waugsqueke. "Egnor, I am in total disagreement with your statement, 'I don't believe childbearing is an inalienable right.'"   

       I seriously doubt your eligibility for parenting :).   

       First, realize that you are still allowed a pair of kids if you're part of a married couple. So you can still have kids.   

       Seriously, you have to realize that there are rights more important than that of parents; those of the children. I saw a Dateline interview once with a family that had abot 9 kids. The parents were devoutly religious; they forsake all medical treatment, trusting only in God. They lost children to diseases and illnesses commonly treatable. I've also heard an anecdote on how a child once choked on a piece of banana. Those around the child prayed. Never was 911 called or the Heimlich maneuver administered. The child died a FREAKING hour later. If I could rule the world (a scary thought indeed), these parents should be shot. In any case, these parents should be stripped of their title and children. When you are a parent, you give up all rights when dealing with your kids. In every way, the child is more important than you.   

       Since the welfare of children is of the utmost importance, people that are unfit to be parents should not be allowed to have children. Poorer people do not have the means to support a large number of children. Rich people do. Therefore, one should have more than the other.   

       "Why should anyone have the right to determine whether or not anyone else on the planet is able to have a child?"   

       Because the child is more important than you. To think otherwise is narcissistic.   


       Peter - Unliscenced children don't exist. It's kinda like not having a social security number, only more severe. You don't get education or health care (non-emergency) or anything. If you can hide your child from society for his entire life, then go ahead. But if you try anything, you'll be found out and punished.
bartkusa, Jan 08 2001

       OK. You're getting on my nerves.   

       " //I seriously doubt your eligibility for parenting :).// I'll thank you to keep your opinions about my ability to parent my two (coincidentally) children to that which you know, which is nothing." Can't you take a joke? That's what the smiley thing is for.   

       "//First, realize that you are still allowed a pair of kids if you're part of a married couple. So you can still have kids.// Well thank you for granting that power to me, Minister of Birthright. " OK, that's just a retarded response. I'm talking about how your rights are being preserved. Quit being so asinine. "Oh, gee, thanks Mr. Founding Fathers for granting me my right of free speech, etc. etc. etc."   

       "//Poorer people do not have the means to support a large number of children. Rich people do. Therefore, one should have more than the other.// This statement is completey without merit. There are unfit parents in the world from all economic and social levels of existence. Rich people do not make better parents simply because they have more money." People have varying levels of needs. At the most basic level are needs like food and shelter. Then there are things like love and support. Currently, anyone can be a parent. There are people who do well and people who do poorly at providing needs for survival, and there are people who do well and people who do poorly at providing the needs for emotional and mental health. I plan to eliminate only the people who cannot provide basic needs. I never said that rich people would be better parents. I just said they could support more of them.   

       "//"Why should anyone have the right to determine whether or not anyone else on the planet is able to have a child?" Because the child is more important than you. To think otherwise is narcissistic.// A) How is any one person more important than any other person? B) You didn't address my question. How is it that any one person or agency earn the right to be the one who determines whether or not others can have children?" A child is more important than his parent because he has so much more potential. He could possibly be a genius. It's far less likely that an adult will be a fantastic genius or discoverer. You seem like a moral person. I take it that you don't believe that the ends justifies the means, and that people are an end in themselves. Therefore, the only reason you can bring another person into the world is to make sure they're happy and successful. Is there any other reason? Second, how can someone be the judge of who can make children? I ask, then, how can we have any sort of criminal justice system? How can we say that a murderer be killed, or a criminal be locked away until he wastes away? Due to the Social Contract, we have already consented to such a system. Being part of this society means that you may be judged. We already have the right to judge others. Now let's exercise it.   

       "This is a ridiculous notion, and I'm all done entertaining it." This was a ridiculous post, and I'm done riddling it with holes.
bartkusa, Jan 09 2001

       It's impossible to have a logical argument about axiomatic preferences (such as whether procreation is an inalienable right). Certain people would do well, however, to realize that not everyone shares the same axiomatic beliefs they do, and perhaps to figure out where yours came from. Did your parents teach you that childbearing is a "God-given" right? Is it some kind of "gut feeling"? Did you develop it over time in reaction to life experiences? Is it a logical conclusion that you draw from other axioms?   

       Likewise, the axiom that the child's needs outweigh the parent's in every circumstance could bear some examination.   

       I would also point out that the "right to breathe" is covered under the "right to Life", as in "Life, Liberty and ...".   

