The Cult of Childlessness in America

[Update: Every few months, this post attracts a sudden rush of outraged and often profane feedback of the "How Dare You Seriously Suggest . . ." variety. In nearly every case, it's obvious that the angry commenters have misunderstood the post's final paragraphs. To me this is confirmation of the poor state of cultural literacy in contemporary America. If you read this post and are considering posting an outraged or indignant comment, read this first so you will know what the phrase "modest proposal" has meant in English for the last 300 years. If your comment displays no awareness of this phrase's meaning, it will be summarily deleted.]

I’ve read more than a few columns and blog posts decrying the supposed cult of natalism among certain demographics (primarily white conservative evangelicals) in America today. Take, for example, the reactions in some quarters to the Duggars of reality-TV fame. They are viewed alternately with scorn (“are they nuts?“) and fear (“scary and icky“), and are sometimes even blamed for destroying the planet. Having never watched their show, I can’t comment on any personality issues the Duggars may or may not have, but I find the revulsion some show towards people who choose to have more than 2.2 children to be pretty offensive.

I’ve come to realize, in part thanks to this article (N.B. some bad language) my wife forwarded to me, that antipathy to parenthood is really widespread in America today. Apparently there are tens of millions of married couples in our society who are “childless by choice” (no info in the article on how many abortions were needed for these folks to maintain their status).

Over and over again the word “lifestyle” appears in the article’s apologia for voluntary barrenness. It’s true that you can afford to be much more self-centered without kids and can entertain yourself to a far greater degree when you spend your entire paycheck on yourself. The author waxes eloquent about the pity he feels towards his old friends who are now burdened with children.

He does make a pathetic attempt to deal with the objection that childless couples aren’t pulling their weight in the job of maintaining civilization by pointing to . . . the Duggars. “See, I found a couple with 20 kids! They make up for the 20+ million childless couples!” Really? If the article’s estimates are correct that roughly one third of married couples in America are childless, that would mean the other two thirds would need to have an average of more than three children per couple to pick up their slack, just to replace the current population. Since, even in the Bible-Belt South, people give you weird looks if they see you with more than two children, that certainly doesn’t seem likely to play out.

What do you want to bet that this author expects one day to collect a monthly Social Security check and Medicare benefits paid for by the children of the contemporaries he pities so? Does his choice to enjoy more vacations and lattes today while expecting others to provide for his future cause him to lose any sleep at night? Not likely.

Here’s my modest proposal to solve the country’s budget and demographic problems: Congress should pass legislation stating that if you are “childless by choice,” you must choose one of the following options:

  1. Forego Social Security and Medicare until you are 80 years old.
  2. Pay the college tuition of two children from families with more than three children.
  3. Provide ten hours per week of free babysitting for families with more than three children.

I mean, this is a recession, and we all need to pull together and tighten our belts, right? Why should the freeloading childless enjoy themselves on the backs of those rearing future taxpayers?

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About Dr. J

I am an Associate Professor and head of the Department of Humanities at Faulkner University. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy.
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51 Responses to The Cult of Childlessness in America

  1. Preston says:

    The funny thing is, shows like the Duggars essentially exist because of the unhappiness of the “childless by choice” women, who are, to borrow from Donne, “mummy possest”. They want children deep down, but will not admit it, and so they try to get a fix by watching these shows. Women with children don’t have time to watch them. someday, perhaps, we will realize that it is better to live life than to watch other people live it.

  2. Victoria says:

    Actually, I find the current situation even more bizarre, with two seemingly contradictory cults coexisting: on the one hand we have the intentionally barren and, on the other, parents who worship their two children. I see parents not just cossetting, in a time-honored fashion, but deferring to their children. No amount of time or expense is too much for the little dears. In hyperbolic terms, it seems as though modern parents have two options in re children: abort or worship. It’s perverse. But it is my firm belief that both these perversions are consequences of artificial contraception. ‘The Children of Men’, by P.D.James, is a great read on this topic. I consider it a post-modern classic.

    • Dr. J says:

      In an age that scorns parental authority, I guess this shouldn’t surprise us too much, You may be right about contraception; I wouldn’t try to argue the opposite position.

  3. I’d never heard of the t.v. show till this article, and18 is a bit extreme, but I’ve known lots of families of 10 children and some with up to 16 children, all Catholics. And what they all invariably appear to have in common is an inculturation into modern American culture which is estranged from how God created us. How they react to that estrangement differs from the anti-children cult according to the difference in their world view.

