Who needs children?
The Euro debt crisis and the presidential debate season together have unearthed a submerged debate over the value of families on the Right.
The Wall Street Journal actually singled out as the one “most disappointing” part of Rick Santorum’s tax plan the “proposal to triple the tax credit for children.”
(Actually Santorum proposes to triple the personal deduction for children, not the tax credit, but I digress).
To the Wall Street Journal editors protecting family income from government depredation is merely “a hobby horse of the Christian right,” or “social policy masquerading as economics..” because such a tax provision will not spur economic growth, “it merely rewards taxpayers who have children over those who don’t.”
Are children necessary to a vigorous growing economy and society? Not, in the Wall Street Journal’s distorted view: Children are just one of many possible consumer choices, about which government (or tax policy at any rate) should be neutral. A man who chooses to buy porn or a Porsche should be taxed just the same as the one who is spending money to support three children? This is a view simultaneously short-sighted and narrow minded and masquerading as intellectually sophisticated to boot.
Meanwhile over at National Review, Andrew Stuttaford accused Santorum of a Luddite gaffe for telling the Journal editors that Europe’s economic problems have anything to do with its amazing shrinking population base. “This is somewhat akin to arguing that the United States risks starvation because there are fewer farm workers than there once were. Times and productivity have moved on,” Stuttaford said, prompting a truly memorable Mark Steyn smackdown; Depopulation is a really serious issue for “a system of government that depended on looting the future to bribe the present.”:
“In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren. . .. Is it remotely likely that the debts run up by 100 Mediterranean deadbeats will be repaid by 42 Mediterranean deadbeats?.” Steyn asks.
In sheer economic terms, we need children. People power the economy. And family create people. That’s why they call it “human capital.”
Overtaxing married families is like eating the seed corn from which human capital springs.
America does not yet have the same looming depopulation issue as Europe.
But the signs of trouble are there:
Just 2 percent of Americans consider childlessness an ideal but almost one in five middle-aged American woman are childless, according to the “State of Our Unions: 2011” a report just released by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values.
The American tax code has always had special protection for family income.
A society that comes to sees special protections for children in the tax code as an economic heresy has not only forgotten its past, but its future.
P.S. Pass this on to a friend who cares about life, marriage and religious liberty?