Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wherein I Tell Families To Go To Hell

I haven't written a truly inflammatory post for awhile, so it seems apropos for me to write one now. I've been inspired by a handful of unrelated articles: a post at Feministe, a post at Alas, an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, all of which arguing one way or the other that progressives should be agitating for more support for families.

Why?

No, really, why?

All of the arguments made in the above articles treat children like an entitlement, but its far from self-evident that they are. Is there a "right to reproduce"? If so is it a natural right or a right granted by law? Society has a negative duty to not interfere with peoples' reproduction decisions, but does it have a positive duty to provide material support if they do choose to reproduce?

I'm strongly inclined to argue that society has no duty to provide material assistance to people raising children. I can't see a theoretical argument in favor of that position, but I can see lots of problems if you assume its true. If society has a duty to support someone's desire to have children then what are the boundaries and limits of that duty? How many children? How much support? Childrearing support for everyone or just for people who would make "good parents"? There aren't any satisfactory answers to these questions, which argues strongly that the premise is flawed.

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