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Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
by Burt Prelutsky
by Mark Steyn
National Treasure or Personal Luxury Item?
by Mac Johnson [writer,
issue facing all Western cultures today is their looming demographic
collapse due to low birth rates. Simply put, all European-derived
nations are headed for extinction simply because too few children
are being born. Yet these nations have done little to nothing
to attempt to change things. Apparently the end of the world
as we know it is no cause for concern.
Johnson is a freelance writer and biologist in Cambridge,
Mass. Mr. Johnson holds a Doctorate in Molecular and
Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He
is a frequent opinion contributor to Human
Events Online. His website can be found at macjohnson.com [go
to Johnson index]
The reasons for our lackadaisical attitude toward our own national
demise are varied, but include:
1. The Western intelligentsia’s
post-colonial cult of guilty self-loathing, which makes some
believe that our demise
is quite deserved and well overdue.
2. The related belief
system of “multiculturalism,” which
holds that all cultures are equal, but one’s own culture
is less equal than others. Again, this implies that the extinction
of Western civilization is, at worst, a morally neutral event.
3. The curious and
unsustainable modern belief that a nation is simply a geographically-defined
administrative unit, rather
than an ethnically or culturally distinct people. Such a belief
leads to the conclusion that the decline of a geographic unit’s
population is simply an economic supply issue to be addressed
by demographic free trade, i.e. open borders. In other words,
who needs American motherhood when we can just outsource the
production of children? After all, people are simply interchangeable
parts in the brave new globalized economy, right?
4. The political reality that democracies respond to the needs
of those who are here now, voting and whining about themselves.
Politicians, therefore, plan only for the next election, not
for the next generation. Those who have yet to be born, or who
will never be born, cannot threaten an incumbent. This explains
not only why the certain demographic decline of an entire nation
after the next election is apparently acceptable, but also why
fetuses have fewer rights than illegal aliens.
5. The fact that a demographic Armageddon does not suit the
propaganda needs of any current political movement. It therefore
has no worried prophets bemoaning it today. This is why German
Greens, for example, can get very worried that the average temperature
of the Earth might rise one degree over the next century, yet
seem entirely nonplussed by the thought that there will be no
Germans remaining to be one degree warmer.
However, it is still
possible that some one or two of the Western nations might
one day notice their decline, and find some reason
to care about it. The question will then arise: What do we do
about our pathological lack of children? After a series of government
studies, costing hundreds of millions of dollars and employing
scores of retired politicians on “blue ribbon” panels
and C-SPAN televised committee hearings, someone may suggest
that the answer is: have more children.
A massive expansion
of the welfare state will then be proposed, which would have
been proposed anyway, but will then be judged
even more important since it is “for the children.” Such
an escalation of government has already been the potential response
discussed in most countries: government funded “baby bonuses,” more
paid maternity leave, free government childcare centers, more
affirmative action for women, and so forth.
I can imagine few
means short of massive coercion or a “Deal
or No Deal” sized prize purse, though, that can make those
who do not already wish to share their lives with children want
to have children. I am also not sure of the advisability of encouraging
such folks to reproduce. And as our experience with welfare and
welfare reform has shown, subsidizing fertility outright does
not necessarily lay the groundwork for a healthy and independent
Fortunately, though, there is an alternative approach: government
could just stop messing with people that want to have children
long enough for them to manage to do so. There are many people
who would have more children, or have children sooner, if they
could afford to do so.
But everyone who earns
enough to have children in our society is being taxed white
to pay for blue-ribbon committees, social
security, free health care, in-state tuition for illegal aliens,
the Robert Byrd Institute for the Study of Human Ego, foreign
aid, welfare, agricultural subsidies, the Bridge to Nowhere,
rebuilding things in flood plains, enough airport screeners to
search everyone not named “Mohammed,” the National
Endowment for the Arts, guarding the borders of Iraq, not guarding
the borders of America, and the public transportation systems
that we don’t want to use.
The simple fact is
that government judges taxation to be more important than individual
procreation. The proof of this can
be found in the treatment of children in the tax code. By one
careful estimate of total costs, raising a child through age
17 costs between $180,000 and $250,000—or $10,000 to $14,000
per year. And after that, it gets really expensive if you foolishly
decide to send the kid to college. Yet the federal government
allows parents to deduct just $3,200 per year per child on their
income taxes. Anyone who tried to raise a child on $3,200 per
year would be charged with neglect.
When two adults split
an income in reality, it is judged in many cases as if the
income were split in two for tax purposes
(except for those couples trapped into the marriage penalty,
another blow to potential fertility). This splitting is logical
by the standards of progressive taxation—a single income
couple earning $60,000 per year does not have the same proportional
wealth as a single person earning $60,000 per year. But when
the couple has a child and three people live off that $60,000
per year, it is not considered to be split again. The couple
is given a $3,200 exemption and a $1,000 child tax credit.
A negative birth rate
is the most important problem the developed world faces—yet America’s tax code treats children
as something between a luxury item and a charitable contribution.
It’s the taxation equivalent of the 3/5ths compromise—you’ll
get some credit for the kid’s existence, but not like they
were full citizens or anything.
The $1,000 child tax
credit helps, but does not cover the cost deficit fully and
is inexplicably phased out for the uppermost
middle class. Consider a couple with four children and an adjusted
gross income of $149,000. These are exactly the sort of people
America needs more of and they will pass their tendency to success
onto their children, statistically. They are spending about $15,000
per year to raise each child, meaning they never personally see
$60,000 of income. It is spent on other people—their children.
Yet they are ineligible for the full child tax credit because
they are “rich.” And God forbid that successful,
productive, independent people have more children. That’s
the government’s apparent logic.
The exemption for
children should be $10,000 to $15,000 per year and entirely
independent of income. That’s what they
cost, after all, and they are somewhat necessary to the next
generation. Even better would be to allow parents to file taxes
as a “family, filing jointly” and thus split their
total income evenly for tax purposes (among themselves and their
minor children), much as a couple can do under the “married,
filing jointly” provision.
Simply allowing children
to receive their rightful share of their family’s income
before that income is taxed would do more to facilitate a healthy
middle class birth rate than
any other act. Yet Congress cannot even eliminate the marriage
penalty entirely or permanently for fear that they might not
be able to build one more fish hatchery or folk music museum
in their home district.
Politicians can justify
any expansion of government by saying that is being done for “the children.” However,
it cannot, evidently, justify the least contraction of government
for that same cause. CRO
First appeared at Human Events Online
2006 Mac Johnson