Saturday, July 08, 2006

License To Breed

A recurring theme that comes in discussions with my friend is the concept of a "license to have children." (Yes, my friends are an eclectic and irreverent rationalist lot - I love my friends.)

The basic premise is this. You need a license to drive a car. You need a license to cut hair. But any dumb ass in the world can have kids on a whim.

We should require a license to have kids.

The prerequisites could be prenatal care instruction, basic child psychology, and a personality assessment of fucked-upedness to see how much you'd screw up any offspring with your issues. Remedial psychotherapy to establish base levels of self-esteem, emotional equilibrium, and thoughtfulness (ie, maturity) could be government subsidized for those who flunked the initial exam.

The idea isn't crazy. There is a tremendous amount of experimental evidence demonstrating that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children - child abuse, sexual deviance, violent aggression, abandonment, and anti-education poverty mindsets are passed on to children via upbringing from parents with these problems. Why inflict more generations of such pain upon children? It isn't necessary, and can be helped.

But there are problems with the concept. I'm not talking about the immediate aversion to the idea by the majority of humanity who believe that having children is their "God given right" - these are the ones who I wish weren't having children in the first place.

No, the main problem is around an aspect of human nature that is so intrinsic, so embedded in the norm (rather than some pathology like those listed above than can be remediated).

This aspect is the abuse of power.

If there is a truism that has withstood the test of time, it's that Power Corrupts. In the case of child licensing, the question is - Who decides? Who gets to make the rules for who gets the license?

Any system put in place to license the production of children places the decision making power of who gets to have kids in the hands of a few. Even a well meaning, well drafted initial concept would evolve (devolve?) over time as it is "tweaked" by those in power - those who reward loyalty, who buy influence, who crave power.

Like most human systems to date, this would be yet another tool for those who have to have more, and those who have not to have even less. The inverse square law of nature plays out over and over - the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Those with the power to grant children would grant it to those like them, and gradually withold it from the rest.

If we could devise some balance of powers scheme, like our tripartite government structure, then perhaps the concept could work to a degree. But alas, it seems to be yet another utopian dream, the planned society gone astray once again.

It's too bad - so many children suffer today, only to grow into adults needing psychotherapy - only to become the next generation of parents to fuck up their children.

But given human nature, I'm not sure that Breeding Licenses are the way out.


At Saturday, July 15, 2006, Blogger Rick Fisk said...

The "premise" is from the movie parenthood.

Go futher. We should require breathing licenses. Just murder those who aren't good enough for society. If it was good enough for Stalin, it should be good for those who advocate parental license.


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