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In America, at least, having children is most definitely a sacrifice. "Noble" is a subjective qualifier that's actually irrelevant. The fact is without kids the thing that fuels our economy, consumption, disappears. In many ways parents are subsidizing the childless. It isn't a bad thing to note that.

Also, nobody knows the extent of what one must give up to parent. No matter how prepared a person thinks he or she is, they aren't. Having kids is very abstract right up to the point that it's not. The concrete realization starts to happen earlier and more intimately for the mother because of the gestational period, but that realization sets in eventually for both parents.

In many ways parents are subsidizing the childless

What complete nonsense. There are 7Bn+ people in the world. Making more people is not a problem the human race has. Far from subsidising the child-free, you are destroying the ecosystem with your selfishness.

Honestly, having children is one of the most selfish things you can do. I.e. thinking your genetic material is special and passing it on to another person in an overcrowded world. Any “sacrifice” in raising a child is not — they are half you and an extension of self.

Not so sure having kids AT ALL is an immoral choice in an overcrowded world. 1 kid, or 2 kids; is replacement level at worst.

I would have a bone to pick with folks who feel entitled (or "commanded by $deity") to have 6, 7, 8 or more kids. That's just absurd stupidity.

I, personally, found parenthood to be enormously rewarding. And that may not be something one comes to grips with when kids are 3. Or 10. Or even 18. Having kids with medical problems, or mental health problems, can be a challenge, and you can miss out on the immediate sense of accomplishment when it's overwhelmed with "just get through today". This is a big-picture thing.

I'm also not blinded by illusions of; having a legacy, having something that is a "permanent" accomplishment, or even just having someone else in this world who I can relate to. My feeling is that my kids turned out to be pretty good people, and the world as a whole is a better place with them in it. In Net. Considering even their resource consumption. They are part me. They are my intention and will. But they are their own beings as well, with their own hopes and dreams.

Hell: we're all worm food in the end. It's not pleasant facing or contemplating death. Maybe we all would have liked to have been asked permission before being brought into this world against our will. I think the main difference it made for me was that I participated in life. The process of life. The continuation of life. The strife for survival. I did not look at the world, and decide to simply persist until I perished. I lived. Even if I have another 30-50 years on this world. I gave it a shot.

> I would have a bone to pick with folks who feel entitled (or "commanded by $deity") to have 6, 7, 8 or more kids. That's just absurd stupidity.

I have to laugh at this, because 3 years ago I was this person and I know exactly how the conversation would go. I had 3 kids and planned for 6-7 of them, then I left the Mormon religion.

But I would love to hear the conversation. I can't speak for everyone, but in Mormonism at least you literally believe that having children is commanded by deity and any environmental offsets are not an issue because the Second Coming is soon and the earth will be cleansed by fire at that time anyway. Besides, God created the earth, he would never let man destroy it.

There just is no real discussion to be had with somebody who believes those things. Fortunately, higher education and sex ed are highly correlated with lower birth rates, so I'd push for those if you're looking to reduce birth rates - even in Mormonism or other religions.

Replacement rate is a smidge over two _on average_. That doesn't mean that it's wrong to have more than two children, any more than it means it's wrong to have fewer than two.

If you look at my wider family, you'll see some people with no children and some with five. But even on such a small scale, we average out at around replacement rate.

Personally I believe that bringing a consciousness to this world without the subject's consent is morally corrupt.

I know you're probably pulling my leg, but how many times has a subject ever willfully consented to being brought to consciousness? Answer: {}

Correct. You have identified the problem.

The solution would need to happen in less than three generations.

I have 4 and I really hope that makes you feel bad.

If everyone adopted your rationale, the human race would go extinct. We haven't gone so far that we are indifferent to the survival of our own species, have we?

I am a father myself and don’t think you are a “bad person” or anything like that. But seriously, we have no shortage of humans - you are not doing mankind a favor by having lots of kids.

Odd. I wonder how many not so thoughtful people think your way and act upon it. To the extent there is a genetic component to "thoughtfulness," or even a trait that can be nurtured by other thoughtful people, is the extent that thoughtfulness will be selected against and disappear.

Social Security is one example of the young subsidizing the old. Medicare is another. Old folks homes are another.

Seems to me there is ample evidence of the young supporting the old.

Consider what your aged life would be like if everyone suddenly elected to not reproduce. What would it be like to be 70, when the youngest person is 60?

Clearly, the young support the aged.

Clearly, the young support the aged.