    Of course life is far more complicated than this, but when virtually every woman says natural child spacing through ecological breastfeeding doesn’t work for her, the error is obviously with the culture.

    And so while I would not call the Duggers nuts, I would call them a product of modern society, and as products I find it rather fitting that they would also be on t.v. or traveling with the carnival.

  4. A.Roddy says:

    Why are childless by choice considered selfish when many parents are sucking off welfare and food stamps? The odd thing is many of them make more than their childless counterparts. Why do you assume childless by choice are unhappy when many parents are unhappy? Happy isn’t related to childbearing. In fact some regret having children. Its time to stop the freeloading parents including taking off all the big family shows.
    Here are three things I think should apply to parents by choice:
    1. Forgo the child tax credit after two kids.
    2. Take care of an elder person in their home or live with one
    3. Adopt a child after two kids
    4. Forced sterilizing after three kids-from the way I see things most cannot take care of more than that anyway.
    .
    And sir I wish I had half the luxuries you think I do being a childless woman by choice or not. Why should childless by choice pay for another kids tuition when the parents chose to have this child?

    • Dr. J says:

      Hmm . . . I think you missed the basic point of my argument, which was that civilization depends on the generation in its prime supporting the aged while also propagating and rearing the next generation. “Childless by choice” couples are cheating, in a sense, by expecting to live off the next generation in old age without doing the work of ensuring the next generation’s existence. This is why Europe is dying.

      Re: your specific points . . . your statements about welfare/food stamps don’t really demonstrate anything with the respect to my central contention. The repeated use of “many” does not constitute a quantitative argument. Evidence? At any rate, I’ve been critical of programs like WIC and food stamps on this blog before.

      I said nothing in my post about happiness, so I don’t know where that part of your comment is coming from.

      “Its time to stop the freeloading parents including taking off all the big family shows.” I don’t know what this statement means.

      “Parent by choice” applies to anyone who engages in sexual intercourse.

      I prefaced my “proposed legislation” by calling it a “modest proposal.” In case you don’t know, that has been a code phrase for the last 250+ years in the English-speaking world for “I’m not serious.” Are you serious with your proposals? They sound pretty totalitarian to me.

      I have no idea whether you have any luxuries . . . where did that come from?

      • mike says:

        Europe is dieing? Wow! Better tell them that quick! Actually, in Europe, I hear the same diametrically opposed opinions…

        If you mean white centric, christian centric Europe is growing smaller, that is true.

        In general, with more education comes the realization that the world is more and more over populated and thus “civilization” has more people thinking the world would be a better place with a lower population and so choose not to have children. And you want to penalize them? Your solution, I believe is to have more children “like us” so that the world and our civilization will continue, rather than to educate in-coming immigrants to the idea of being more like us.

        Side rant: Childless by choice already pay more taxes than married couples with children. I personally have voted to INCREASE spending on education locally (city, county, state) whenever I can AND I make sure I do not cheat on my taxes. I know that the money for parks and playgrounds is for the children. I believe children should be treated with more care than any population in the US and yet we adults who go to air-conditioned offices expect our children to suck it up and survive in hot school buildings and blame teachers and administrators for the funding not providing for “our children.”

        It seems to me that there is a balance in here somewhere that is constantly adjusting and does so in different ways in different countries. Your extreme opinions are (hopefully) balanced by other extreme opinions and hopefully our civilization continues “intelligently” to move forward.

        I totally agree that US society/civilization/government should care for all it’s children as a whole. I also believe that many people who support your idea of people like me paying more than we already do to support “civilization” into the future would also lie on taxes and agree with anything that put more money in their pockets, sorry to lump every one into one category, but that seems to be your mode of argument as well.

        Another thing: think about “Europe dieing” and then think about how many medical systems there guarantee that ALL children have medical care. ALL, not only those of the insured middle class, white, christian, whatever…

        • mike says:

          You said above:

          ‘“Childless by choice” couples are cheating, in a sense, by expecting to live off the next generation in old age without doing the work of ensuring the next generation’s existence. This is why Europe is dying.’

          I wonder what you mean by cheating? I do not expect any next generation to support me. How old are you? Haven’t you heard that in the US, people of a certain age will never see social security? Most “childless by choice” are also “intelligently investing” so that when they retire they are not a burden on society.

