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Speaker: My People

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  • Rich Lock,

    "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members" - Mahatma Ghandi.

    And who is weaker and more vulnerable than a child?

    People who had more than three children would have them because they wanted to.

    Implies choice.

    1. People don't always make good choices.

    2. People make mistakes.

    I'm no rightie, but how does that mean other people are obliged to pay for them?

    Because in a civilised society, we don't punish the children for the sins of the father? That shit went out with Moses.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    There's a difference between supporting children's current and future needs and setting up social arrangements that encourage parents to make more children. If the latter is a policy goal, then let's hear it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    There's a difference between supporting children's current and future needs and setting up social arrangements that encourage parents to make more children.

    a) Let's see some proof that they do, that people actually have children just for the money.

    b) how is there a difference? I mean, in practical terms, on the ground, how do you discourage (ie punish) parents, without materially harming their children's welfare?

    Also, from a 'grrr, them's my taxes' point of view, what's the difference between one family with six kids, and three families with two kids? It's not like we have a runaway birth rate. It's not, in fact, like this is actually a problem, is it? Or, what Danielle said.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Yamis @ I would love to know your thoughts are here.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    discourage (ie punish) parents

    By saying there is no unlimited right to have children? Hardly seems to qualify as harm or punishment.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Also, from a 'grrr, them's my taxes' point of view, what's the difference between one family with six kids, and three families with two kids?

    Ah, but one family with six children is *profligate*! And also, that means they have been fucking with wild abandon, which is *icky*! Poverty-stricken families must be suitably sombre and grateful and clean and chaste to deserve our taxes.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    It's not, in fact, like this is actually a problem, is it?

    Rampant bludging by breeding, no. The environment and social impacts of overpopulation or reduced quality of life/attention/resources for children from families living beyond their local means, possibly.

    I'm interested in understanding how it might play into the theme of complaints from families that they're subsidising someone else's lifestyle choices (but not as interested as some other folk are).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    By saying there is no unlimited right to have children? Hardly seems to qualify as harm or punishment.

    If you're planning to just SAY it, no. Were you? Or, to repeat my previous question, how?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    The poor are sooo much more sustainable than the rich.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I can see a position that we must as a society act in ways that in principle mean anyone can have as many children as they like while the rest of us are compelled to pick up the tab. I understand it might be the most reasonable answer; that it may be too hard to construct arrangements that balance supporting all children with restricting anyone having too many of them.

    All ecosystems and species have limits on breeding, from the smallest microbes to sprawling jungles and peak predators. This planet is hardly short of humans and we can see the impact we're having. Yes we're more than animals but there seems to remain something fundamental about only having children if you can reasonably expect you'll be able to raise them successfully in your local environment. Why would any particular family need to have 8 children in this day and age when they're all likely to survive into adulthood?

    Sure, there's a basic right to reproduction - but rights are balanced against other ones all the time. Don't children have a right to be brought up with enough resources and love (only one of which is finite, I know)? Don't you have a right to make that same decision for your own family without having it upended by other people's choices? Is it genetic greed if I decide that I really must have 6 children even if that means along with your contribution to raising mine (whether through whanau, community, taxation or sharing of services) it restricts you to affording say 2 of your own?

    How is it "punishment" for parents if society says it will only pay for say 3 children as others have suggested upthread? We can certainly agree its punishment for the children involved, but that's exactly what Working for Families does already and I don't see a widespread clamour amongst society to overturn it - much as we've tolerated relative benefit levels remaining where Ruthless Richardson put them twenty years ago. Not something to be proud of.

    As I've said, in practical terms I am not convinced at all that there are armies of breeding beneficiaries, and what interests me more here is the (encouraged?) public sentiment about a resource competition going on.

    Seems understandable in our biggest wordwide recession in 80 years that attention to the issue might sharpen, at both conscious and unconscious levels. Fear is in turn bound to be driving other decisions and dynamics, including perhaps a preference for authoritative rather than inclusive leadership styles, and tolerance for group-based bigotry from the likes of Paul Henry.

    Politically, how do we engage with all that constructively and progressively? If we don't come up with some answers, the vacuum will continue to be filled by more heat than light. However, this is not necessarily the place and right now, work beckons..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I know I haven't addressed the uneven distribution of the stereotyping, including poverty or possible cultural reasons for preferring large families. Do chip in.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Do chip in.

    This discussion is creepy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'm offended on so many levels I find it hard to even collect my thoughts, yes.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Let me, as the fourth child of a beneficiary, give this one more go.