       Finally, to bartkusa and waugsqueke: You're getting all flamy and ad-hominem. It's stupid. Stop it.
egnor, Jan 09 2001

       Sorry. I saw this site and just plopped this idea down (I've had the idea for some time, mind you). Anyway, I'm just some uncivilized barbarian traipsing through your community. I'll work on being nicer. I also need to work on being clearer with what I say. Whenever I try to add something, my mind clouds up and the words come out all... fumbled.
bartkusa, Jan 09 2001

       I'm going to look at such regulation from the perspective of it being put forth by the United States Congress, because I live in the U.S. and am not sufficiently familiar with the laws of other countries. Basically, I'm treating this like a Reg. State assignment.   

       The United States currently acknowledges a privacy right in childbearing (Roe v. Wade and descendents). Neither Congress nor the individual states can mandate that any individual obtain an abortion. I believe there are also cases that hold that neither Congress nor the individual states can use sterilization as a punitive measure.   

       Anglo-American jurisprudence has a long tradition of inalienable personal rights. For instance, in the United States you can't legally sell yourself into slavery, nor can you sell bodily organs.   

       The voucher program requires substantial resources to implement (somewhere on the level of the SSA, maybe more). This is itself a large drain on resources, and should be factored into any cost-benefit analysis.   

       This isn't going to help poor people as much as presumed. Since there's an infinite supply of vouchers available from the government, there's reduced incentive for private markets to arise. This is coupled with an incentive to sell the voucher as soon as possible (the utility of the voucher declines rapidly after it's obtained, and should therefore be converted as soon as possible); the value of these vouchers will plummet.   

       The effect on the children is questionable. It is conceivable that some people will choose to keep a child despite the loss of coverage. I'm assuming that these children's status would be roughly equivalent to that of illegal immigrant. Under current law, refusing Medicaid/CHIP would probably be acceptable. Refusing public education might be. Denying all access to legal remedy certainly would not be. It is not clear what will happen to those children given up for adoption. If adoption requires a voucher, demand will dwindle, making it more difficult to adopt. In the short term, agencies may not be able to handle the increased caseload.
bookworm, Jan 09 2001

       I think the replies posted here are sufficient indication of the passions this sort of thing arouses - smoking pot is illegal, but people still do it, and efforts to enforce drug laws have are bankrupting the legal system, and have led to significant erosion of the civil rights of all Americans; multiply this by at least an order of magnitude, and you'll begin to get an inkling of the technical problems you'd face attampting to implement such a scheme, IF you could get it considered in the first place.

       It's not a new idea, well baked in fact, and as I've said, it was kicked around in the mid to late Eighties following the publication of the Bell curve, where it was reoundly rejected as too authoritarian for this society, at least, to consider. Do a periodical search at the Library for "The Bell Curve", and several articles concerning the parental Liscensing issue wll come up.

       China for one, attempted to limit parents to two children, but what happened instead, is that couples kept having children until a desirable male child was produced, and rural China, especially, is heavily populated with people who are not supposed to exist - if Authoritarian China cannot make a go of it, there is little reason to suspect that it will work anywhere else. Catholic, and indeed most religious tradition, attempts to limit childrearing to those with the economic stability to raise commited citizens, through informal social enforcement of a class-status structure, but this is generally undermined, historically, by economic polarization.

       As I say, you appearently have a rather narrow definition of Fascism bartkusa, birth regulation is a distinct attribute of Fascist and authoritarian States, and is often included in the definition. Egnor, I repeat; deviation from the principles expounded by Adam Smith directly affect Capitalisms self-regulatory processes, and lead to the consideration and application of increasingly intrusive and indefensible artificial forms of adjustment - in decrying "Socialism", which is often symbiotic with Capitalism, Education, the military, etc, and even consumer protection to mediate the worst damage of unethical business practices, Conservatives have moved us appreciably closer to definition of Fascism: suspension of the election process, a managed economy, management of the press, etc. - hardly a good trade, in my estimation - I expect we'll see many more such Theocratic and/or Fascist "ideas" promoted in the next few years.