          I have three siblings. Two have two children and one has three. So the four of us have produced seven children. My wife and I put more into the care of her parents and mine since we don’t have children. This is one family’s “outcome” of being childless by choice.

          Here are my possibly wrong opinionated statements:

          1. Many seniors with children end up with not enough retirement money and social security barely covers subsistence at the moment.
          1.1 Such parents are lucky if their children support them and provide them with a healthier/happier retirement.
          1.1.1 However, if their children have children and the kids need a new iPod, that sometimes seems more important to parents than their children’s education or their parents health and welfare.

          2. Some people who think like you do also think that personal choice and personal responsibility are important. How do you rank personal responsibility of those people with the “global” or “civilization responsibility” of childless people? (including celibates like priests, single people who do not get married ever and are either asexual or homosexual). It sounds like you are saying it is more important for an individual childless person to support children than it is for the people with children to take responsibility for their choice to have children. Did I misunderstand? More so than we already are in the US.

        • Dr. J says:

          You do expect the next generation to support you. You expect younger people to be there to fix your car, stock grocery store shelves, and change your bedpan in your old age. You may be expecting to pay for all these services yourself out of savings and investments, but even the value of those investments will depend on a younger generation being there to create the present value of the corporations you hold stock in, etc. So even if Social Security isn’t around at that point, without a younger generation there you’d be in an impossible situation.

          I’d like to see your evidence for this statement: “Most “childless by choice” are also “intelligently investing” so that when they retire they are not a burden on society.”

          In the post I only talked about married couples because historically one of the primary purposes of marriage (especially in the West, but in pretty much every civilization) has been to produce and rear children. Until the last few decades, it has always been considered “part of the deal.” We get into a different discussion when we talk of people outside the institution of marriage.

          “It sounds like you are saying it is more important for an individual childless person to support children than it is for the people with children to take responsibility for their choice to have children. Did I misunderstand?” Yes, you did.

        • Dr. J says:

          Umm, the demographic crisis in Europe is absolutely not news to anyone who has been paying attention. European leaders talk about it pretty much all the time. Every single European country has had for many years a birthrate below replacement level.

          Educate incoming immigrants to the idea of being more like us? Ask the Europeans how that’s going. Twice in the last year a European head of state has essentially said it’s not working, in public!

          You’re the second person to comment on this thread who doesn’t seem to understand what a “modest proposal” is. Cultural literacy is really suffering these days.

          And by the way, voting to increase education spending is not the same thing as helping ensure the next generation’s existence.

  5. It may be a modest proposal, but childless by choice most certainly does include cannibalism. And they do so in the most unnatural way possible by consuming their own children, versus barbarians who at least have the good sense to consume strangers children.

    Further, being Americans, they prefer to do their consuming from a safe and sanitized distance, (unlike barbarians who sensibly eat the bloody flesh they kill), by consuming their own children in the sterile environs of the pharmacy purchasing abortifacients * or using vacuums and such at the abortion clinic.

    *As Victoria above notes, childless by choice is a consequence of artificial contraception of which abortifacients and abortion are an integral part.

  6. A.Roddy says:

    What is meant was parents have kids for selfish reasons. I think my proposals were fair. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Parents chose to bring children in the world and they are therefore responsible for them. Instead of concern over those who do not want children you should be concerned about those who abuse them and neglect them. Furthermore, social security is a percentage you pay into the system out of your check each week. It has nothing to do with the population. Beside its pretty lame not wanting to take care of your elders after they help put you through school. a

    • Dr. J says:

      This comment ended up in the Spam folder, and I just now found and approved it.

      Who said anything about not wanting to take care of one’s elders? I don’t understand this line of criticism.

      • mike says:

        convenient of you to focus on the one line about elders. What do you say to:

        “Parents chose to bring children in the world and they are therefore responsible for them. Instead of concern over those who do not want children you should be concerned about those who abuse them and neglect them.”

  7. A.Roddy says:

    oops meant to add you get what you paid out of your check each back when you turn 65 if the gov doesn’t use it all first. In some ways its like an old age savings and nothing to do with population. So no one’s child will paying for you if you stay employed most of your life.

    • Dr. J says:

      That’s not how Social Security works, although the government does its best to give you that impression. The Social Security tax you pay today is immediately paid out (minus overhead) to current retirees. There is no savings account with your name on it earning interest. The government plans to tax future workers to pay your benefits when you are old. It is a “Pay As You Go” system.

