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Last month we wrote to Wajahat Ali, urging him to abandon the old “just have babies” position on policy and instead promote smaller families with greater investment in every child. Today, Jessica Blome, a mother from Oregon and a model for Fair Start family planning, is asking Ali to engage in a debate.

It comes down to a simple question: do we want policies that improve child welfare, or ones that perpetuate inequality and push kids into substandard circumstances?

The Economy Argument is Wrong

The media loves to post articles by economists panicking over lower fertility rates. Politicians on both sides of the aisle buy into the message as well, having their views shaped by corporate interests. Just look at Marco Rubio who has directly urged Americans to “have kids because it’s good for the economy”. It’s not limited to the U.S. though. Hungary’s President has proposed paying women to have more kids. The basis of the argument is that more consumers and a larger, cheaper labor force are good for business. (See our previous post on the cash-for-babies scheme.) But the “good for the economy” argument is wrong. Higher GDP doesn’t translate into shared wealth for all. A high GDP means that a very wealthy few are made even more wealthy. But it ignores the well-being of everyone else – including kids, and masks the impact that inequality has on democracy. In other words, a “good economy” doesn’t that we’re doing well as a nation. The graphic below illustrates just how lopsided wealth is in the U.S.

A Better Way

Do we really want to treat children as cogs in the economy? Let’s start instead by building true human rights-based democracies out of the people that will actually comprise them. Let’s shape policies to improve the conditions in which children are born, and ensure a fair start in life to help them become more successful, thoughtful, engaged citizens. Fair Start family planning makes that possible.

Will Ali accept our invitation on this debate Fair Start versus economic fueled family planning? Send him a Tweet @WajahatAli and ask him.


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