       As far as rights go, I'm sure I can count on HK to object, but the "existence" of rights are dependent upon recognition and/or enforcement of same, if they are not recognized and/or enforced, they cannot be said to exist, except as abstract and subjective philosophy - in America, a Republic, power devolves from the people, and law is simply the codification of public consensus as to what rights should be recognized and enforced. This is the only process (recognition and/or enforcement) through which rights, whatever their proposed origin, come into demostrable existence - but I think you'll find that the consensus on this parenting issue is well neigh universal, outside a certain narrow socio-political spectrum, and given that it is an evolutionary compulsion, it's as close to "God given" as you can get, outside of the metabolic process itself.
Scott_D, Jan 09 2001

       Oh yeah! Government! Something I'm actually good at!   

       bookworm - "Neither Congress nor the individual states can mandate that any individual obtain an abortion" No one has to. As long as abortion is legal, it's an option. Good points about precedent and such. That'll be tough to beat. I could argue it, but my argument is already visible above in annotations, if you have the time and the effort to search it out.   

       As for the inalienable personal rights and such, I'll bank my arguement against that based on how the welfare of children is greater than that of the parents.   

       And sure, this would require mucho resources. However, we could take the money from the military. I've studied their spending habits, and they waste so much. They're begging to have money taken away.   

       "This isn't going to help poor people as much as presumed. Since there's an infinite supply of vouchers available from the government, there's reduced incentive for private markets to arise." Yeah, but you can undercut the government, and easily so, I hope. Supply and demand would meet at a certain level. I'm anticipating about $40000 to $60000 dollars, well under the $75000 the government will sell for. And it should be hard for the government to change it's price. They're not competitors; they're a backup safety net. "This is coupled with an incentive to sell the voucher as soon as possible (the utility of the voucher declines rapidly after it's obtained, and should therefore be converted as soon as possible); the value of these vouchers will plummet." I don't think so. Irresponsible people will sell it to make quick cash. Responsible people will plan for their future. Who do you want to be a parent? And how does the utility decline? I'd think it'd be static. Please explain this to me.   

       That legal thing I said, like "no legal protection" was rash and stupid.   

       "If adoption requires a voucher..." That's the thing. It doesn't. -------------------------- Scott_D - This isn't a matter of parental liscencing. Nobody takes a test. However, if you make enough money to support a child, then you can get one. Take loans, invest, whatever. American is the home of the fiscally-flexible, where someone can get money if needs be.   

       If you want more than two *free* kids, you can get them if you want. You can have as many children as you can prove that you can support. Wasn't China one child per family?
bartkusa, Jan 09 2001

       Scott_D: Careful -- if you say Adam Smith's name a third time, he may appear. You and I appear to be on the same side, but apart from your last paragraph I find I can't agree with much that you've written.   

       Bookworm: Interesting to hear a legal perspective.   

       Egnor, you asked me at one time to name other schemes I would prefer to this one in the event that it became necessary to take steps to limit population. In my first two annotations, I suggested that the same sort of effect could be realized through the tax system without all the administrative complexity, hassle and cost that dragging babies away from parents and hauling women off for mandatory abortions would doubtless entail (this, once again, is what I see as the uglier part of the idea, not the limitations it imposes on the right to reproduce). This still seems reasonable. Make your taxes prohibitively high and your collection sufficiently ruthless, and drive the birth rate down as far as you like. There are other schemes, but this is the one I expect to lead off with when there is a genuine population crisis and I am both King and God.
Monkfish, Jan 09 2001

       Yes. This was talked about over on "Mass Sterilization" by hello_c and others; it was my second or third choice.
Monkfish, Jan 09 2001

       "...dragging babies away from parents and hauling women off for mandatory abortions would doubtless entail..." OK. The government already drags away kids from parents. If you live in Chicago there seems to have been about 2-4 cases in recent years where kids were shifted around constantly.   

       And there are *NO* mandatory abortions. That point can't be made enough.   

       "...and drive the birth rate down as far as you like..." This isn't about population growth. If it were, I'd have put it in that section, providing I were smart enough to realize that this is more like ecology or something else, anything else. Rest assured that this is in welfare for a reason.   

       And yeah, for bookworm, props and kudos and the like. My style of debate is heavily political and governmental and the like.   

       And there are *NO* mandatory abortions. I'm not that sick a bastard.
bartkusa, Jan 09 2001

       Peter - That hurts. Please tell me you're joking about the sick bastard comment. Ever since that one guy couldn't take a joke, I've been worrying about this place's funny bone...   

       Anyway, yes, the parent can abort the child. If they don't, the government will take the kid and put it up for adoption. I suppose that could use some clarification. But it was never mandatory, and nothing ever suggested that.   


       "- young males selling their vouchers under the assumption that they will never have kids." That entire scenario doesn't sound bad to me.   

