Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Children are a lifestyle choice

Your humble Devil has to say that I agree with this extract—and this extract only—of this Daily Mail comment piece.
As a woman with no children, I am constantly outraged, too, at the way the Government heaps incentives upon prospective parents.

Money for fruit and veg, child support, baby's trust fund, help with childcare, flexible bloody working, tax breaks. Never mind the ludicrous idea of putting IVF on the NHS, as if having a baby were a God-given right and not a blessing.

I believe that women should pay for the services of a midwife and health visitor. I don't have a child in education, so how about the Government gives me some money towards cat food?

As Trixy points out, children are a lifestyle choice: why the hell should everyone else have to pay for them?
I fail to see why I should have my money taken from me and given to other people for their lifestyle choice.

I go to the gym a lot. That's quite good for me so how about I get a gym allowance?

Inevitably, of course, people will pop up in comments to whinge on about how "we need lots of children to maintain our economy"; "and who," they will say, "will wipe your arse when you are in the nursing home?"

First, including those on disability benefit, we have well over 5 million unemployed people in this country—no doubt they would welcome the chance to have a job wiping my arse. I did such a job for a year and, although it was hard, it was perfectly tolerable—fun, even—and infinitely preferable to sitting around on benefits.

Which brings up another issue: unemployment is much higher amongst young people—with all of these arse-wiping jobs going begging, the benefits bill would be quite substantially reduced. It would be even more reduced if there were no—or somewhat less of a—marginal deduction rate for getting off benefits and working.

Third, we do not need an ever-expanding population to pay for those not working. Assuming a near-consistent growth in GDP, what we would most likely end up with is fewer people with a higher per capita income—a good thing, surely?

Whatever the merits of any of the above, the current system—whereby we subsidise the poorest, most feckless in society (for it is they to whom the marginal benefit rates really make a difference—not to mention the priority on the council housing list) to have yet more children who will, often, emulate their parents' lifestyle—is absolutely fucking insane.

The only thing that I would say that is that I don't mind subsidising a good education—if children are well-educated, then they do, at least, have some hope of breaking out of the cycle of crap into which they are often born.

That does require a bit of will-power, of course, as Shane Greer illustrates.
Much though people on the Left like Milburn would like to give the world (and by world I mean poor people) a great big hug, tell them everything will be ok, and promise they’ll fix it for them, the truth is everything won’t be ok and they can’t fix it. Life’s tough, and it isn’t fair.

Was I at a disadvantage when I decided (originally) that I wanted to become a barrister and I came from a family with one parent working (on low pay) and one unemployed? Absolutely. My family didn’t know anyone in the professions. But because of how they raised me I understood that I had to fight for what I wanted, I had to make my own connections. And I did; phoning up the bar library in Belfast until I managed to collar a barrister who would speak to me for a few minutes and let me follow them around for a few days (thank you Niall Hunt).

Was I at a disadvantage when I decided I wanted to work in politics, had no connections and parents who couldn’t afford to support me while I did an internship for free? Absolutely. But because of how they raised I knew I had to make my own opportunities, so I made a phone call to someone in politics I didn’t know at all (Donal Blaney), scraped together the money to go down to London to visit him and built a relationship I didn’t have before. With his support I applied for and got an internship in the States that provided free accommodation and paid for my flights. That internship ultimately lead me to where I am now.

My experiences shaped who I am, and I wouldn’t change them for the world. Overcoming adversity is character building, opportunities that don’t get handed to you on a plate are more rewarding and more valuable, and I’m doing what I’m doing now because of, not despite of, a system of internships that isn’t fair.

Rather than teach people to rely on the State for answers, Milburn and co would achieve a great deal more if they taught them to rely on ourselves.

And that is the very worst thing about the Welfare State: it was set up with the best of intentions but it has, alas, led people to rely on the state rather than themselves.

Ultimately, of course, the state has no money but what it steals from the productive people in this country, and the more it steals the less productive they become. And, unfortunately, politicians have long ago worked out that the best way to get elected is to bribe people with other people's money—and sometimes their own.

The only thing that is going to lead to a collapse in our economy is if we carry on subsidising people in the way that we do currently—it isn't sustainable, and it cannot continue.

38 comments:

FrankFisher said...

Well yes - but where is the political will to change things? Who is going to ram through a hacked down welfare state that will lead - *must lead* - to at least *some* hungry children?

Won't happen - no party suggests it, none have the balls or the principle or the far-sighted sense to realise that some harm now is necessary to prevent catastrophic harm to come.

We're doomed.

FrankFisher said...

Whoops - forgot this.
The only thing that I would say that is that I don't mind subsidising a good education—if children are well-educated, then they do, at least, have some hope of breaking out of the cycle of crap into which they are often born.