      • A.Roddy says:

        It is the ones here who dont understand how social security works. Have you ever worked? those who have worked in the public childless or not have all contributed to the system. If it is the way you claim I would rather my money go to elderly than the self absorbed me generation who do nothing but lay around watch tv and play video games. And what is wrong with taxing future workers because our generation has supported schools and other program with our tax dollars ? If you aren’t going to take care of granny someone must do it. Are you willing to let elderly stay with you who have no one else? Perhaps not if your like the you are the current me generation. I guess you would rather them be kicked to the curb especially if they have no children. I never heard my parents complain about supporting the elderly or my grandparents talked about being afraid the elderly would be getting money off the backs of their children. Oh help the sky is falling.

        • Dr. J says:

          I hope you understand that you are attributing all sorts of ideas and positions to me on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. You do understand that, right? I count about half a dozen unsubstantiated claims and erroneous assumptions in your comment. And since the whole point of my original post was to call attention to the problem of there not being enough future workers to support future retirees because so many are childless by choice, you’ve actually come around to endorsing my position in a way. I agree that someone has to take care of Granny. How can that happen if there aren’t enough younger people? So . . . thanks, I guess?

        • J says:

          @ Dr J,

          You seem very defensive towards anyone that calls you out on some of the things you have claimed, right here in this blog post. You cannot get around the tone of this blog posts, which implies, no directly says, people who do not have children are selfish. Actually, a lot of people who have children are selfish, but you do not address that here. The problem is you are telling people how they should live, and when you do that, you will get questioned about it. If my grandparents paid into social security, I have no problem with my current taxes going towards them. By the way some healthy people in their nineties are more active than parents with children in their thirties. I see some people who have kids, and make them do all the stuff for them. Really, having kids can be a really selfish thing 1. You have people to do stuff for you 2. Your ego wants to ensure our genetics are passed down to prosterity. The truly altruistic would be going to work with hungry children in Africa, not criticizing those who choose not to have children. Whereas I do not agree with all aspects of libertarianism wanting to cut government, I do like that they advocate not getting in peoples affairs.

        • Dr. J says:

          I’m not sure why you construed my earlier reply as defensive. I could just as easily interpret several of the outraged comments that have appeared here (including yours) to be defensive.

          And you still seem to be missing the point. The post is specifically about married couples who refuse to have children yet still expect to receive benefits from social programs in their old age. It’s not about you and never was.

          I don’t deny that many people who have children are selfish, but the fact remains that those children will be there to pay the Social Security and Medicare benefits for the parents’ generation. Your last comment indicates that you have no idea where the resources for paying your benefits will come from. No doubt you’ll be outraged when they’re cut in the future because there’s no one to pay them.

          And you are apparently one of the many people who has commented on this post who does not understand what a “modest proposal” is. Your “calling me out” is equivalent to someone in the 1730s who “called out” Jonathan Swift for proposing the breeding of human children to be cannibalized during the famine. Swift wasn’t serious with his proposal, and neither am I. The point was to get people to think about the consequences of the low birth rate in America today. I’m sorry if all that went over your head.

        • J says:

          @Dr J

          Actually your comments are defensive in that you tell anyone not agreeing with your premises that they are misinformed. Have you ever thought, and I know this is a far stretch, some people just do not agree with you…

          Oh and when you write a blog post saying people who do not have children should not expect social security benefits in their old age, you are making it about everyone. The refrain “It is not about you” is as stale as toast. I will never agree with your premise, and the truth is I do not think social security will last anyway. We have too many right wingers who think only the most wealthy in this country deserve adequate medical treatment and housing.

        • Dr. J says:

          And when you post comments attributing positions to me that I do not hold, you can expect me not to take you seriously. In fact, that’s what is happening right now!

  8. Disagree with your Assumptions says:

    Being childless by choice does not mean having an abortion(s)! I am 32 and do not want children. I have been with my husband and only my husband since I was 15. We married when I was 22 1/2. We made the decision for him to get a vasectomy when I was 23. We still don’t regret the choice of being childless.

    I have taken care of my 70 year old mother since my dad died when I was 20. She has diabetes and congestive heart failure. My older brothers live in other states.

    My husband started his own small business and I work full time in Public Relations at a hospital. We pay property and other taxes that pay for schools already. Why should I not be allowed to spend money I have earned?

