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If You Make $7.25 An Hour, How Dare You Have A Kid?
I was reading Consumerist.com, one of my favorite sites, when I came upon this quote in a piece about the minimum wage, from a Washington Post story by David Finkel:

At the register, meanwhile, Shannon Wilk, 33, who makes $6.25 an hour, said that of course she would like to earn more money. It would help her. It would help her 18-month-old daughter. "It would be good," she said, "but also, for me, I live in income-based housing, and if I get a raise, my rent would go up, and I would lose my assistance." Even the tiniest raise would affect her, she said, and with nowhere to go, the last thing she can afford is a raise to $7.25.

Hell, I waited until I was in my mid-thirties to even own a dog, because I needed to know I could afford whatever medical care she might need. (And a lucky thing that was, since she needed a $900 PET scan [don't laugh, that's what they're called] when she was just a tiny puppy.) How horribly selfish and irresponsible to extrude a child into the world when you can't even afford to pay for your own needs, let alone the child's.

Posted by aalkon at January 12, 2007 10:10 AM

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Comments

At first thought, the world is full of selfish and irresponsible people. On second thought, it is a kind of rational economic behavior: there are enough subsidies out there to raise children on $6.25 an hour, and it frees one from the responsibility of a more demanding job.

As the lothario on Jerry Springer said: "If they're going to give it away, you gotta' take it."

The other story I like to tell is from Massachusetts, where a local TV reporter was trying to interview a single welfare mom with 12 kids (the story was on how medicaid was paying for fertility drugs, which this "person" was taking.) The reporter was standing next to the half open door and asked: "What do you say to the taxpayers of Massachusetts?", to which the proud citizen replied, "Keep on paying!" before she slammed the door.

Posted by: doombuggy at January 12, 2007 4:43 AM

In the interest of honesty, the above person might not have had 12 kids. I think it might have been 9.

Posted by: doombuggy at January 12, 2007 4:48 AM

What are we to do with nitwits like this? Unless or Until we can institute "parent licenses" or some damned thing we have to live with the notion of innocents being blobbed out by dunderheads.
We hate China for forcing women to have abortions, so what do we do with the KIDS?

This issue always gets linked in my mind with the religionists who have a zillion kids. Eventually, democracy may bite us in the ass.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at January 12, 2007 5:02 AM

To me, it's child abuse to have children when you're very poor. The very poor should be encouraged to go on Depo-Prevara. And yes, we should pay for it. It's cheaper than funding their children after they're, say, hospitalized for something $12 worth of antibiotics would've cured. Or housing them in jail after they run become delinquents.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 12, 2007 5:03 AM

Being in a democracy means we often have to persuade people not to act like assholes instead of telling them they can't. The problem is, the kids get punished for being born to nimwits.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 12, 2007 6:06 AM

How dare you, Amy, critize a poor woman for having a child! Children are "gifts from God"! You know, our invisible friend in the sky. There are SO many souls in the Kingdumb of Heaven waiting to be born to a life on earth where they can praise, worship, and glorify the Saviour of the universe! You would stop all that for the silly notion of "personal responsibility"?

Posted by: Bill Henry at January 12, 2007 6:08 AM

Bill, when I hear that sort of thing, I'm reminded of the attitude some people have when they hear Gregg and I are not married; ie, that he must not be the right man if we haven't walked the plank together, and have no intention of doing so. At a party once, an older man and woman said, "Well, someday you'll meet the right man for you." Thanks. I've met him. The big guy over there getting me a Chardonnay. He doesn't need me to sign anything to keep me with him; he just needs to keep telling me Nazi jokes on the phone.

There's also the silly notion that getting married is some big accomplishment. As I wrote for this week's deadline, "It isn't hard to get married; just get drunk and impulsive in Vegas."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 12, 2007 6:41 AM

My neighbor in the big house two doors down was one of three children of migrant farm workers. All three earned graduate degrees. My neighbor is a professor at UCLA. Her brother is a medical researcher. Just sayin'.

Posted by: deja pseu at January 12, 2007 6:59 AM

Hasn't your sweet doggie benefited from the technology originally developed for the brat-extruding species? Just sayin'.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 12, 2007 7:11 AM

I don't hate humanity; I just wish it would be better behaved. And one of my old friends worked on the team that came up with the PET scan.

As for migrant worker families, I still think it's wrong to have kids if you can't pay for them, but at least they're families and may even have a multi-generational support structure -- as opposed to being some single mother popping out the kids with various baby daddies who leave immediately after sex and are never seen nor heard of again.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 12, 2007 7:58 AM

I also think it's irresponsible to have children when you can't afford to care for them or if you are mentally unable to care for them. But, I would like to tell you about a young woman I mentored who had been raped by a distant cousin who was staying in her home. She came from an ethnic background that appears to condone this kind of behavior, and the girl was forced into a cultural marriage (not legal) which she wanted no part of. She managed to get out of this marriage by behaving badly and getting kicked out of the house with her children (2 girls). With the help of welfare, she graduated from high school and is now a tax paying member of society; a good, loving mother too. I would like people who see young pregnant girls to remember that we don't know if she agreed to this or not.