       "- poor people selling theirs to pay off debts, then going into deeper debt to buy a voucher for an unexpected pregnancy. " These aren't people I want to be parents, then. Understand that. If you're that irresponsible, you shouldn't have any hand in the development of a child, the most fragile process in the world (well, that's exaggerating maybe...)   

       "- a black market trade in stolen vouchers." Just like the trade in Social Security numbers and such. If you have a centralized (or decentralized) database, you could certify it. It's not just like we issue you a certificate. Hell, if you lose a savings bond somewhere, you can look it up and retrieve it with proper ID and such. It's not just a slip of paper.   

       "- custody battles over the one remaining voucher from a failed marriage." I left so much of this out from my original document on my computer at home. Each parent dissolves part of their voucher. So presumably, most parents would split it 50/50. And who cares anyway? I'd rather that no one had the voucher in that case! Divorces are a cruel thing to do when you have a child. A magazine that advises political mavens and congressmen (Congressional Quarterly Researcher) has an upcoming piece about divorce's impact on our country.
bartkusa, Jan 09 2001

       So this only incidentally provides massive sanctions for teen pregnancy and divorce? How convenient.
bookworm, Jan 09 2001

       Well said waugsqueke. Sorry if I offended you, but I just thought, y'know, while I'm being a "sick bastard", and being all authoritative and stuff, I'd point at something and say "die" and nothing would happen.   

       Anyway, I too am against abortion. I think it's disgusting to rub another human life out and destroy their potential. For capital punishment, I'm less certain, but I fear the possibility of an innocent man dieing. So far I'm with you.   

       However, I don't think it's a God-given right to have kids, or anything close to God-given. Is it all right for someone with 6 kids and can't support them to have a 7th? Forget that, is it all right for someone who can barely support themself to have a child? No. You can screw with an adult, and it will have a far shallower impact than if they were a child. Child-rearing is a profession with near-zero tolerance for mistakes.   

       Why should a child be born in to poverty and misery? If they cannot be rescued from such conditions or fight their way out (which is sometimes possible, sometimes not), then it's better that they never came into the world. However, I wouldn't say to abort them. The only reason I included abortion is because it is legal. Therefore, it's a viable option.   

       I never said that the people who could afford child vouchers would be better parents. However, I think that we should hedge our bets on poor or irresponsible people having upstanding citizens for children.   

       "There are plenty of lower class families in this world where the parents work menial tasks, barely make ends meet, do not live in the greatest neighborhoods, but yet consist of healthy children who get educations and become successful enough on their own to sustain themselves and their future families." Yes. I agree. And this will help them. Poor couple gets married. They have a child with one voucher and sell the other, save or invest the money for the child's college funds. There are truly great and responsible families. And this way, instead of having one child, they can have one child and a pleasant pile of money. I want people to have quality kids, not quantities of children.   

       "Because someone does not have excessive funds, this is not a valid reason to deny them children." First of all, why not? Second, I would hardly call this excessive. If even a poor couple saves for a number of years, they can afford another voucher. They're less than $75,000, which is achievable in a life time. And don't rule out loans and such. They've shown that they're responsible enough to save and hard-working enough to recoup the costs. Therefore, God bless them and their new child.   

       Regarding child and parent equality: let me give you a poser of the very annoying type. Let's say there were two buildings on fire, one with a class of children, and the other with an equal number of adults. Neither cannot escape on their own, but you have the ability to save one entire group for certain, but a scant chance at the second group. Who would you save? Hint: Adults have lived quite a while and savored the things that living people can enjoy. Children have their entire lives ahead of them.   

       I'm glad this debate has turned for the better.   


       Neptune, if people like this plan for population control purposes, then great. But, as a number of annotations have related above, this is very messy, and some would even argue that humans *will* reach equilibrium, or that overpopulation will not be a serious problem, or isn't yet, or whatever. Because I'm easily outsmarted in that realm, I'm not even going to enter the fray.   


       PeterSealy -   

       OK, now I understand the sick bastard bit. I don't remember *exactly* what I say, but yeah, I supose I am a sick bastard. Vive le sick bastard!   

       Let's suppose that I am treating people as property. Fine. I'm treating them a certain way, but how am I hurting them without helping others more? I'm not even directly saying that any social class of people is bad. All I'm saying is that irresponsible people are bad. And how is that wrong?
bartkusa, Jan 09 2001

       The big problem with "child vouchers" is that they involve the government meddling to try to solve a problem that it created itself. Prior to the 20th century, no child was a burden to anyone but his/her parents. If parents couldn't afford to raise a child properly, this would have unfortunate consequences for the child, but such consequences served as a disincentive to people having children they couldn't afford to raise. Even without DCFS stepping in, a single mother who was financially strapped would recognize that giving her child up for adoption would be preferable to dragging it through Hell with no food, medicine, or clothing.   