    • Dr. J says:

      You’re to be commended for your devotion to your mother. I don’t dispute your right to spend whatever money you’ve earned. I do deny that you can exercise a moral claim on the next generation to provide you with a comfortable retirement, since you have refused to play a role in ensuring that generation’s existence. Your property taxes are chicken feed compared to expenses parents incur and probably come nowhere near the hundreds of thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits most people expect to collect in their retirement years.

      • mike says:

        Sorry, I still really like this comment and wonder what you think about personal responsibility:

        “Parents chose to bring children in the world and they are therefore responsible for them. Instead of concern over those who do not want children you should be concerned about those who abuse them and neglect them.”

        • Dr. J says:

          Of course I believe that parents are responsible for their children. That doesn’t negate or contradict anything else I’ve written.

  9. A.Roddy says:

    I think we should respect one another’s choices. You can’ dictate what others should do with their money because they make choices different from yours. What if some told the Duggars they had to adopt a child each time they had one? We are already tired of supporting irresponsible behavior in this country including those who have no common sense to slap on a rubber. Believe me I would gladly pay college tuition for anyone adults, seniors, or teenagers I thought deserved it and actually made something of themselves without dropping out of school. And sorry I dont babysit free.

    ” Most “childless by choice” are also “intelligently investing” so that when they retire they are not a burden on society. ” exactly too bad some parents don’t follow this logic instead of expecting someone to hand their spoiled kids a free ride.

    • Dr. J says:

      This is obviously an unproductive exchange. It seems that you either don’t understand what I’m saying, or you are deliberately misconstruing it. And your comments clearly indicate you are airing grievances on all sorts of issues that have nothing to do with the substance of this post or the comments that have been made. Dropping out of school? Spoiled kids? What does that have to do with anything?

      Please take the trouble to understand what a “modest proposal” is before you comment here again.

  10. A.Roddy says:

    My response was in reply to the comment about childless by choice who are intelligently investing .Parents who don’t invest for their kid’s future end up with spoiled kids who will likely end up on public dole. Your proposals are penalizing those who made different choices. Its kinda like penalizing those who want cats because there is a shortage of dog owners. Enforcing a bunch of proposals on those you disagree with isn’t going to change things.

  11. I find this article rather insulting. You make it sound as if having children is a black and white choice. Those who are baren and refuse to participate in the capitalism of infertility and move on and enjoy their life shoule not be deemed selfish. Where is it written that having children is the natural order of things. Stop hating and envying.

    1.Forego Social Security and Medicare until you are 80 years old. I WORK FOR MY SOCIAL SECURITY. THE PROGRAM SHOULD ALLOW ME THAT MONEY REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY CHILDREN I HAVE.
    2.Pay the college tuition of two children from families with more than three children.
    I ALREADY PAY FOR THE K-12 EDUCATION AND SUBSIDIZE THE STATE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES THROUGH MY TAXES – WHICH ARE ALREADY HIGHER BECAUSE I DO NOT HAVE THE WRITE OFFS.
    3.Provide ten hours per week of free babysitting for families with more than three children.
    WHY – SO THE PARENTS CAN GO OUT AND ENJOY THE LIFESTYLE THEY CHOSE NOT TO HAVE.

    • Dr. J says:

      *Sigh* Here is a another person who does not understand what a “modest proposal” is.

      You apparently do not understand how Social Security works.

      “Where is it written that having children is the natural order of things.” In your DNA. And the Bible. If you have ever used contraception, you have admitted that to yourself.

      And you have mischaracterized my post. “Childless by choice” obviously does not refer to women who are naturally infertile.

  12. Sandra says:

    Ahh, the hoary old “we are making the taxpayers of the foooocha” chestnut. Spare me the faux altruism. No parent has children with mine or the nation’s future in mind.

    “I hope you understand that you are attributing all sorts of ideas and positions to me on the basis of no evidence whatsoever”

    Umm, that is *exactly* what you did to the original author. To cite:
    “What do you want to bet that this author expects one day to collect a monthly Social Security check and Medicare benefits paid for by the children of the contemporaries he pities so? Does his choice to enjoy more vacations and lattes today while expecting others to provide for his future cause him to lose any sleep at night? Not likely.”