Posted by: Margaret Langer at January 12, 2007 8:47 AM

I don't know, I'm not sure I completely agree with this line of reasoning. I'm anti-religion, vociferously pro-choice and pro-birth control, yet I still think there is a certain societal need for all classes to continue to reproduce. In Japan and Europe, they're confronting all kinds of problems because of the falling birth rate. I don't think people should get welfare for having nine kids, but neither do I think it sounds right to say that everyone that has kids needs to have a certain income level. How much could ever be enough? I have two kids and earn a good salary, yet I can only afford three weeks of enriching summer camp instead of six and the school is pressuring me to hire private tutors at upwards of $400 a month. But there's people in my neighborhood who earn far less, send their kids to the same public schools and everyone somehow gets by. Perhaps welfare should end at two kids. I'd support forced sterilization if it could control some of those massive welfare families, but I still think reproduction is basically a helpful thing to society, not a harmful one.

Posted by: Pat at January 12, 2007 10:49 AM

I don't know, I'm not sure I completely agree with this line of reasoning. I'm anti-religion, vociferously pro-choice and pro-birth control, yet I still think there is a certain societal need for all classes to continue to reproduce. In Japan and Europe, they're confronting all kinds of problems because of the falling birth rate. I don't think people should get welfare for having nine kids, but neither do I think it sounds right to say that everyone that has kids needs to have a certain income level. How much could ever be enough? I have two kids and earn a good salary, yet I can only afford three weeks of enriching summer camp instead of six and the school is pressuring me to hire private tutors at upwards of $400 a month. But there's people in my neighborhood who earn far less, send their kids to the same public schools and everyone somehow gets by. Perhaps welfare should end at two kids. I'd support forced sterilization if it could control some of those massive welfare families, but I still think reproduction is basically a helpful thing to society, not a harmful one.

Posted by: Pat at January 12, 2007 10:49 AM

Rent Idiocracy immediately.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 12, 2007 10:54 AM

I've got no kids and I'm largely with you on the outrage factor here, but there's something that makes me uncomfortable with the idea of telling people they can't have kids.

Besides, psychology has shown that positive reinforcement works best. We should be providing tax breaks to those who *don't* have dependents if they make under a certain amount, or providing some kind of benefit to those who attend prenatal or pre-conception counseling and then don't get pregnant for X number of months or what have you.

The young and the restless and the stupid are going to get pregnant before they can afford kids for more reasons than we can count. Which is why we should reward those who *don't.*

Posted by: Kitt at January 12, 2007 11:00 AM

My neighbor and her husband are architects by training, but he's a prof and she's a stay-at-home mom trying to get a part-time biz going while starting a library in their charter school. They aren't dosed with cash or anything, but they meet their kids' needs. Summer camp is not a necessity. The point at which you can't afford to shell out for medicine for your kids, or adequate food, just for starters, is the point where you have no business having them.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 12, 2007 11:07 AM

The problems other countries face due to declining birth rates stem from their ponzi scheme socialist retirement plans. In these pyramid schemes, you always need a growing population paying into the program in order for the old buzzards to keep getting money out. The solution is to never start these kinds of ripoff programs in the first place, and keeping them alive is certainly no good reason to have kids.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 12, 2007 11:28 AM

This post reminds me of a late night in front of the TV watching those pathetic "save the children" commercials where they beg you for 0.12 per day to feed a poor defenseless kid in some third world country. You know it's mother reproduces every 9 months or so.... and has way too many kids to feed.

So I call the number and tell them I'll GLADLY pay for the permanent sterilization of one man or woman. *click*

Posted by: GirlAtheist at January 12, 2007 4:46 PM

If Japan, etc. would allow more immigration, they could keep their little ponzi scheme going. Just make sure they only let in hard working people that are going to contribute to the pyramid!

Posted by: Chris at January 13, 2007 9:51 AM

The women in third world countries don't want to have all these kids. I think a study showed that if they had their druthers, they would stop at 2. Sterilization is a great idea for both men and women! China is on the right track on this issue in theory, but the way things work out in reality is quite different. They abort all their female embryos, or sell their girls to Westerners.

How do you enforce something like this without turning into a facist state?

Posted by: Chris at January 13, 2007 9:54 AM

"China is on the right track on this issue in theory, but the way things work out in reality is quite different. They abort all their female embryos.."

Close enough, Chris.

If short term memory serves, an item on the US BBC news last week had the "rolling" statistic of 118 million male births to 100 million female in China - crunch time for grooms-to-be in 2020, or so the report said.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 13, 2007 11:06 AM

Just can't wait to see how the always-humanitarian Chinese government deals with that situation! They might decide to enforce mandatory polygamy.

Posted by: Chris at January 14, 2007 9:07 AM

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