Nor I - but unpick it. No need to shame yourself with some suggestion fo altruism. It is in our own self-interest to share these islands with motivated and highly educated people. I dont' want a land of scrotes - I want engineers and doctors. Their success would not harm me or mine - trickle-up economics benefits us all.

Anonymous said...

Hey Devil - I agree with a lot of your stances but this one and the one about the NHS are both way off. Sure, stop the career scroungers, sure, offer greater choice, but seriously, the way you go on it's as if you want the UK to be like the US - something that should be avoided IMO.

Not everything in this life revolves around money, you know.

PS. I'm both a working parent and a user of the NHS.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

"Not everything in this life revolves around money, you know.

"PS. I'm both a working parent and a user of the NHS."


In which case, you won't object if you stop receiving any of my money to help support your children...?

But of course not everything revolves around money: money is just one indicator of value. But I value the beer, cigarettes and food that my money can buy me more than I value your children.

You value your children more than you value the cigarettes or beer—the difference is that you get to choose. I do not.

Re: the NHS. I have repeatedly stated that I am not in favour of the US health system either: there are any number of systems around the world that are better than both the US and UK.

Even moving towards the Canadian system—where the state is the payer but not the provider of healthcare—would be a vast improvement.

DK

wonderfulforhisage said...

Demography, demography, demography.

Anonymous said...

"how about I get a gym allowance?" First, you have to abuse your body and get heart desease - then you get the gym subs.

demograhics ? Once the social provision for care in old age collapses, then having your own children will be valued

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Dear Devil,
What would you do about the welfare system, particularly in relation to disabled/chronically ill people if it were single handedly up to you to reform it?
Bendy Girl

the a&e charge nurse said...

Children are a life-style choice?

No they are not - they the product of complex evolutionary events.

'Freedom of choice' is but an illusion my market obsessed friend - ask Richard Dawkins.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene

Anonymous said...

I agree to a point that we need more of a lurch to the right in our economics but where does one draw the line?

Smoke cigarettes - lifestyle choice, when you go to hospital for a disease brought on by smoking you pay or don't receive treatment

Alcohol - Ditto

Have children - pay for midwives & health visitors (as per comment you quoted), education we give for free? Up to a point or until end of university?

Drive a car - We do pay more than our fair share already for this privilege

Never need to call the police - should you get a discount?

Work 6 months of the year out of UK (on a boat in North Sea, e.g.) but have a stay at home wife and 3 kids in education at the UK - should we ask that person to pay any income tax?

etc.

The list is endless. Easy to cherry pick one item of your lifestyle that contrasts with others and ask for them to pay more / you less on that basis but it's a difficult balancing act.

Anonymous said...

"Even moving towards the Canadian system—where the state is the payer but not the provider of healthcare—would be a vast improvement"

Having spent 3 years living in Montreal, no.
No no no.
I never thought that there could be anything worse than the NHS. Until I had the pleasure of their health system.

Anyone who can goes to the states for treatment.

Edgar said...

It's not the politicians, nor is it the poor, who are the main obstacles to brealing the 'cycle' you mentioned. It is the army of public sector and charity workers whose careers depend on that cycle remaining firmly in place, thank you.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Anyone who can goes to the states for treatment - are you sure about that anonymous (at 3:56).

Because the evidence suggests the Cannuks do far better than their American counterparts, even though the Yanks have the most laughably expensive health system in the world.
http://bipartreport.com/2009/05/health-care-in-canada-better-than-in-the-us-2/

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am sure. As I said, I lived there until a couple of years ago.

SoldDownTheRiver said...

What about a system whereby you have to contribute to the coffers for say, 4 years, before you can take any benefit? That is, you have to be a productive member of society for 4 years before you get any benefits? If the worst came to the worst, the state could have those who can't get a job in the private sector working for 20 hours or more a week in the public sector, doing something useful rather than watching "Doctors", and also getting used to working and a concept of self-responsibility and self-reliance. By doing something like this you would immediately disincentivise benefit tourism, and hopefully change the benefit culture for the better. I'd be happy to get no child benefit, if my taxes were reduced so I did not have to pay everyone else's benefits or if I saw something good come of the money I do pay. As it is, I don't see the child benefit I get as a benefit, but as a sort of small tax rebate.

Kevin Boatang said...

As I said recently when talking about welfare and spending, this particualr benefit is self-defeating.

You pay tax so that you can claim benefit to pay for things you need for your child. But if you didn't pay the extra tax to fund the benefit, you wouldn't need the benefit.

Which simply shows that it is because the state wants people to come to it asking for more, to rely upon it.

Lexander said...

Absolutely agree with you Devil. Too many kids, too many people (especially those not born here). Load of bollocks to say we need children to provide "arse wipers". More deserting "farthers" need to be made to pay for spunking. Toodle pip.

neil craig said...

