Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies


The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.


Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

The First Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus Is a Dangerous Fiasco

The Science of Fear-Mongering: How to Protect Your Mind from Demagogues

Rising Sea Levels Threaten Nearly a Trillion Dollars Worth of US Homes

Rachel O’Dwyer on Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Digital Commons

Augmented Reality: Pokémon GO Is Only the Beginning

No Mans Sky: A Deist Simulated Universe


ieet books

Philosophical Ethics: Theory and Practice
Author
John G Messerly


comments

instamatic on 'No Mans Sky: A Deist Simulated Universe' (Aug 24, 2016)

almostvoid on 'Augmented Reality: Pokémon GO Is Only the Beginning' (Aug 24, 2016)

almostvoid on 'No Mans Sky: A Deist Simulated Universe' (Aug 24, 2016)

instamatic on 'Is Dropping Out of College Throwing Your Life Away?' (Aug 23, 2016)

Rick Searle on 'Our emerging culture of shame' (Aug 22, 2016)

Alexey Turchin on 'Why Running Simulations May Mean the End is Near' (Aug 22, 2016)

RJP8915 on 'How VR Gaming will Wake Us Up to our Fake Worlds' (Aug 22, 2016)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Op-ed: Climate Change Is the Most Urgent Existential Risk
Aug 7, 2016
(5041) Hits
(4) Comments

Consciousness, Reality, and the Simulation Hypothesis
Aug 4, 2016
(4494) Hits
(15) Comments

Shedding Light on Peter Thiel’s Dark Enlightenment
Aug 15, 2016
(4332) Hits
(2) Comments

Cognitive Buildings!
Aug 1, 2016
(3458) Hits
(1) Comments



IEET > Rights > ReproRights > Life > Health > Staff > Hank Pellissier > Affiliate Scholar

Print Email permalink (260) Comments (56611) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Ban Baby-Making Unless Parents Are Licensed


Hank Pellissier
By Hank Pellissier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Apr 20, 2011

For the sake of the children, let’s control human breeding. No one should be permitted to reproduce until they pass a battery of tests.


Does that proposal enrage you? Go ahead, hate me. Call me vile names like “Neo-Nazi-Elitist-Baby-Killing-Totalitarian-Sicko.” Or simply “Eugenicist.” I don’t care. I know I’m right.

It’s blatantly clear that 15-year-old intoxicated half-wits can easily spawn, but should they? Hell no. Let’s control human breeding, please. Let’s keep babies away from buffoons, and let’s test fetuses meticulously to guarantee healthy infants. No one should be permitted to reproduce unless and until they pass a battery of tests.

Philosophers, psychologists, and social workers have advanced this idea for 30+ years, notably Hugh LaFollette in his seminal essay, “Licensing Parents” (1980), and Peg Tittle, editor of Should Parents Be Licensed? (2004). Their suggested reform—based on humanitarian concerns for the rights of children—is always booed down hysterically with the shrill vocabulary that I listed above.

But the reformers are right. Completely. Ethically. I agree with Joseph Fletcher, who notes, “It is depressing…to realize that most people are accidents,” and with George Schedler, who states, “Society has a duty to ensure that infants are born free of avoidable defects.”

Traditionalists regard pregnancy and parenting as a natural right that should never be curtailed. But what’s the result of this laissez-faire attitude? Catastrophic suffering. Millions of children born disadvantaged, crippled in childhood, destroyed in adolescence. Procreation cannot be classified as a self-indulgent privilege—it needs to be viewed as a life-and-death responsibility.

Look at it this way: adoption centers don’t allow knuckleheads to walk out with a child; they maintain standards that we should apply to every wannabe parent.

Below I’ve compiled a list of deplorable situations caused by flawed individuals who should not be allowed to impregnate, gestate, reproduce, and parent because they’re mentally, physically, emotionally, or genetically unsuitable for the ambitious task.


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Binge-drinking pregnant women are the leading cause of intellectual disability in the Western world. An estimated 2.2 babies out of every 1,000 births emerge with permanent damage to their brain and nervous system. This is more than a mere “problem”—it is an appallingly tragic reduction of a life before that life even began. Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome consistently have mental retardation, poor impulse and anger control, facial defects, poor memory, motor skills, social skills, judgement, and sensory integration skills. The heartbreaking statistics: 60% end up with ADHD and depression; 23% attempt suicide; 70% are suspended, expelled, or drop out of school; 60% are charged or convicted of crimes; 30% are confined to a mental hospital; 80% have employment problems. Forty thousand babies a year are born in the USA with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, at a projected cost to the nation of over $6 billion annually. Pitiful waste. If every “life is sacred” as religionists claim, why do we allow alcoholic mothers to cripple their fetuses? Legislation can halt this; females with toxic wombs should be placed on contraceptives to prevent them from wounding both the innocents and the greater society.

No Teen Mothers

Jack Westman proposed in his essay, “A National Parenting Policy” (1994) that all mothers first attain the age of 18. Katherine Covell and R. Brian Howe suggested “a high school education as a minimum indicator” in their article, “A Policy of Parent Licensing” (1998). I agree with the HS diploma requirement, but let’s add two more years of hopefully-acquired rationality—let’s round up to 20 years old. Studies indicate that the youngest mothers are often monstrously inferior; they are less likely to be married or employed, but far more likely to beat and/or neglect their kids. If teenagers are seriously itching to get gestating and they don’t know what to do with their time, they can at least study assiduously for the examinations below.

Don’t Flunk These Tests

Parent licensing advocates believe that anyone who wants to raise a child needs to learn the basic principles of healthy guardianship. For example: Are 7-Up and Twinkies a nutritious lunch? Should babies be beaten with a spatula to prevent bed-wetting? Is six hours of television a day “not enough”? The exam should be rigorous, lengthy, and require concentrated study beforehand on topics such as Nutrition, Safety, Behavioral Development, Hygiene, Empathy, and Non-Violent Discipline. Additionally, all prospective parents need to pass a psychological evaluation to eliminate anyone who is volatile, immature, and dangerous. Two present tests that are already available are the Child Abuse Potential Inventory with its 160 questions, and the Kempe Family Stress Check List, with its strong predictive success—80% of abusive families record high scores on this survey.

No Spousal Abusers or Child Beaters

Brace yourselves for the most disgusting data in this essay. Children are frequently killed, raped, tortured, and sadistically neglected by their parents. Perhaps you’re aware of high-profile cases like Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a Texas bathtub; or Riley Ann Sawyers, aka “Baby Grace,” who was tortured by her parents daily until her skull was cracked against a wall; or Nazir Ahmad of Pakistan, who killed three daughters and a stepdaughter; or Austrian Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in a cell for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, etc., etc., ad nauseam. What is less known is how regularly this happens. In the USA, 4.82 children die per day of abuse and neglect, and “filicide”—parents murdering children—is the third leading cause of death for American children five to fourteen years old. Who does the murdering? Mommies are more likely to kill infants and toddlers (78% of those killed are younger than four), especially young mothers who are single, separated, or divorced. Dads are more likely to kill kids who are eight years old or older.

Additionally, nearly one million American kids are physically abused, emotionally abused, or neglected each year—a number that is highly conservative since many cases go unreported. The personal damage caused by this brutal mayhem is staggering. Abused children are frequently emotionally scarred for life: 30% will abuse their own children; 80% of criminals were abused by parents; 80% of those who were abused have at least one psychological disorder; and they’re 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 3.8 times more likely to be drug addicts, and 3.0 times less likely to practice safe sex.

Abused kids are susceptible to poor physical health, chronic fatigue, obesity, hypertension, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide, post-traumatic stress syndrome, social difficulties, cognitive dysfunction, aggression, high risk behavior, and criminality. The bill for child abuse is an annual cost to society of $103.8 billion! Expense categories include Hospitalization, Chronic Health Problems, Mental Health Problems, Child Welfare System, Law Enforcement, Judicial System, Special Education, Juvenile Delinquency, Adult Criminality, and Lost Productivity. Legal costs alone are astronomical—it takes an average of 44 months to rescue an abused child.

What can be done to alleviate this atrocity? Licensing can help. For starters, it’s estimated that 33% of spousal abusers have the potential to be child abusers. To safeguard children, parent licensing could be denied to those who batter their partners, and to anyone else who has a chronic record of assaulting others, especially children. Psychological questionnaires could also be utilized—people who flunk could be given the option to re-test, after taking classes in stress reduction and anger management.

Enough Is Enough

Nadya Suleman—the “Octo-Mom” welfare recipient and single mother who added to her original brood of six children by simultaneously producing eight more—is obviously the poster icon in this category. Even the most libertarian, keep-the-government-out-of-my-family demagogues were irate with Suleman’s decision to bump up to 14 kids, because she’s incapable of handling even a fraction of that amount. Parents who demonstrate inadequacy with the present total of children in their nest should be prevented from causing additional chaos. Isn’t it sensible to require citizenry to limit their progeny to manageable sums? What’s the maximum? Two? Three? Four? Variable, in my opinion. Depending on parents’ ability to provide love and basic needs.

No Drug Addicts

It is estimated that 0.5 to 3% of women use cocaine when they’re pregnant, increasing the “crack baby” risk of premature birth, ADD, congenital defects, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), respiratory distress syndrome, and other ailments. Although not as damaging as fetal alcohol syndrome, it is clearly evident that drug addiction leads to disastrous parenting. Licensing needs to be denied to those with substance abuse issues. Should drug tests be applied to sniff out the addicts? Oh—you think this violates personal freedom? Don’t be daft—it safeguards newborns, and alleviates the tragedy of damaged children bounced around in foster homes and health clinics. Yes! Let’s see clean urine before Mommy and Daddy permission slips are awarded.

No Dangerous Religious Fanatics

Tragically, there are parents who don’t want their kids to seek medical treatment or take antibiotics because their pneumonia was ordained by “God.” Other parents believe their daughters should be beaten or murdered if they shame the family name by engaging in premarital sex. Licensing Exams need to include questions that ferret out the religio-cultural nuts who will grievously harm their offspring if archaic dictums are disobeyed. But… you wonder… doesn’t this infringe on Separation of Church and State? My counter is that children also have inalienable rights—“Life” is one of them—that supersede the damaging desires of their parents.

No Parents with Life-Diminishing Illnesses, Phobias, Weirdness, or Inability to Love

A broad category here that can be debated exhaustively. Obviously, adults who suffer from chronic fatigue are going to be severely challenged if they have insomniac twins who need long burping bouts every 90 minutes. Germophobic parents are going to be incapacitated by the constant grime of their spewing, leaking spawn. Narcissists and Autistics need to prove that they are capable of overcoming or compensating for their empathetic liabilities. All potential parents need to demonstrate that they have sufficient energy and skills to establish an emotional bond with their child.

No Genetically-Transmitted Severe Mental and Physical Liabilities

There are more than four thousand genetic disorders, with every human carrying up to a dozen heritable traits—either dominant or recessive—that potentially can cripple their children. An estimated twelve million Americans are born with genetic disorders. However—thanks to genetic testing—mutations can be ascertained in advance in both parents, with an estimate provided of the child’s chances of inheriting the malignancy. A government agency should be established to mandate genetic testing for both parents prior to pregnancy. Would this be expensive? Yes, but it would be minor compared to the astronomical long-term costs of treating the diseases. For example, if all American Jews were screened for Tay-Sachs, the total bill would be less than 10% of the cost of the current treatment for the 1,000+ Tay-Sachs cases that exist solely because they were never predicted. Fetal testing should also be mandated. Another estimate says the cost of detecting and aborting all Downs Syndrome fetuses would only be 30% of what it costs the state to care for them.

The list of horrible diseases in this avoidable category is lengthy and susceptible to argumentation. Huntington’s Disease—a fatal, degenerative, neurological malady—is a strong candidate to be included, as is Phenylketonuria (PKU) with its serious retardation. Other probable entries are cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. But… do we also have a moral responsibility to halt hemophilia? Sickle-cell anemia? Bipolar disorder? What about parents with HIV/AIDS? Should they be permitted to bear children that have a 25-35% chance of inheriting the disease? Should couples who are likely to produce children with genetic disorders be allowed to reproduce? What percentile of risk is deemed “too high”? Many ethicists have defined a 25% chance that the offspring would be affected or a 50% chance that the child would be a “carrier” as unacceptable. I agree, this is far too high of a gamble.


Conclusion

I have amassed a mess of grim facts here to buttress my proposal that America needs to mandate Parent Licenses. Obviously, it would require state and medical enforcement to guarantee that no children were ever born, or raised, by parents who weren’t licensed. This article won’t outline all the possible procedures that could be used to enact this, but it seems that the best method for women would be a contraceptive device that suppressed fertility or impregnation in all unlicensed females, administered to girls in their early teens.

I want to end this essay on a cheery, optimistic note. Imagine, please, all the benefits our society could deliver to children if the billions of dollars that we allocate annually to repair the damage done by wretched parents were spent on something else… Education, perhaps. Free College? Free PreSchool? Superior Public Schools?

Or maybe… the billions saved could just be divided up and delivered in hefty stipends? Thousands of dollars—sent to the licensed parents—to aid them in the nurturing of their children.


Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Managing Director and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.
Print Email permalink (260) Comments (56612) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


Hank, I’ve thought long and hard about this same thing, and I understand it’s attraction.

But, as with most of your proposals, this authoritarian route simply won’t work.

I’ll even put aside the obvious moral contradictions inherent in the argument, and instead just focus on the practical aspects.

You could never enforce it.





OK, I have a certain amount of sympathy with your position. When you read about the terrible things some parents do to their children - or you meet the children those things have been done to - you can’t help thinking it’s ridiculous that people can have kids without wanting them or having the ability to care for them.

But my question is, who sets the criteria by which we allow some people to breed and some people not to? You say ‘no dangerous religious fanatics’, but what if the dangerous religious fanatics are in charge? What if they only let believers in their particular god have children?

Or we only let people with particular political opinions have children? Or a particular ethnic group?

What, exactly, counts as weird? I’m quite a messy person, and would much rather raise children in a messy, slightly chaotic, warm, loving home. Another person might see my house as a pigsty and think that kids should have higher standards of hygiene. I might think their home emotionally sterile. Is one of us right? Should we have the right to unilaterally impose that viewpoint?

I think what you’re proposing is a very slippery slope and unless *I’m* going to be the person picking the criteria (which, you know, may not work so well for everyone else), I’d be absolutely opposed to giving that power to anyone else.





{ note: I’d really like an edit function, I’d prefer to add this to my previous comment…I often think of things to add after I’ve already hit submit…time to get updated IEET, this isn’t 1990 wink  }

{ edit2: it would be handy to have a ‘get new captcha’ button too, as occasionally, it malfunctions even when you input the correct word }

I’d like a demonstration how this proposal would be more effective than the War on Some Drugs.

Or abstinence based sexual education.

Or helmet and seatbelt and speeding laws.

Or loitering laws.

Or jaywalking laws.

See the pattern?

You can’t legislate away stupid, it’s never worked in the past, and it will never work in the future.

The only path forward is to empower people to make better choices.

What you are trying to do is find a shortcut past the actual struggle of empowering people.

Which is understandable, this tendency to look for shortcuts and final solutions seems to be part of our neural wiring.

But it doesn’t work, and more often than not leads to unintended consequences and failure.

“I want to live, I want to love, but it’s a long hard road out of hell”
-Marilyn Manson





In fact, I predict that legislation of this type (assuming it could ever get passed in the first place) would have precisely the opposite result that Hank desires:

It would create a black market for unlicensed children.





After bypassing my initial knee-jerk reaction of “WTH?” I thought about this a little differently.  So if we go this route than why bother looking at rights of the non-human person, they obviously do not meet your criterion, so they aren’t suitable to breed….......

Also to decide you are going to ferret out based on certain psychological flaws, and religious views.  This you want to base on your statistics and logic.  But I assure you if it were someone from a religious fundamentalist camp, with statistics that back why they are the better parents, the whole group here would be screaming.  Myself included.

Yes, you are advocating for eugenics of your own design.  That’s not name calling.  It is properly labelling out your specified plan for criteria or selection and prevention.  While I understand your drive is a combination of best interest and wanting to minimize costs (A point you drive home multiple times) I want to point out that the traits you are seeking to remove are not always bad ones.  From most accounts many geniuses (Einstein included) had traits that likely would have weeded them out before birth on a genetic analysis scale or at very least would have made them undesirable on your spectrum.  Lets look at the rights of the neurologically diverse before we decide who gets to decide about parenting (I frankly Think Anne Corwin would make a great mom). 
Would you weed out the deaf too?  They have barriers that place them outside of your social preference and many seek the ability to look into selection for deaf children. 
I am not saying you have no points here, you raise some good ones, but lets look a little more at personhood and individual rights and choices before we start designing only what we personally want to see for the greatest “good”.





From wikipedia:

“Eugenics is the “applied science or the biosocial movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population,” usually referring to human populations.”

Technically speaking, mate selection is itself a form of eugenics, albeit a subconscious one.

In principle, I would embrace Gattaca style technology to enhance positive genetic traits and eliminate negative ones (although I also feel we will soon transcend biology anyway, making genetic enhancement a short lived fad).

What I am actually opposed to is the Authoritarian legislation of stuff like this.

By all means, make the technology available, but don’t force it down people’s throats (and if you can’t accept that this is a better form of morality - then at least accept that it’s less practical to be Authoritarian).





@ Sophia, Pendula and iPan:
very well expressed





‘It’s blatantly clear that 15-year-old intoxicated half-wits can easily spawn, but should they? Hell no”

You’re one of those, Hank, who gets right to it, no games. The problem is not women so much, it’s men who come from bad families and recapitulate the behavior- in other words a**holes, b*dasses, it’s probably worse than Hank realizes, the Midwest is second only to the South as far as wild a**holes go. The Northwest, too; however there are compensating circumstances (if you live in the ‘Frisco area you know how it is). To keep it short, so not to write a diatribe every few hours, Hank’s suggestion is worth a try.





“In principle, I would embrace Gattaca style technology to enhance positive genetic traits and eliminate negative ones”

This runs the very real risk of social inequality becoming biological determinism. It needs to be off-set with measures that ramp up empathy and that seek to make resources available for those unable to alter genetics at birth. Changes on this scale ought not be driven by a profit-motive.





iPan said:
“In principle, I would embrace Gattaca style technology to enhance positive genetic traits and eliminate negative ones”

dor said:
“This runs the very real risk of social inequality becoming biological determinism. It needs to be off-set with measures that ramp up empathy and that seek to make resources available for those unable to alter genetics at birth. Changes on this scale ought not be driven by a profit-motive. “

—-

I say “in principle”.

My thought runs along these lines: Natural mate selection is inherently no different than using genetic therapy/modification.
People choose their mates based on perceived genetic traits, though they do so subconsciously.

Genetic therapy merely introduces the ability to do so consciously. That’s really the only difference it makes.

Is there room for abuse? Of course, just like everything else we do.

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters to us as a species (though of course it will affect the lives of individuals), because we are going to quickly move past genetic manipulation and jump straight into cybernetic enhancement, which has far more potential than biology.

Thus, genetic/biologic technology is at best a short term venture, as biology itself will be transcended shortly.





Just wondering if this was actually written in the same spirit as Jonathan Swift’s suggestion of what to do with surplus Irishmen???
(A Modest Proposal)

I do agree with the concept that it’s interesting that the bar is set so very high for adoption (especially international), but any clod can breed.

  Some of the suggestions to educate prospective parents would be very productive - they should be routine components of a school education!, and limiting the persistence of known genetic defects wouldn’t be a bad goal…

But eugenics is a slippery slope, enforcement would require imposition of a truly totalitarian state (i.e. render everyone sterile via implant, reversible only by the State), and even if some of the goals sound praiseworthy (no more abused children, etc., ) it seems to me that the means sounds uglier than the “benefits” of the desired end. Almost the sort of thing the people sometimes went to war to put an end to, sometimes….





“It needs to be off-set with measures that ramp up empathy”

Children who are raised by parents who are not competent parents- who are practically children themselves- also deserve empathy as to their being trapped. There’s Today as well as tomorrow, until we have radically evolved, stop-gap measures have to be taken. We can’t be everything to everybody, decisions must be executed.
The world can’t be a libertarian versus democratic-socialist debating chamber!





@ iPan
“Natural mate selection is inherently no different than using genetic therapy/modification.
People choose their mates based on perceived genetic traits, though they do so subconsciously.”

I would largely agree with this except the pure scale and the outside ‘regulatory’ factors that are invariably introduced along the way here. In mate selection it is a grouping of factors being used and all of them are individual choice (as much as one chooses independently in any social structure).  In genetic modification it is based upon social constraints that one actively has to process and I fear would lead to a mindblowingly dull homogeneity.  Plus it pretty much pre-empts any positive evolution we as a species may be poised for spontaneously that we would have no way to identify in advance. 
I do not trust the powers that be to guide us in positive directions about genetic engineering with a record of social engineering failures that are so profound at this point.  And what of natural bonding, perhaps nature has some systems that design certain children that would be “undesirable” to some as the perfect children for others and grants those children to them rather than a parent to be picking the “perfect” traits and having the child be a poor fit for the parents.

@Hank————as an aside: Why, if you are so determined to minimize breeding except at preselected times, not temporarily sterilize the males.  This is as logical if not more so.  Removing the sperm link in the fertilization chain is an easier procedure than removing any of the aspects of the female fertility cycle and would likely be far more effective across the board.  Or at least an equally sexist approach.





“quickly move past genetic manipulation and jump straight into cybernetic enhancement, which has far more potential than biology.”

Above is where it gets somewhat utopian; ‘quickly’ means decades until it’s done on en masse. To keep it brief: in the interim choices have to be made, the state has to intercede, as dysfunctional families are a burden everywhere—especially to children. And BTW, if it is determined parents can’t take care of their children, those parents must lose custody, the children QUICKLY given decent foster homes.





Thanks everyone for all your comments.  Pendula—I agree—temporarily sterilizing the males is a great idea and I apologize for not mentioning it.

Right now, the way the system is set up, anyone can have babies, as many as they want, and they can mistreat them to quite a significant degree, until the state rescues the children.

Parenting is very hard.  I could have used a class or 10 myself.  There is no required education that takes place before people become parents - for many people it is just something that happens after unsafe sex.

I agree with iPan that it is unfortunate to have to rely on authoritarian measures to safeguard children.  But I disagree with him that it can’t be done, or that it isn’t worth it.

regarding Religious Fanatics, I only wanted to exclude those who are willing to kill or cause serious harm to their children, based on their beliefs.  I would be surprized if anyone disagrees with me on that position.  You read my stats—nearly 5 kids per day in the USA are killed by parents - I am interesting in decreasing that number and I’m open to other suggestions.

I also think the passivity of future parents and the state in regards to genetic testing is appalling.  We have the technology now to immensely reduce the number of babies born with genetic disorders - do we not all agree that that should be done?

As always, I appreciate all your thoughtful comments and I look forward to further discussion.  Many good points have been brought up and I’m curious to see what we finally agree on or disagree on.





So, Hank, can you come up with one solid example where these types of policy’s actually work?

China’s one child policy?

The War on Some Drugs?

Whether you think Authoritarianism is morally acceptable or not, I still challenge you to come up with a real example of it working (and one without severe negative side effects would be a bonus).





And, I’d also like to know how you plan to campaign to get this passed in America.

How many people have signed your petition so far?

How many members of Congress are taking this up as part of their re-election platform?





“China’s one child policy?”

