January 02, 2012

Tax Policy Should Reward Child-Rearing

David P. Goldman (the online columnist Spengler) is rapidly becoming one of my favorite columnists and authors. "An American-born polymath," one biographical note says, Goldman is a "music theorist, financial analyst, literary critic, historian, and geopolitical strategist -- and the author of one of the most widely read columns on the Internet." Herbert E. Meyer, Special Assistant to the CIA Director and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council during the Reagan administration, says "David P. Goldman's 'Spengler' columns provide more insight than the CIA, MI6, and the Mossad combined."

I'm reading Goldman's latest book, How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), and I highly recommend it. He writes:
The average cost of raising an American child to age 17 is $222,360, according to a 2010 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's more than four years of after-tax income for the median American family, not counting university. Put it another way: a single child will cost nearly 30 percent of the median family's spending power over the first 17 years. Young families go into debt to raise children and pay the debts off when the children are grown. ...

Without other people's children, to be sure, the childless singles would starve in old age, because there would be no one to pay the taxes that fund their benefits. But nothing in the social safety net discourages free riding on other people's child rearing.
As I alluded to in a column in The Oklahoman ("Traditional Family Key to Economic Health"), I believe public policy should discourage this free riding. This is one of the reasons I plan to vote for Rick Santorum, who believes we should, as one scholar puts it, use "tax policy as pro-family, pro-natalism social policy."

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