       One thing many people fail to realize is that a certain amount of human suffering is inevitable, not due to anyone's lack of caring, but due to human nature. Prospective parents, for example, can be subdivided into three classes:   

       -1- Those who have a child, and are able, financially and otherwise, to raise it acceptably comfortably.   

       -2- Those who have a child, and are unable, financially or otherwise, to raise it acceptably comfortably.   

       -3- Those who do not have a child, possibly because they believe themselves unable, financially or otherwise, to raise it acceptably comfortably.   

       Much of the support for various welfare programs stems from a desire to move people from group #2 to group #1. Unfortunately, these programs also cause many people in group #3 to move to group #2, with the effect that they end up creating more misery than they solve.   

       To deny that there will always be poverty is fundamentally to deny human nature.
supercat, Jan 10 2001

       It seems like you're trying to save some money, Peter.
francois, Jan 10 2001

       Monkfish, your counter argument is no doubt comprehensive, only I can't seem to find it.
Scott_D, Jan 10 2001

       It's probably in the same place as the reasoning which would bind together your dozens of (sometimes bizarre) assertions about economics and history into a relevant argument.
Monkfish, Jan 10 2001

       PeterSealy - "NO ONE is so bad we should confiscate their children" OK, I've shown that I disagree. Show me your moral "evidence", if you can call the backup for any moral arguement evidence.   

       supercat - Good insight. I believe that good parents without the necessary means should be helped. So I suppose that I would be for welfare (done right). I'd like to help the mother who would rather give up her child to adoption than drag it through hell, because her caring for the welfare of her child shows that she is an upright and good person, IM(Not So)HO.   

       You are right, in that there will always be poverty. Therefore, we should endlessy work to defeat it.   

       waugsqueake - OK. That was fun. I hope to duel with you again.   

       francois - Umm, kinda, more like redistribute it. But my youthful head isn't large enough to grasp the full weight of the economics of the plan. Dammit, I knew I shoulda payed attention in Economics...   

       Oh, Scott_D and Monkfish - The two responses I see by you are glorious and amazing. You have elevated insults to a new level of subtlety and artistry that I haven't seen before.
bartkusa, Jan 10 2001

       Thanks. Leaving your adolescent exercise in vacuous sarcasm to one side, it is good to know that you have, in fact, read some of the annotations here -- even if they appear have left you little wiser.   

       (This by way of completing my little cycle of responses to annotations better left alone.)
Monkfish, Jan 10 2001

       "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." --Mark Twain   

       waugsqueke: your second-to-last annotation ("Against my better judgement...") was pretty much right on. Lack of funds is no (good) reason to deny childbearing. Sorry, bartkusa, but it just doesn't seem to hold up. First of all, some people are much more adept at getting by on less money. Whereas you may not see how it's possible to raise children on less than $20,000 a year (just to throw out a number... obviously if this scheme were implemented, numbers would have to be picked), I am quite certain that there are numerous thrifty people out there who could do so with no problem.   

       Secondly, the very cost of the vouchers will prohibit some families from being able to afford children when they could have easily done so if they didn't have to buy a voucher. If I have to pay $75,000 for a voucher, that's $75,000 less I have to spend on my kids. Not only that, but you seem to think that that price isn't excessively prohibitive... "They're less than $75,000, which is achievable in a life time." Maybe so, but by the time you've acheived that $75,000 you're too old to have kids. And again, some people who would never be able to save that much in a lifetime still, nonetheless, can probably financially support kids.   

       A third point: you consistently equate poverty with misery. However (I was just reading this and can't remember where... I'll try to find a reference) around the world, nearly everyone describes themselves as happy, regardless of their financial situation. I can speak from experience on this... while in Guatemala on a Habitat for Humanity build, I encountered many people in what we would consider extremely substandard living conditions, and all of them could be considered to be living in poverty. Most of them were very happy (or at least did a mighty fine job of acting that way), and some I would even say were filled with joy. One family that entertained our group had several ( 6+ ) children, and the mother and father probably will not see in a lifetime what you or I could earn in only a few years. Yet I hope someday to be filled with as much love, peace and hope as they had.   