Though China is ruled by a dictatorship, China isn’t Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the state does not hold absolute power over Chinese families. China’s one child policy officially restricts the number of children married urban couples can have to one, although it allows exemptions for several cases, including rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves. A spokesperson of the Committee on the One-Child Policy has said that approximately 35.9% of China’s population is currently subject to the one-child restriction.The Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are completely exempted from the policy. Also exempt from this law are foreigners living in China.





I’m curious as to why this is such a quixotic, hot-button issue for Hank.  As a result, I’m not sure where his core values lie. Hank mentions the “heartbreaking statistics” around FAS that result in “[f]orty thousand babies a year . . . born in the USA with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, at a projected cost to the nation of over $6 billion annually. Pitiful waste.”  The trouble with Hank’s analysis is that I can’t distinguish what he considers to be the waste— the babies or the money.

Money has a high profile in Hank’s essay, and any discussion of social problems must perforce include the budgetary costs.  But it is telling that Hank’s Conclusion winds up by invoking the “billions saved” and “hefty stipends” and ignoring issues such as , oh let’s say autonomy, privacy and quality of life, to name a few.  In the scrimmage around human values, Hank is clearly hell-bent for the money.

Add to that the tortuous, tax-code-like scope of Hank’s proposal and it is hard to see how one could proceed without convening a Taliban-style morality police to monitor and enforce the vicissitudes of behavior covered by a licensing regimen that includes such imperious, Establishment-ready headings as “No Parents with Life-Diminishing Illnesses, Phobias, Weirdness, or Inability to Love.” 

Hank kicks his essay into high gear right from the first paragraph, where he makes the petulant assertion: “I don’t care. I am right.”  So Hank’s got it all figured out, while the rest of us are groping in the fog— thank goodness he showed up in time!  However, insisting on being right just isn’t helpful.  One runs into the odd white-knuckle pacificist who furiously avows he/she is right but can offer no added perspective on how to prevent conflicts; how meager is such a one compared to a different pacifist who has crafted an alternative proposal for making peace and is out in the world walking the walk.  Have you been out in the world giving parenting classes to the less fortunate, Hank?  Have you exhausted every resource at your disposal to assist those preparing to make the big decision?  Have you created a series of video tutorials or online tools to which a first-time parent might refer?  Do you sponsor community centers that perplexed couples contemplating pregnancy might use on a drop-in or appointment basis to get help or counseling on how to manage a pregnancy or handle of the exigencies of a raising a newborn?  Are you interested in trying solutions other than force?

Hank’s notion regarding licensing (taken substantially from LaFollette) would have deep and ramified implications for the individuals’ relation to their own bodies as well as to their interactions with others.  And the end-result of parent licensing would be nothing less than a caste system where one imagines the discrimination would not end with the denial of the right to reproduce.  Yet by bringing the choice to parent under the rubric of Law, Hank not so innocently brings the State into matters of personal intimacy; the same bureaucratic state that according to Max Weber:

“When fully developed, bureaucracy stands . . . under the principle of sine ira ac studio (without scorn and bias). Its specific nature which is welcomed by capitalism develops the more perfectly the more bureaucracy is ‘dehumanized,’ the more completely it succeeds in eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely personal, irrational and emotional elements which escape calculation. This is the specific nature of bureaucracy and it is appraised as its special virtue.”

Speaking of bureaucracy, one of Hank’s sources, LaFollette,  attempted to allay fears over practical objection to parental licensing by noting that “there is no reason to believe that the licensing of parents is more likely to be abused than driver’s license tests.”  Glad that’s settled, then.  I guess if you like the DMV, you’re gonna love the Department of Parenting.

Presumably those who attempt to violate, or who successfully violate, the Pellissier Parenting Laws would be subject to restraint and punishment, respectively.  Artificial insemination at an approved clinic, along with proof of zero defects, may be the only method to fully put worried minds like Hank’s to rest. (And think of the savings!)  We might take a page from the book “Goat Husbandry” by David Mackenzie and Ruth Goodwin who recommend choosing the best sires for breeding; at which point:

“Sires whose daughters are better than their herd contemporaries are given a plus figure; those who are worse get a minus figure . . . cooperation between breeders appears to be the only way in which genetic gain in the national herd can be achieved.” (London: Faber & Faber Ltd., Fifth Edition 1993)

Gotta love that top-down management efficiency.  Not a spitting distance from what you had in mind, eh Hank?

Of course, parents under such a regimen of Pellissier licensing would have no excuse for raising children with a disorder or who were not all above average.  How would such parents answer for their failures after so much effort had been chiseled into ensuring a flawless litter?  After being successfully licensed, their very failure would be a stench unto the nostrils of the perfected. 

Hank’s visceral proposal only addresses the punitive, post facto aspect of the problem that so distresses him.  Nowhere does he show awareness of causal factors nor does he suggest that social leverage, such as increased income, stable jobs, community support, clean and safe environments, good schools for the young, and access to adult education and therapeutic resources to help reverse the damages sustained during childhood for those over 18—in short, prosperity—might work wonders in lowering the birth rate as well as instill a more responsible parenting ethic, as studies have shown that they do.

In one of the fictions by novelist Charles Portis, a speaker at a law conference exhorts his colleagues to find new lands to conquer:  “As we all know, there are still far too many human activities that can be carried out without the intercession of lawyers.”  Thoughts, anyone?  Raise your hand, Hank! 

Human beings must always endeavor to reduce risk; however, the purportedly benevolent attempt to micromanage society and eliminate risk altogether will lead to a large-scale paternalism that ironically carries within it the germs of violence,  unwarranted force and loss of liberty.





My goodness you can see Pellisier is a psychopath just from the look in his eyes.  His rabid diatribe is indeed eugenist, nazi-istic and despicably misanthropic, but in truth it is far more ridiculous for being ignorant than for being arrogant.

The presence of a few impaired phenotypes in a population has no effect whatsoever on its fitness.  Tay Sachs is present a a low overall prevalence both becasue it is a fairly recent spontaneous appearance in the genepool - and largely within the population where it originated - and because it will slowly dwindle in prevalence as the homozygous recessives cannot contribute to Hardy-Weinberg equilibirum.  So it will always be with most acute phenotypes.  Debilitating illness is a shame for its victims and a hardship on their families but the compassion and humanity invested in helping and caring for people who need help is exactly what distinguishes us from larvae like Pellisier.

Now the idea that “we” should selectively eliminate traits which one man (or a committee or whoever) deems to be defective is exactly what would doom Homo sapiens and sooner not later.  Fitness in a population and the likelihood that there will be substantial proportions of that population that would continue to succed as circumstances evolve is improved by the diversity of genotypes within it - even genotypes that may (or not) be associated with phenotypes that filth like Pellesier and Himmler considers to be undesirable. The fitness would be reduced and profoundly so by attemting to filter artificially the traits within it by constraining “breeding” even if some simpleton like Pellesier was absolutely and morally certain he is “right” in what is desirable and what is not.

Different genes have different distributions and frequencies in different subpopulations - even populations with cultural characteristics that might discomfit.  Contriving to restrict or eliminate them - even if you believe there to be an inherent proclivity there of drunken promiscuity - would not only be genocide against that population but ultimately your own. 





Slow down Brendan, when you start invoking Himmler you are from paranoia—time to cool it.
IEET is not Auschwitz.
Do you like it when pro- “life” zealots call someone who defends abortion a ‘baby-killer’?





Good points post-post, but Brendan and rascheR duB’s responses kind of illustrate my point:

How would one go about getting something like this passed without causing an armed revolt?

It would never happen in any western industrialized nation, of that much I am 100% certain.

So the entire discussion is a moot point. Just a thought experiment.

I’ve entertained the same thought exercises myself, for many years.

How could I fix the world, by simply eliminating the undesirables? Whether it be through peaceful, violent, or subversive methods.

I ultimately hit a realization that set my ethical stances practically in stone: the ideal and the practical are not in opposition.

These kinds of ‘final solution’ fantasies never work out the way their proponents want. Generally speaking, though this isn’t always the case, their adherents simply fail to take into consideration chaos. The illusion is that they think they can control the world to such an extent, and they are always mistaken.

But, in any case, since I know that the arguments over ethics are probably never ending, I invite people like Hank to explain how they plan to implement such things.

How is he going to convince voters, such as Brendan, to vote for this policy, or for the representatives that will draft the bill?

How does he plan on dealing with the millions of people who would riot and burn this country to the ground the second the government tried to do such a thing? (seriously, if you think people are crazy about their guns in America, just wait until you try to tell them they need a license to have kids).

It’s never going to happen.





Well said, iPan

This plan fails for the same reason that Pellissier & Pierce’s “mandatory all-female leadership” idea fails. I find the naivete displayed in both proposals to be childlike. Authoritarianism inevitably leads to revolt.

postfuturist, I can see the parallel between Nazism and Hank’s proposal that Brendan draws. You can bet your ass that the Nazis would have achieved utopia, once they got rid of everyone else.

‘Utopia’ demands the elimination of undesirables and dissenters.





Thanks everyone for participating in this lively discussion. 
I would like to have it discussed per category.  Let’s start with 3.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome—
really, is there anyone who doesn’t want that to end?
I can’t see how anyone can be opposed to some control over
binge-drinking mothers. 
Please, go ahead, if you see a reason why fetal alcohol syndrome should be left unattended, to ravage 40,000 births per year, let me know.

Teen Mothers—this category, as I’ve noted, is by far the worst at parenting.  Do we not all agree that a few more years of maturity would improve their abilities?  I have daughters—I would definitely urge them to wait until AT LEAST 20.  Wouldn’t you?

Enough Is Enough—okay, who out there supports the Octo-Mom’s
decision?  No one.  She should not have had another 8.  It is idiotic that there are no controls on people like her.  There’s a dispute on this?


@ rascher.  Are you expecting me to apologize for being concerned about “money” ?  Sorry to disappoint you.  Money is a valuable resource and lack of it causes pain and suffering.  Yes, of course I would like society to have the $103.8 billion that is spent annually attending to child abuse—who wouldn’t?  Of course I want child abuse to end so that the kids don’t suffer, AND I would also be happy if that money was available for other purposes.  I can’t see why there is even a discussion on this matter.

@ Brendan.  You are quite amusing with your comment about the psychopathic look in my eyes.  What if I told you that was genetic?  Would you want eugenics to eliminate my eye-type? 
But seriously, I want to briefly explain here that I am quite an ordinary person, I have children, and, in fact, I worked for five years as a preschool director, and I am also the director of a non-profit that sends funds to impoverished children internationally.  I think children with miserable lives is horribly sad. I have spent quite a bit of my time and money trying to help children - I would like all children who are brought into the world to have a chance at a good life, and this is my motivation for writing the essay. 

Regarding genetics - I think it is unfortunate that the USA has the ability to do genetic testing on the parents before conception, and during gestation of the fetus, but many are choosing not to do so.  My wife had fetal exams and they were healthy.  If they were not healthy, we were in agreement that we would terminate the pregnancy.  If you’re opposed to abortion, just let us know, rather than tell me I’m a monster. 

I am not an original thinker on this issue.  My article merely compiles the thoughts of parent-licensing advocates who have spoken out in the last 30 years.  Many of them worked for child abuse centers, like Peg Tittle (mentioned in paragraph 3).  Nonetheless, they got called horrible names - like I am.  I am all right with that because I am in good company.

 





Frustrated because compassion is so slow?

I feel that too.

The world is an ugly place, but we will never get anywhere when we cave into the dark side. It only makes things worse.

Something just struck me Hank. You’ve written articles in the past about the positive aspects of of some Njordic countries.

Have you considered looking at their solutions to these problems?

To many of the problems you bring up, harm reduction polices and empowerment (particularly female empowerment) are demonstrably more effective than authoritarian means.

On a financial note: How are we to pay for the extra prison beds we’d need for those who broke the law and had children without a license?

What about orphanages (foster care, adoptions, etc.) for the children of those parents who are sent to prison?

And the extra law enforcement, court proceedings, etc?

The list goes on and on, and this is why I brought up the War on Some Drugs.

You create an underground black market for children, which is dangerous, costly, and ugly if you implement something like this, and it costs everyone more in the long run.

So, once again, I invite you to set aside the ethical implications (in which you are clearly beaten), and merely think about the practical implications a little more thoroughly.





Hi iPan—you used the word “never” but that really implies a long time.
You probably know that there was no “compulsory education” in the Western world 120 years ago.  When compulsory education was mandated, with fines for parents who ignored the rule, there were riots.  But now we’re all okay with “compulsory education.”

Likewise, there were no driver’s licenses when cars arrived 120 years ago.  But then, it was deemed sensible that not everyone should be driving, because allowing bad drivers to do so was dangerous.  So driver’s licenses arrived. 

What I propose in my article would indeed never happen all at once.  But it might happen a bit at a time.  By the way, do you remember when you first realized that China had a “one child only” policy?  It seemed incredible didn’t it?  But it was indeed enacted.

I urge you to think about all the situations where you might actually agree with me that a person should not be a parent.  I bet you can name 5.  That would be a place to start that you’d be comfortable with, right?  If you want help - here it is:  should the Texan woman who drowned 5 kids in her bathtub have some more?  What about every person who killed a child?  or molested a child?  or beat up a child?  What about women who give birth to fetal alcohol syndrome children and keep drinking and having unsafe sex…?  But, I’m helping you too much.

How about this—if you knew via genetic testing that you and your partner had a 25% chance of having a child with Huntington’s Disease, how many children would you have?  Let me know the answer.  My answer for myself is none.





Hank, all the things that you mentioned are grave issues. But your proposal is broken. Justifying it doesn’t make it any less so. Authoritarianism is a simple “solution” to a complex problem.

Laws don’t prevent people from doing anything. People who disagree with (or don’t give a shit about) the law would break it, and they may be punished, but the ones who would really suffer would be the children who are born to unlicensed parents. The unlicensed children almost certainly outnumber the licensed children.

I don’t think you are a “Neo-Nazi-Elitist-Baby-Killing-Totalitarian-Sicko.” I do, however, think that you are a very naive person with some legitimate concerns. You make yourself appear to be a bona-fide authoritarian. The “I don’t care what you say, I’m right” attitude doesn’t really help anyone, and causes me question why you are pretending that you wish to hear genuine discussion of the matter. It’s blatantly self-contradictory; borderline schizophrenic.





@ Hank . . . I don’t expect anyone to apologize for anything.  Yes, money is is a valuable resource—true, albeit tautological.  Money is also an object of worship as the fond hope for a soft landing to every conceivable mess the human imagination can conjure.  Money is a crutch.  There are other values / variables to be considered.

Actually, a case could be made that your touted concern about suffering is merely a stalking horse for oligarchic aspirations and economic control.

Your proposal would be gold rush for lawyers and marketers.  They would be the sole beneficiaries.  During the post-certification period, the certified would still get intoxicated and develop addictions, illnesses, suffer personal dislocations and they would still copulate.  Maybe you would devise a MEMS sensor that would be embedded in everyone’s genitals; in case of arousal, the sensors would alert designated population-keepers who would act to prevent the unauthorized entry.  I shudder to think about the characters who would sign up to perform this civic function.

Plus, you didn’t answer my questions.  Have you pondered whether scenarios using existing social capital backed by policy measures could lower the incidence of FAS?  Expanding methods for identifying and treating genetically predisposed disorders is where the arc of medical research is headed; improved neurophysiological diagnosis and updated treatments for conditions ranging from alcoholism to explosive rage disorder are being discussed and need to be given a full chance to show their efficacy.  The winnowing of the unfit is merely an atavistic fantasy of Social Darwinists and eugenicists dating back to the 19th century.  You seem to be fixated on the licensing solution, a veritable fable of the man who falls in love with an dream and can’t be persuaded otherwise.

I don’t know why you think that age will inevitably refine and elevate people’s moral sensibilities.  True, people change over time, but not always for the better.  In addition, a cursory glance at divorce statistics would help you realize that what starts out auspiciously, almost 50% of the time in the U.S., ends in ruins. 

Another gaping flaw in your licensing proposal is that it assumes that one can extrapolate from a battery of test findings given at “point x” in time to assess the states of mind of desirous pre-coital 20-year-olds, and that these same findings will remain constant over the 18 year period it takes to raise a child.  If the couple separates, or one partner, or both, becomes abusive or shows sign of incapacitating illness, that would invalidate the license, causing a Child and Family Services caseworker to step in and move the child into foster care.  But that is the very remedy we have now!  Your proposal just adds a huge layer of bureaucratic marshmallow fluff to an existing problem; it solves nothing.  Your solution is not nimble, it is not elegant, it is not compassionate. What gives you the astonishing confidence that a certification at point x will reflect an unfolding situation, fraught with life-changing events, for x + 18 years? 

To mention yet another twist, let us take the example of motorists who have to renew their drivers licenses every five or seven years; many professionals must go through some sort of re-certification as well.  So must it be with sex partners, if your system is to work.  But if you want to bring all that administrative apparatus to bear upon conception, then you are talking about creating an enormous and unthinkably complicated and intrusive bureaucracy.

You say you know you are right.  In no way do I believe you have thought this through.  If you believe you have covered all the angles, then you are incredibly naive.

I know that iPan has written that the idea is simply impractical and a political non-starter.  But to say that it won’t happen is not the same as taking a position.  One can be in favor of an idea while retreating from it as unrealizable. But since Hank has taken the trouble to draft a proposal, I urge people to weigh in on its CONTENT and not take succor in its implausible and speculative nature.





I draw a line between “ought naught to have children” and “we should pass laws preventing it”.

Autonomy is the first Universal Value.

But, I keep suggesting that we put aside the ethical debates, as fun as they are, and consider the practical side.

Who’s going to vote for this?

Which politician is going to commit political suicide by campaigning for this?

You bring up a semi-valid point about how things slowly change over time, driver’s licenses, compulsory education, etc.

But do you really think that the majority of people are going to treat this issue the same? Ha.

I say it would take a minimum of 50 years to push this through. A decade of trying to find a single congressman to support it. Another decade to even get it on a ballot. Another decade of Supreme Court battles. See what I’m getting at?

Without life extension, you’ll be dead before it’s passed.

And speaking of that, let’s take a bet: all of this will be moot, because biology will be transcended before this law has a chance of being passed. We’ll all be uploads (or whatever equivalent) before then.

But you still haven’t outlined your plan of action. When are you going to start campaigning for this? Are you going to run ads? Appear on talkshows?

It’s one thing to make post on a futurist blog, where intellectuals will at least ponder the idea.

It’s another thing to face the American public.

All I’m asking is how you plan to implement this, aside from these riveting talks?





you cannot compare natural reproduction with adoption. in the first place, you speak about “projects” of children, in the second, about actual children. Actual children do have rights, because they are citizen of a particular state. unborn children, at least to a certain stage, don’t have this. otherwise, you practically rule out abortion.

concerning your other points: the first commentators pointed out correctly the main issue: who establishes the rules?





I disagree simply because my accidental son I had as a result of a one night stand changed my life for the better.  His existence has made me be a much better person.





I have always argued, (in light of abuse or even the killing of an infant by guardians - see any relevant media article), that some parents should in fact take some sort of preliminary test or education to see if they should or can handle parenting?

Yet this should not be imposed, (as license), but rather should be treated as a part of social education, beginning either in high school or other. Larger families with maybe three generations still living may be more experienced and not have so many problems with tuition for young parents, or the availability of sharing responsibilities, knowledge, and self-help. Yet today many western families are either “nuclear” or even single parents trying to raise one or more children, and some of those without any form of viable income or quality of life.

There is some trend in western societies where parents rely heavily on state benefits, especially to help single or poorer parents, and the downside of this independence and freedom may have lead to a loss of community or social awareness and family education concerning the raising of children?

For example the children raised by a single parent may go on to have children of their own outside of support or relationship with a partner, and not think there will be any great difficulties, as this is the way they were themselves raised? By simply assuming that they can handle parenting as did their mother or father, is not a viable reason to ignore family planning or accept teen pregnancy. Child support services may not be enough to help guide single parents through stressful situations, and usually are no match compared with support from your own family.

It may even be argued that so-called third world societies and communities are more adept at supporting single parents with multiple children than we here are in the west, as their communal philosophy is stronger?

In any case I don’t think a formal license should impose on any social freedom, and we should be building towards less state governance and the philosophy of more “personal responsibility”, guided by social education.





hi everyone—there are lots of questions and I will do my best to answer them all, but I am short on time today so I might have to wait until tomorrow.

For starters, here’s some more information on Tay-Sachs - which is very interesting, I didn’t know all the info and I doubt if the general public does.  According to the Tay-Sachs Foundation - 1-17 Ashkenasi Jews carry the mutation (that is the part that I did know), but also 1-17 French Canadians, 1-17 Louisiana Cajuns, and 1-50 Irish.  Plus 1-250 in the general population.  Tay-Sachs is a much larger risk than I thought.  Here are some links:

http://www.mazornet.com/genetics/tay-sachs.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.org/tay-sachs-disease/genetesting.html
http://019221f.netsolhost.com/carrierstats.shtml

and this is what the Tay-Sachs Foundation recommends:

“Since there is currently no treatment or cure for Tay-Sachs disease, it is important that couples in high risk groups undergo genetic testing to determine if they are carriers.”

—-

Regarding Tay-Sachs, I am simply recommending in my essay the same precautions - preferably paid for by state health care—that the Tay-Sachs Foundation does. 

I am sure that if I looked up each severe genetic disorder this would be repeated—there would be a foundation looking for a cure, and that foundation would recommend to the public that if they are from a high-risk group, that “they get genetically-tested to determine if they are carriers”

My article only repeats what the most concerned specialists in each category of severe genetic disorder is already saying.  I only add that the costs of the testing should be paid for by state health care.  I believe if you think this over you will see that we are all in agreement.
——-

For “Nicer” and other concerned readers, I want to assure them that I am - like them - in favor of a Responsible Democracy.  If a baby-making license was ever required, I would want it to be voted in by a wide majority of the public, and endorsed enthusiastically by a wide majority of the public.  You might say this is coercive to the minority, but… what isn’t?  There are laws requiring gun licenses that not everyone agrees to, but the majority of us regard the gun laws as a protection against danger.  There are required licenses to hunt, drive cars and big trucks, build buildings, perform surgeries, teach children, and operate a restaurant.  We have all agreed that mandating these licenses are essential for public safety.  Reproducing and raising children is similar - there are innumerable issues involved that impact the health of individuals and of the greater society. 

for iPan and others who ask “what’s my next step?” Let me give you some background on the parent-licensing “movement.”  It seems the first mention in the USA of the idea was back in 1973.  Hugh LaFollette wrote his essay in 1980.  Peg Tittle’s book lists about 20 essays.  LaFollette just wrote a follow-up to his original essay.  There has not been extensive publication on this idea. or a lot of “advertising”, or, indeed, much acceptance.  But I am adding my essay to the accumulating body of thought on the topic. 

For now, I just see myself as a “pamphleteer” or perhaps you’d call me a “gadfly.”  There have been innumerable valuable pamphleteers in history - Tom Paine is an example.  Pamphleteers just write what they believe - then they absorb the abuse that follows, hoping that some people, somewhere, will agree with them and that a movement can subsequently arise.  I don’t know if there’s a petition circulating anywhere to mandate parent-licensing.  It is not my intention to circulate one myself at this time.  Perhaps Mike Treder will take another poll of IEET readers to see if anyone agrees with me.  Perhaps he won’t. 

I am happy in any case, because it is a great joy for me to investigate social reform ideas, to formulate my opinion, to express myself in print, to watch the public react, and to communicate and dispute with readers about my ideas.  I am quite happy just being a pamphleteer.





for rascher—I feel like I haven’t addressed all your questions yet but I promise to get to them as soon as I can.  I do have time to mention a few things.

