www.ethanwiner.com - since 1997

Please pay for your own kids

David Attenborough

On March 31, 2016 the New York State legislature created a bill mandating paid family leave. New York wasn't the first state to do this, and other states are considering similar laws. From the state's official web site: "When fully phased-in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition, or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service."

While I have sympathy for new parents and believe both should be able to take time off from work, I resent being forced to subsidize their procreation. Of course, New York's Family Leave Act is not only about babies, and I agree that people need time off to care for a sick family member. In fact, I think people should be able to leave work to cope with a sick or dying pet, or any legitimate reason, without fear of losing their job. So that part of the law is great.

But it's not fair to force employers to pay for up to 12 weeks of absence, especially small companies. Even when the plan is funded by employees, that still forces non-parent employees to pay for someone else's babies. If you want to make (or adopt) a baby, it's your responsibility to pay for it. Either take time off as a paid vacation, or plan ahead and save up for your absence just as you save up for baby furniture and diapers.

Aside from babies, people can be sick for longer than three months, and active duty in the military is usually for longer than that too. So some other type of long-term assistance is needed anyway for people who truly need it. Further, who determines whether a health condition is "serious" or not? The employer? The employee? Some worker at a government agency?

Public Education

Non-parents also unfairly subsidize families with children through federal and state tax breaks. I'm 67 at the time of this writing, and I oppose senior discounts too for the same reason. Why should young people, who often earn very little, subsidize my lifestyle? Sure, charging less for kids under five or whatever at movie theaters is fine; more parents will buy tickets, and they'll buy more overpriced popcorn and candy for the kids. But movie discounts don't take money out of my pocket the way tax breaks do. It's simply not fair to make me pay to educate your ten kids, or even four. If you want more than two children, then you should pay the difference. Indeed, the tax rate should be higher for each additional child someone makes over their lifetime, not lower. Having more people costs society not only for schools, but also for new roads and bridges, larger police and fire departments, more sewage treatment plants, and - when people make babies they can't afford - food stamps and other welfare benefits. In 2010 US taxpayers spent more than $17.5 Billion dollars to care for foster children.

To be clear, even though I have no children by choice, I don't mind paying taxes that fund schools and public services such as parks and concert halls. Having an uneducated and crude population is far worse. We already have too many stupid people who care more about the Kardashians than they do about world events, science, and art. So while I'm glad to pay for public education even though I have no children, I expect everyone else to pay too. By this logic school vouchers must also be disallowed. If non-parents pay for public schools they don't use, then so must parents who homeschool their kids or send them to private school.

Free birth control

One driving force behind baby-making is that long ago many children died early, and extra hands were needed to work the fields. But today some people have many children based on religious beliefs. Worse, conservatives want to deny access to sex education and birth control (including abortion) on what they perceive as "moral" grounds. But how is it moral to force an unwed teenage mother to give birth to a child she can't afford or properly take care of? It's clear that US states without proper sex education have higher rates of teen pregnancy. According to the Population Connection web site (see below), half of all US babies are unplanned. Unwanted children are also more likely to grow up to be criminals, which costs society money for courts and prisons, not to mention a lower quality of life when we're mugged or our houses are robbed. Birth control should be available for free to everyone who can't afford it, including teenagers. Heck, especially teenagers!

The larger problem for me is our ever-growing population. In 1968 the organization Zero Population Growth was founded to help slow this trend, then in 2002 the name was changed to Population Connection. Their Goals and Programs page explains the problem of population growth better than I can, so I've limited this short article to my own opinions: mostly that people should pay for their own kids. But clearly we don't need more people. The US - and indeed the entire world - would surely be better off with fewer people. As but one example, Amazon rainforests, an important source of new medicines, are being decimated to make way for "progress." For another example, all the cows and pigs raised to feed humans are a huge yet growing source of air and groundwater pollution. THIS article from Scientific American clearly shows the relation between population growth and climate change. We certainly don't need to encourage people to make more than one "replacement" baby each in their lifetime. Even with active campaigns to limit population growth, many people will still make more than one or two babies. Such endless growth is simply not sustainable. As with climate change, if we don't do something now it will soon be too late, and eventually many more people will die when the world is even less able to feed everyone.

Ethan Winer has been an audio engineer and professional musician for more than 45 years, and is co-owner of RealTraps where he designs acoustic treatment products for recording studios and home listening rooms. Ethan's Cello Rondo music video has received more than 1.8 Million views on YouTube and other web sites, and his book The Audio Expert published by Focal Press is available at amazon.com and his own web site.

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