Friday, April 9, 2010

Community of Citizens, or Collection of Taxpayers?

The discussion I've been having with the anti-abortion people has sent me to thinking about American culture.

"We, the people" seems to be no more. One reason, of course, is that there are just too many Americans. We've almost doubled the population of the US since I was born. How can you have a sense of community with over 300 million people? The only time Americans care about other Americans is when the government mobilizes patriotism in preparation for yet another attack on people elsewhere in the world. The rest of the time, Americans step over the homeless Americans, support mass imprisonment of Americans and complain about American welfare mothers and children.

The teaching of American values, called civics class, has been under attack since the Reagan years by the right wing. So our "rights" have been turned into personal consumption rights, (like the right to drive over 55), and the rights that protect us from governmental oppressions have been scorned as "criminal protection rights", to be given up by Americans to prove that they "have nothing to hide".

The abortion debate has been framed, by both sides, as individual rights - woman vs fetus, with pro-choicers taking the side of the woman, and anti-choicers taking the side of the fertilized egg.

But what about the rights of the community and the obligations of the individual to contribute to it?

Abortion was not outlawed until relatively recently in the human experience, and it's only been a couple of decades that a fertilized egg was called a "human". Partly, it's because we now have microscopes and ultrasounds, but it is also used as a way to divide the US population on purely cultural grounds. Anti-choice people are whipped up into frothing frenzies about zygotes, while pro-choice people are baffled by the lack of concern for the born. The two sides will never be able to agree, because they are looking at different parts of the problem.

Part of previous acceptance of abortion was probably based on communal needs. Too many mouths to feed was seen as a problem, when communities were based more on the reality of actually providing food for every mouth.

Americans see this only as tax money. The costs of feeding, schooling, transporting and imprisoning unwanted children is the only downside that anti-choice people see, but they insist on individual self restraint as the solution. 6.8 billion people worldwide prove that an unviable solution.

I advocate paying Americans to be sterilized. Most responsible people end up sterilized anyway. As a nurse, I have to ask women if they might be pregnant. Most women over the age of 30 respond that their tubes are tied, or their husbands had a vasectomy.

Only irresponsible people continue to have children that they can't take care of. I know of two young women in my community who have 8 or 9 children apiece. They don't take care of them. DCFS steps in and removes the children shortly after birth. These children are not just a drain on society's finances. They are a potential "menace to society". As I pointed out before, people fret over the fear of their children being raped and murdered, and fantasize about their bloody revenge (with many books and movies having this very theme), but preventing harm to their children by ensuring that every child born be a wanted, and nurtured child? They don't make the connection.

My co-worker told me that her crackhead cousin has 6 or 7 children, all of whom are raised by their grandmother, except for one whom her cousin gave birth to, and then just left the hospital.

An acquaintance pointed out a young woman with 9 kids and said that she was planning to have 15 children, so that she would be in the Guiness Book of Records. I was appalled, and told her that 15 children is not a world's record. "Really?", she said. Don't you think that an intelligent person would look up the current record before trying to top it?

If we rewarded responsible behavior with substantial cash payment, say $5,000 for males and $6,000 for females, we would hopefully stop a lot of this behavior. I have just accounted for 33 unwanted children in my personal circle. I assume that these women would choose tubals if properly rewarded, saving society a lot more money in the long run. Each would probably produce a couple of children first. Maybe they would do a better job at mothering if the task were simpler.

Plus, the responsible people who already were sterilized would be rewarded. Occasionally, the government hands out "stimulus" checks to all, young and old, rich and poor, to stimulate the economy.

Young people usually are poorer than older people. A chunk of money could go a long way to finance education, buy a house, or take time out of work to nurture a new baby. (Most women have their tubals just after delivering a baby).

With fewer Americans around, all who were nurtured as children, we would have a much better society.

Many people believe that people should "have a license" to reproduce, or that the government should involuntarily sterilize the irresponsible. I am totally against giving that kind of power to the government. But rewarding people is completely different from forcibly interfering with their reproductive rights.

Less strain on the environment, less traffic, less crime, less food and shelter needed to be produced, less garbage produced, less need to attack other peoples for their stuff - I think we should try it.

Addenum: I was told by the mother of one of the two women I cited that her daughter is now sterilized. Well, hallelujah!! And she has two of her children back. Hmmm, maybe not such a good idea.

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