Arguing from Opposite Sides of the Dollar
As an early-grave-working father of three children, whom my wife and I deliberately brought into the world at a relatively young age ourselves (by modern standards), with nowhere near the income nor savings that an accountant might require to balance out the cost of progeny, I find myself strangely split in my agreement with both parties of the following exchange from the Dan Yorke show:
URI Feinstein hunger center director Kathleen Gorman: How is a woman going to go to work making a minimum wage job or a low wage job if she doesn’t have some help with child care?
Dan Yorke: Why did that woman have a child in the first place, not to be able to afford it on her own?
Gorman: You think only wealthy people should have children? That’s crazy!
Yorke: Yes! Now we’re getting somewhere! Only people who can afford it should do it. That’s the core philosophy! Only people who can afford it should do it. We got there. Do you agree?
Gorman: Absolutely not. If all people waited until they had enough money to support their children, there would be no children in the world.
I suspect, however, that my agreement with Ms. Gorman might be superficial: The emphasis on money and affordability, it seems to me, allows a spin (or else a delusive elision) by which practitioners in the welfare industry steal more agreement than they actually deserve.
I don’t believe that only “wealthy people” should have children, and I suspect that Yorke does not either. Moreover, the notion of having enough money requires clarification: Have my wife and I come up with the resources to keep our children healthy and well nourished? Obviously. Do we currently have any feasible plan for paying for the grander expenses of the future, such as college? Nope.
Life requires a bit of playing by ear. (And I’d note that Yorke and my shared Church requires us to believe that God is ultimately calling the tune.) Indeed, it would be a mistake to leave out the possibility that having children can play a crucial role in fostering responsibility in the parent — a point of principle that applies regardless of socioeconomic standing. The irreducible notes in the melody are not income and savings, but openness, intentionality, and a willingness to sacrifice.
If it’s all about the money, then the Gormans of the world can create the easy illusion that single parents who persist in having children ought to be seen as in familiar circumstances to anybody who ever had to take a night job to cover the cost of braces. That’s clearly how this Gorman framed her rejoinder, and I worry that a too-resounding “Yes!” from Yorke may strike populist chords that need not resonate beyond the gimme choir.