You point out that some people at, say, 18 are going to be more mature than others at, say 45.  You are right about that of course.  If you can come up with a parental-maturity evaluation questionnaire that is effective, that would be great.  I picked 20 years of age based on statistics that indicate that many of the “problem parents” are teenagers. 

I have indeed been involved in life-and-death situations regarding childrens’ health and it is distressful to me.  About five years ago I formed a non-profit, The Kids’ Co-op Inc. - the NPO ran two preschools in San Francisco and my goal was to donate 2% of tuition costs to fund impoverished international children.  I ended up purchasing a 7-hectare plot of land on the island of Mindoro in The Philippines and gave it to a local group of Mangyan tribals.  (The money was wired to their “supervisor” - a Catholic woman who set up a large live-in school for children, plus their families). 

Basically, the funds created a place where a village could live.  The village started with 65 kids but within 3 years there were over 100.  The Catholic supervisor sent me many photos of the kids, all had the protruding stomachs and phlegmy eyes of the malnourished.  She also sent me news that many had tuberculosis, and that they needed more funding to survive.  I got angry and told her that I didn’t want to fund anything anymore except birth control, but she said she wouldn’t dispense anything like that because she is Catholic.  For about a year I just stopped funding them entirely, but now I am back donating, and raising funds, sending cans of sardines and used clothing. 

Sorry about the long story, but I see my Mangyan situation as a microcosm of the world.  Would it not be better to have 70 healthy, progressing Mangyans, than 120+ incredibly unhealthy ones?  These people are dependent on funds, as we all are. I don’t have enough funds to care for an infinite amount of people.  But the non-profit could, with good fundraising, guarantee the health, education, and basic needs for a small group—let’s say 70.  But, I need some co-operation in this matter.  Every Mangyan having ten kids that are malnourished with TB and they’re too sick to go to school and learn and they need funding for their accelerating health problems… it is too much.

Like I said, I see it as a microcosm of larger groups.  In the USA you have 1,500 kids killed by their parents, 1 million abused, 40,000 with fetal alcohol syndrome, and I don’t know how many with severe genetic disorders.  To fund all this damage is expensive and the expenses come out of somebody’s pocket.  I have funded bad family planning for five years now and it is wearying.

If you wish to donate to The Kids Co-op, please let me know.  I can give you their direct email if you wish and you can wire them money yourself.  I believe if you do so, you will end up with opinions like me.





It’s too bad that posters haven’t organized their comments by category as Hank suggests.  The ‘discussion’ is simply too unwieldy to join with any beneficial results.  Few people are replying to anyone else, except Hank, and most are just flinging comments at him.

It’s a HUGE issue.  It took me months to sort it out and write my meagre 50 page introduction.  I suggest that anyone who wants to join the discussion do that work first.  Read the introduction; think about it for several months; then come back to us with carefully articulated rebuttals to identified points.

For now though, I’d like to raise a point that often gets missed: why are people so terribly upset by the proposal?  Why do people who have shown no interest whatsoever in babies or children, or the developmental process that makes one into the other, people who have shown not interest in spending time with kids, paying attention to kids - why do they suddenly so STRONLY want to ‘have kids’????

I suspect it’s because ‘having kids’ is seen as a marker of stability, responsibility, maturity.  Being a mom or a family man has a halo.  Nonsense, of course, since, as Hank has pointed out, any unstable, irresponsible, immature person can have kids.  And many of those who haven’t had kids are stable, responsible, mature…

Another, related, point, to those who clamour about this, that, and the other ‘right’ (having kids is a human right, autonomy is a universal right, etc.) - oh yeah?  ON WHAT BASIS??  I don’t think it’s a defensible position to say that merely being human entitles you to ANYTHING (except possibly freedom from unjustified pain - something all animals with a nervous system are entitled to). 





Greetings to Peg Tittle!  I am so very glad she has joined us here. 
She is the author of Should Parents Be Licensed? (2004)
that I mentioned in my article—
I read her book and it formed the basis of what I wrote.
I will try to get Hugh LaFollette to join in the discussion as well.
Both have long experience and expertise in this topic and better equipped to answer questions than I am.





I love this concept but agree it can’t be enforced. Even people who like kids should be behind this, it means better educated children growing up in the right circumstances. Seems like a test they give you at the DMV? smile

Katelyn, founder
Www..com
The first and only site for the dual income no kids lifestyle





My opposition to this idea centers around unintended consequences, and the fact that their are demonstrable methods that are more effective (harm reduction, education, empowerment, etc.)

I compare it to the War on Some Drugs, because I believe it would create a similar scenario, and do as much harm to Some Children (the children of those parents who choose to have them illegally) as it would prevent in other children.

It would create an underground culture where people were having children illegally, and this would be extremely harmful to all the children born into those circumstances.

The reservations in “Brave New World”.

Hank’s recognition of these problems is sincere, and I’m grateful he’s bringing more attention to them.

It’s the solution that’s utterly preposterous, because it would not have the effect he thinks it will.





Two reasons why the elite would not support this idea:

1) The criteria for obtaining a license would have to extend beyond income, and obviously some of the elite would not meet the criteria and would be denied a license (based on psychological evaluations).

2) They depend on hordes of under educated, desperate people to fill the rank and file, and keep the present economic oligarchy intact. Even if this would be good for the world, it would be bad for their power base.





Hank:  I admire your outreach in the Philippines.  I also want to acknowledge that your reply maintained your position in a way that was gracious, restrained and on point.  I believe that responsible and mature adults do have an obligation to protect children from needless suffering and violence.  However, I feel the measures you have outlined apply a sledgehammer to a precision set of interlinked, highly complex problems.

The autobiographical character of your note was revealing.  I wondered if your proposal was a symptom of your own despair, anguish, rage and disillusionment over the difficulties in trying to raise people out of disease, squalor and ignorance. 

Everyone processes the disillusionment they receive in life differently.  But I think most of people, looking at the negligence and malfeasance reported in the news or observable on a daily basis, that we have have at least once experienced the craving for a system that would act as a purgative rinsing the misery from the human condition while sealing the deal with convocation of the wise and the just who would oversee a brighter future. In that craving it can be easy to conflate fact and fantasy.  Before undertaking a large-scale overhaul such as you propose, let’s take a close look t the technical, economic and ethical viability.  So far, I have grave concerns.

I agree with certain sub-components of your proposal.  But where you favor central planning, I would prefer a distributed approach. Let’s retrench the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, for example, as part of a combined effort to combat poverty, improve life skills, and encourage health; this could include a peer-mentoring effort to prevent binge-drinking among young women.  Would questionnaires and tests be useful in identifying elements where a potential parent is struggling?  Absolutely. 

The word choice and tone in your original article seemed bitter and punitive.  Your essay virtually exuded a desire to punish and deprive the “buffoons” and “knuckleheads” of their human legacy. You are angry with them, and rightly so.  Still, I would hope you concede that the nobler thing to do would be to try to rescue the buffoons out of their buffoonish state.  On the other hand, if one believes that the buffoons’ worthlessness is utterly fundamental, then I don’t see why that would not rule out a program of mass extermination Out of human solidarity, let’s work with people.  Social incentives that I mentioned previously can turn lives around.

The problem with grand social engineering solutions is that the creators of the solutions tend to get intoxicated by the grandiosity while neglecting prudential details.  Another problem is that many of the potential parents who will be snared by all of these tests and restrictions will be those whom society has least served: the poor and disadvantaged and a great many of these will belong to historically maltreated and marginalized minorities.  The fact that you haven’t even touched upon this issue is reason enough to say:  the proposal has not been thought through responsibly.

Peg Tittle:  You ask: “I’d like to raise a point that often gets missed: why are people so terribly upset by the proposal?”  I assume that is a rhetorical question.  If you claim you really don’t understand that the proposal is controversial then you are either writing in bad faith or you are morbidly out of touch with basic human realities.  Let’s apply some elementary anthropology to clear away the nonsense about “a halo” and “oh yeah? ON WHAT BASIS? . . . ”  The simplest explanation is that there has not been (other than age and miscellaneous “in-group” factors) any consistent, widespread social folkway or tradition in the United States that governs or restricts coitus/conception.  So, news flash: you are introducing something new and unfamiliar, which means the onus is upon YOU to clearly show the benefits. 

Although the proposal is worthy of discussion, its points, taken collectively, would encompass a huge shift in how we treat reproduction – to suggest otherwise would be an embarrassing overdraft to one’s credibility.





Hi Rascher - Yes, you are partly right, my proposal could deeply impact certain poorer communities. Correct you are in that regard, but you’re incorrect in assuming that I did not think about it. 

In doing my statistical research, I of course discovered that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome occurs among Native Americans at a rate probably 10 times higher than other populations.  I also discovered that Teen Pregnancy occurs far more often with African-Americans.

I did not mention this in my article because I do not know exactly how those communities would react to parent licensing.  And I don’t think you, or anyone else, absolutely knows either.  There might be opposition from some who think that the measure is intent on preventing Native Americans or African Americans from reproducing, but that, in my opinion, would not be the majority opinion nor would it be the opinion of community leaders with foresight.

It seems obvious that the high rate of FAS among Native Americans is not advantageous to their community, nor is the high rate of Teen Pregnancy among African Americans.  Anyone who insists that those communities have a “cultural” right to keep producing FAS infants and unprepared Teen Moms is iust being defensive and silly.  I believe parent licensing would be welcomed (by many) in those communities, and I say that because those communities are already involved in reducing FAS and teen pregnancy, so why wouldn’t they want some assistance?. 

Additionally, the article I wrote was just introductory - even so, it was longer than most essays published on the ieet website.  I did not mention the impact on race, and class, etc., because that topic, and other topics, would have lengthened the article into an unreadable size.

I am interested in your opinion regarding the impact of Parental Licensing on Native Americans and African Americans.  If you have some links to studies or surveys that add to the discussion. please include those as well.





A SERMON ON ETHICS AND LOVE

      One day Mal-2 asked the messenger spirit Saint Gulik to approach the Goddess and request Her presence for some desperate advice. Shortly afterwards the radio came on by itself, and an ethereal female Voice said YES?

      “O! Eris! Blessed Mother of Man! Queen of Chaos! Daughter of Discord! Concubine of Confusion! O! Exquisite Lady, I beseech You to lift a heavy burden from my heart!”

      WHAT BOTHERS YOU, MAL? YOU DON’T SOUND WELL.

      “I am filled with fear and tormented with terrible visions of pain. Everywhere people are hurting one another, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war. O, woe.”

      WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THAT, IF IT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?

      “But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it.”

      OH. WELL, THEN STOP.

      At which moment She turned herself into an aspirin commercial and left The Polyfather stranded alone with his species.





CORRIGENDUM:  I see that I left out a full-stop in my most recent comment.  The error could cause one to take away from the passage the exact opposite of what I intended.  I wrote:

On the other hand, if one believes that the buffoons’ worthlessness is utterly fundamental, then I don’t see why that would not rule out a program of mass extermination Out of human solidarity, let’s work with people.

There should be a period after the word “extermination.” Thus:

On the other hand, if one believes that the buffoons’ worthlessness is utterly fundamental, then I don’t see why that would not rule out a program of mass extermination.  Out of human solidarity, let’s work with people.

Perhaps the error is not of great ultimate consequence, but I wouldn’t that point to be misunderstood.  My apologies.





I have a dear friend who is an elementary school teacher who, while spiritually progressive on all other issues, does favor parental licensing. From this sample of one, my conclusion is that the closer one is to dealing with the somewhat neglected to the semi-abused kids, the more likely a person of conscience is to want to see some form of regulation to address the problem. (It must be like watching a combination personal and societal train wreck about to happen and feeling helpless to stop it.)
The comments from iPan and rascheR duB point out the sheer difficulty of general acceptance, regulating and enforcement.
“I am interested in your opinion regarding the impact of Parental Licensing on Native Americans and African Americans.”
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the US Government forcibly removed Native American children and sent them to boarding schools in an effort to force the Native populations to assimilate. To me, targeting this population with parental licensing, especially if it is enforced by removing kids from the home, runs the risk of feeling like a 21st century version.
So many of the issues around procreation and child-rearing are squarely in the realm of the cultural. Education or regulation alone will not have the intended consequences because they do not address the myriad of meanings, codes, traditions and habits that lead to the abuses you’ve outlined. The emphasis in this approach is on punitive reaction and not prevention.
For me, what makes this an important essay is that it gets to the core of the ethical challenges around the emerging technologies: our science and technology evolution is moving faster than our cultural and ethical evolution. It leads us to look for the quick fixes.
Hank’s story about the project in the Phillipines is so common. It has been “discovered” by aid agencies, missionaries, Engineers Without Borders, people trying to help refugees adjust to our culture, etc. Solutions need to be undertaken with the involvement and leadership of the culture in which they’re implemented. We need ethnography in addition to engineering, human emotional and cultural literacy in addition to information.
Perhaps a secular form of church: something that builds community, restores peer-to-peer safety nets, shapes a communal mindset towards personal responsibility and allows people to discover for themselves how to improve their quality of life. Perhaps community salons that encourage sharing of stories and ideas and provides mentoring. Plus education. Maybe PSAs on TV and the web. But it needs to come from within the communities of which potential parents are a part.





(A) On the policy question, the principle of the matter:

1. FAS and all the other things enumerated by Hank and others causes pain and suffering.  I think we can all agree on that, yes?

2. There are human rights.  (I don’t agree, but am willing to concede for the sake of this discussion.)

3. One of these human rights is the right to reproduce. (See point 2 parenthetical.)

4. Another of these human rights is the right to be free of pain and suffering. 

You see the problem?  In this case of competing rights (or you can see it a different way: no right is absolute; rights are limited by the harm principle - that is, my right to do X stops when X harms you), how many cases of pain and suffering caused by incompetent parenting must occur before we say the right to be free of pain and suffering TRUMPS the right to reproduce?  Not a rhetorical question - I want to hear specifics.

(B) On the procedural question, the practicality of the matter:

1. It doesn’t have to be difficult, people.  It can be as simple as making a course on parenting mandatory in grade nine; you pass the course, you get your license.  Objections to that?  (Again, not a rhetorical.)

Yes, some people will troubled by this.  (I have a few hypotheses as to which of these will be the most vocal…)
Yes, it will be an adjustment.
Yes, some people’s rights will be violated.
Yes, the system will be abused.

But consider this: you have to have a license to drive a motor vehicle, because incompetence puts others at risk.  You even have to have a license before you become a plumber - are our toilets more important than our children? 

Do you really want to say we should do away with drivers’ licenses because it violates our right to freedom of movement and because the system gets abused?

C. What do we do with those who have kids without a license?  That is an even trickier problem.  But let’s get A and B out of the way first.  Unless you think this problem needs to be solved first.  (But it doesn’t - because if you don’t get past A and B, C is moot.)

 





It’s chilling to me whenever I’m reminded that there are people in the world who continue to support these types of concepts.

It’s even more chilling when I think about whether any of them have any actual influence in the world.

Even after such eloquent and thought out arguments such as those made by rascher, the advocates of these stark ideas just shoulder their way past without really thinking about these responses.

But, I kind of understand the fundamentalist mindset, which is why I repeatedly suggested forgetting the ethical arguments (in which they are not interested in the slightest), and instead tried to focus just on probability, something that I thought they would actually listen to.

The means do not justify the ends. Period. That is known as a slippery slope, and their is not one example in history you can point to where doing evil now has led to greater good in the future. Not one.

So, before I sign off on this sad entry to IEET’s collection of articles, I’ll leave ya’ll with this:

Ben Goertzel on Obsoleting the Dilemma

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/3867

It’s all very well to enunciate lovely-sounding values like Joy, Growth and Choice ... but in real life we’re faced with difficult decisions. We’re faced with choosing one being’s joy over another’s, or choosing joy versus growth in a given situation, and so forth.

There’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution to such dilemmas.

But Cosmism does provide one valuable principle, that is very frequently appropriate for beings in the phase of evolution that humans currently occupy.

This is the principle of obsoleting the dilemma.

Rather than trying to resolve the dilemma, use a change in technology or perspective to redefine the reality within which the dilemma exists.

This may of course lead to new and different dilemmas—which is a natural aspect of the universe’s growth process.

This approach has tremendous power and we’ll revisit it frequently in upcoming articles.

To make the idea clear, first of all I’ll explore it in the context of a couple simple, everyday issues that—in the human world right now—seem to have a tremendous power to divide thoughtful, compassionate people.

Cosmism doesn’t solve these issues—but it does advocate a systematic route to resolving them ... not by solving them but rather by obsoleting them.





Hank—

I don’t know of websites regarding Native Americans’ or African-Americans’ views on parenting licensing.  I recommend reading the University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson, particularly two of his books on the urban poor, “Black Fathers In Contemporary American Society” and “The Truly Disadvantaged.” 

Unlike you, I am not sanguine that even “leaders with foresight” would embrace your proposal.  I am not a sociologist, but these communities (to use an inadequate word that glosses over many subgroups that do not share a common POV) tend to be culturally conservative and to emphasize tradition.

Other obstacles to implementing your plan in some African-American communities include: documentation and memorializing of the Tuskegee experiments; conspiracy theories that claim the U.S government created the AIDS virus for the purpose of targeting African-Americans;  a San Jose Mercury news story from 1996 charging that the CIA introduced crack cocaine into the black ghettos of LA as a way of generating profits for the Nicaraguan Contras.  A new government mandate will be off-putting.  I can’t imagine John and Jenny Techno-Progressive striding with their eco-friendly Merrells into an inner city community meeting to evangelize parenting licenses and not getting some serious pushback. 

Native Americans have suffered so many losses from the duplicity and machinations of the great and powerful that the message, however carefully crafted around something like, “from now on, we’re going to have a say in which of you can procreate”  . . .  well, I think you may underestimate the affront.

Furthermore, historically persecuted ethnic groups’ land grievances will likely fuel distrust of social engineering policies. Native Americans grievances are familiar enough to the moderately educated that they don’t need to be itemized here. African Americans recall historic betrayals ranging from General Sherman’s vain “40 acres and a mule” emancipation promise (rescinded by President Andrew Johnson in 1866) to recent litigation by African-American farmers who were denied subsidies and loans, and in some cases forfeited land. (Atlanta Tribune—http://atlantatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78&Itemid=78)

In short, a lot of work is needed to build trust.  Persuading people that the Law is going to become involved with their most intimate decisions combined with a history of broken promises combined with a set of rules and restrictions such as you outline – well, call me crazy, but it looks like tough sledding, old bean.  Maybe I’m wrong. I am neither Amerindian nor black, I don’t speak for any organization that represents them, nor do I declare myself an expert on these matters.  I’m not saying that people from these communities would not be receptive to many aspects of techno-progressivism (I think they would). But the parent licensing issue would surely not be the trial balloon techno-progressives would want to initially float to win support in these communities.

To my point about social leverage, one of the great sociologists of our day, William Julius Wilson, has noted that employed black men form stable marriages and remain with their families eight times more than the unemployed. However, many of the unemployed from the inner city “no longer consider marriage an option because their limited economic prospects do not enable them to provide for a family.”  An enormous prison population of African-American men needs remedial training that would allow them to function in the mainstream.  Lots of problems to fix to realize the ideal of social equity.  Yes, it will take money, and just as important, commitment.  The possibility of prima facie exclusions based on race or background would be a deep blemish on the techno-progressive movement, whatever other glories it conjures into being.

Peg Tittle:  Your idea of a parenting license would hinge on something “as simple as making a course on parenting mandatory in grade nine.”  That suggestion seems quite do-able and has the benefits of being a more nimble approach and one that is minimally intrusive.  However, that is something altogether different from Hank’s panopticon-style proposal.





Have any of you heard of the Zeitgeist Movement and/or The Venus Project?  www.zeitgeistmovie.com





“postfuturist, I can see the parallel between Nazism and Hank’s proposal that Brendan draws. You can bet your ass that the Nazis would have achieved utopia, once they got rid of everyone else. ‘Utopia’ demands the elimination of undesirables and dissenters.”

You are confusing totalitarianism with utopia, totalists demand the elimination of undesirables and dissenters, not utopians. As far as I know the first well-known utopian was Thomas Moore, who wrote a book ‘Utopia’ roughly 500 years ago, and Moore did not demand the elimination of undesirables and dissenters. The parallel between Nazism and Hank’s proposal that Brendan draws is an hysterical one; the acronym of this site is IEET, not GESTAPO. No one at IEET, including Hank, is a totalist, no one at IEET advocates genocide. BTW if you feel so strongly, you might get more out of it by picketing an abortion clinic with a ‘Baby Killer’ sign.

 

 





rascher—yes, you’re right - getting those communities to agree would be quite a bit of work.  Plus there would be plenty of what I would call “misguided liberals” who would want to “protect” them. I regard myself as a radical progressive so I am not the least bit of a cultural relativist. But I think the measure could be done.  I am not inclined to say “impossible” regarding this.

yes, what Peg Tittle suggested could be done far far easier.  But what she suggested is so easy to “pass”, the requirements are so simple, that it would not, of course, be very effective at improving the quality of parenthood.

Ethnicity is the USA is a very broad topic and interesting to discuss.  I will see if I can dig up any information about how various racial and religious groups would react to parental licensing.  I live in San Francisco, near Chinatown, and I don’t think Asians would be immensely adverse, but that is just a guess.  Chinese were subjected to the “one child only” sanction, so this probably looks lenient in comparison.  Plus Asians have an excellent track record of scoring well on academic tests so they wouldn’t be threatened by that. 

I think any group outside the “white” category might regard parenting licenses as a threat to their survival.  But, like I said in an earlier post, this entire movement would be enacted, if ever, in many many small tiny steps. 

It would be an immense social change.  But… there are plenty of precedents for that.  I don’t know how old you are, but did you imagine 40 years ago that there would be gay marriage in the USA? 

I believe the most important group to poll regarding this is young people.  21 and under.  The next voting generation.  Whatever they believe is an indication of where the trend is heading.  The young voters are moving the USA toward gay rights.  They are not frozen by tradition as deeply as the rest of us.  I think I can get a poll taken at a high school, regarding their opinion on parenting licenses.  If I can, I will let you know the result.





While I oppose procreation of any kind as an act of dubious morality, the notion of the state forcibly preventing breeding sends a chill down my spine. Instead, I suggest undermining the power of the family through material changes and a cultural campaign. It’s pressures from relatives and society within the ideological context of compulsory reproduction that causes so many people to have kids.





In your world I would never have been born, or if I had been my children would never have been born. You see my family fits in that unpleasant category of the Neurological Disorder called Huntington’s Disease. Now back when my mom was tested for the first time the tests were not as good as they are now and we believed her to be free of HD, but years later it became obvious the tests/doctors were wrong. At the time she had her second test they had located the gene.

The thing is if they knew about the gene years ealier and we lived your authoritatian state I would not have had the joy of watching my son turn into a man, and still watching my daughter grow. My children are beautiful and smart and have good lives. Granted we are not rich and we do have the threat of HD looming in our lives, but we are happy and love each other. What’s wrong with that?

Disease is part of life, and for the record those predictor tests are not always (100%) right. We’ve all heard the stories of a child inutero being tested positive for some disease and the parents give birth anyway to find out that the child was perfectly healthy and normal. We’ve heard other stories of being tested positive for this or that only to find out later those tests were wrong as well.

You are asking we that not allow people the RIGHT to bare children.

NO ONE should be allowed to make that decision for us.

Proper education and parenting classes for those who do become pregnant are great ideas, but not taking someone’s right away.