When births fall below 2.1 per potential mother, as it is now doing, that society is in trouble & should take some action to encourage births. Societies that don't tend to get outnumbered & I regard differential population growth, not population growth as such but differential, as the greatest source of conflict worldwide.

Renegade Parent said...

"In which case, you won't object if you stop receiving any of my money to help support your children...?"

Absolutely not. And I know that you won't object if you stop receiving any of my money to help support the consequences of any of your lifestyle choices (which might include diet, smoking or substance-related illnesses).

It is misleading for this discussion to be reduced to an argument about having children - which is indeed a lifestyle choice like any other. It's entirely about the morality of taxation full stop.

Given the amount of tax we have had no choice but to pay over the years and our decision to avoid state provision where at all possible for ourselves and our family (including healthcare, education etc) I have to say neither the Daily Mail nor Trixy will make me feel too guilty about receiving a small rebate in the form of child benefit, or visiting an NHS midwife because I cannot for the life of me find a suitable independent one.

Incidentally, do most people have any idea how difficult it is to opt out of state provision? Either it's impossible (you cannot refuse a child trust fund as we've just found out - the govt sets one up for your child if you try) or you are likely to get flagged up as a child protection risk - saying no state education, or health visitor appointments for example.

This is a lot bigger than a tabloid concept of selfish parents.

JS said...

The state taxpayer-breeding programme marches onwards...

Anonymous said...

All very true!

It constantly amuses me to hear the pols talking about 'sustainability' when they run a completely unsustainable welfare system, where all the incentives point towards idleness and dependency.

As for the 'need' so subsidise child bearing to provide tomorrow's workforce etc, I suggest that scrapping all unemployment benefits and the minimum wage would do a lot more good.

Anonymous said...

The human race is one childless generation away from extinction.

The childless, however, will become extinct at the end of their own lifetimes.

I doubt that my grandchildren will miss them.

bella gerens said...

And yet it is also the Daily Mail that peddles the completely opposite point of view:

Yet if she says she hasn't a shred of maternal feeling in her, moreover, if she says she would prefer to concentrate on her career and that a child would only get in the way of it, then my head might acknowledge her right to do so. But my heart whispers: 'Lady, you're weird.'

So - according to the Daily Mail, children are a lifestyle choice, but one you're 'weird' for not choosing.

Anonymous said...

It not just about wiping your arse when you're 90 and ga-ga 'cos heaven knows I wouldn't wish that on anybodies kids let alone mine.

How about the engineers who are going to design the next generations of transport, computers, drugs or whatever else you are going to need over the next 60 years? Are you putting enough money aside now to pay for your slice of that pie in the future of are you going to rely on other peoples children to work it out for you?

By all means rail against the waste and drain on society of generations whose only goal is to maximise their benfit. They will drag us all down. But is to everyones benefit to have young, ambitious, intelligent, well educated people around.

bishop brennan said...

The Mail also has an article today on a fat welfare scrounging cow which illustrates perfectly the problems with the welfare state. People have to be worse off on benefits than if working and to work for them after 3 months if we're to change the culture. Irrespective if they have kids.

The Young Oligarch said...

Libertarianism .

The dead-end of evolution ?

Roger Thornhill said...

As animals, most of us are geared subconsciously to reproduce, but that does not mean we force others to subsidise another, for that distorts the natural process and decision making and, as we know, State meddling and distortion is a sure-fire road to hell. We are at a rather dangerous, run-down, monopolistic yet expensive (for some) service station 60 years along that road and it is grim.

Right now, the wrong messages are sent out. Period. If people choose to get pregnant or stay pregnant, that should be their look-out. I am not saying they must be abandoned - far from it - but those saying that they should be looked after must put their own money where their considerable cake-hole is instead of creating incentives for resource black holes at others' expense, forcibly collectivising and thus dehumanising the process.

The last point is key - the disconnect between giver and receiver is, I believe, a major problem in the mentality and modus operandi of the whole area. If you could chose to divert your tax £ to a body that works in this sector, I wonder how many would choose to divert their money to a "tough love" organisation. Of course, you could not have those bodies "vetted" by the State, for lickety-spit, the Fabian scum will put constraints to render all the providers unto their own prejudices.

We are now in a situation spiralling out of control. Due to the "rights" of some, they are rendered unemployable outside of huge organisations and the State - I am speaking of women of childbearing age. The "answer" in the addled head of the likes of Harriet Harman is to use more force and law. It is madness. Correction upon correction to try (in vain) to fix a fundamentally flawed system. Down that road leads to Central Employment, i.e. you apply for a resource and you are given a shortlist and no other. Think about it - that is where the HH mindset will end and subconsciously, Lefties drool over it.

Stop meddling. Rich people will be able to afford more kids. Talented people will be able to get richer (and so have more kids). That will surely help us.