The young, by definition live in a world built by their elders, benefiting from all the infrastructure and institutions they created. So it’s not nearly as one-way as you think. Any care of the elderly is merely a part payment on that debt the young owe them.

Cultures are going extinct due to lack of children. A good number of cultures in Europe and East Asia have close to 1 child per woman, meaning that the population is cut in half with every generation.

Those cultures will be gone forever.

How is bearing children destroying the ecosystem?

Any idea how many dirty diapers a baby produces? We don't use cloth diapers with our daughter, so those go to the landfill.

She drinks milk. That comes from cows. Cows are bad for the environment. By having another person on the planet, we need that much more milk.

> We don't use cloth diapers with our daughter, so those go to the landfill.

Isn't that simply a consequence of how people today and in the past decided to solve these problems in general? This issue is not limited to diapers.

> Cows are bad for the environment.

Interesting, so cows are not part of the environment? What separates things from being part of the environment and not being part of it?

All things that are bad for the environment are part of the environment.

Because children are people and people by necessity must displace natural ecosystem fixtures to survive.

Does this mean the natural ecosystem fixtures are more valuable than people?

The problem is that our current pace of ecosystem destruction in order to satisfy people is not sustainable.

Does deciding not to bear children solve this problem?


Every child that's born is a child that will eventually need their own shelter. Will probably drive their own car. Will need food.

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to not have children.


But doesn't that lead to the extinction of the human race? What good is it for mankind to save the environment if it sacrifices itself in the process?

If everyone stopped having children, well yeah. But you and I both know that that's not going to actually happen.

All I'm saying is that our current population growth is unsustainable and we're killing the environment. Until we adapt to only consume renewable resources, or at least sufficiently reduce our consumption of non-renewables, and stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, the best thing to do is slow down reproduction.


There were only half as many people in the world when I was born!

What population number makes childbearing selfish, and why?

And how are you determining the correct number of people and on what criteria? Or do we take your word for it?

Get in car. Drive to work. Wait in line on the freeway for opportunity to use freeway to get to work. While we're waiting in line; burning fossil fuels and contributing to carbon buildup in the atmosphere; which is essentially permanent. All - to spend a day earning imaginary money - whose value is arbitrarily and capriciously set by others.

Seems like a criteria for overcrowding to me.

That's not very specific. What about your scenario indicates overcrowding?

In many ways parents are subsidizing the childless.

My tax bill sure indicates otherwise.

I decided at an early age not to have kids - at 12-13 I figured out that I was not suitable to be a father - one, I wanted the chain of crappy childhoods to stop with me, and two I have various conditions that I believe are largely genetic - I didn't want to pass those on.

No, your tax bill does not indicate otherwise. Credits for children are a tiny, tiny fraction of tax subsidies for people in lower income brackets, and property taxes are generally quite low and cover much more than schools.

Even if they were a huge fraction, you're considering one single axis. You're not considering population support or economic contributions by and on behalf of children, both of which are arguably much more significant than tax bill distribution.

> Credits for children are a tiny, tiny fraction of tax subsidies for people in lower income brackets

The tax-funded support for “people in lower income brackets” are themselves very much slanted toward support for parents with children, largely because the American public is broadly fine with blaming poor adults for their condition, but somewhat less so for children in poverty.

The tax code is geared up to help people who are married and have children - my married friends pay 20% less than I do, my married friends with kids pay even less then they do. I take umbrage with this.

You benefited when you were a child. You took those benefits. You might say it wasn't your choice, but your parents made that choice on your behalf.

Having benefited yourself, you shouldn't be bothered that others also benefit. It is only fair.

BTW, you can earn a 6-figure income and have negative taxes. The key is to have a double-digit family. This is what I do. Nothing is stopping you from doing likewise.

How exactly does one have a double-digit family?

2 parents and 8 kids?

Everybody now paying taxes once was a child. Without children no one would be paying taxes.

I don’t know about America, but it’s the childless that subsidise the parents in the UK. Having kids is a massive draw on the state - the vast majority of people go from being net contributors to net drains on the public purse when they have kids.

On the other hand, having children isn't exactly cost-free, and society needs the next generation around to support the previous in old age.

Given that parents need to buy diapers, kid clothes, and other stuff needed by babies, if UK still has VAT I do not believe that parents are «net drains».

Those things are specifically exempt from VAT

Really?! Then I should consider moving from Italy to the UK! (I am a father of three, and here there are no exemptions at all for diapers, baby food, bottles, and so on. VAT here is 22%.)

As my old buddy John McGinty put it "I knew having kids would be a big job; I just didn't know it would be relentless!"

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