I had an interesting time over at The Standard the other day. The post was about the number of children in NZ with preventable Third-World diseases, and how this is a crime perpetrated against the poor by the rich, and what should Labour come up with as a response.
It seemed straightforward enough to me. For decades now we've made having kids consequence-free for wasters and munters, and they've gone forth and multiplied accordingly. The inevitable result is legions of kids made stupid by fetal alcohol syndrome and poor nutrition, and brutalised with a childhood of neglect and abuse. The resurgence of preventable diseases is also an inevitable result, and blaming it on "the rich" is only true to the extent that we (don't laugh - in the view of The Standard's readers, I am "rich" courtesy of having a low-level management job with a salary) have funded that process.
With that in mind, I suggested that what I'd like to see from Labour is for them to "take steps to actively discourage the production of children in situations known to be high-risk for poverty, neglect and abuse." Obviously that's not a serious suggestion for Labour, they couldn't do that and still be a party the Standard's readers could vote for. But we know that the people with the highest risk for inflicting poverty and neglect on children are having the most children, and that taxpayers' money is enabling that to happen, so the taxpayers' representatives should do something about it.
As you can imagine, it wasn't a popular view. Among the many eloquent arguments raised against the view were:
That I hate the poor.
That I think only middle class people have the right to breed.
That biology renders it impossible for people to have fewer kids.
That I'm proposing eugenics.
That punitive measures (ie, making the production of children you've no intention of supporting less attractive by one means or another) are inferior to offering incentives of some description.
That attempting to impose consequences on people who don't want their actions to have consequences is wrong.
That the problem is actually due to National's tax cuts for the rich.
That a better solution would be to get rid of poverty.
That we just need to replace capitalism with a better system.
The stupid, it burns! It's kind of like a Kiwiblog thread, only in a strange mirror world in which Johnboy, Elaycee etc have become leftists. I even prompted a bizarre rant from someone who's obviously read far too many Warren Ellis comics and fancies himself as a kind of real-life Spider Jerusalem.
A few people troubled themselves to make a case that the solution to this is to put more money into child support services so the kids of wasters and munters eventually become productive citizens instead of the next generation of wasters and munters. Personally, I think this is wildly overestimating the ability of taxpayers' money to overcome the influence of family, peer group and environment, especially given that we do a lot of this at huge expense already and it appears to have very little effect. In any case, the one doesn't rule out the other.