2015 May 14 Thursday
How To Eliminate Child Poverty

Sometimes a crazy policy goal by progressives is so framed that only the possible ways to achieve it are far outside the Overton Window. Here is a crazy one I came across: If any household at 60% of median incomes has children then the children are defined as living in poverty and the goal is to end this horror.

For example, the last UK Labour government had a goal of ending child poverty by 2020, a goal accepted by the Coalition when it took over in May 2010. Child poverty was defined as children living in homes with less than 60 percent of median UK incomes.

You might think at first glance this goal is impossible. But play with it. There are ways, though all the possible solutions are extreme.

The most obvious way to achieve this goal is to convince or, more likely, require more than half the population to not make babies. Any household not in the top 40% could just not be licensed for reproduction.

Another solution: take all babies away from the bottom half and force the higher income households to raise the kids. That solution probably holds the most appeal for the tabula rasa faithful.

There's a labor market regulation approach: do not allow family without babies to earn more than 60% of median income and require businesses to pay all parents amounts that add up to 60%. How to reduce the disruption of such a wage restriction? Require one member of a married couple without kids to stay at home. At the same time, require both members of a married

There is yet another way: legalize polygamous marriage, especially by high earning men. But the money makers would not necessarily have to be men. A man could marry a couple of well compensated women and the 3 of them could make babies. But lower class women would need to either as small groups marry well paid men or as bigger groups bring their combined incomes to at least 60% of median income. A large enough group of women married to the same high income guy could provide child care for each other as well as do all household chores. But a few of them would need to be ready to go to work if the guy ever lost his job.

The key element in all these approaches is that some substantial group remains in the bottom 60% of households not earning very much. Single men and also women who do not want kids would have to play this part.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 May 14 04:20 PM 

Wolf-Dog said at May 14, 2015 7:46 PM:

Discouraging the poorer classes from having children would interfere with the current form of capitalism and financial system that we have in the US: If the population goes down, then consumption also goes down, which would in turn diminish corporate profits. This is why capitalist elites are quietly allowing the leftist elites to bring in poor immigrants who are not productive so that consumption does not decline. The government then does what it does best to keep both the capitalist and the leftist elites happy: Government deficit spending feeds the poorer classes by giving them money, and this money approximately (almost exactly) equals the annual corporate profits of the S & P 500. Win-win for both capitalists and leftists.

But another alternative scenario is this: In the future there is no question that robots will be so incredibly productive that a small percentage of the robot work force will be able to feed the poor at minimal cost to the upper class that will finance these robots, provided that a new and cheap energy source such as molten salt thorium reactors and advanced forms of renewable energy are developed to power these robots. With cheap energy, all our problems would be solved. If we could get 10 times the energy we are consuming at much lower prices, then robots can build new cities and wonderful apartments for the poor, and even manufacture food for them. If scientific progress is not hindered, all problems will be solved without having to humiliate the poor.

Wolf-Dog said at May 14, 2015 9:05 PM:

Errata: Since the foreign trade deficit has dramatically increased during the last decade, this time the government deficit spending that I described above, has to be even greater than before, since foreign trade deficit destroys local jobs and also subtracts from the profits of many corporations. For this reason, this time, unlike the situation a couple of decades ago, the profits of US corporations are significantly below the government deficit.

Rev. Right said at May 15, 2015 5:57 PM:

Even easier, just change the definition of child poverty from children living in homes making less than 60% of median income to say, less than 20% of median income. Voila, problem solved.

Harold said at May 17, 2015 8:04 AM:

Does "median income" include welfare benefits such as free food, medical care and housing? If it does not (and I believe it does not--at least not in the USA) then poverty-stricken people are not really "living in poverty" any more that a trustafarian is "living in poverty" (because her earnings are negligible) or my wife is "living in poverty" because she lives off me (quite happily, I might add).

Whenever my wife starts bitching about not having enough money or stuff. I tell her that I, as a white man, am tired of oppressing her and denying her the right to work and have a rich and fulfilling career. I tell her that I am heartsick thinking about her, as a colored woman, making zero dollars (!) for every dollar I make. But for some odd reason she doesn't want to get off her ass and get a job.

Strangely enough, she enjoys her "low female wages", "poverty", and "racial oppression" by me, her own personal white man.

Go figure.

Jon said at May 18, 2015 2:15 PM:

Note that the article mentions using 60% of the median income as the threshold, not the 60th percentile of the income distribution.

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