NO ONE should be forced to have an abortion either. I myself did not even have those inutero tests because I knew no matter what the tests said I would never abort my child so what’s the point. Having those tests alone can actually cause harm to the unborn child and not worth it in my opinion.

NO ONE has the right to take away life. Period!!!

It saddens me that you are of the mind that we should dictate the rights of others in these matters.

Then there is of course the practical matter of it all. It would never effectively work. There would be just as many problems and issues arise from this type of policing as there is without it.

The bottom line is we ALL should have our rights. No one should be allowed to take those aways.





rascheR duB, check out www.zeitgeistmovie.com if you haven’t already smile





“I don’t know how old you are, but did you imagine 40 years ago that there would be gay marriage in the USA?”

I remember 50 years ago, if a network had even produced a gay-oriented special (let alone a serial) they would have been arrested—today they would get an Emmy Award.
Fifty years ago the joke at school was: “are you a homo?”
Answer: “No!”
“You mean you’re not a homo-sapien??”
Then they would rip your “fag-tag” (label inside back of collar) off—
today if you did that you’d be charged with a hate crime.





I guess the issue here is who does the licensing and what oversight we citizens have. I would probably support “no child beaters”. But what if a future religious-right fundamentalist government adds “no liberals”, or “no blacks”?

On the one hand I understand Hank’s position. You need a license to drive a car, so why not a license to raise a child, which is much more important. But on the other hand, I don’t want to see an authoritarian fascist state regulating each and every aspect of citizens’ lives.





@ Rhonda.. Excellent!

@ Hank and all.. I think Rhonda’s comment has pretty much trumped us all, and all of the political rhetoric. Hank - consider the example as your visit from the “ghost of Christmas yet to come”!

Through the fog of all of this detailed analysis and argumentation I can only see feeble excuses for poorly idealised and punitive laws and legislation, and complete apathy, neglect and blindness towards the real value of social education and communal care and responsibilities.

“Let’s make them take a test to get their license, sorted, easy, quick, efficient?” NO.. Just too darned lazy to deal with the underlying real social issues and causality!





@ Rhonda—thanks for joining the discussion, and for bringing up something important that was not yet discussed.  Abortion.

Abortion is a huge issue within this topic.  Obviously, if fetuses are discovered to have severe disabilities, they could be aborted.  But many people are unwilling to consider this as an option.  Generally for religious reasons.  I also understand your decision to not get in-utero tests because my wife and I had to make those decisions, twice, as well.  But I was determined to do everything I could to guarantee that I parented a healthy child, and the percentages looked acceptable to us, so we got those tests.

I did have a scare once, I am a sperm donor and the couple I donated to decided to Not get those tests, they told me they were willing to parent any child in any condition, even if it had severe disabilities.  That made me quite nervous even though I was to have, via contractual agreement, no parenting rights.  There is something about me that is insistent on only bringing the healthiest possible children into the world.  Raising children who are happy and productive in the world is difficult enough, without them being saddled with massive disabilities.  By the way, the “sperm donor” child was born completely healthy.

I am only marginally familiar with disabled people, except for this one anecdote, that has influenced my opinions. One of my best friends had a brother with Downs Syndrome.  The brother, the youngest of six children, immediately needed so much care that the rest of the children were deprived of their parents’ attention.  The father, my friend’s father, drove his truck off a cliff, possibly accidental, possibly suicidal, no one is sure. The Downs Syndrome child lived at home all his life, he grew to be 300 pounds, and he thought he was Paul McCartney.  His mother loved him and took care of him as best she could, and his five brothers and sisters all did their best as well, they are an enormously kind family.  The Downs Syndrome son lived to be about 35.  My point is that there was a lot of suffering and neglect and what I would call “unrewarded work” within the family because of the disabled child, and I, personally, felt sorry for them and I wouldn’t wish that situation on anyone, certainly not on myself.

@ Guilio, Rhonda, and others.  If you read previous posts, you’ll see that there is nothing “authoritarian” about my proposal.  I would want it to be democratically introduced and voted in and accepted by the majority of the people.  If it still sounds authoritarian to you, I suggest that it is no more so than taxes are to libertarians, or the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is to atheists, etc etc.





Rhonda, please reread my post about rights. 

You say “The bottom line is we ALL should have our rights” but that clearly can’t be true because your right to X sometimes conflicts with my right to Y.  Surely you can imagine an instance of this.

So you say you have the right to reproduce; (let’s say) I say I have the right to stop you.  Which claim should be accepted?  The one that is said often enough?  Loudly enough? By more people?

You also say disease is a part of life.  It need not be.  It’s as simple as that, often.





Hank, why DO you limit your contraceptive solution to women?





This proposal is not enforceable.  What are you going to do with babies that are born to unlicensed parents?





One thing about Down syndrome, is that some people are only moderately or mildly impaired.  I’ve met a DS man who did live at home but had a job at a coffee place and was responsible enough to left alone by his mother to sell off extra costumes (she was a ballet teacher)





Hi Peg—I apologized in an earlier post for my article’s fixation on contraceptives for women.  I agree with you and other posters that there should also be contraceptives for men.  I totally agree with you in that regard, I just neglected to say it in my article.  In some situations, like FAS obviously, it is more important for women to have the contraceptive because the infant should not be in a toxic womb, but other than that - yes, male contraceptive would be great.  I am sorry to have not stated my position on that in the article.

also, thanks for saying what you said above.  The “disease doesn’t have to part of life” part.  Well said.





“My point is that there was a lot of suffering and neglect and what I would call “unrewarded work” within the family because of the disabled child, and I, personally, felt sorry for them and I wouldn’t wish that situation on anyone, certainly not on myself.”
Our own experiences and opinions color our world view. That is perhaps an essential aspect of subjective. What is true for you may or may not be true for another. There are many who do not see raising a disabled child as “unrewarded” and who, in fact, find a multitude of emotional and empathic rewards. Not me personally, but that’s my point.
The emerging technologies offer the promise of genetic-based treatments and cures. I suggest that the effort from a truly techno-progressive standpoint would be to seek ways other than preventing wanted pregnancies of addressing disease.





“All that appears to be outside authority is an illusion of the mind which was formed in childhood and has not been destroyed by the light of common sense.  There is no such thing as outside authority.  We are born alone, we live alone and we die alone.  We all are peers, but no one is superior.  Each is autonomous in his own life.  The illusion of outside authority appears as a mirage before our senses only when we wish to escape personal responsibility and are seeking someone to blame.  We invent such illusory figures when we want to abdicate our own initiative and be able to point to these synthetic gods as the source of our misfortune if we do not succeed in our own larcenous ambitions for aggrandizement and exploitation.

      Man creates outside authority figures for the same reason that he creates idols.  The primitive man and the childish man are alike; they are deeply fearful of uncertainty in life and their ability to achieve their aims.  The primitive digs up mud to fashion into an image and calls it “God.”  He puts it on a pedestal so that its head is higher than his own.  Then he abdicates and prays to this image of his own creation – to this god to do favors for him – to send rain, crops and fruit.  But these prayers are not really supplications at all.  They are commands and demands hidden in a begging voice.  The child is whining for his supper, and he calls his whining reverence “prayer,” or “worship”, whereas it is only abdication of his own personal responsibility.  He sets up his outside authority figures so that he can make infantile demands for them to take care of him —as his parents did when he was little.  And he becomes rebellious, angry or resentful if the god he has made does not answer his demands.  His apparent submission to, and fear of, such imaginary outside authority figures stops immediately as soon as he faces the realization that they exist only inside his head, as his own invention, and do not exist in the outside world or have the power to grant him gifts.  No power exists outside an individual that can damage him.  All that helps or hurts him is of his own invention.  Each of us must be a lamp unto his own feet – else he remains in darkness.  Each must finally be his own and only final authority.  He can never delegate nor abdicate this fundamental position.  His strength is internal, never external.”

- Beyond success and failure:
  Willard and Marguerite Beecher

—-

http://artsandsciences.colorado.edu/magazine/2011/04/the-moral-illusion-of-governmental-authority/

{a few excerpts to try to keep it short}:

The ‘moral illusion’ of governmental authority

This hypothetical scenario illustrates a question that Huemer argues is difficult to answer: namely, what gives a government the legitimate authority to act as it does?

“There is no satisfactory answer to this,” Huemer says. “In fact, I conclude it’s a moral illusion we’re suffering from.”

Huemer will complete a book project titled “Freedom and Authority.” The book argues that there is no philosophically satisfactory account of the basis for political authority.

Huemer contends that our governmental system has two flaws: It is non-voluntary, and it is monopolistic.





Thank you for a very well thought out article.  This is an issue I think about a lot.  It disgusts me that a woman needs more education to cut my hair than she needs to raise another human being.  It’s horrifying the 80% of children are unplanned . . . a higher percent when you are talking about teenagers.  I want to scream when I hear parents saying that birth control leads to sex . . . what, like anti-biotics lead to disease?  And that rather than supporting educated, capable parents in raising new citizens, we reward the broken, uneducated and unfit in producing the largest percent of our next generation.

We are poised to reach a world population of 7 billion people, a huge percentage of which are hungry and lack even basic amenities.  I think universal birth control needs to become a priority.





Where to start.  How about improving education and placing some consequences with some actions.  What ever happened to shame. 

I love gazing at lovely women and admire well built men, could unattractiveness be something we might throw in the mix?  It would be depressing to have nothing to look at except a bunch of narrow eyed academics that have nothing to do but force their power on the ones they can dominate.

I am glad you broached such a repulsive subject,it is a blessing to be able to recognize a totalitarian idea in its infancy. 

Look in the mirror and ask yourself,“I wonder if there is someone out there that thinks I should have been prevented”  ......trust me dude,there is.





Seymour, not making a choice on universal birth control is making a choice by default.

“I love gazing at lovely women and admire well built men, could unattractiveness be something we might throw in the mix? It would be depressing to have nothing to look at except a bunch of narrow eyed academics that have nothing to do but force their power on the ones they can dominate.”

What if academics aren’t well-built, but are lovely—say, like, Boy George with a doctorate? your mix is as arbitrary as ours.





@Seymour - bluntly put, but you have some good points.





@Hank re “If you read previous posts, you’ll see that there is nothing “authoritarian” about my proposal. I would want it to be democratically introduced and voted in and accepted by the majority of the people. If it still sounds authoritarian to you, I suggest that it is no more so than taxes are to libertarians, or the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is to atheists, etc etc. “

Off-topic, but an authoritarian dictatorship of the majority is still an authoritarian dictatorship. They say democracy is “two wolves and a lamb deciding democratically, by majority vote, what to have for dinner.”





@Hank, continued. I know you mean well, and you always raise important points which should be addressed, but you always address them by proposing extremely authoritarian “solutions”. History shows that such “solutions” are often much worse than the problem.





Guilio - thanks for your comments.  We still have a disagreement about the definition of “authoritarian” though. 

This link:
http://thesaurus.com/browse/authoritarian
indicates that “authoritarian” is an antonym of “democratic” -
not a synonym.  Which is how I use the word. 

Yes, of course, in a democracy the minority is subject to the will of the majority.  We all know that and grumble when our candidates lose.

Complaining about that forgets however, that without democracy, the majority can be subjected to the will of the minority, which is even worse. 

If the majority of a population decides that Parent Licensing is what they want for the good of society, it is democratically just and fair that the law be enacted.

Protecting the rights of the “minority” can’t over-ride the rights of the “majority.”

There seems to be a different viewpoint of who the “victims” are in this parenting-license question.  My POV is that the victims are:
1. the 1500 children killed by parents (USA alone)
2. the one million abused children (often permanently damaged)
3. the 40,000 fetal alcohol syndrome children
4. the unknown number of genetically diseased children
5. the taxpayers who have to pay $110+ billion annually to assuage the damage created above

opponents of my POV seem to regard the victims as:
1. Would-be parents who are temporarily or permanently denied a license.

I also have a counter to your final comment that - “History shows that such “solutions” are often much worse than the problem.”

My counter is simply that, “History shows that reforms have been used very often and very successfully to solve problems.”

I find your stance, along with the other resistors, to be essentially very conservative.  I propose a reform that could work, and some people say “Yes!  That sounds plausible!” and others say, “No! No! It would be worse than the present!”

It reminds me of the conservative resistance to health care reform in the USA - always a fear that the change could be worse.

Being afraid to change mires us in the present situation which I find extreme deficient.  Many resistors are saying, “let’s just try education and social awareness of the problem”—as if that hasn’t been tried already?  and is getting nowhere?

This site is set up to investigate technological solutions to current problems.  I think enacting birth control measures on everyone except those who have demonstrated a desire and an ability to be good parents would provide immense benefits to society. 

Think of the upside!  No more unwanted pregnancies! Sex would be so much “safer”!  Don’t we all want that?

The present situation, with drunken “accidents” and broken condoms and marriages that never should have happened with resulting infants that are resented and abused and killed or grow up and repeat the cycle—and tens of thousands of children born with absolutely avoidable disabilities—hmm… this is a problem that needs a solution.  Does anyone have a better idea than mine?  I am ready to hear it.  But don’t just say “education” because that is just dithering.

I really don’t see the “victims” on the other side.  Are you saying that everyone has the “human right” to get accidentally and irresponsibly pregnant. with the resulting freedom to be an accidental and irresponsible parent? 

I understand the dystopian forecasts that some people have made if this proposal were enacted, but mostly, I regard those complainers as lacking all optimism.

 

 

 





Democracy is nothing but mob rule.  That is why USA is a Represenative republic, before the sheep gets eaten there is debate,and presumably he will have another as his representative with his best interests in mind.  Unfortunately the wolves have duped all of the other animals and now have control.

Eugenics is already applied in society today. Francis Galton argued that as a society protected the weak, it allowed a reversal in natural selection.  I posture that the weak are being killed off in quite good fashion today.  The less developed countries ignorant masses are dying of aids, cholera and a host of other maladies,not to mention the fact that the stronger and more developed have better armies and advanced weapons that can kill tens of thousands.  I say why start in the womb?  Let the little buggers grow up and see what their minds are capable of, heck they might be able to pop your head with the wink of an eye, wouldn’t that make them a better person than you?

I suppose there are some that will postulate the tired old argument that no one has the right to decide whether someone else should live or die, I see people in traffic everyday that need to be removed from the gene pool, lets take a vote,should you stay or should you go.





@Hank Re “Yes, of course, in a democracy the minority is subject to the will of the majority. We all know that and grumble when our candidates lose.”

Our candidate losing is one thing. Forced sterilization and removal of civil rights is another thing. If we get to that point, concentration camps and mass murder will follow soon. History shows that, and we have seen it before, for example in Germany in the 30s. I don’t want to see it again.

The minority must be subject to the will of the majority? Yes, but within limits and with protection of the rights of the minority? Otherwise, democracy becomes just mob rule as Seymour says.





hi Guilio - I notice that your “protection” of the rights of the “minority” does not apply to protecting children, in fact, it guarantees that children will continue to be abused, quite horrendously in many cases, by the inadequate parents you are so concerned about “protecting.”

I am quite interested in protecting human beings too. 
But - children are the innocent victims in this scenario,
not the adults who are unprepared or unfit to be parents.

You are fearful of repeating a holocaust. 
But perhaps one has already happened?  Extrapolate the annual victims in the USA over a decade and this is what you get:

15,000 children killed
10 million children abused
400,000 fetal alcohol syndrome infants
an untold number of children born with avoidable genetic disorders

that is an actual holocaust, not a theoretical one like the one you are imagining.





Hank, coercion implemented by a representative democracy remains coercion.





Society becomes, and is, it’s own burden, and the bigger the society, the bigger it’s burden of socioeconomic divisions, hardships, poverty, stresses, indifference and sufferings.

The problems inherent in a society must be overcome and resolved by that society.

Yet human nature and it’s condition resolves to apathy, indifference and neglect. Society turns it’s back, makes exceptions, and resolves to non-corrective action where possible, because human’s are inherently short-sighted, Self-centred and lazy?

Long term solutions to overcome the shortfalls and negatives of the human condition DO lie in education and the pursuit of wisdom. The wise society therefore supports, nutures and encourages social education?

The rights of the individual must overrule those of the majority, except where the individual has broken the social contract within that society. Knowledge and education of this is again, the duty of society.

Licensing as a means to corrective action is shortsighted.





Hank, I see your point, and I agree, but your first impulse to solve problems always seems to be resorting to authoritarian methods, sometimes very authoritarian methods verging on the F word. I hope we are smart enough to do better than that.

How to protect children? Let’s just kill every person on the planet (last one standing please shoot yourself in the head), and nobody will harm children anymore.





I’m with Hank.  I suggested the very mild solution of a mandatory course as an example of what a licensing program COULD be - to respond to all the people who seem to jump right from the suggestion to Hitler.

I agree education doesn’t, hasn’t, worked.

I agree something stronger is necessary.

I agree it might violate some rights.  But the current situation is also violating some rights.  No one’s responding to my point about competing rights. 

Giulio, we are NOT smart enough to do better than that.  Rent the DVD “Idiocracy” - that’s where we’re headed.  Step into a classroom some day and you’ll see.  Your paper tiger rebuttal is shameful.

People who want to adopt/foster kids have to prove competence; why don’t we set the same bar for those who want to look after kids who happen to be genetically related??  Answer me that, everyone who’s so terribly upset by the idea I, Westman, LaFollette, Pellissier, and so many others have suggested.





Hank
You ask for alternatives.

Going back through the comments, I remembered something I kind of glossed over.

You say you bought land in Mindoro for the natives. But you didn’t mention travelling there and living with them. You sent money. You expected results.
But you didn’t get your hands dirty. You weren’t there with them helping to educate them and find sustainable ways of living.
You sent money.
(unless I’m wrong, but that’s what I got from your anecdote).

This is a typical American response. Don’t get involved, just throw money at it.

There are lots of examples of people who integrate themselves with the people they are trying to help.
There is a new movement to help people, not be merely throwing more money at them (which, as you point out, can often do more harm), but by really going the whole mile, teaching sustainable farming and other practices that will lead to more well being, not merely more food.

These methods are always more successful, but they require more work. More compassion.

You HAVE to get your hands dirty. Throwing money at problems like this won’t work. Throwing laws at it won’t work (btw, I am also opposed to driver’s licensing and compulsory education - driving licenses haven’t made the roads safer, they’re more dangerous today, and compulsory education hasn’t really lead to a more educated people).

The problem I have with this approach, is that I see it’s inherent flaw is in the very nature of trying to manipulate things from afar.
You want to remain detached from the problem, but you want the problem to go away.

Again, there is no substitute for direct involvement. Think about the way you raise your own children.
Do you just throw money at them, and expect them to go away?
Or do you spend insane amounts of time with them, being personally involved and active in everything they do?

To help anyone else in society, if have to take the same outlook towards them that you do with your own children (even if you don’t feel for them to the same degree - you still have to take the same approach).





@Hank
“opponents of my POV seem to regard the victims as:
1. Would-be parents who are temporarily or permanently denied a license.”

Really? That’s what you’ve heard after all this discourse?





For example, microcredit is far more effective:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcredit

Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.

Microcredit is a financial innovation that is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. In that country, it has successfully enabled extremely impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate an income and, in many cases, begin to build wealth and exit poverty.

Due to the success of microcredit, many in the traditional banking industry have begun to realize that these microcredit borrowers should more correctly be categorized as pre-bankable; thus, microcredit is increasingly gaining credibility in the mainstream finance industry, and many traditional large finance organizations are contemplating microcredit projects as a source of future growth, even though almost everyone in larger development organizations discounted the likelihood of success of microcredit when it was begun.

The United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Microcredit.





And harm reduction.

It’s not about the specific methods and implementation, so much as the very process and approach behind it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harm_reduction

If we take harm reduction and decentralization as an underlying philosophy, we quickly see how much more effective they are at preventing the same problems we are trying to correct through authoritarian means.

Authoritarianism is an over correction.

Think about abstinence based sex education compared to birth control.

Same underlying process going on here.





This is an interesting conversation and everybody has smart and valid points.  Anybody have a Facebook or Twitter account so I can follow you? You don’t have to follow me if you don’t want, I just like to “friend” unique people. It’s too bad none of you have heard of The Zeitgeist Movement or The Venus Project though, I would love to hear your point of view on these.





@Karla
I avoid Twitter and Facebook atm, but you (or anyone else) can reach me at ipan1323@gmail.com, or pariahdrake@gmail.com

I am familiar with The Zeitgeist and The Venus Project.

I think they are both somewhat educational, so there is value in being exposed to both, but I feel there is somewhat shady motivations behind them, particularly The Zeitgeist.

In the same way I don’t really trust Alex Jones, who seems to be something of an opportunist, even though some of the things he says is true, I don’t trust the underlying motivations.

But then, I’m extremely distrustful of anyone with an agenda.





Thanks for your response iPan (and your contact info). I’m a cynic by nature and question everything, but TZM/TVP has made sense to me out of all the ideas I’ve heard in all my life. It’s not perfect, but I consider it a start. And I’ve never been into what Alex Jones says either. There’s line between awareness and fear mongering. I’m sure he means well, but sometimes ego gets in the way.

Anyway, I’m glad I got here (from FB)...very insightful (article and reader comments).





Hi Giulio and others -

here’s a website related to the topic “child abuse and Nazis”:
http://www.thisisawar.com/AbuseNature.htm

I’ve been told repeatedly by now that implementing “parent licenses”
would lead to Fascism, authoritarianism, Nazism, etc.—but the website above implies the opposite

the author contends that Hitler as a child was severely physically and psychologically abused by his father, and that child abuse was quite common with Germans in that era.

So, extrapolating somewhat, we could say allowing child abuse to occur leads to the creation of monstrous personalities, like Hitler, who are supported by other victims of child abuse.

There is present evidence of this as well, due to the high percentage of serial killers who were abused as children, and the high numbers of incarcerated individuals who were abused as children.

The information above changes the equation - 
I’ve been told that Parent Licenses = Nazis, Fascism, authoritarians

but in reality, recent history reveals:

(No Parent Licenses) = Child Abuse = Psychotic Nazis





for iPan—yes it is true, I threw cash at the Mangyans in Mindoro hoping that would be enough.  But it wasn’t.  I was hoping that “being in charge” would be better than just handing the money to a big non-profit. 

But I’m not entirely to blame.  The Catholic who takes care of them won’t give them condoms.  This common throughout The Philippines and there is a struggle going on now, people are pissed at the bishops.

So, sure, perhaps I expected too much out of my checks and the land that I bought them, but really, let’s blame the Catholic Church, too, right? 

It is confusing though, the woman (Sally Melendres) who takes care of them is inspired by “Jesus’s love for the poor” to administer to the destitute Mangyans.  She is good-hearted to do that.  But she’s got a blind spot when it comes to birth control.

Microlending is great.  I lend money to KIVA. Usually to Vietnamese women who raise pigs, I find that irresistibly attractive.





Well, a lesson learned.

It’s not about blame, I think the Catholic approach is terrible. Another example of authoritarianism not working.

What I’m getting at though is the hands on approach. There are examples at TEDTalks of people actually living with other communities and helping them to establish a viable and sustainable framework for bringing themselves out of poverty and oppression.

So, my point really is about involvement and presence.

Yeah, microlending looks like it has a lot of potential, glad to hear your supporting KIVA. It’s an awesome way to change the world.

There’s an open source/DIY movement that makes the blueprints for farming equipment available.