       I am not pointing this out to say that we shouldn't try to eliminate poverty, only to say that it does not equal misery, and in many cases is much, much better than your suggested alternative of not being born.
PotatoStew, Jan 11 2001

       PotatoStew: Your point about poverty not implying unhappiness is a good one, though I would add to it: in third-world countries, the people may have only what they can produce for themselves, which may not be a lot, but it's theirs. More significantly, they have some control over their financial destiny; people are encouraged--even if only by necessity--to do what they can to improve their situation. In the "new improved" poverty of the U.S., the poor have only what the government gives them, and are strongly discouraged by the punitive welfare system from seeking to get anything more other than by pressuring the government for bigger handouts.   

       If Bob owns $100 and Joe owns $100,000,000, and the government passes a welfare plan that takes $100 from Joe and gives it to Bob, how much do Bob and Joe now own?   

       Answer: nothing. Bob will posess $200 and Joe $99,999,900, but it will be the government that actually owns everything.
supercat, Jan 11 2001

       //You are right, in that there will always be poverty. Therefore, we should endlessy work to defeat it.//   

       bartkusa: Your response suggests that you have missed my fundamental point, which is that attempts to "defeat poverty" may solve poverty among some individuals but they invariably lead to poverty where there would not have been otherwise. While attempting to minimize the total amount of poverty may be a worthwhile goal, current efforts are analagous to throwing water on a grease fire and merely spread it.   

       Another point to consider, btw, is that before the advent of child labor laws, a parent who had a child could expect that child to start contributing to the family's income within eight years. Child labor laws have doubled the time, and much more than doubled the total expenditures, before payback begins. While such laws may be fine in countries which can afford them, they lead to increased poverty in those that cannot.
supercat, Jan 11 2001

       bartkusa: Hmm. Well, sorry for the rather mean-spirited and slightly paranoid response, then. Cheerfully withdrawn.
Monkfish, Jan 11 2001

       PotatoStew - Nice Twain quote. "First of all, some people are much more adept at getting by on less money. Whereas you may not see how it's possible to raise children on less than $20,000 a year (just to throw out a number... obviously if this scheme were implemented, numbers would have to be picked), I am quite certain that there are numerous thrifty people out there who could do so with no problem." To be sure! However, do you know any thrifty people who can raise *three* children such? You're allowed two free, if you marry.   

       $75000 voucher? I think that market forces would keep the price lower. People are supposed to sell vouchers to other people.   

       I have not time, will reply more later
bartkusa, Jan 11 2001

       PotatoStew (yum)- "I am not pointing this out to say that we shouldn't try to eliminate poverty, only to say that it does not equal misery, and in many cases is much, much better than your suggested alternative of not being born." OK, ladies and gentlemen, start the engines in your pants! No one should be deprived the right of never having existed, that is, if non-existant things have rights (note to self: start Unicorn Rights lobby). Therefore, we should breed the hell out of the planet so that everyone can be born, despite their conditions or their most basic physical needs. After all, people can sustain themselves better on loving family than food.   

       Oh, look what I found on www.enn.com, and environment web site: "Poor have less access to clean environment, report finds"   

       Oh, and yes, poor people can be happy, quite happy. No contest. Oh, it's been confused otherwise, but I'm being completely honest. When I want to inflict sarcasm on someone, I'll tell them. So yes, those poor in material goods may be rich in spirit, yadda yadda yadda...   

       supercat- "While attempting to minimize the total amount of poverty may be a worthwhile goal, current efforts are analagous to throwing water on a grease fire and merely spread it." I think a better welfare program is needed with more case-by-case stuff, among other things. Do you think this will happen with my plan?   

       "While [child labors] laws may be fine in countries which can afford them, they lead to increased poverty in those that cannot." Yeah. And I wouldn't advocate this program outside the US yet, beause I haven't thought how it'd affect them. I designed this for the US and similar countries.   

       Thanks, Monkfish. :-)
bartkusa, Jan 11 2001

       I wouldn't say that the poor of America and those of Guatemala live comparable lives. Economics isn't my strong point, but I'll try to use what I know.   

       Guatemala is quite interesting. Check this almanac: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107596.html   

       Now, 58% of the people are in farming. Agriculture is a good industry for this country. You can employ lots of people and afford it better than expensive capital. It's a relatively simple industry.   

       Per capita, people make $3800. This doesn't amount to much, compared to the rest of the world. As the nation develops (and it seems to be), industries will turn from labor-intensive to capital-intensive. That's what happened in the US and other nations (see the textile industry in England in the first 2/3s of the 1800s).   

