Countless media stories today are flooding our brains with stories of an underpopulation crisis, falling fertility rates, and women liberated from being mothers-in-waiting.
What if we had to ensure every child born a fair start in life, with all the things we would have needed and wanted as a child? It’s unlikely we would hear about any underpopulation crisis, or see so many men pushing women to have kids.
You would not see many abortion bans either. These conversations are premised on the idea that we can exploit children as cheap labor and voracious consumers.
But the truth is we do actually have to invest that level in kids, at least the minimum spelled out by the Children’s Rights Convention.
And guess who has to pay for it?
Extreme concentrations of wealth today do not reflect the costs it imposed on others, fundamentally, the costs its production imposed on our ecologies and climate (creating the deadly crisis), and the way it was produced through unsustainable population growth that was achieved by not ensuring children the expensive birth and development conditions – including racial equity – they are promised under the Children’s Rights Convention.
Instead they became dumbed-down consumers and cheap future labor. Governments went along with the lie because they got the benefit of more taxpayers.
Given that the Convention spells out the minimum standards necessary to ensure children what they need to build legitimate systems of human rights and democracy, our governments were never authorized to assign the property rights wealthy people think they have to their wealth. They would first have to pay the proportional costs, through things like family planning reparations to future generation, to own that wealth.
People like Elon Musk may be bemoaning falling population numbers, but the children of his native South Africa – and intending mothers – actually have a claim to his wealth to bend the arc of de-growth even further. He certainly owes it, born a rich white kid who fled South Africa with wealth during apartheid.
How those families take what they deserve, the distraction of effective altruism aside, is another matter.