It’s these types of approaches I advocate for. The getting your hands in the soil approach.
Live with the natives. Become part of their lives.
Walk a mile in their shoes (and then teach them to make better, higher tech shoes wink

Lately, I’ve become interested in pay-what-you-want economic models, as an experiment/model for future reputation based open source economies. It’s as important to change people’s perspective in developed countries as it is to change circumstances in underdeveloped countries.

http://www.humblebundle.com/





‘I see people in traffic everyday that need to be removed from the gene pool, lets take a vote,should you stay or should you go.”

Seymour, whether or not you are philosophically correct is… academic. Fact is, by not making a decision in preference to universal birth control, all you do is make a different decision—perhaps worse—by default.
So what will happen?: many will die, that is for sure—not everyone will make it. The future will be good, but only for those who survive. And you, as everyone else, would rather someone else die than yourself. When I read something like this:
“I love gazing at lovely women and admire well built men, could unattractiveness be something we might throw in the mix?
It would be depressing to have nothing to look at except a bunch of narrow eyed academics that have nothing to do but force their power on the ones they can dominate”,
I wonder why it is you can’t control your hysteria on this topic enough to blog at IEET without writing something such as the above, why post it at IEET of all sites? what makes you think (let alone write) the proportion of academics who are unattractive is higher than non-academics? And even if academics were less attractive, they are not Britney Spears or Justin Biebers; Einstein’s role wasn’t similar to that of the singer who used to call himself “Prince”. Stephen Hawking doesn’t have to look like Lady GaGa, or wear the sort of outfits she wears (now there’s an image for you). BTW, what about men who are lovely and women who are well-built?
A fair criticism would be how academics and other intellectuals can be disingenuous—they slant facts in preference to their own interests and or their more impersonal agendas. Naturally, the entire world is devious, especially men, yet intellectuals being smarter, have a greater ability to be devious.
At any rate, all you write above is an hysterical comment having something (it’s not clear exactly what) to do with “narrow-eyed” academics allegedly being physically unattractive; my bringing this up isn’t picking on you, it is curiosity as to why you would want to vent such banality at IEET.





If you’re really deadset on this whole fast track reform thing, then buy all these people cell phones and set them up with Twitter/Facebook accounts.





The hysteria on this topic reminds me of “pro life” (anti-abortionist) activists who are so violently anti-abortion they make you want to open a Planned Parenthood office in retaliation.
Some of you make it appear as if Hank is a cross between Pol Pot and Margaret Sanger—we’ll just have to check to see if Hank is wearing a Mao suit.
None of you hysterics has to worry, requiring babymaking licenses would be unacceptable to most Americans, though abortions will continue—which demonstrates how there is little rhyme or reason to it.

It’s mostly sound and fury.





FINALLY. This should have been imposed 100 years ago. Imagine peace on earth and no child left to suffer. Sterilize at birth, with the option to “undo” at a time when the person feels that they are ready to take on the responsibility of a precious human life. Only after they’ve passed a battery of tests THEN ‘begin’ the process of creating life. You have to get a license to drive a car, have a dog, and on and on…. but yet our children suffer beyond imagination. A world full of responsible and loving humans with nothing but good in thier life and ours. Imagine, the abused child down the street is waiting on your answer to the call. Don’t let one more child suffer, end the madness and make an euphoric existance where ‘history’ will be ‘fright night’ reading. Make it happen for our human future and it’s generations to come.
Hank, you have made history if the braincells available can act with the responsibility and character needed to do so. You have my vote, 0, and have had for more than 20 years…glad to meet you.





that “0” was one hundred percent, before the ‘analyzation’ of the powers that be…  and it remains so.





sherakee—the pleasure is mine - I am extremely glad to meet you!  Thanks for expressing yourself and my position so well here, and I want you to know that I owe my article to Peg Tittle - who’s book I referenced—and to Hugh LaFollette - who’s essay from 1980 also inspired me.  Thanks again for articulating what an improved world we could have if everyone on earth had, in your words, “responsible and loving” parents.





The technology needed to make this actually work is the ability to reversibly “Turn off the reproductive cycle” for women and reversibly sterilize men by conscious personal choice. This would enable a “double fail” system so that it would take two consenting individuals to produce a child. No one would then be able to produce a child “accidentally”

Note I say this is by “conscious personal choice”, not by government mandate, because I fear I must agree with those who claim the “licensing” system is authoritarian. People should be allowed to reproduce as they wish, PROVIDED IT IS A CONSENSUAL ACT BY BOTH PARTIES INVOLVED.

I also am quite strongly in favor of extremely strict parental laws that hold the parent accountable TO THE CHILD, with severe penalties for many of the abuses Hank lists, including indoctrination.

However, I fear we must wait for technology to progress enough to grant people the ability to control their personal reproductive systems before any of this becomes practical. I do believe that this ability alone will massively reduce most of the problems Hank lists as it will eliminate any possibility of accidental reproduction.





Well.. I’ve read it all now? Sanctioning procreation licensing to prevent future potential Hitlers? So it’s not just the interest of the children you have in the back of your mind then?

Of course, what you really mean is that the “abused and bullied victims” tend to go on to abuse others? - So again, what’s the real solution? - Education perchance?

Seems with this feeble idea, we are replacing one potential Hitler with another, complete with images of the “Baby swat police” kicking your door in to take your un-sanctioned baby away - Oh the tears, the screaming, the despair!

“Education has failed” - is that a “period” at the end there?

Now if this article was suggesting the reduction of child suffering and even population decrease through education and awareness, then I’d be all for it - But it’s not is it!





Concerning the human failings of bureaucracy..

“Tragic decision” fostering judgment - License revoked!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/23/ukcrime-fostering?CMP=twt_fd

Concerning the “ugly” side of human nature..

“Libyan children suffering rape”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/apr/23/libyan-children-suffering-rape?CMP=twt_fd





I think doing this is against the Word of God. Why control this aspect? What are we? robots?





Valkyrie Ice - thanks for joining in!  I appreciate that you always know what technology has - or will soon have - available. 

Cygnus—of course, I agree with your goal!—“the reduction of child suffering and even population decrease through education and awareness”—I wholeheartedly agree with that!  But your methods won’t be enough.  “Education and awareness” is what we’ve been doing, and with solely that approach, numerous accidents happen, easily and often.  I was involved in “accidental pregnancy” ’ twice, in my younger years, and it was extremely traumatic. And I’m a light drinker, and the pregnancies were terminated. What I am saying is, we can keep up the “education and awareness” forever, but there will still be accidental pregnancies, unless we have access to the improved contraceptives that Valkyrie Ice has mentioned.

Cygnus, I am interested in solving the problems that I mentioned, that’s all.  I am not interested in issuing licenses because I think licenses are fun.  Nor am I interested in overly-controlling people.  I just want the problems alleviated.  I am open to other suggestions that would alleviate the problems, but it seems obvious to me that “education and awareness” is not going to be sufficient. 

Obviously, when improved contraceptives arrive, accidental pregnancy will be vastly curtailed.  Like other posters, I believe it would be beneficial to have us “sterile” except when we actually want to have a child.  Like all men, I have produced trillions of sperm, but I have only utilized three— the rest of it was just gallons of inconvenience that instigated occasional terror. 

rossmark22 - ah, I have been waiting for remarks like yours.  The “Word of God” eh?  Seems like your God has created a very flawed system with numerous accidents and tragedies, and He can’t seem to fix it.  Truth is, believing in your God is one of the biggest problems because often your “God” seems opposed to birth control - rendering “family planning” impossible, so that infants arrived unchecked, unwanted, and unprepared for.  Read my earlier post about The Philippines.

for all, I think the USA won’t be the first place to utilize parent licensing.  There would be strong resistance here, from religious groups and others.  It might happen in Asia first - perhaps even China and India (China’s one-child policy is certainly a step in that direction) Parent Licenses might happen earlier in parts of Europe as well, I have heard that Denmark and Austria have toyed with mild forms of it.

I also read in a recent World Future Society issue that many Asian nations seem to be more open to biotech solutions, in general.  Oh, and since many of us think that “education” is the answer—Asians, particularly China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, are leading the world in K-12 education.  So perhaps improved “education” leads to acceptance of biotech solutions, and also licensing?  We shall see.





I am beginning to be swayed by your arguments.  However to just be sure you are all in, let the home inspections begin, especially where there are adult men and young daughters. 

If you are planning on saving the children,why not insure that the ones not aborted are secure.  I propose that all of you set the example and subject your families to be the models, psychological testing, home checks, school visits, background checks, etc. 

After you are screened and some of your children are removed, we can set up an indoctrination , er , I mean education center where you can go to conform to the rules.

I suppose if none of this is acceptable,then we have exposed the haughty arrogance that some have suspected. 





Stephen Hawking would have never been born with your restrictions in place.





Re “I think doing this is against the Word of God. Why control this aspect? What are we? robots?”

I am afraid the Word of God is not a strong argument here. If you have better arguments, we will listen to you.

Of course we are robots. We are nano-biological machines produced by evolution, and we are about to take control of our evolution to become even better machines.





for Seymour—I really like the part of your email that says, “I am beginning to be swayed by your arguments”

I like that a lot. 

Regarding the inspection that you want to send to my house, I want to make clear, as other proponents have, that “licensing” should be used as an incentive, and that people who fail a test (or an inspection) have an opportunity to be re-evaluated.  I am not proposing some sort of high school test that, if failed, renders the person childless for life.  The important part is that some sort of education, and perhaps psychological evaluation, takes place.

Yes, Steven Hawkings is often used as a rebuttal.  He has a motor neuron disease that is related to Lou Gehring’s Disease, so, if implemented, a great baseball player would have been absent historically as well.  If you re-read my article, you’ll see that I put question marks after various diseases.  Meaning, I think screening, and possibly denying licenses, to couples who have a high percentile risk of having children with genetic disorders, is worthy of discussion.  Obviously, Steven Hawkings does not have any cognitive liabilities with his malady, so that’s a strong reason to not sanction it.

I will have my children clean their rooms and prepare for your inspection.





“I am open to other suggestions that would alleviate the problems, but it seems obvious to me that “education and awareness” is not going to be sufficient.”
Spontaneity and hormones trump education.
Why doesn’t IEET collaborate with Victoria’s Secret and GQ to sponsor a design competition to develop contraceptive underwear?

How about simpler, more voluntary ideas first?
spray-on condoms? “Pre-market trials are underway to demonstrate the new latex condom is evenly spread when sprayed and to optimise the vulcanization process. The company is seeking Condom Testers” 
http://www.gizmag.com/go/6534/
encouraging virtual sex?
http://www.gizmag.com/remote-pleasure-teledildonics/18459/
Or, for parental control of such matters, a chastity belt for men?
http://www.gizmag.com/cb6000-chastity-belt-for-men/17527/





The most important point of any endeavor, is to start. This (figuratively has already happened with this blog) {thank Hank} The path from here on will have to start with great ideas being acted upon by the populace, such as….“by thier own choice”, was a GREAT idea. We need a next idea, and on and on, WITH IMPLEMENTATION. (In layman’s terms that means get off your duff and do SOMETHING)  Just using as your driving force -this…. “ONE HAPPY CHILD AFTER ANOTHER”. SO WHAT if some ‘potential’ parents feel robbed, how would thier offspring feel in thier IMPOSED life of inadequacy, hardly the word needed, much worse words -as in truthful and harsh one’s- need to placed IN OUR FACE to give us the tiniest glimpse of the actuals, this so called life they face from the moment of conception, not just birth ...and on and on…. Use this as our driving force that there’s hope that the suffering of innocents will be no more, and that the ego and ‘wants’ of the grown (or almost grown, or pretend grown, or..I could go on) humans, the one’s that have lived the life they sincerely wish to impose on more, will be squelshed under the weight of the facts. pure and simple. The first step, followed by the next, will be the prevailing force, gathering as it goes with the momentum to do the right thing, which is always every humans prevailing wish. Even in what society calls the ‘degenerate’s’, they have inside themselves the will to do the ‘right thing’, and for all to make a world, that is NOT overpopulated by 5 billion too many to sustain AT THIS POINT ALREADY, and COULD the innocent be protected by all, would be a world that no one (in thier right mind) would or more importantly COULD say no to.  MORE IDEAS, KEEP “EM COMING. Any improvement is better than the present situation.





@sherakee
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtNHuqHWefU

@Hank
If sherakee isn’t a good enough example of just how bad an idea this is, then there is no hope of rational debate here.

Have fun stormin’ the castle.





@dor - -thanks for the links - and thanks for your work at thinking of new and different ideas. I also really appreciate your comment about how everyone’s subjective experience helps create their set of opinions - I have been thinking about that a lot.

@iPan—that’s not fair, saying if Sherakee supports parent licenses it has to be a bad idea.  That’s just not fair, but I appreciate your sense of humor.





Let’s be completely honest, Hank.

This is class warfare. You dress it up all prettily, with “We need to save the children”, but we all know it’s bullshit.

We know how many times this has been tried in the past, and how it’s failed. We have evidence, we have history. We know it doesn’t work.

Truth is, although I like to give people the benefit of doubt, I think the thin disguise you use to conceal this class warfare is getting old.

Why bother trying to paint a pretty picture at all? Why not just come out and admit that the riffraff disgusts you?

I’m pretty sure we could conduct a study that shows that low IQ’s lead to abuse, after all, people with low IQ’s tend to make up a larger percentage of the impoverished, don’t get an education, don’t become as “wise” as others, and are therefore more likely to exist in the kinds of situations that you trying to prevent.

Which shows the irony in sherakee’s support for this idea. Her last response shows incredibly poor grammar, punctuation, and understanding. It’s all emotional zeal. Meaning, I don’t think she’d get a license. Which makes it ironic that she supports your idea.

Lots of people think it’s a great concept, until it’s applied to them, then they’ll start screaming about their constitutional rights.

You don’t want to admit what I’m saying, because sherakee represents the small amount of support for this cockamamy idea in this thread.

Eugenics has been done before, it’s in our history books.

You think it’s going to go over better this time? America just got done admitting to, and apologizing for, conducting unethical medical experiments on unwilling patients in…where was it? Panama? Guatemala? Can’t remember which country it was, but I think you probably remember the issue from the news.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect that last comment to actually get approved, no more than I expect this one to.

I’m just sick of the thin excuses.

This is class warfare at it’s finest, nothing more, nothing less, and I’m tired of the bullshit reasoning behind it.





@Dor

A male contraceptive exists that would render the male temporarily infertile, http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/02/17/male-birth-control-injection-may-be-near-excuses-follow/

The problem is that too many men feel contraception is for women and women alone. Read the commentary.

For example: “this is an outrage this is the work of feminist men dont need birth control fuck the new age feminist this is a act of rasisum to men i am ashamed to live in a world that would even accept this idea fuck the new age feminist this is a feminist idea this is a rasist act to men men dont need birth control this is a outrage it is rasisit a bunch of fucking sadist this is genaside it is immoral this is an outrage”





@Ipan, ideas are formed FIRST, then acted upon by trial and error. Did I need to use smaller words and shorter sentences for you?

@Seymour, “If you are planning on saving the children,why not insure that the ones not aborted are secure. I propose that all of you set the example and subject your families to be the models, psychological testing, home checks, school visits, background checks, etc.”
Bring it on, there is NOTHING I would suggest to ANYONE, never have never will, that I would not impose upon myself. Children and their needs have always been my top priority, I’ve welcomed them with open arms with-in my small community,  opened my doors and turned but one in a great many, away…. I offered safety,  food, my personal facilities, warm beds, clean clothes and protection from any and all abuses, with out fail… never were they ever harrassed in my care or presence. I’m called “Mom more than Mother Goose.

Making fun is not making headway. My Grandma would tell you *&% or get off the pot. I suggest you follow her advise. We need more ideas’, as I said before, and the gonads (even obvious micro one’s) to act upon them, for all of humanity’s sake.

@Ipan, I’m not an “example” of what you would wish to hear in the comfort of your little world, but instead one of the idea’s that are and have been forming in the minds of many greater human’s than your humorous little self, that actually want to end horrendous atrocities to the innocent, instead of those who sit back and watch for a good bit, lube their lack of action with humor, then decide at some point-mostly when all the work is done- to stand up from their comfy chairs, to pull their head from their buttocks to loudly applaud the success of those who, if they couldn’t lead, PUSHED.

Choose to add productive idea’s that can be chosen by ‘The People themselves’ to be acted on, first. Then on down the line you in your grand wisdom, can add some comedy relief, mabye even by not attacking those that strongly want to change ignorance, but those that are ‘afraid’ (whaaa) of change, any change, even for the survival of the planet itself.

The idea’s are where any processes start, so putting in your 2 bit’s, is worth more than you think.

Thank you Hank, and all who’ve posted here, your idea’s can be placed into action and maybe before most of us have breathed our last, we can see the incredible effect the happiness of not just one tiny child, but all of them, can have on the world.
@Ipan, ideas are formed FIRST, then acted upon by trial and error. Did I need to use smaller words and shorter sentences for you?

@Seymour, “If you are planning on saving the children,why not insure that the ones not aborted are secure. I propose that all of you set the example and subject your families to be the models, psychological testing, home checks, school visits, background checks, etc.”
Bring it on, there is NOTHING I would suggest to ANYONE, never have never will, that I would not impose upon myself. Children and their needs have always been my top priority, I’ve welcomed them with open arms with-in my small community,  opened my doors and turned but one in a great many, away…. I offered safety,  food, my personal facilities, warm beds, clean clothes and protection from any and all abuses, with out fail… never were they ever harassed in my care or presence. I’m called “Mom more than Mother Goose.

Making fun is not making headway. My Grandma would tell you *&% or get off the pot. I suggest you follow her advise. We need more ideas’, as I said before, and the gonads (even obvious micro one’s) to act upon them, for all of humanity’s sake.

@Ipan, I’m not an “example” of what you would wish to hear in the comfort of your little world, but instead one of the idea’s that are and have been forming in the minds of many greater humans than your humorous little self, that actually want to end horrendous atrocities to the innocent, instead of those who sit back and watch for a good bit, lube their lack of action with humor, then decide at some point-mostly when all the work is done- to stand up from their comfy chairs, to pull their head from their buttocks to loudly applaud the success of those who, if they couldn’t lead, PUSHED.

Choose to add productive idea’s that can be chosen by ‘The People themselves’ to be acted on, first. Then on down the line you in your grand wisdom, can add some comedy relief, maybe even by not attacking those that strongly want to change ignorance, but those that are ‘afraid’ (whaaa) of change, any change, even for the survival of the planet itself.

The idea’s are where any processes start, so putting in your 2 bit’s, is worth more than you think.

Thank you Hank, and all who’ve posted here, your idea’s can be placed into action and maybe before most of us have breathed our last, we can see the incredible effect the happiness of not just one tiny child, but all of them, can have on the world and everyone in it.





Viable alternatives to social ills:

Homelessness?

Check out Portland, Oregon’s plan to house homeless:

http://www.portlandonline.com/phb/index.cfm?c=30140

“The Ten Year Plan has housed more than 2000 chronically homeless people like Steve Powell in the last four and a half years.”

And Virginia:

“Across Virginia, communities are accepting that homelessness is solvable. 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Virginians is a statewide initiative - led by the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness - to house 1,000 of the most vulnerable Virginians experiencing homelessness.”

http://www.vceh.org/permanent-supportive-housing

Drug addiction?

Would you be shocked to know that Wasiwaska is around 14 times more effective in treating drug addiction than 12-step?

http://www.wasiwaska.org/index.cfm

Harm reduction and decriminalization:

“However in Switzerland the incidence of heroin abuse has declined sharply since the introduction of heroin assisted treatment. As a study published in The Lancet concluded:
The harm reduction policy of Switzerland and its emphasis on the medicalisation of the heroin problem seems to have contributed to the image of heroin as unattractive for young people.”
— Nordt, Carlos, and Rudolf Stohler, “Incidence of Heroin Use in Zurich, Switzerland: A Treatment Case Register Analysis,”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harm_reduction

Sustainable food?

Open Source Blueprints for Civilization

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/2011420mj

Hank, you’re already familiar with microlending through organizations like KIVA and Acumen.

The problems you seek to solve are 99% socioeconomic problems. What you’re trying to do is treat the symptoms, not the underlying causes of those problems (if you were wondering why I was focusing on economic problems, it’s because that’s where the issues you are concerned with originate).

Here’s the unadulterated truth: humanity already possesses the know how and the material means to end all of these problems.

All it takes is collective will. The solutions, the answers, have been right in front of us the whole time.





I wanted to add more thorough information and some statistics concerning drug addiction treatment through Ayahuasca.

http://www.sapaninka.com/en/articles-and-research/using-indigenous-medicinal-knowledge-to-treat-drug-addiction

Results
Since its founding in 1992, the Takiwasi Center has received more than 380 patients. One study has just been made (Glove, not yet published) of the first seven years of activity (1992-1998), examining drug addicts or alcoholics having completed at least one month of treatment and with at least two years of time out of the clinic - a sample of 211 courses of treatment (175 first-time patients and 36 returning patients). Note that the results of this study do not include data on the 32% of patients who leave during the first month before the first ayahuasca session, when the treatment is not yet considered to have started. 28% reached the 6th month of treatment, and 23.4% finished the entire treatment.

Two-thirds of the patients consumed mainly a highly addictive and debilitating cocaine based paste. 80% consumed alcohol alone or in addition to other drugs. More than half of the patients (53.5%) had already tried treatment, one-third of which had tried psychiatric services. For 49%, the gateway drug was alcohol, and for 42%, cannabis. The average age was 30 years and the average duration of consumption of psychoactive substances at the time of entrance was 12.5 years.

At 31.3%, with a tendency to augmentation, the index of retention (percentage of prescribed exits out of total exits) gives proof of the relative acceptance of this therapeutic method. The voluntary exits make up the majority (52%) compared to ¼ prescribed exits (23%), ¼ runaways (23%), and the rare expulsions (3%).

The evaluation of the results integrates qualitative givens, as well as the incidence of abstinence or relapse due to poor prognostic criteria. One should note that the patients leave free of any post-residential medication. In addition to the evaluating the relation to addictive substances, especially those that the subject consumed before, we consider personal evolution (internal structural change), the indications of social and professional reintegration, and the capacity for familial (re)structuration. According to these criteria,we may distinguish three categories:

· “good”: favorable development, problems apparently resolved thanks to an truestructural change manifested upon several life levels.
· “better”: favorable development with evident structural changes, but vestiges of the original problem still present.
· “same or bad”: relapse of consumption of substances, although often more discrete, no convincing structural change, frequent abandonment of substances for alcohol.

Out of the total, then, 31% were “good” and 23% “better,” while 23% were “same or bad” and 23% unknown. With hindsight, we can affirm that about 35% of those who have lost contact with the Center are, in the end, “good” or “better” (that’s 8% of the total), which means that about 62% of the patients have, in the end, positively benefited from the follow-up of the model proposed at the Takiwasi Center. When one only takes into account the sample of the patients with “prescribed exit,” (those who have completed the entire program) the positive results are raised to 67%.

When the patients relapse or simply re-offend, 55.5% return to Takiwasi and 26% find other local practitioners of traditional medicine, which demonstrates their high opinion of this approach. When this occurs, purgative plants are more solicited than psychoactive plants. This choice demonstrates the absence of dependence on the psychoactive substances.

This method, officially recognized by the Peruvian authorities, has expanded into a number of programs including educational programs (for students), psychiatric and anthropological research, and outreach (written and audio-visual media, and seminars for personal development).





Whew, got some of the libbies upset.  Sorry folks couldnt post most of the day, was at church this morning serving meals to the homeless, and have been on call the rest of the day.