       Basically, large families are good for farming. It helps society as a whole. If the families had fewer children, I think they would all be worse off. So long as they don't veer into consuming more natural resources they produce (as I've seen some societies do), they ought to be fine. Sustainable growth, and I don't see anyone getting hurt more than helped.   

       Other people seem to be better at this, so I'm open to criticism.   

       But, in summary, I don't think the two nations are comparable.
bartkusa, Jan 11 2001

       bartkusa: Whether the two countries are comparable is irrelevant to my point, which was that poverty does not equal misery, and therefore you are overestimating what you are "protecting" children from by discouraging their birth.   

       And no matter what the "market price" of the vouchers are, whatever a family has to pay towards them is that much less money that they can spend towards supporting any children they want (or already have).   

       I am sure three childern on less that $20,000 a year is perfectly possible. I suggest reading "How to Survive Without a Salary" (by Charles Long). What about homesteaders and the like... people who have very little income but grow and make what they need to support themselves (yes, I'm pretty sure this happens even here in America)? They could be perfectly capable of supporting children, but never have enough money to "buy" tham under your plan. It's all about needs vs. wants. Sure, if you decide that a kid needs a TV in his room and trendy clothes, and the parents need two cars and the house with the extra bedroom, then supporting those kids requires a bit of extra money, and maybe your plan would make sense. But as it is, you'd be penalizing those people who realize that those things aren't really that important.   

       (by the way, just curious... do you understand the point of the Twain quote? I'll probably delete it now, because I included it in reference to something you said in a now-deleted annotation...)
PotatoStew, Jan 11 2001

       Yeah, the quote was very cute and funny. Perhaps I'll take it more seriously when I follow in Twain's 'steps.   

       Another thing to read. Sheesh.   

       Sorry I don't have any serious responses to your stuff yet, but I'm busy with other, more immediate things.
bartkusa, Jan 12 2001

       Monfish - your argument is, once again, devastatingly comprehensive in it's lack of form and substance, and I would respond to it, if I knew what it was.

       Supercat - it is indeed an egregious imposition on the poor not to allow them to sell their children into economic servitude, or otherwise dispose of them as they see fit, the cause of much misery in Capitalism - thing just havn't been the same since the "reforms" of the Industrial revolution.

       As for the welfare system, it, much like socialism in general, would have never gotten started, in this country, had 1.) Capitalists not, fairly true to form, tanked the Economy in an orgy of speculation and privete debt abuse (sound familiar?) or 2.) had not a significant proportion of this countries agricultural commerce been dependent upon slave labor, and the accompanying dehumanizaion, which excluded and deracinated it's victims well into this century, and is still alive and well, thank you. Failure to follow the free market principles expounded by Classical Capitalism, negated the moral reasoning behind them, and led to, as it invariably does, some sort of Authoritarian compensatory solution, in this case, expansion of a welfare system designed, mostly by decendents of former slaveholders, to regulate the labor supply in an agrarian economy, initiated by a man who had difficulty pronouncing the word "Negro" - a solution which can arguably be termed as worse than the problem.

       The unfortunate thing is not only that it ended up not increasing minority participation in the meta-economy, but that it discredited Socialism, which if Capitalism and American ingenuity built the modern economy, it was largely designed and funded through Socialist policies.

       Peter is on the right track here, I believe, with "rights" come commensurate responsibilities, and this notion was quite popular with Liberals and Conservatives alike in this country, morality and ethics firmly divorced from concepts of materialist wealth, until the last decade or so, when Conservatives have managed to promote the novel concept of a one way society, in which society exists to guarantee their "right" to make a profit, and bear arms, but they have no reciporical responsibilities toward society in these regards - society is now suddenly defined as a vampiric beast suckling their veins. In short, the assurance of their personal success is defined as the greatest good, and any reciporical responsibilities defined as egregious and unjust burden, including, as most statistial analysis will reveal, taking the time to raise their children to be fit citizens. Ayn Rand would be proud, Adam Smith would tell you to get stuffed.