    It seems ironic that while the childless are no way responsible for the arguable financial adversity said to be experienced by the child-burdened, the entitlement-poisoned child-maker lobbyists see no moral shame in exacting financial adversity upon the childless because, in their twisted logic , punishing the childless fiscally will address this invented or imagined inequity.

    I say “arguable financial adversity” because parents are not really worse-off than the childfree. The suggestion “It’s true that you can afford to be much more self-centered without kids and can entertain yourself to a far greater degree when you spend your entire paycheck on yourself” is flawed. Parents spend their money on their own children. It is still spending money on themselves and something that they have chosen to do. Becoming a parent does not reduce spending power but it does reduce the parents’ desires to consume adult goods. And therein lies the problem; the modern middle classes want their baby and their Lexus too and they want the government, sorry, tax payers to pony up the cash.

    Under the tax system in Australia where working poor childless singles have not enjoyed the same percentage of income growth as wealthy double-income households with children. Essentially the childless cross-subsidise the households with kids with private cash for parents to spend as they please. There is NO guarentee that this means that better children are being raised nor that the money is spent on children.

    And yes, yes, yes, I GET it when you say ” modest proposal” but there is many a true word spoken in jest. These are the words of one who envies the childfree because they are somehow getting away with it. There is a strong commentary that disapproves of birth control, including abortion. The subtext here is “if you are having sex, you must have children. Pregnancy and childbirth are a woman’s punishment for having sex. If you dodge that bullet, it is unfair on those of us who have copped it.” Well, all I can say is, if that is how one feels, I am sorry for one’s children.

    • Dr. J says:

      Do I need to start making disclaimers as long as my arm in these types of posts? There are so many red herrings and incorrect statements here it’s hard to know where to begin.

      1. This post is about married couples who refuse to have children. It is not about childless singles or anyone else. Both the post and comment section make this clear.

      2. There is no faux altruism in my post. Feel free to keep trying to read it into my words, though. And it’s simply false that no one ever considers the welfare of their society when deciding to have children. To take one example, Russia has mounted a big campaign with exactly this theme.

      3. I do have evidence for my statement about the article’s author in that every American of working age today is led to expect to receive transfer payments in their old age.

      4. If spending money on your children is spending money on yourself, so is spending money on your friends, etc. Trying to redefine the issue so it goes away isn’t helpful.

      5. I probably know as little about the taxing/spending situation in Australia as you do about the one in America, so I won’t presume to comment on it.

      6. Your last paragraph is the voice of cultural suicide, and not just because you’re doing a ham-fisted job of trying to deconstruct me (are you a literature professor?). I do not envy the childless by choice (married couples, remember?); I pity them. And I disapprove of their presumption that my children ought to pay for their retirement when they couldn’t be bothered to have any themselves. They are a major part of the reason for the demographic crisis that is rapidly arriving in the West. None of the critics of this post has even attempted to answer the problem of demography I have raised here, because there is no answer. The welfare state cannot survive without an age pyramid, and the West has an age column.

      • Veronika says:

        What if a married couple has genetic or health problems that they can pass that on to their children? According to your argument that married couple should have children too. I’m 28, planning on having two college degrees, never had an abortion, the only person I’ve ever been with had a vasectomy and he’s only been with me as well but in the future I have to be punished and pay for some irresponsible married couple even though I did the right things for the future. There was a successful woman that said she wished she could have children someday but her taxes were so high from paying for other peoples children that she couldn’t have her own. Your “modest proposal” seems extreme when some childless (married or single) already pay high taxes and don’t make that much money. I am planning on saving for my retirement and by the way things look now I’m not sure I can depend on the future generation to take care of me when I’m elderly.

        • Veronika says:

          If the married couple decides not to have children due to genetic or health issues then I think that should be ok but if they choose to have children they should be aware and prepared for the care and responsibility. Sorry felt I had to clarify, didn’t want people to think I was a Gattaca freak, it was just the post seemed to say that all married couples should have children.