    How is it "punishment" for parents if society says it will only pay for say 3 children as others have suggested upthread? We can certainly agree its punishment for the children involved, but that's exactly what Working for Families does already and I don't see a widespread clamour amongst society to overturn it

    Okay, deeply opposed to the way WFF discriminates against children on the basis of their parents' source of income.

    And I'm going to be repeating things people have already said.

    What if you have two children, and then twins? What if you don't have absolute concrete control over your reproduction, like the people we know whose third, fourth and fifth children were conceived while they were using increasingly severe contraceptive methods, including the one conceived after the vasectomy? What if you have four children while you don't need state support, and then become ill or disabled, or have one spouse die?

    These aren't niggly little details that could be worked out in implementation, they're reasons such a process could never be implemented without injustice.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Gah. Perhaps I've assumed people know my broader beliefs including opposition to eugenics? Should never talk about kids or animals.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    they're reasons such a process could never be implemented without injustice

    As I acknowledged up front, and thank you for elaborating. However, it doesn't seem to provide a particularly convincing defense against the Lindsay Mitchells of this world, let alone those murmuring watchers of One News who aren't wedded to notions of human rights. Any pointers?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Why would any particular family need to have 8 children in this day and age when they're all likely to survive into adulthood?

    WTH kind of a question is that?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    A practical one informed by history, Martin - in a context of people asserting an unfettered right. Large families used to make more sense for practical reasons, though the emotional logic around this is clearly persuasive too. Perhaps it's best if I just stay silent on this type of stuff from now on.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    These aren't niggly little details that could be worked out in implementation, they're reasons such a process could never be implemented without injustice.

    But then reproductive rights are, well, a right, so injustice would be built in, no? And even if you somehow accepted that there is an objective number of children beyond which if you have them then it's bad for you, bad for them, and bad for society (which I don't, FUCK THAT), there are the usual implications of going down this particular slide. Pretty soon you stop allowing certain people to have any children at all, or you stop treating fat people, people who have certain types of cancer, drug addicts, the unemployed... it becomes a war on the poor and a war on the weak by default, as it almost always does.

    One of my lecturers had eight kids. Very successful woman, great family, lovely children. Stephen Colbert was the last of eleven. And if you say yes it can work but you should do it on your dime, then it becomes another one of those things that only rich people can afford. And why? Beats the heck out of me. Are we suffering from a surplus of children in the country? No. We're suffering from a surplus of neglected children. So let's look after them more and better. That's really the only concern we should have.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Can I point out that I didn't come up with a suggestion of funding 3 kids. I think there are more sensible ways to balance the competing rights and responsiblities, but I'm not inclined to discuss them now.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I will support the idea of cutting people off after then n th child IF and ONLY IF every parent with fewer than n children is RIGOROUSLY audited to ensure that they are spending at least the state-prescribed minimum amount exclusively on the children. Surely we don't think only fecund parents will be rorting the system?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    let's look after them more and better

    I support decent tax-funded services for all children.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh Sacha. People have lots of children for so many different reasons. Might be religious. Might be culturally expected. Might just be that they want alot of kids, as in the case of one of our mother's who felt her own mother abandoned her emotionally, so she wanted alot of kids. She has 8 - the last of whom are twins. Now, she and her husband are self employed. They bring in quite a lot of dosh. Imagine if he or she died. Imagine if their business turned to shit. You see, Sacha, the problem is that unexpected stuff happens all the time. So if you say - right, the State will support you if you have three or less children, but if you have more, you are on your own, what ends up happening is that a huge number of people get penalised because......why, again? I don't know, Sacha, I've tried to explain why you can't dictate the numbers of chn people have. Mostly because people just won't have it. I understand where you are coming from - we do need to think about the way we use our resources. But that isn't going to happen by preaching about it to people who, by and large, are just trying to survive day by day. You may be opposed to eugenics, but unfortunately, your arguments seem to suggest that you aren't.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Why would any particular family need to have 8 children in this day and age when they're all likely to survive into adulthood?

    To look after me when I'm old, because my ex and I and our new spouses have exactly one child between us, and she's going to be pretty busy.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    You may be opposed to eugenics, but unfortunately, your arguments seem to suggest that you aren't.

    Fascinating. I've said clearly why I'm interested in this.

    I have no broader agenda to stop people breeding. I've not said anything about preventing it for either individuals or groups, only about the competing claims of others and the environment.

    I did not come up with the idea of restricting family sizes; that was someone else.

    I'm well aware of the stuff Gio has mentioned about the political tendency of any restriction to end up being of certain groups of people. I belong to one of them, fer chrissakes.

    I know I'm not that fond of or versed in human rights framing. But where do the assumptions come from about other things I haven't said?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

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