*Que Mark Wadsworth to pipe up about LVT (and be wrong, again, as replacing one form of theft for another is not the answer).

Roger Thornhill said...

As animals, most of us are geared subconsciously to reproduce, but that does not mean we force others to subsidise another, for that distorts the natural process and decision making and, as we know, State meddling and distortion is a sure-fire road to hell. We are at a rather dangerous, run-down, monopolistic yet expensive (for some) service station 60 years along that road and it is grim.

Right now, the wrong messages are sent out. Period. If people choose to get pregnant or stay pregnant, that should be their look-out. I am not saying they must be abandoned - far from it - but those saying that they should be looked after must put their own money where their considerable cake-hole is instead of creating incentives for resource black holes at others' expense, forcibly collectivising and thus dehumanising the process.

The last point is key - the disconnect between giver and receiver is, I believe, a major problem in the mentality and modus operandi of the whole area. If you could chose to divert your tax £ to a body that works in this sector, I wonder how many would choose to divert their money to a "tough love" organisation. Of course, you could not have those bodies "vetted" by the State, for lickety-spit, the Fabian scum will put constraints to render all the providers unto their own prejudices.

We are now in a situation spiralling out of control. Due to the "rights" of some, they are rendered unemployable outside of huge organisations and the State - I am speaking of women of childbearing age. The "answer" in the addled head of the likes of Harriet Harman is to use more force and law. It is madness. Correction upon correction to try (in vain) to fix a fundamentally flawed system. Down that road leads to Central Employment, i.e. you apply for a resource and you are given a shortlist and no other. Think about it - that is where the HH mindset will end and subconsciously, Lefties drool over it.

Stop meddling. Rich people will be able to afford more kids. Talented people will be able to get richer (and so have more kids). That will surely help us.

*Que Mark Wadsworth to pipe up about LVT (and be wrong, again, as replacing one form of theft for another is not the answer).

Trixy said...

RP - Trixy would rather we all paid less tax.

Bella - I suspect there is something unusual about not wanting children. But then, why be dull?

Wv: hymend.

Unsworth said...

I remember cringing when hearing a former colleague regularly saying 'Well, someone's got to bring up the next generation'.

I always asked 'Why?'.

The Young Oligarch said...

In what way is this attitude to children NOT a "Death Cult" ?

Or , alternatively , a shrill screech of "ME ! ME ! ME !" ?

That is not to say that our society is not deeply sick in its attitude to marriage , sexuality and the raising of children .

It is just that it is incredible that anyone can thoughtfully say "Children are a lifestyle choice" .

It sounds so sinister , counter-intuitive and PC that the Labour Party might just turn it into their next manifesto committment .

Sorry DK . (Well , I'm not sorry at all , but I'm trying not to sound as if I'm moralising , hard though it is ).

EmmaK said...

Re population control...the cheapest solution is castration for the most feckless members of society but that has never been a very popular idea unfortunately.

thefrollickingmole said...

Ok, cue outrage from the breeding population, but why is subsidising your kids of advantage to me?

After all we are informed that a never ending stream of migrants are available for low end jobs, so my arse wiper will be around regaurdless.

I have no problem with a basic parenting allowance, but your fucking kids are used to justify every excess of government. Maybe if the government cared less about your DNA bags theyd be inclined to fuck off a bit more.

neil craig said...

A never ending stream of immigrants may be cheaper than breeding kids, or it may not, but it works on the assumption that when you reach ga-ga stage a country whose working population is mainly Islamic is going to feel the cultural afinity to you to wish to look after you. I'm not even sure your own nephews & nieces will.

Rob said...

"And I know that you won't object if you stop receiving any of my money to help support the consequences of any of your lifestyle choices (which might include diet, smoking or substance-related illnesses)."

If he drinks or smokes he is paying so much tax on these things that he is paying for his future treatment ten times over. You know that.

widmerpool said...

I imagine the reason the government supports children is because it needs them to grow up and pay taxes. I'd be happy to forego government support for my kids if when they grow up they do not have to pay any taxes to support all the non-breeders in their decrepitude.

Martin said...

I look forward to the blogger's endorsement of the repeal of the Factories Acts and the prohibitions on child labour.

After all, it appears to stem from thinking that originates in 1809, not 2009.

jonathan said...

As far as I'm concerned, people can have as many kids as they like, as long as they're prepared to pay for them themselves,and please don't whinge about how much it costs or how hard it is to have kids AND a good job and how unfair it all is- STFU!! If you can't afford them and don't want to look after them, DON'T HAVE THEM.

neil craig said...

"The first essential in any civilization is that the man and women shall be father and mother of healthy children, so that the race shall increase and not decrease. If that is not so, if through no fault of the society there is failure to increase, it is a great misfortune. If the failure is due to the deliberate and wilful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other"
http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/research/speech%20arena.htm
But what did he know?