        • Dr. J says:

          Veronika, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have already addressed some of your points elsewhere in this lengthy comment section. There’s certainly an argument to be made for married couple opting not to have children if there are significant medical issues like the one you discuss. The criticism in the post is of married couples who remain childless purely for lifestyle reasons. And the “modest proposal” is satire, not intended to be taken seriously. See here: http://westerntradition.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/internet-meet-cultural-illiteracy/

  13. J says:

    You seem to have a problem with women who choose not to have children. Oh boy skippy, because I am a single woman in my thirties who choose not to have children, I should do one of the three on your list? My guesses are you are not a libertarian. I am not a big one myself, but why do you care if people do not have kids? I have a feeling single mothers who have kids probably are criticized by you, as well. So why should I get married and have kids, to make you feel better? With is truly dismal economy, your rationale about having kids is a bit non-nonsensical. Why should people who choose not to have children babysit yours? I watched my niece and nephew, and that is more than enough for me. I have no problems with people who want to have six children, but they better accord the same respect towards me. Yes, I am a single woman in my thirties who does not foresee marriage or children in my future. I believe all Americans deserve social security and medicare when they retire, and the CEO’s of companies get far more than 14,000 per year.

    • Dr. J says:

      For what seems like the umpteenth time, I will repeat that this post has nothing to do with single women. I don’t know how I can make this any clearer.

      Asserting that Americans deserve Social Security and Medicare does not conjure into existence the people who will be necessary to provide those benefits in the future. You need to learn about how these programs actually work and then think about where those people are going to come from if you want your benefits in old age.

      • J says:

        As an educated and intelligent woman, I know exactly how these programs work. I pay into these, and if I decide to retire, I deserve medicare and social security as well. Speaking down to people and telling them they do not understand how things work does not make it so. This post is most definitely judging couples and single women that choose not to have children. Your argument that people who have children are contributing to future tax paying Americans is null and void as all working Americans do that. You are not any more deserving of medicare or social security in your old age just because you had kids. This logic makes no sense.

        • Dr. J says:

          OK, I’ll call you out. Your posts constitute a willful refusal to make a real attempt to understand what I am saying. You are not interested in seeing the connection between the institution of marriage and the rearing of children that has been universal throughout the history of human civilization, and thus you insist that somehow I really am talking about you and all other single women.

          You are not interested in trying to understand the demographic issue I am pointing out in this post. Neither you nor any of the other people who have expressed indignation on this comment thread has made the barest attempt to come to grips with it.

          You persist in saying that I’m trying to take away your Social Security and Medicare even though I have explained to you that my “modest proposal” was 1) unrelated to unmarried people, 2) tongue-in-cheek, and 3) that my purpose was to get readers to think about marriage and the demographic issue.

          So rather than continue responding to your accusations about things I never wrote or never implied, I’m just going to call it a day, because this is an unproductive conversation.

        • Veronika says:

          @Dr.J We don’t have a demographic issue, we are billions strong. What about married couples that have a history of anger and violence? It would be a bad and abusive situation for the child and would that child be able to contribute as an adult when they went through that as a child?

        • Dr. J says:

          Veronika, the demographic issue is real. It’s not simply a question of how many people there are in total. It’s also a question of the age distribution of the population. Several authors have written books on this in the last decade. Here is one of the most recent ones: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594036411/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1594036411&linkCode=as2&tag=thewesttrad-20

  14. Chelle says:

    Before you start screaming about how those that are childless are selfish and how parents and their children will have to pick up the slack because of our selfishness… Let me remind you of who pays for your precious kids to go to school. While you get a lovely tax credit for every one of your kids and tuition breaks when they run off to college, people like me are footing the bill for their education through my taxes which I will not benefit from. Not to mention, if you work, people like me a left picking up the slack eveytime you have to stay home with a sick child or leave the office to go catch your child’s school play.

  15. Pingback: Internet, Meet Cultural Illiteracy | The Western Tradition

  16. Shodan says:

    First of all, “Who cares?”, is the better question. Historically, empires come, empires go.

    From what I understand, Western society is based on freedom of choice. I’m not going to break into a serious discussion as I understand that this proposal is tongue-in-cheek. However, please let me add a thought of my own.

    I am most likely going to be working in AI and robotics when I get out of school. There is a large discussion about the plausible technologies that may pop out of the field in the near to mid future, and how they should be used. Hypothetically, we may have robot caretakers as well as prosthetics that increase longevity.

    Secondly, I do not want children, but I am doing a duty to society by working with bleeding edge technology. Some people want to raise and nurture children to contribute to the population, others want to contribute ideas, such as myself.

  17. Mary Ellen says:

    Sorry, but attempting to have even one child would have resulted in my death from an aortic dissection due to an inherited medical condition, before fetal viability. The medical condition killed my maternal grandfather at 39.

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