Monday, August 29, 2011

The Economist’s Guide to Parenting

Today I listened to the most recent Freakonomics podcast titled: The Economist’s Guide to Parenting.  It was pretty interesting, and more importantly, revived a question I've had for a long time - why do people choose to have kids?  Children are a financial drain, having children takes away free time and privacy, studies have shown that parents are less happy than comparable people without children.  No matter what angle I look at, children are a detriment rather than a compliment.  Is it simply a biological imperative - that some people have an overwhelming urge to procreate?  Is there a disillusion that children will bring happiness?  Are people lonely and think kids will relieve the loneliness?  Is it just because you need someone to mow the lawn and do the dishes but can't afford a landscaper or maid?  I've read that some people have a psychological compulsion to have offspring - feeling that it gives them a sense of purpose in life, a legacy if you will, and as such the closest thing to immortality.  But that can't be the only reason.  And of course, there are the idiots like these two creeps who are so stupid that they think that the extra $65 a month that an extra child will bring on their welfare check makes the statutory rape of a 12 year old girl a good idea.  Idiocracy doesn't seem so far fetched after a story like that. 

Long story short, despite the fact that I can't think of a good reason to produce offspring, people do it every day and I know quite a few people who have children.  Even my parents thought it was a good idea at some point.  So I welcome all feedback on what might compel you to reproduce.  I'm sure the parents I know have good reasons, but I'm sure the childless have some even more entertaining reasons for or against as well.  As for me it remains something I can't logically reason out for myself. 

On a personal note, despite the fact that I've considered this dilemma before, I've never taken the logical step of asking my parents what their reasons were.  I always assumed it was because they needed someone to do housework.  They may have a different story though.  And I'm not making any judgments about my dad, but I've never seen him laugh harder at the Simpsons as when Grandpa said, "It was your mother's job to name you, and love you and such. I was mainly in it for the spanking."  I'm just saying ...

Finally, in an effort to prevent or at the very least postpone an Idiocracy scenario, I feel it is in the nation's and the taxpayers' best interest to offer free vasectomies and tubal ligations at the government's expense.  The majority of the nation's poverty, drug, and crime problems can be linked to irresponsible parents who don't want and are incapable of raising kids but have them anyway because they are too lazy and/or stupid to use birth control.  I think the one time expense will pay for itself many times over in a reduction in future long term crime prevention, litigation, and incarceration costs.
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