February 24, 2006

The communal responsibility of someone else's kids

Early on in this thread, we find this comment (which starts with a quotation from an earlier comment):

'Feminists respond by rejecting what they see as a false dichotomy; only in a society where there are no communal and governmental responsibilities for helping families raise children will women be forced to choose between motherhood and independence.'

Personally, too marxist for me. Not that I have kids, but if I did, I wouldn't want the government interference that comes with the government handout. And since I don't have kids, I don't want to be taxed for the communal responsibility of somebody else's kids.

I think looking at this issue in this way is ridiculously short-sighted. Unless you plan on living out in the woods by yourself, everyone depends on other people -- to grow the food, to keep the power running, to build and maintain houses, to keep the peace, and so on. And, unless you plan on dying very shortly, there will come a time when today's children will be the ones primarily responsible for doing all these things you need to get by. Now, it doesn't seem unreasonable to think that the quality of care and education one gets as a child has a significant impact on what one is like as an adult; hence, quality childcare and education is a social good, a benefit to everyone (again, except those who tragically die young). State-subsidized and -licensed child care, for example, guarantees that children of all economic classes can have personal, nurturing care even when both parents are away, and thus will help make the next generation better citizens and contributors to the general well-being (including your own well-being).

That is, it's not a transfer of wealth from childless adults to parents with children; it's a smart investment in your future well-being (that has the happy 'incidental' benefit of enabling greater freedom in the way others live their lives).

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