Sherakee,attacking folks integrity makes you the fool.  You say “Ideas ”  but spew none of your own. 

These tired old arguments to “save the children ”  are worn thin.  This is but another power grab by the folks with self confidence issues.

Many programs are now in place to help children and families, some are administered by the govt. and many are through religious organizations, and none of them trample human rights.

I realize a common thread in here is the hatred of folks that find solace and peace through religion, make snide remarks all you wish, Hank, but rather than sitting on their ass and criticizing others, many of the “churchy” types I know were at the food kitchen this morning.

My idea of having home inspections was nothing more than sarcasm. As a Christian I would wish no suffering to befall any of you, and especially your children.  We all want the same thing, the different methods by which we advocate getting there is truly revealing.

Education programs, a sense of shame for not doing what is “right”,  penalties assessed for parents of irresponsible punks.  I see many ways to elicit proper behavior.  Unfortunately the “do as you please” and “individual expression” aberrations of society , and the permissive liberal judges have stripped away all consequences for actions.  How the hell do you expect people to behave if there are no recriminations for poor behavior?  That in essence the difference between your ethos and mine, I believe people should be guided by accepted civil social norms and more’s, and if they screw up, they pay the consequences, you believe you can force people to do what YOU believe is right.  Well in the heartland we say” that dog don’t hunt” 

I am glad that you recived a little thrill when I said you were swaying me,  unfortunately as I review the posts ,and have forwarded this blog to others, the sway is not the way you wish.

I still find the idea of compusory sterilization to be extremely repugnant , and am absolutely amazed to hear that kind of spam come from an “educated ” persons mouth.

We definitely have absolutely nothing in common and the more I read, I am not certain we are of the same species.  That is understandable though, after checking out the personals in the Bay area Craigslist, I believe you folks have the market cornered on “progressives”  Holy Cow!





“was at church this morning serving meals to the homeless, and have been on call the rest of the day.”

Yeah as long as they are the ones who are homeless and not us—thank God for that. Naturally such is an aside, but it would be boastingly vain to think you are the only one at IEET who has spent many hours volunteering at faith-based charities. What I detest is rightwingers think because they own America (which they do), it means they own the cosmos and God (they do not).
What I dislike is the probably deliberate confusion between authoritarianism and totalism; faith-based institutions themselves are usually authoritarian, yet not totalitarian. The family ‘it’self is inherently authoritarian.
So what are you worried about? In America a bill concerning licensing babymaking would go through so many committees & subcommittees that we would all die of old age before any resolution were to be arrived at.
However, if Hank grows a toothbrush moustache and examines the Western border of Poland in preparation for invasion, you can say he is a totalist; until then I will think you are a slick rightwing Christian who is merely afraid to say outright, “you are going to Hell for such blasphemy.”

You don’t want to give the game away so soon, Seymour.





A report on the costs of housing the homeless (although this focuses on homelessness alone, I believe it is indicative of an approach, a certain philosophy of how to go about the issue, that can be applied to many more problems than just the one addressed in the report - what I find fascinating, is that this approach can appeal even to those who do not accept “compassion” as a good enough reason, because this approach shows that it’s more economical for society to do it this way: it should appeal to the greedy and the generous alike).

http://www.cahhalifax.org/DOCS/costofhomelessnessjune06report.pdf

“The provision of supportive housing substantially reduces the burden on hospitals,  psychiatric care,
prisons and jails.  This trend had been observed nationally and internationally.  People in supportive
housing on average spend only one third as much time in these facilities as the homeless population.
While the cost may not always be obvious because it is spread over different departments and budgets,
these are expensive services. The actual costs vary, but the pattern is clear: homelessness is expensive,
and substantial broad cost savings of about 40% can be achieved by investing in supportive housing.

Numerous studies have identified,  nationally (Pomeroy 2005,  Golden 1995,  Eberle 2001)  and
internationally (Culhane 2001, Berry 2003, Lewin Group 2004), that supportive housing is one of the
most cost effective and most qualitatively positive solutions to homelessness. Fourteen of the nineteen
studies reviewed for this research make a compelling case for supportive housing.”

—-

I could find probably half a dozen similar reports from different areas of the country, including New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, and others.

The key thing here, is it shows us something counterintuitive in the very way that the problem is approached, and I think that it actually represents an underlying mentality, one that doesn’t simply rely on people being “bleeding heart liberals” or “altruistic” - it’s hard data that both the selfish and selfless alike can get behind - because the selfish will like the savings.

This perspective, this mentality, can be applied to all social problems, in my opinion.





Hi Everyone—
well this has heated up quite a bit and I find that unfortunate. 
I would prefer a polite argument.  Actually, I rather insist on it.
I am sure we all have a lot in common or we wouldn’t all be here
at the same time. 

What we have in common is that we’re all interested in making the world a better place and we’re looking for solutions to problems. Am I right in that?

I very much appreciate that people post comments to my articles and I like to respond.  But this time it has gotten a little weird. 

iPan—Have you read my article on Denmark that was recently published?  I am very interested in Egalitarianism.  I am not interested in class war against the poor, instead, I am interested in wage equality.  There are indeed, as you pointed out, obstacles that the poor face in parenting, but my Parent Licensing suggestion has many facets to it, and many have nothing to do with income.

Seymour—I am not interested in fighting with you or in being the “bad guy” in your world.  I appreciate anything that anyone has to say on the topic, especially smart critiques backed up with data, but I am not interested, and I don’t think IEET is interested, in exchanges that just turn into verbal spitting at each other.

So for everyone, I would appreciate civil discourse on the topic, without any personal attacks or meanness.  I have written for other sites (hplusmagazine.com, for example) where the conversation was consistently stupid and vicious.  I enjoy writing for IEET, I tell everyone, because the dialogue here is more intelligent and friendly.  I really want to be able to keep feeling that way.

so let’s get back on the nicer terms that we’re usually on, okay?  We don’t know each other, but I feel I have talked so much recently to dor, iPan, Cygnus, post-futurist, Valkyrie, Peter Wicks, and others, that we do know each other.  It’s fun, so let’s keep it that way.  Seymour can join in as well, he definitely has a new perspective.  And welcome to sherakee!  I look forward to hearing from everyone whenever I get an essay published.  So we can all treat each other respectfully, and continue on with our fun, alright?  Isn’t that better than name-calling and breaking this up? 

I don’t really need an answer to those questions, I’d prefer to just get back to the topic.  Or, topics.  I suggested licensing for multiple situations, can you let me know which categories, if any, you find most acceptable?:

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Teen Mothers
Those Who Flunk Parenting Classes
Drug Addicts
Carriers of Genetic Disorders
Dangerous Religious Fanatics
Abusive Parents
Octo-Moms who have enough kids already
Miscellaneous

Thanks!  FYI, I really can “use” your feedback.  I am planning on rewriting this article for inclusion in a book, so I’m interested in specific advice.





It goes without saying someone can post any spin on this and other topics; but why would rightwing Christians want to waste their time trying to change those at a technoprogressive site? they are not going to influence anyone who is impressionable enough to rather blog at a Christian site during their free time—that is to say, why waste time attempting to intimidate others when the prospect is like fishing in a pond that contains no fish? however there is no sense to very much, is there?
Tell us what makes ‘sense’ concerning reproduction and child-rearing. So no one has to worry, baby-making wont have to be licensed—such would be too sensible, too logical. Who is logic for? Spock the Vulcan?





Post, couldnt have said it better, your minds and hearts are closed, I will no longer attempt to open them.

Ipan , when assessing the costs of feeding and clothing the homeless, you are correct, it would be more cost effective to do just that.  Hospitals would be less burdened etc.  For now at least.  But history has shown us that what is supposed to be a temporary helping hand eventually becomes a permanent way of life.

Hank, I have said many times that anyone accepting govt aid from ADC or WIC should be able to do so, only after recieving Implanon or other long term device.  Anyone recieving any other type of support should be subject to random drug tests.  If you are a truck driver you are subject to urinanalsis anywhere anytime, and last time I looked, driving a truck was not a burden on society.

It seems that drug abusers comprise the majority of non genetic problems, obviously the war on drugs hasnt worked, however after looking at it objectively, the govt. isn’t really interested in getting rid of dope, it employs way too many people.

I have a good friend that married a woman with the Huntingtons gene,they had two kids, and now the kids are procreating, and none of them have been tested.  I understand the dilemma,first hand, I think it is irresponsible that they didnt have genetic counseling.  That being said,it is their life and they should be allowed to live it how they see fit as long as no one else is harmed.  I know,it is a burden on the system, bla bla bla.  Drug abusers are a burden on the system, and there are many in your circles that advocate legalization of drugs.

I suppose I look at it from a pragmatic point of view and want what is “fair”  ,  I always give people the benefit of doubt, and I would expect the same, but if you screw up, pay up.

I will not bother you anymore, you guys can just stay in here and have a little love fest! It definitely was eye opening for me, or rather eye POPPING.  Have a great life.





Oh brother.
At least, you Hank and the other supporters, have some idea of who, in their responses, has the I.Q. to see starvation, abuse, and/or a teetering life of misery is not the obvious choice.

Ignoring the personal attacks, which was like watching Jerry Springer in my mind (barf), the entire point was to REDUCE TO AN EXTREME PERCENTAGE human suffering, mostly the innocent.

This will be done. Nature is about to educate Humos Futuros, and it is a lesson that will not be forgotten, unless there are no survivors (of our species) to remember.

The next species may dig up our ignorance to have a laugh and plainly, just to shake their head at the whole “Dive off the cliff” mentality.

Is it too much to ask that we become more than lemmings?

ON ANY CONTROLS of human population, you have my vote. Soon “vote’s’ and all the importance placed upon that ‘right’ will be rampaged like a cracker box in a whirlwind.

Humans are COMPLETELY DESTROYING THE EARTH. There. Vote on that. Happy hunting for a can of spam, in the desert we are turning EVERY continent into.

Any comment’s on my spelling or grammer? Should I make sure my form is correct while tens of 1,000’s of innocent’s lay starving and dying in, what is QUITE well known, as the most horrendous way to perish.

Making a decision to change suffering is the point. The rest is just egotistical malarky and fear of personal persecution. The millions starving have no such concerns, except their complete and uncomparable misery before their last breath.





Quote – ” ON ANY CONTROLS of human population, you have my vote. Soon “vote’s’ and all the importance placed upon that ‘right’ will be rampaged like a cracker box in a whirlwind.

Humans are COMPLETELY DESTROYING THE EARTH. There. Vote on that. Happy hunting for a can of spam, in the desert we are turning EVERY continent into.”

Quote – ” Making a decision to change suffering is the point. The rest is just egotistical malarky and fear of personal persecution. The millions starving have no such concerns, except their complete and uncomparable misery before their last breath.”


@ Sherakee

It’s good to see that you are passionate regarding your beliefs and viewpoints. Yet let’s just refresh ourselves on the title and the direction of this article once more – “Ban Baby-Making Unless Parents Are Licensed”

Do you really think that Baby-licensing will reduce world population growth? Or as pointed out throughout these comments, is a real solution to any of the associated problems?

How would you implement it globally in overpopulated continents like Africa? How would you enforce it? By what means would you be prepared to enforce it – seeing as parents would not give up their children without protest? How does all of this affect the child being forcibly taken away from it’s parents? How much suffering does this cause all parties concerned?

A licensing system, if imposed, must apply to everyone equally in fairness - yes? There may be no exceptions for failure of producing a valid license – yes?

As iPan has pointed out on numerous occasions here, the implementation is impracticable and implausible, and the consequences and shortcomings of baby licensing not thought out.

I totally agree that we should attend to our growing world population issues, and the solution, I believe, can only be achieved globally through a change in human consciousness and awareness of the issues you highlight - an ethical and cultural change which is in turn driven by education and wisdom – yet a universal change that may only be “supported by the reduction of global poverty”, hardships and social divisions.

Does this sound complex? Then check out this short video –

“Visualizing Global Population Growth” – Hans Rosling

“The world’s population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years - and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you’ll see).”

>> http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/rosling20100904





“your minds and hearts are closed, I will no longer attempt to open them.”

Seymour, who asked you to in the first place? personally I don’t mind Christianity at all, faithbased organizations are, as you boasted, charitable.  However the more educated here have correctly pegged most Christians as simpletons (“imbeciles”). Everyone has a combination of good and bad intentions, so Christians play good cop- bad cop as the secular do: one day a Christian is mewling over Jesus lying so tender & mild in the manger, another day the same Christian is a hardboiled SOB growling “grab the goddamn dollar before some other sumbitch does”, and believe it or not if you don’t mind the duality neither do I; no use complaining if little can be changed in the near future. Who wants to bang his head on the wall exclaiming, “move history, move. Giddyap!”
The overarching modus operandi is SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fouled Up), we stumble through somehow—and some fall, are homeless and eat in your soup kitchen. If you want to ameliorate suffering, which appears to be what you (we can’t read your mind) want, then who is complaining? Yet you DO keep in mind this is a secular technoprogressive h+ site, right? Not everyone can be placated; we can’t be Christian libertine radical moderate conservative progressives—because we end up bumping into ourselves walkng out the door.





... might not have made it clear, Seymour, it isn’t to say you are incorrect, it is the collateral issue of why it is you would write what you write at IEET in particular; this is a very simple, direct question: why do you blog here, Seymour? you know there is a place for everything in God’s Kingdom, don’t you? so the Christianly prosaic question is: again, what makes you want to be a fisherman fishing in a pond containing no fish?
You know very well how science operates, it is based on differentiation, specialization, flux, etc. Nothing wrong with your brand of holism, at least from what we have read from you so far
—yet of course we don’t know you well. You blog at an h+ site expecting us to ... what, exactly? Open our hearts (and perhaps wallets) to idiosyncratic Christianity? it doesn’t really bother me or else I would ignore religious/spiritual comments, but what does such mean that I rather like ecumenical blarney? I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box; there are some at IEET much smarter and more educated, and what can you write that they haven’t heard many times before, how can you move it along? do you even actually want to ‘move it along’ at all? are you having difficulty deciding whether you are a conservative or a progressive? me too. IMO social progress is a construct, or more accurately, a necessary fiction—as is religion; we are making it up as we go along, as the young, hungry, libertarian-oriented Reaganites used to say in the early ‘80s, “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.”
The biggest canard is that we can predict the future, but we have to pretend we can, we have to make SOME postulations, some plans, even if we are only really feeling our way along in the dark. Again, so you have no doubt, I personally do not mind your Christianity, or anyone’s Christianity. Nevertheless it means nothing whatsoever in the sum of things, it is a drop of water in the ocean. So let no man boasteth of volunteering in a soup kitchen or being on call, for thine vanity is as filthy rags!





Post Post,  funny that you know my education level.  Member of Mensa, Cal State Fullerton BS,  Arizona State Masters , PhD Arizona State.  I also find it amusing that Ipan chastises me but allows you to spew disjointed rambling inflammatory statements about other posters. 

I want others to be served, so that is what I do. Spewing your hatred is just what I thought you might do, so common.  Get out and get your hands dirty, you might actually help someone , and the feeling of contentment and accomplishment might temper your reactionary outbursts.

Im going to shoot my .308 semi auto assault rifle, thats what us dummies do in the midwest for amusement. 

Good Bye





I think we need to look closely at those societies that have done well raising children, such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert and the Twelve Tribes, for answers. External controls enacted by a privileged ruling class and enforced by a police state on the poor and powerless in society will not work.

The Gods Must Be Crazy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66pTPWg_wUw

Children of the Island Pond Raid: An Emerging Culture
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHBX3QGRGow&feature=related





Island Pond- an unusual hybrid. They considered “Bob Dylan a prophet”, and said: “America’s clothing is designed by sodomites in California” (well at least the sodomites have sartorial talent). It is true no one in or connected to the Island Pond community abused children, the state of Vermont overreacted; the children at the time I was there (late ‘80s) were as happy as children can be under such strict circumstances, though as to how the children could adjust to the pressures & temptations of being adolescents in the environment of Island Pond (also very cold in winter, near Canada) is anyone’s guess. They are rugged, one has to grant them their fortitude.
BTW, I did provoke Seymour Kierly, however not doing so meant ceaseless promotion on his part of rightist religion at an h+ site. We can do outreach to religionists, but we can’t be everything to everyone—we are not spiritual whores. I have volunteered for thousands of hours at churches, so in this he was unfair. Plus one didn’t need a crystal ball to see his remark about owning a semi-automatic assault rifle coming—for I live in the Midwest too, the threat of retaliation is not much less than what you find in Dixie.





The Twelve Tribes was started by former hippies who gave up the drugs and the music to live communally like the early church. Acts 2:44,45; 4:32-35. The children do real well under these conditions. You’ll not find a child that is overweight or suffering from a diet-related disease that was born and raised in the community.

I lived with Twelve Tribes for about a month and a half back in 2008 and can assure you that they don’t consider Bob Dylan to be a prophet.





I have read that children raised in nudist colonies are often well-adjusted.

post-postfuturist—You’re quite alright with me.
I have no objection to religionists like Seymour showing up here, or conservatives, anyone at all, as long as their tone is civilized. In fact, I rather welcome them. But it did seem like he showed up vitriolic, did the name-calling that is best avoided, and left in a huff to go play with his scary gun.
Plus, I don’t think he read my article carefully at all, because he seemed focused on drug addicts, and my article wasn’t.





I completely agree with this idea. Humans are a deadly lot by nature and combined with deadly parents of one form or other, humans can do great damage to each other, the environment and to the future. If one accepts that technology will be exponentially growing in its power and influence, it makes sense to have only the healthiest minds making decisions.

That brings up the question: what is a healthy mind? Must one have a certain amount of empathy to be considered healthy? What other characteristics are essential to a healthy eco-system of minds? Should some people be groomed to manifest certain components of the healthy mind-sphere?





@CygnusX1 Thank you for your positive remarks, and for not grading my literary incompetence. As for my “passionate beliefs and viewpoints”, I see my viewpoints as purely logical. But then ‘passion’ is in the perceiver.
I am familiar with Mr. Hans and over a period of years at that. Thank you for sharing though, it was a nice walk down memory lane.

@Seymour I was raised in a multitudinal religious background, you name the “Category”, or “Classification”, it was slammed down my throat, and escaped from. It still rears it’s ugly head from time to time, but that’s ok, it helps me incredibly with “understanding” and “communication”. I view both of THOSE as the only logical I.Q. test available today. As a Mensa “invitee”, I slipped silently away with no intention of becoming one of the rotting brains that played little games and patted each other on the back on their amazing smartness. I still hold love for them, but as I watched my father battle the listlessness as a former editor of a certain state’s communication’s, I was tainted by his disdain at their lack of action.
No, I am (trying hard to be) no longer religious, but I still love you and hope the best for you.
I am not a ‘libbie’, their is no classification for me and other’s like me except that we wish the best for all humans and species alike and KNOW without a doubt- this will not come lightly, but at a terrible price.
I love my Gun (to be pried from my cold dead fingers), I love MY Country, and am improving myself (hopefully) for the betterment of all in that suffering be diminished through simple logic and the balls to bear the load.
I have proven, in my survival and existence alone, that those previously mentioned attributes exist in me.

@post-postfuturist. I find myself bumping into me all the time, do you have the cure for that? I’m all ears. or screen, for that matter.

@ The Deadly Human, yes. your first paragraph is resoundingly true, provable and in implementation as we type. One tiny flaw is that technology is owned by the corporations, i.e. the highest bidder, and most advancements are shelved until the most profit can be made. Science is bought and sold these days, and scientist’s everywhere are fighting a valiant battle of good vs. evil. My heart goes to those who have prevailed, you know who you are.
Your second paragraph was an empty baseless statement of questions. You already know the answer to these, were you asking to give us pause for thought? I found it slightly redundant, but never-the-less, quite plausibly necessary for some, and sometimes that-in itself-escapes me, (alot does, for that matter) so thank you.

@Hank,  I am completely fertile (obnoxiously so) and propose I volunteer as the first licensee applicant, most likely non-holder due to horrendous spelling alone, maybe my pea shooter, but there you go folks.
AN EXAMPLE OF LOGIC.
Please follow suit with more ‘on topic’ subject’s such as ‘how to’ and WHERE MOST NECESSARY, and so on.
Next volunteer, please.





@Hank…I’m coming at this thread late having been offline over Easter, so apologies if I’ve missed something, but it’s not really clear to me that you’ve addressed the enforceability/practicality issue. I guess your idea is “start small”, but what’s really the vision here. In a US context, is this even constitutional?

I’d also be interested in your direct comments on the autonomy/rights objections (e.g. From iPan). As a rule utilitarian I don’t see individual rights as fundamental, but I do see them as being in practice an essential part of our culture, and it seems to me that we allow such concepts to be eroded at our peril.

Essentially what you’re suggesting seems to be a massively intrusive, statist solution that would be considered unpalatable even in a country like Sweden. How *could* it work? What’s the scenario? How could it ever be made politically acceptable?





Hi Peter - nice to hear from you.
Regarding the Parent Licensing idea—I don’t see it as having to be what you call a “massively intrusive, statist solution”—

it could instead resemble any of our various certification programs, for example, do people want to operate heavy, dangerous, potentially lethal machinery unless they have proved to themselves that they can do so without causing anyone harm?

I am sure most people do not intend to be terrible abusive and/or neglectful parents, nor do they consciously set out to give birth to children with fetal alcohol syndrome or genetic disorders.  Everybody intends to give birth to healthy infants and then they intend to be great parents.  But often, it doesn’t work out that way.  They were insufficiently prepared - they should have been genetically tested, but they weren’t, they should have stopped binging on alcohol, but they didn’t, they didn’t realize that the stress of having children, a marriage, and a job was going to unravel them and they’d become abusive, etc etc.

A parenting license, or sequence of testings, could help prepare someone for the arduous task of child-rearing, or, if it was evident that the person was not prepared, they could be denied. 

How many people, if it was actually proved to them that they were emotionally, physically, genetically or mentally unready for parenting, would want to go ahead with the job?  Wouldn’t most people decide that they needed to study more on the topic, or clean up their bad habits, or reduce their violence level, before plunging in with responsibility for another life?

Right now in the USA, there are various things that young adults look forward to—driving (which necessitates learning how via tests), voting (usually there’s talk of what this means in high school civics classes), and employment (with all the prerequisite studying in classes or various apprenticeships).  Responsible young people are content to properly prepare themselves for voting, driving a car, or career decisions.  But Parenting is somehow left out of bounds, we have an erroneous notion that it is something we all instinctively know how to do correctly.  So really, before any parent licensing took place, there has to be general public realization about what creates a healthy baby and child, and what doesn’t, and acceptance on everyone’s part that we all do indeed - everyone of us - want to create healthy children and that we’re willing to work hard - in advance - to make sure that this happens.





sherakee is hoping for concrete action on this, so let’s try to figure out where a Parent Licensing measure might pass first.  I think Singapore, but that’s not in the USA.  State-side… I don’t know…  I live in California and I don’t think it will happen here first.  It has to be some place that is neither “too progressive” or “too libertarian.”  I’m going to guess… Connecticut? Delaware? Hawaii?  There is also the possibility that it happens first in another nation and is so successful there that it is adopted, slowly, universally.  Like gay marriage, that started in… The Netherlands? 

Perhaps “parent licensing” might start just in some small municipality.  Like New Paltz.  Some kid-friendly town that is really into children’s rights.  Or maybe a religious denomination will support it… and a town populated by that sect will endorse it. 

Obviously, if China adopts parent-licensing, and China maintains its rapid progress, this will have some influence on whoever it influences in its growing sphere.  Likewise, India.

