A recent New York Times article has proven to be very popular among the news media: It outlines the high cost of having babies in the United States, more than twice as high as the cost in the next-costliest country (Switzerland—and three times the cost if you have a Caesarian as opposed to traditional birth).
Far be it from me to debate the costs of our medical system in this country. There’s no need. We all know how absolutely messed up it is, so I won’t get into it. What I will get into is the fact that, among all of the steps people are suggesting to deal with this issue, the one thing I don’t hear much of is the most obvious solution: Don’t have a kid.
No one seems to be too concerned about the fact that we are living on a spaceborne rock with fairly finite resources… and that there are already upwards of seven billion humans, and assorted other creatures, on it. But in the U.S., the ultimate Entitlement country, everyone believes it’s their right to have kids, no matter how ill-considered the notion may be. Let’s face it: Many couples essentially set their lives back years, by sacrificing the time and resources they have, however meager, to providing for a child soon after marriage. Some of them ruin their lives outright. Many families that cannot properly support their children create problem children, who can become problem adults. Financial problems create malnutrition, which impacts health well into adulthood, or lack of education, which often creates unemployed or criminal adults.
I’m not saying that these are absolute realities… but they happen. To a lot of people. Yet, somehow, most people don’t seriously consider any of this before they consider bringing a child into the world. At best, those who do simply decide that it won’t happen to them. I’m sure a lot of poor, disenfranchised, divorced and violent families assumed it wouldn’t happen to them.
Many people also still believe that their only hope for a future old age is to have children take care of them. In the past, yes, this was important… but today it’s not as vital of an issue as it once was. Intelligent and healthy adults can continue to be functional and vital well into old age, and right up to their deaths, especially if they’ve set up decent pensions or insurances for themselves. Old age without supportive children is no longer the early death sentence it used to be.
So, maybe the solution to the problem of expensive babies is: Don’t have any. I’m sure the planet won’t criticize you for not adding to the overpopulation problem. Or, at least, wait a while until prices come down… or you can better afford it. Exercise your right to live your own life, and consider your viable alternatives. Spend your money elsewhere. Put it in a savings account. Take a vacation. And bring condoms, just in case.