       Anything is possible when logic and reason is stretched beyond it's breaking point, rendering it meaningles, as it is here - even contemplation of the regulation of an organisms most fundamental functions in nature. Presumably, this would spur the taking of responsibility by parents, as they now have a materialist stake in childrearing, and not merely an An ineffable moral and ethical one - in which case, I suggest, in the name of free market theory, we work the little bastards, and make them pay back, with interest.
Scott_D, Jan 14 2001

       I believe a better way to aviod the "15$ when your drunk" scenerio is to be required to go to the voucher office with he who will recieve your voucher, then be required to wait two months, At the end of these 2 months all participants must go back to the office in order to give, recieve, or exchange a voucher. If ater the initial visit the participants decide against the exchange they shuld simply not go to the voucher within a 7 day period directly after the two months when and only when the participants would be able to return for the exchanging visit. I propose it be illegal to exchange anything thing commonly represented by a number or with numbers. Currency would thusly be excluded.
duefangler, Sep 29 2002

       Unfortunately, those who can "afford" children are also the ones whose children end up being the most consumptive of natural resources. The wealthy Western nations, even with their relatively low fertility rates, are the absolute worst in terms of sustainability. Population control means nothing unless there is first a dramatic change in energy generation and materials efficiency. I suggest people install solar panels on their roofs and start an energy co-op with their neighbors.
azspacegirl, Jan 14 2003

       This country shouldn't be China with its draconian one-child restriction. This is a free country, and that means we shouldn't make it illegal to have too many babies. After all, the new babies will produce tax revenue sometime in the future. Fishbone (x100).
andrewm, Apr 02 2003

       In the wild, people who had more children than they could take care of would end up with dead children.   

       In exchange for us keeping your extra children alive for you, the least you could do is cut back a little.   

       This would require quite a bit of police-stating, though, and 99% of the population believes they have a right to pop out as many hungry mouths as they please, so don't count on getting very many people behind it.
omegatron, Jun 01 2005

       Ah... another way to encourage poor people to break the law: You get made redundant, can't afford payments on your house/car/cat it's either bankrupcy or selling your child voucher. So you do it. It's not really like you had a choice. You get a low price because everyone can see the bailiffs closing in and they know you have to sell fast.   

       Ten years later and, with the urgency that only hormones can generate, you want a child. You're not rich, but you can afford the rent. You could scrimp and save and afford to bring up a child, but there's no way you can afford the child voucher. What are you going to do?
st3f, Jun 01 2005

       So, this is not a product Michael Jackson might be interested in?
coprocephalous, Jun 01 2005

       Then you need to become rich enough to afford another voucher before you can have a child.   

       This is the best idea I have seen on the halfbekery so far, I wish this could be implemented world-wide!
The Duke, Mar 19 2008

       How come this resurfaced? I agree completely with the idea that people should limit their child production - an average of one child per couple for a few decades would be the most ecologically beneficial thing we could do, short of a good nuclear war.   

       However, this idea stinks. You are really going to force someone to have an abortion or be sterilized because they have had an "unauthorised" pregnancy? You're going to do to a pregnant woman something we don't do to murderers?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 19 2008

       //You are really going to force someone to have an abortion or be sterilized because they have had an "unauthorised" pregnancy?//

No; it says in the idea body "or give it up for adoption". But yes, the idea does stink; far simpler to abolish child benefit and tax breaks.
angel, Mar 20 2008

       One of the Scandinavian countries employs a policy of no child benefit but instead provides free child care for single parents. Nannying, kindergarten etc.
theleopard, Mar 20 2008

       //The second time this happens, though, one or both parents are sterilized,//   

       What astonishes is me is that 18 of us voted "+".
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 20 2008

       [bartkusa] created his account, posted two annos, two links, and three ideas.   

       By the way, Larry Niven did this idea long before [bartkusa] did. Complete with birthrights, additional ones for sale, and enforcement (link).
normzone, Nov 08 2017

       <wonders just how much longer before Godwin's Law can be invoked>
8th of 7, Nov 08 2017

       As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning Godwin's Law approaches 1.
Voice, Nov 08 2017

       We disagree. Discussions centered around, for example, crochet, or Byzantine mosaics, or the genetics of pangolins, are unlikely to diverge into mentioning German politics in the mid 20th century.   

       Unless, of course, the discussion is a halfbakery thread ...
8th of 7, Nov 08 2017

       Byzantine mosiacs... of pangolins maybe, but not of crux gammatas.
mylodon, Nov 09 2017

       The word "fascist" occurs 13 times in this thread, yet still no-one has mentioned a specific German political leader, or the party which he led.   

       C'mon ... someone needs to step up and do the deed.
8th of 7, Nov 10 2017

       Okay, if no one else will, I'll say it.   

       Kaiser Wilhelm II
Voice, Nov 10 2017

       Otto Von Bismark?   

       Say what you will about the man, but he had awesome hats.
doctorremulac3, Nov 10 2017


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