That’s enough extremely wild guesses from me.  Anyone else have ideas?





Simulate it first.





Hank, are you familiar with how successful China’s one-child policy has been?

Here’s a quick excerpt from wikipedia:

Policy benefits exaggerated
Another criticism is directed at the exaggerated claimed effects of the policy on the reduction in the total fertility rate. Studies by Chinese demographers, funded in part by the UN Fund for Population Activities, showed that combining poverty alleviation and health care with relaxed targets for family planning was more effective at reducing fertility than vigorous enforcement of very ambitious fertility reduction targets.[39] In 1988, Zeng Yi and professor T. Paul Schultz of Yale University discussed the effect of the transformation to the market on Chinese fertility, arguing that the introduction of the contract responsibility system in agriculture during the early 1980s weakened family planning controls during that period.[40] Zeng contended that the “big cooking pot” system of the People’s Communes had insulated people from the costs of having many children. By the late 1980s, economic costs and incentives created by the contract system were already reducing the number of children farmers wanted.
As Hasketh, Lu, and Xing observe: “[T]he policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate. The most dramatic decrease in the rate actually occurred before the policy was imposed. Between 1970 and 1979, the largely voluntary “late, long, few” policy, which called for later childbearing, greater spacing between children, and fewer children, had already resulted in a halving of the total fertility rate, from 5.9 to 2.9. After the one-child policy was introduced, there was a more gradual fall in the rate until 1995, and it has more or less stabilized at approximately 1.7 since then.”[41] These researchers note further that China could have expected a continued reduction in its fertility rate just from continued economic development, had it kept to the previous policy.

The “four-two-one” problem
As the first generation of law-enforced only children came of age for becoming parents themselves, one adult child was left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents.[53][54] Called the “4-2-1 Problem”, this leaves the older generations with increased chances of dependency on retirement funds or charity in order to receive support. If personal savings, pensions, or state welfare fail, most senior citizens would be left entirely dependent upon their very small family or neighbours for assistance. If, for any reason, the single child is unable to care for their older adult relatives, the oldest generations would face a lack of resources and necessities. In response to such an issue, certain provinces maintained that couples were allowed to have two children if both parents were only children themselves. As of 2009, all provinces in the nation adopted this new adaptation.

Unequal enforcement
Government officials and especially wealthy individuals have often been able to violate the policy in spite of fines.[61] For example, between 2000 and 2005, as many as 1,968 officials in central China’s Hunan province were found to be violating the policy, according to the provincial family planning commission; also exposed by the commission were 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112 entrepreneurs and 6 senior intellectuals.[62] Some of the offending officials did not face penalties,[63] although the government did respond by raising fines and calling on local officials to “expose the celebrities and high-income people who violate the family planning policy and have more than one child.”





“I lived with Twelve Tribes for about a month and a half back in 2008 and can assure you that they don’t consider Bob Dylan to be a prophet.”

You know how the year 1987 was different in some respects from 2008?, and that people and institutions change somewhat, even fusty religious organizations? In 1987 a portrait of Bob Dylan was at the mansion in Island Pond; around the portrait were garlands of flowers. I asked what the portrait signified and was told “Bob Dylan is a prophet”.
BTW I didn’t necessarily want to pick on Seymour Kleirly (though when we criticize we are picking-on to a certain extent), nor am I proud of volunteering at churches—it’s not what we say, it’s what we do not. The unspoken message at soup kitchens is: “too bad you have to sleep outdoors like an animal, but don’t complain because here is some food for you to make us smarmers feel better about it.” But I’m not complaining, either; America is too large and conflicted; and though licensing babymaking IMO is a positive idea, it would die in committee after lengthy wrangling from overpaid celebrity-politicians seeking re-election. You can all be assured children will be abused by their families in the future, and social progress will continue to be largely illusory—a mirage being pushed into the future that wealthy futurists can write glossy-jacketed books about. So fill the bowls of soup and hand out the blankets for miscreants to warm their sinful bodies in when they sleep out in the gutter. Thy must not complaineth, See More Clearly, for such is ungrateful; let no man boasteth, pride before a fall.
Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.

 





Hi iPan—since we’re now referencing wikipedia, here are three for you:

“a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy.”

“The Chinese government estimates that it had three to four hundred million fewer people in 2008 with the one-child policy, than it would have had otherwise.”

“Chinese authorities thus consider the policy as a great success in helping to implement China’s current economic growth. The reduction in the fertility rate and thus population growth has reduced the severity of problems that come with overpopulation, like epidemics, slums, overwhelmed social services (such as health, education, law enforcement), and strain on the ecosystem from abuse of fertile land and production of high volumes of waste.”


I particularly like the first one because it demonstrates that a tightly-controlled parenting policy can garner the support of a majority.





“@post-postfuturist. I find myself bumping into me all the time, do you have the cure for that? I’m all ears. or screen, for that matter.”

A cure? who has a cure for anything? as far as I know there are no cures, only treatments. If any of us developed a cure for anything we’d be presented with the Congressional Medal Of Honor, and an Honorary Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.





@Peg Tittle: “Another, related, point, to those who clamour about this, that, and the other ‘right’ (having kids is a human right, autonomy is a universal right, etc.) - oh yeah? ON WHAT BASIS?? I don’t think it’s a defensible position to say that merely being human entitles you to ANYTHING (except possibly freedom from unjustified pain - something all animals with a nervous system are entitled to). ”
Wow.
I can only add, except the human animal, but you probably already did, somewhere.
Amazing statement, powerfully put, logically inarguable. So very nice to know you exist. I have argued these principals for years that ‘animals’ are allowed by the ‘powers that be’ to have ‘mercy in death’, but not the human animal…. no, that would make too much sense.
This whole entire subject has already been made to spiral out of control by history’s writer’s, the winners of wars and those that needed ‘taxpayers’ and slaves to pave their way and so enforced the rituals as needed by leading the brainwashing campaigns that have wrecked the tiny spaceship that we are all stuck on. I have no answers that anyone would want to hear because they are generally of the impending doom of us all spearheaded by the intentionally ignorant baa baa baa’s. Look the other way, turn the other cheek, blaa baa baa.

I am a hard-working, beaten-down, pick-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps, logical and miserable mix of what was:  foster homes, adoptions, neglect, all abuses, molestation, starvation, solitary confinement, forced marriage and poverty into what is now just a regular old tax-paying, multi-property-owning, diversely self-educated, child-rearing, with an open-door policy toward any child, SURVIVOR. One that wishes that from the very beginning she could have found the genteel people with whom she most identifies. I’ve had articles written about my survival by those which I once admired, and I cannot and would not ever impose the life I have survived on a hardened criminal, much less an innocent child.

I am a umpteenth generational farmer and have the common sense imposed upon me by being close with the earth and thousands of years of training passed down by those that made it work, with no excuses to anyone. Sense that is sadly lacking in today’s world. Farmers have been forced from their fields and into city dumps, losing forever the simple knowledge passing down from the ages, the know-how that dies with them. I have in me the training by my maternal grandparents, that adopted me at the age of seven, of truths that have been forgotten and those that have been forced out of ‘popularity’ by the masses being indoctrinated in procreating ignorance for the profit of the few. 

I’m ending your ‘death by reading too much drivel’ by saying, I, with all my everything, hope the masses soon throw the mantel of ‘brain chains’ to the ground and some of us survive what is to come, what is being MADE to come without fail, like voodoo worshipers in a zombie frenzy. All they have to do is ‘believe’ and that is exactly what is expected of them. I hope too much, as I’m a firm believer in “look at your history to see your future”, and my logical side says “I think not, but I gave it one hell of a shot.”

I just gotta add@ Ipan, your youth in shown in your perfect hindsight, all you need is some ‘hind’ to ‘sight’. “Leave home now, while you still know everything!” keeps flashing through my mind at your quick to fault and map roads you’ve never viewed. hahahaha, I don’t mean any disrespect, just a friendly punch in dee ol’ arm. (how’s my spelling) raspberry





http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/purpose
Stumble around enough and you end up at the beginning.
Reading this felt like breathing fresh mountain air…
I think I’ll have another go before bed. Wow.
Applause , standing ovation and my humble thanks, just for being.





“Simulate it first”.

A variation on this idea would be to start with some voluntary schemes.

First of all I think we need some further clarity on what we actually want to propose here. My understanding of Hank’s initial idea was that the parent license would be a legal condition without which people would not be allowed to become parents. The analogy is then with driving a car, NOT with voting. If this is indeed the proposal, then we need to be clear what the enforcement policy would be, i.e. what happens if the would-be parent, and in the first place I guess we are talking about the pregnant women, fails to get such a licence (either because she doesn’t try or because she tried but is unsuccessful). The two obvious options are forced abortion or legal transfer of the child to the state after birth (and thence, presumably, to appropriately licensed adoptive parents). This is the kind of thing I am referring to by calling the proposal a “massively instrusive, statist solution”.

A voluntary scheme would be a different story altogether. As you suggest Hank, given the right signals would-be parents might well, if given the right kind of signals (i.e. information + encouragement, perhaps but not necessarily including financial or other incentives) decide not to become parents once they realised what was at stake.

One could also envisage a hybrid solution in which the legal obligation is merely to attend classes (it would be sufficient to impose fines or something like that as a sanction for non-compliance). One could also oblige parents to continue attending classes until such time that they got a licence, but without any implication that they would lose the child(ren) if they hadn’t got the licence by a certain time.

A further consideration is that the arrangements already in place in most developed countries, whereby children can be taken into protective care in certain (relatively extreme) cases, already constitutes a form of state interference, so there is precedent even in a country like the US where state interference tends to be regarded with extreme suspicion (although in reality, of course there is a lot of it: the US has never been the libertarian utopia that some people both within and outside the US see it as). The kind of scheme I outline above would in the first place complement these arrangements, but over time one could envisage them merging, and something like the mandatory licensing scheme proposed by Henk could then perhaps emerge.

One final consideration (for now): in addition to the above we also need to take steps to remove the widespread stigma attached to the idea of (voluntarily) giving up babies for adoption. This would reduce the number of children being raised by unsuitable parents, and help to close the gap between supply and demand for adopted children that causes so many problems (e.g. trafficking, and of course the disappointment and frustration of would-be adoptive parents).





Quote - “But Parenting is somehow left out of bounds, we have an erroneous notion that it is something we all instinctively know how to do correctly. So really, before any parent licensing took place, there has to be general public realization about what creates a healthy baby and child, and what doesn’t, and acceptance on everyone’s part that we all do indeed - everyone of us - want to create healthy children and that we’re willing to work hard - in advance - to make sure that this happens.”

This is why I said this..

“There is some trend in western societies where parents rely heavily on state benefits, especially to help single or poorer parents, and the downside of this independence and freedom may have lead to a loss of community or social awareness and family education concerning the raising of children?

For example the children raised by a single parent may go on to have children of their own outside of support or relationship with a partner, and not think there will be any great difficulties, as this is the way they were themselves raised? By simply assuming that they can handle parenting as did their mother or father, is not a viable reason to ignore family planning or accept teen pregnancy. Child support services may not be enough to help guide single parents through stressful situations, and usually are no match compared with support from your own family.”


And said this regarding the indifference of society towards parenting education..

“Society becomes, and is, it’s own burden, and the bigger the society, the bigger it’s burden of socioeconomic divisions, hardships, poverty, stresses, indifference and sufferings.”

“Long term solutions to overcome the shortfalls and negatives of the human condition DO lie in education and the pursuit of wisdom. The wise society therefore supports, nurtures and encourages social education?”


Quote - “sherakee is hoping for concrete action on this, so let’s try to figure out where a Parent Licensing measure might pass first. I think Singapore, but that’s not in the USA. State-side… I don’t know… I live in California and I don’t think it will happen here first. It has to be some place that is neither “too progressive” or “too libertarian.” I’m going to guess… Connecticut? Delaware? Hawaii? There is also the possibility that it happens first in another nation and is so successful there that it is adopted, slowly, universally. Like gay marriage, that started in… The Netherlands?”

Hank - So you have already decided that licensing WILL happen regardless of what people feel here, and regardless of any measures to solve the long term educational problems? You are a fair salesman, but I would still not buy a vacuum cleaner from you, even with your foot wedged in my door.

I still cannot understand why you fail to see that the associated problems of child abuse and suffering cannot be overcome wholly by social education and nurture, and rather insist upon licensing? - unless - you are really thinking subconsciously towards population control and reduction, in which case you need to reflect again with your underlying reasons and motives for promoting licensing? Note - there is nothing wrong with a view towards this if this is the case, and you should not shy away from it if you do actually believe this, which may be a more firm grounding for your case supporting licensing, (I am still not convinced that licenses are required nor should they be imposed or enforced).

The way I see it, social education should be inclusive as a part of the social contract within a society, yet the social contract is yet another area where neglect and apathy of education and understanding has lead to decadence and diminished social values. The social contract should be compulsory in education beginning within the Junior school curriculum.

The Below is from the official UK government information website, and as you can see, is about as clear as mud regarding - Parental rights and responsibilities and should be improved upon.

“Unlike mothers, fathers do not always have ‘parental responsibility’ for their children. With more than one in three children now born outside marriage, some parents may be unclear about who has legal parental responsibility for their children.”

“What is parental responsibility?
While the law does not define in detail what parental responsibility is, the following list sets out the key roles:

providing a home for the child
having contact with and living with the child
protecting and maintaining the child
disciplining the child
choosing and providing for the child’s education
determining the religion of the child
agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
naming the child and agreeing to any change of the child’s name
accompanying the child outside the UK and agreeing to the child’s emigration, should the issue arise
being responsible for the child’s property
appointing a guardian for the child, if necessary
allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed”

“Who has parental responsibility?
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. However, the conditions for fathers gaining parental responsibility varies throughout the UK.”

>> http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/ParentsRights/DG_4002954


“Birth to five - Your NHS guide to parenting in the early years”

“Whether your child is a newborn, a toddler or a pre-schooler, this Birth to five guide is for you. It has 150 pages of NHS-accredited information, videos and interactive tools to help you through the parenting process.”

>> http://www.nhs.uk/planners/birthtofive/Pages/Birthtofivehome.aspx

Anyone here read Aldous Huxley’s book “Island”? - the book focuses heavily on social nurture and the rearing of children to build social maturity and cohesion and universal values. Not that I agree with Huxley on this necessarily, as his ideals travel too far for myself and I feel his views can be a little too liberal. Yet he does have an important social point to make regarding community.

 





Hi iPan—since we’re quoting wikipedia now, here are 3 for you:

“It [the one-child policy] was created by the Chinese government to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China, and authorities claim that the policy has prevented between 250 and 300 million births from its implementation until 2000, and 400 million births from 1979 to 2011.”

“a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy.”

“Chinese authorities thus consider the policy as a great success in helping to implement China’s current economic growth. The reduction in the fertility rate and thus population growth has reduced the severity of problems that come with overpopulation, like epidemics, slums, overwhelmed social services (such as health, education, law enforcement), and strain on the ecosystem from abuse of fertile land and production of high volumes of waste.”
—-

The 2nd quote is particularly relevant to our discussion because it demonstrates that a majority of citizens support strict parenting controls if they are clearly in the public interest.





“Island” (1962) by Aldous Huxley

>> http://www.huxley.net/island/





Cygnus - You are funny - I would happily sell you a vacuum cleaner but I see your nation has a 150 page parenting-instruction document - that is great—I have never heard of anything similar for the USA but we - the USA - should indeed get one and encourage potential parents to look at it.

I am not espousing Mormonism but when I visited Salt Lake City’s temple complex they had numerous parenting-advice videos on display there, with dramatic family scenarios that depicted possible solutions to stressful family problems.  It was very well-done and was, of course, created to encourage and help Mormons effectively raise large numbers of children. I must say I think these Mormon parenting videos might deserve greater distribution and contain real value.

I am realizing that you are British and thus your nation has entirely different statistics and problems regarding parenting.  I don’t know what your Teen Mother situation is like, or your problems with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Or if Brits do fetal testing and genetic testing before having babies.  Also, someone accused me of class warfare - was that you?  Or iPan?  That seemed more like a British accusation than American.  And finally, no, I haven’t read that book by Aldous Huxley but I will if I can get it on my Kindle.  Thanks.  But don’t forget, I still think you need that vacuum cleaner.





A genuine irony in licensing reproduction (if anyone has already brought up the following, forgive the redundancy) is how it would almost certainly prevent many abortions, abortion being the great bugbear of religious rightists. Another irony is that, unlike housing the homeless—so as to revisit an association mentioned above—licensing reproduction would not only cost little economically, it would save funds in the long run; the large wastage of resources involved in statist ministering to bad families would for absolute sure be lowered via licensing babymaking; so too the unquantifiable agony of children trapped in bad families.
However it is difficult to avoid thinking it comes down to the ‘Freemarketers’ versus the ‘Planners’: the Freemarketers intensly fear a slippery slope of anything related to state planning.
The great mass of proles simply don’t much think about consequences, they it goes without saying live for the day, the weekend, the month perhaps. Rightwing intellectuals, who very often dislike planning (viewing planning as vaguely statist) approve of such shortsightedness and think those of us who want limited planning are more threatening to them than feckless proles. Curiouser & curiouser.
Can’t get over the supreme irony of it: licensing reproduction would not only be far less expensive, if expensive at all, than housing the homeless just for example, but would also very probably lower the rate of abortions. Thus licensing babymaking would be at the very least to the philosophical/ideological benefit of both rightwing libertarians and anti-abortion religionists. Yet such is applying logic to that which is illogical, isn’t it?





@ Hank.. Ha!

My point with the first link was to highlight that there is not sufficient emphasis on parental guidance or instruction. The second nhs link I found, I inserted as some improvement on the situation, yet to also highlight that this does not serve as replacement nor compensation for nurture - must we always rely upon online references to substitute for human tuition, education and coaching?

The situation here in the UK with all of the problems you have highlighted are just as bad, and may be worse in some cases, and even you would be shocked by some of them - I’m sure you can dig up some stats for yourself, and please do publish them here if you find them, because I think the problems affect western nations in particular - how about Denmark? Any better over there?

The US and UK is much, much closer with their policies, politics and problems than even you guys realise, although “tea party” for us is still a party with tea.. and biscuits.. and cucumber sandwiches, (I’m joking, we still haven’t forgiven you for that Boston affair, but merely tolerate you because you have lots of Tomohawk cruise missiles).

It must have been iPan, because I would not feel it right to highlight your imperialist tendencies.

If you check out the link that I provided for the Aldous Huxley book, you will notice that it is free to read in pdf, (not sure why exactly?) so you have no excuses - and hey! you may just agree with it’s wisdom more than I?

In summary - we do indeed have the very same problems - this is no coincidence.

;0]





Cygnus - oh dear, you pitiful English drunks! I followed your advice and did a smidgen of research and immediately located this link:
http://come-over.to/FAS/UKwomenbinge.htm
that claims UK women are the biggest binge drinkers in the world,
bingeing 11 times more on average than Italian or German women.
Also,  I noticed that there are several Fetal Alcohol Syndrome organizations set up - so yes, you do indeed have your problems, very much so.  I have read, though, that your child abuse statistics are nowhere near as awful.  USA parents kill 4.8 kids per day - a news article I read claims only one UK child a week is murdered by parents. 
Thanks for the ISland pdf too, I went and got it and will indeed read it.

Post-Futurist - I am not sure why you think abortions would go down if Parent Licensing were enacted.  I can think of a couple reasons, for example, it might go down simply because the number of people who were allowed to have babies would be decreased.  But I think you are envisioning other reasons as well.  Could you tell me what they are?  I was thinking abortions might go up, would indeed go up if genetic testing and fetal testing were required - people who were informed about genetic disorders in their fetuses would be likelier to have the pregnancy terminated.  But please let me know what your thoughts are on this, I am sure there’s some scenarios (many?) I haven’t thought of and I’d like to know what they are.





“The way I see it, social education should be inclusive as a part of the social contract within a society, yet the social contract is yet another area where neglect and apathy of education and understanding has lead to decadence and diminished social values. The social contract should be compulsory in education beginning within the Junior school curriculum.”

yes. What seems to be left out of this conversation so far is the underlying issue is how do we foster a social environment that leads to healthy, mature adults? Healthy, mature adults are more likely to contribute positively to society and to be good parents.
Education would be helpful for valuing both community and personal responsibility. It is not only the poor who abuse their children. Education to curb emotional and psychological abuse is needed as well.
Developing cultural mentors may also be key. The targets for education should be not only parents but also religious leaders, scout leaders, big brother/big sister mentors, etc.
Related to this is perhaps re-examining public funding for child-related services: they should serve the needed safety net role without becoming an enabler. Maybe incentives tied to the use of contraception; maybe drug screening (drugs contributing to low birth weight children) and alcohol abuse monitoring and treatment tied to eligibility for public funds; maybe a limit on the number of children that will be covered by public funds once aid has begun; maybe some way other than cash for dispersal.
The goals should be to uphold parental privacy, reduce unwanted pregnancies and help all people reach their full potential.





@CygnusX1…what do you think about my proposal for either an entirely voluntary licensing scheme or a system where attending classes was mandatory but not an actual precondition for parenting. And what about the idea that voluntarily giving babies up for adoption needs to be destigmatised?

The reason I’m asking young particular is that you seem - if I’ve understood you correctly - to be implying that it is not only possible but would be *better* to deal with the problems Hank has identified “wholly by social education and nurture”. It’s less clear to me *why* you think this, but perhaps it’s related to my concern that a licensing scheme would be too intrusive and statist to be politically acceptable (or indeed desirable). Basically what I was trying to do in my previous comment was to map out an option that involves licensing in some form but does not fall into this trap. Have I succeeded in your view? Or am I asking the wrong questions anyway?





@dor…good points, but I think the licensing idea, in one of the “light” versions I’ve proposed, could still be a powerful way to do precisely that: foster a social environment that leads to healthy, mature adults. Your right that non-parent influences on children also need to be addressed, but parents remain a hugely important influence on children, who are after all the (hopefully healthy, mature) adults of tomorrow, and are also the human beings on the planet most amenable to influence.

Also: how much of a priority is parental privacy really? This is obviously part of a wider privacy vs transparency debate, but it seems to me that Hank has made a pretty good case for suggesting that parents should have rather *less* privacy, given what they seem to be doing with that privacy.





“Post-Futurist - I am not sure why you think abortions would go down if Parent Licensing were enacted. I can think of a couple reasons, for example, it might go down simply because the number of people who were allowed to have babies would be decreased.”

Yes, that’s basically it: if Parent Licensing were enacted one motive would be to deliberately discourage a certain percentage of those who are incompetent from conceiving to begin with.
The MO in Parent Licensing ought to be in covering all the bases.





@ Peter..

I don’t think any voluntary scheme for licensing works in any scenario - using the poor analogy with driving here taken from Hugh LaFollette, what if driving licenses were purely voluntary? No - It would appear licenses must either be imposed or not, so I vote not.

Education however, is a very different matter. If social education is a fundamental part of school learning at all ages, then it’s hardly likely that kids would have any excuse to miss out. The social education and social contract curriculum could be implemented, and would most likely be certificated, and exams taken - yet does this really ensure that parents are qualified to have kids? Ask mom and dad, and I’m sure they would say that no one really knows for sure that you can cope until you have kids? Good parents and their abilities and support are measured over time, and by how they handle the problems that they face?

A young colleague of mine has only these past two years spawned two children, and he appears to be having no problems, yet he does have the support and wisdom of his parents to rely upon. I have never had kids, nor wanted kids because, and get this, I have always felt that the world has enough kids already, and as a rather disgruntled teenager myself, who leaned towards negativity and depression, never imagined I would be a good parent - this attitude has affected my whole life. Yet moreover even today, I feel there are far too many humans on this planet, and not enough resources for our planet to cope, so I am not disappointed that I do not have kids of my own.

Yet, this is enough about me.. Peter, read through all of the comments above, the arguments are equally weighted on both sides, and as I have hinted, if this article was driven by different motives, i.e. licensing parents to solve world population issues, then, perhaps, just maybe, I would be tempted with a new vacuum cleaner? But I still can’t really say for sure. And adamantly vote NO for licensing to solve social education issues.


@ dor..

Thanks for picking up on the social contract point

Quote - “What seems to be left out of this conversation so far is the underlying issue is how do we foster a social environment that leads to healthy, mature adults? Healthy, mature adults are more likely to contribute positively to society and to be good parents.”

Exactly !





@CygnusX1..Thanks for the response. I’m not completely convinced that non-mandatory licensing is as pointless as you’re suggesting. Even in the case of driving I think it would be better than nothing; essentially we tolerate (and indeed demand) mandatory licensing in this case because driving without one involves clear potential for harm to other road-users. Actually I think a similar argument could be made in relation to child-rearing, but the issue is whether voluntary licensing could or could not play a useful role. I’m still not really sure why you think it couldn’t.

I’m inclined to agree with you with regard to the number of humans on the planet, which is another reason why I think giving up babies for adoption needs to be destigmatised. There is massive demand for adopted children, and part of the reason why the supply is inadequate to meet it is that it is generally thought to be unnatural, immoral or otherwise “wrong” to give one’s own offspring up for adoption. I believe this is an attitude that needs to change. It also might be encouraging people to conceive children who would otherwise be happy to adopt, thus increasing over-population.





The only way I could ever be convinced to accept policies like this is if we were, in fact, at war with an alien species.

Starship Troopers Scene Citizens vs Civilians
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_urWSSZgwU





These kinds of policies are logistical nightmares, which is why I say I could only accept them if we were under alien attack.

In other words, only an extinction threatening existential threat could justify it, because we know, and have evidence of, methods that are more cost effective and practical.

The solution Hank offers, costs more than the benefits.

Unless we were threatened with total extinction, I wouldn’t accept it.





iPan - Instead of one “Solution” to one “Problem” I believe it would be better to offer a multitude of licensing-solutions to the wide variety of parental problems. 

Also, my article did indeed provide evidence that some of problems could be remedied with methods that are far less expensive then the current problems.

You can either reread it, or, to make it simpler, here is a quote from my article:

“For example, if all American Jews were screened for Tay-Sachs, the total bill would be less than 10% of the cost of the current treatment for the 1,000+ Tay-Sachs cases that exist solely because they were never predicted. Fetal testing should also be mandated. Another estimate says the cost of detecting and aborting all Downs Syndrome fetuses would only be 30% of what it costs the state to care for them.”

There are other enormous expenses that certain problems cause, like the $103.8 billion annual cost of child abuse, that can - and should -  be reduced by licensing or any other measures. 

I also think the cost of continuing the current rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is so enormous that it would benefit society to seek a method to reduce it.  I have read estimates that each Fetal Alcohol Syndrome child costs society between $800,000 - $1 million.  The current rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is 40,000 births annually, so that means that cost is an additional $40 billion per year. 

I also don’t think this is simply a financial matter, although that is of course important.  I think trying to guarantee that children are born mentally and physically healthy is a decent and moral thing to do—I find enabling the continued births of severely disadvantaged humans, when we have the means to prevent it, extremely appalling.





But you seem to be ignoring the costs of enforcement and bureaucracy needed for this.

You’re not actually factoring in all the costs. What about the extra government employees? The social workers. The police. Jails/prisons (if scofflaws are to be punished).

I assume there will be an appeals process if you’re turned down, right? That means more court cases.

Fines and penalties.

And lawsuits. What about when someone is turned down unfairly (or illegally) and files suit against the State?

Just the tip of the iceberg, Hank.

“It is easier to ask for permission, than to ask for forgiveness”

A subtle quote that shows why people favor authoritarianism.





Hi iPan - yes you’re right, it would indeed cost money to institute parental licensing, but the investment would decrease other expenses that society presently has to endure, like the time-consuming legal removal of children from abusive parents, the expensive prosecution of abusive parents, the multiple social costs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and severe genetic disorders that I have already mentioned, the counseling and care given to teen mothers and drug addicts who realize too late what they’ve gotten themselves into.  Etc etc.  Guessing conservatively, I would say that every $1 spent on enacting parent licenses would save $3-$7.  I am basing that on the information that I gave you in the previous posting.

A bureaucracy already exists that could be utilized to put parent licensing in place: the Department of Social Services.  They will have their workload drastically reduced if the total of dysfunctional parents is decreased, so they can use their extra time to perfect the licensing process.  I am sure they will be happier with their new job requirements - it is far more pleasant to work at disaster prevention, than it is to clean up the messes.





I have one last question for Hank:

Do you think you can get this passed in America before the Singularity?

And a request for Mike: Can you make this topic into a poll?





@Mike..if possible I’d like to see some reference to voluntary or soft-mandatory licensing, i.e. where the obligation is to attend classes (with the aim of obtaining a license) and the sanction for non-compliance is a fine rather than not being allowed to have children. OK that’s far too detailed for a poll response but something that allows people to express interest in the idea of licensing without necessarily endorsing the idea of making it a condition for being allowed to have children.





I would imagine it being something like this:

1) I think Parent Licensing is ethical and practical.

2) I think Parent Licensing is ethical, but not practical.

3) I think Parent Licensing is practical, but not ethical.

4) I think Parent licensing is neither ethical nor practical.

Perhaps that’s too simplified though.





@iPan…you’d at least need to define briefly what parent licensing is, and what are the consequences of not having a licence: being barred from being a parent, a fine, or merely an obligation to keep trying (to get a licence that is, not to have a baby!). To me this makes the difference both to whether it’s ethical and to whether it’s practical.





How about:

Requiring parental licensing to reduce child abuse

1.) I support mandatory licensing backed by interventionist enforcement
2.) I support mandatory licensing, backed up by fines or court-ordered education
3.) I support increased education in public schools but not requiring licensing
4.) I support voluntary education, consciousness raising and increased resources to treat genetic diseases
5.) Why can’t you guys just stay out of people’s lives?





this is fun, but I am not sure we are going to reach any more consensus on the poll, than we have on the topic.

I am in favor of a poll that would look like this:

Parent-Licensing should be used for two or more of the following reasons
Parent-Licensing should be used to eliminate Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and birth defects related to the mother’s drug addictions
Parent-Licensing should be used to alleviate Child Abuse and Neglect
Parent-Licensing should be used to prevent teenaged and under-educated parenting
Parent-Licensing should be used to prevent parents from having more children than they are capable of caring for
Parent-Licensing via genetic testing should be used to avoid inheritable disabilities
Parent-Licensing should never be used





@dor..I like it!





Everyone who reads this thread, should read this first:

What is Metaethics?
http://lesswrong.com/lw/5eh/what_is_metaethics/

Hank, your choices for poll questions, at least in my mind, show you to be less of a rational thinker, and more of a fundamentalist.

I mean really, beginning almost every choice with “should be”?

C’mon, how dumb do you take us for?





iPan - if you like, please rewrite what I wrote in way that you find more acceptable.

should
aux.v. Past tense of shall
1. Used to express obligation or duty: You should send her a note.
2. Used to express probability or expectation: They should arrive at noon.
3. Used to express conditionality or contingency: If she should fall, then so would I.
4. Used to moderate the directness or bluntness of a statement:

I don’t know what to use to replace “should” but I am open to seeing it.  Also, it seems like “should” is a word that is implied in discussing ethical questions.

@Mike - good luck picking one.  It seems like dor’s version has Peter Wick’s vote?





iPan - seems (below) like “should” is indeed the verb that is principally used in defining ethics / moral philosophy:

Ethics
Peter Singer
In Encyclopædia Britannica,  pp. 627-648
also called moral philosophy the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles.

(definition) How should we live?

————————————-

Ethics is what I’m talking about, so my usage of “should” is apparently acceptable.





I agree with Hank here: if one doesn’t like the word “should” one isn’t interested in ethics.

iPan I haven’t looked at your link yet but my own understanding of meta-ethics is roughly as follows:

moral realists believe that normative statements (such as one’s including the word “should”) are truth-apt, i.e. they are actual statements about reality that can be true or false. Parent licensing either should be used or it shouldn’t: it’s a matter of absolute right and wrong.

moral subjectivists (such as myself) believe that such statements are meaningful but express the values of those making them rather than corresponding to external reality. (To be distinguished of course from statements such as, “people tend to think that they should…”, which are not normative but are indeed expressions of external reality (namely other people’s values).

non-cognitives believe that such statements are meaningless (but presumably wouldn’t go on to say that they should therefore be avoided, because that would be meaningless, right?)

@Hank…I understand your wish to emphasise the problems that you want parent licensing to solve, but isn’t it more useful to ask people to distinguish between what TYPE of licensing régime to consider, as in dor’s suggestion, rather than the rationale for it? I’d really like you to comment yourself on option 2 in dor’s list.

I agree that a poll will not in itself result in consensus. What it will do is give us complementary information about the attitudes of IEET readers, especially those that don’t regularly comment (but do respond to polls).

One small comment on dor’s proposal: in option 1 “interventionist enforcement” is a bit vague. What about “...as a condition for being allowed to raise children”?





Peter—yes, I think my vote has been swayed over to dor’s suggestion.  I am mostly fine with what she wrote, and I prefer her strongly worded #1 option to your “amendment” which seems vaguer than hers, to me.  My only quibble with dor’s wording is that I think #2 should say “fines AND court-ordered education” instead of “fines or court-ordered education” because her version introduces more vagueness.

iPan - I believe I would have kept your anti-fascist hackles down if I had avoided “should” and used “support” instead, as dor has done.  In retrospect, I could have said,
“I support Parent-Licensing to eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect”
etc., etc.,
Although it says the same thing, it does sound much authoritarian.

I believe we are close to agreement?  Peter - you want to know how I would/will vote?  I think #2 is alright, but its effectiveness depends on the amount of the fine and the length of the court-ordered education. If violations are treated as minor infractions, there won’t be significant changes.





Yes, I think AND is better than OR in option 2.

Henk you’re right of course that effectiveness will depend on amount of fine and length of education. The latter could be “until you manage to get your licence”. Not sure that I agree that treating violations as minor infractions wouldn’t lead to significant changes. When it’s something like attending classes sometimes people just need to be told it’s an obligation, and then they turn up out of sheer curiosity.

I think I’ll vote for #2.
iPan I guess you’ll vote for #5, right? smile





I wasn’t clear about my point.

The way you write it is slanted towards acceptance of the policy.

Parent-Licensing should be used for two or more of the following reasons
Parent-Licensing should be used
Parent-Licensing should be used
Parent-Licensing should be used
Parent-Licensing should be used

My neurolinguistic programming sensors start sending me alarms when someone writes it in such a way as to obviously slant the readers mind towards acceptance.





What I’m pointing out Hank, is that you would slant every choice so that it favors the policy.

It’s like a ballot with one option.

That is very telling about your person and your intent.





Peter wrote:

“@iPan…you’d at least need to define briefly what parent licensing is, and what are the consequences of not having a licence: being barred from being a parent, a fine, or merely an obligation to keep trying (to get a licence that is, not to have a baby!). To me this makes the difference both to whether it’s ethical and to whether it’s practical.”

All these definitions are in the article and the comments here, which I assumed the poll would provide a link to.

I admit my version of the poll is extremely simple. I like brevity. To me, the two primary issues are whether or not the suggestion is ethical, and whether or not it’s pragmatic.

The choices I’d include in the poll simply reflect each possible combination.





Seems like we can leave it up to Mike Treder from here on -
he can use the dor version that is also nearly okayed by Peter and I
or he can take a look at iPan’s version.
Or he can skip it entirely, and not do a poll on this -
he might have some other topic else he wants to poll

I am okay with whatever happens -
I am working on my next essay
and this essay has certainly been both viewed and discussed at length—thanks to everyone for their contributions





“All these definitions are in the article and the comments here, which I assumed the poll would provide a link to.”

Yes, but the point is that these definitions refer to different options, which at least in my view make a huge difference both to the (ethical) desirability and to the practicality of the proposal.

iPan I’m a bit intrigued about the strength of your hostility to this idea and your personal attacks on Hank. Maybe I do need to read through the article and comments again, but one way or another I’d like to understand better why you dislike the idea so much, and especially why you don’t want to recognize a distinction between the different options.





I am fine with a poll, because it is a way to determine opinion
BUT—many people who answer the poll will do that instead of read the article, even if it is linked.
The poll, because it has to be concise, simplifies the issue enormously
I am fine with it nonetheless, but I am not going to assume that everyone who answers the poll also read the article and thought about it at length.

It might drive traffic to the article though, and that would be nice.

I don’t know what the polling percentages will be, but I do think that if the poll included only teachers and social workers who work with young children, there would be significant support for the licensing.
Also, although I know this won’t happen, for me the ideal way to conduct a poll is to access it only at the end of the article, that way there is more of a chance that voters will have read it.





“iPan I’m a bit intrigued about the strength of your hostility to this idea and your personal attacks on Hank. Maybe I do need to read through the article and comments again, but one way or another I’d like to understand better why you dislike the idea so much, and especially why you don’t want to recognize a distinction between the different options.”

Tell ipan no one is objective, not even those who try to be—everyone is grinding an ax. However what matters to me is polls not attempting to be everything to everyone. At a technoprogressive site one would expect a certain question (if you want to add your own spin, you can comment at the bottom of the poll); whereas at a rightwing libertarian site you expect a different sort of bias, such as a poll question along the lines of, “don’t you think statists are out to get you?” And they are, people want to harm each other more than anything.
At a conspiracy theorist site a question might be: “if you wear your tin hat regularly, do you think it will prevent the FBI from reading what is in your mind concerning the Illuminati, fluoridated water, and controlled demolition at the WTC?”





BTW, this isn’t to write how anyone is incorrect, however so as not to be all things to all people we have to present our opinions as facts and not write “IMO” after every comment. I don’t even say Republicans are ‘wrong’ in their opinions, I just don’t trust their rhetoric (Hitler delivered the most eloquent speeches concerning world peace but they weren’t worth the paper they were scribbled on).
Not to say fundamentalists are necessarily wrong, either, they have perhaps slightly higher ethical codes, yet maybe not; and it isn’t what we perceive it is what we do not. Even a fundamentalist probably doesn’t realize how rebellious people are; if you repress others they very well might rebel even more—this is directly relatable to babymaking too as an otherwise intelligent person can become irresponsible when it comes to reproductive activities. One example is a brilliant Rhodes scholar who got impeached because of a stain on a dress.
And frankly, the best thing about sex is that if men weren’t having sex with women they might rather kill them instead.
I put down rightwing libertarians, though they perceive much that I do not; however the reverse is also true as well. Republicans, fundamentalists, rightist libertarians (merely for instance) are too headstrong, which is the source of the main disagreements: in service of being unequivocable, they wind up hurting what they profess to value.
But who doesn’t? and as the Marquis de Sade once said: “you always hurt the one you love.”





I agree about not putting IMO after every comment. And I agree that you expect different kinds of questions at different kinds of sites. In a sense we are always wrong about everything we say when we are trying to describe reality: the resonance between what we say and the reality we seek to describe will never be perfect.

But I do believe that some of us get closer to the truth than others. For example the definition of “technoprogressive” on the “about” section of this site seems pretty spot on to me. Does anyone seriously disagree that technological progress can be a catalyst for positive human development so long as we ensure that technologies are safe and equitably distributed. I guess it’s a question of emphasis. Some might say we shouldn’t be aiming for positive human development, we should rather focus on reducing our ecological footprint. Others might say we will never be able to ensure that technologies are safe and equitably distributed.

Which gives me an idea: should the definition of “technoprogressive orientation” be expanded to include “we believe that positive human development is something worth trying to achieve”,  and “we believe that technologies can be made safe and be equitably distributed”. Food for thought?





I think we’re overlooking the easiest way to curtail reproduction. Make it having a child expensive as hell. Take away the tax break for having kids. Once you’re pregnant you have to take parenting classes at your own expense, fine them harshly if they don’t, and keep fining them for every year they don’t take them. Hold all parents to adopted parents standards, have yearly interviews (at the parents expense) to see how they are doing as a parent and fine them if their kids fall below standards. Also institute some penalties for kids so they don’t abuse the system to have power over the parents. If the parents fall below standards enough times, the kids are removed.





Additionally, if a minor gets pregnant, fine the male and female. If they decide to keep it, fine them for every year they are underage. Have fetuses tested for diseases, genetic or otherwise and if the parents want to keep it, they are enrolled in a program that deducts money from their paycheck to pay for future care.





I think Corr’s ideas deserve to be taken seriously, however repugnant they may seem to some (including, to some extent, myself: the truth is that I have very *mixed* feelings about this).

Also, what would happen if we allowed people to be pay others to give their children for adoption? Would the world stop turning, or would a regulated market be better than the trafficking, frustration (of would-be adoptive parents) and bad parenting that goes on now? Just asking.





Core - I like some, perhaps many of your ideas. because I am sure they’d put pressure on parents to be responsible.  But I have some questions -

1. Having children is already very expensive, full of unpredictable costs that can be beyond the parent’s budget. What do you think of a system that awards parents financially if they’re doing a good job?  But still fines them if they are not?  I am also concerned that in the USA, where we already have a wide gap between rich and poor, that your plan would be unfair to the poor.

2. I would like to avoid any system that increased the number of children that were taken away from their parents, and I fear that your system might do this.  What I would prefer to see - via parent licensing - are preemptive measures that guarantee that every child born is born healthy and is in a good environment.

that said, I generally like your ideas, particularly in your second entry. I just don’t want poor people driven deeper into poverty by the measures.

I like the ideas that put pressure on young people to act responsibly.
Of course, there would be problems about getting your measure past conservatives because young people would essentially be fined if they chose to not get an abortion.

I have been mulling over dor’s approach as well, that what is needed are societal changes that can alleviate family problems.  Child abuse, for example, happens more frequently in “stressed” families, and a large part of stress is undoubtedly economic.





I too was thinking about how it could make poor people even more poor, and one solution would be a sliding scale based on income. As for a reward based system, you do catch more with honey than vinegar. Say your yearly evaluation “score” is in the top ten percent, then you get a tax break like people with kids get now. 70-90 get nothing and 69 or less get a warning and say you get two warnings in a row is when the negative effects come into play. The point of this system isn’t to have only the rich reproducing, but to discourage reproduction until you are financially and psychologically ready. So, knowing about the extra costs beforehand allows you to plan them into your budget.
Reworking how difficult it is to adopt would allow more Americans to adopt in the USA rather than go abroad with their easier rules.





It’s nice to see this idea being discussed. I know many people who support parental licensing. Those wishing to have children should be vetted at the very least as thoroughly as those looking to drive a car.

The zeitgeist in parts of Asia is ripe for this, but I think it’s much further off in the west.





I’ve got another name for you: my hero. Agree 100%.





Though it is worth attempting, people are so rebellious that fining bad parents might not work as they would transfer their rebellion elsewhere to other destructive behaviors.
Encouraging more gay marriage is one way to go—adoptive gay parents such as Elton John are good parents and so wealthy the children want for nothing. However please wait until 2013 to ramp-up promotion of gay marriage so when the GOP runs Kato Kaelin for president next year, or whomever they run, it doesn’t give them more ammunition to shoot Obama down.





Hank -
You can do an end run around conservatives with the creation of a non-profit organization that conservatives can donate to to finance the “fine” of a non-abortion. *IF* the system I outlined were implemented fully, I can almost guarantee that such non-profits and charities would spring up to finance births that couples wouldn’t be able to finance themselves. And superficially they would seem to be defeating to the purpose of the system, they would in fact be working with it, as those who wish to support people without the means to raise a child can support them leaving the rest of society free from the cost. You could even implement a clause saying that if a charity supports a child with diseases, genetic or otherwise, they would have to pay into the fund for future care.
The first step is eliminating the child tax credit, it just rewards people for having kids.





I agree, for the same reasons mentioned, that people who have children should undergo certain psychiatric evaluations to determine if they are able and fully willing to provide love (more than they would for a pet), attention, mental and emotional stability for the soul that they decide to bring into the world. I am not sure a license is the right method for it, but there could be a government incentive to encourage parents to attend (possibly) required parenting classes, nutritional and psychology classes. I do not believe financial status should be a determining factor in giving “permission” or whatever you want to call it, for a woman to have a child, but it should be at least a consideration.

The fact that many people in this country and world are not suitable for parenting, and do so anyway is already seen by adoption agencies and evaluations and regulations are standard. This is a known fact, so why cant the same basic logic be applied to everyone??

My greatest concern would be who are the ones that implement these procedures? It would be easy for prejudice and tiny-minded people to say-Blacks can’t have children because I don’t like them, Lesbians can’t have children because that is a sin and so on…..the requirements would have to be very simple and protected.

This would probably never happen in this country and probably would not work because of corruption, but the debate should be examined. I personally have no idea how this could be implemented-I am far from a politician. I still am going to do a class debate assignment on it. If it could be done in a humane, logical and compassionate manner, I think it could help solve a lot of social problems.





lex - thanks for your comments and let me know how the class debate turns out.  If you videotape it, let me see the link?  I think young people might be far more receptive to the idea of parenting licenses than their elders

Core—your ideas seem to be improving the more you present them.  I’m still not sure why you want to eliminate the child tax credit though - I don’t really think people have kids to get the tax break, and people with kids really do need the money.  (I have two kids myself)  I do like your notion that non-profits will spring up to raise funds to avoid abortion though.  I think you’re right about that.  Also, do you think resistance to abortion would weaken if people get no state support to take care of genetically disabled children ?

Michael - I agree with you—I think parent licenses might show up first in Singapore or even China.





Hank-
My first three responses were from my phone at work, and while I’ve been there for the twelve hours I worked today I’ve been pondering this problem/question of procreation. Two women I work with are pregnant, one with her fourth child and one with her fifth, not all with the same fathers. They rely on government assistance to pay for their children. I have no hatred per se of the child tax credit, but I do think that if it were eliminated people would think just a little bit more about the cost of raising a child. And factor that into their budget.
The cost of raising a child is high, I know. But if prohibitive costs are known beforehand and a couple or single parent is willing to take on those costs and factor them into their budgets, then the unpredictable costs are inflated proportionally and factored in. Returning to my original statement, a financial (even on a shoestring budget) and (in my opinion, most important) psychological footing is what should be the basis of parenting. Which is where the testing and evaluations come in.
To implement “my system” you would have to present it in stages, first step being eliminating the child tax credit. It was enacted in 1998 and a quick wikipedia search shows that it is actually being phased down from the $1000 per child to $500 per child. So stage one; in action..?
Part of your argument coincides with mine, people with kids really do need money. But this isn’t about planned parenting, which you seemed to have done, this is about people wildly procreating. If you make having a child expensive as hell, people will think twice about doing so. Like your article implicitly states “Sorry, but the bad apples have ruined the barrel. Time for something new.”





There is some basis for negative feedback concerning this topic albeit only to a limited degree. A concrete example of statist overreaction was in the town of Island Pond in Vermont, which someone left a link to a few days ago. The Island Pond community was corporally punishing some of its children, though mildly. I was at the community in ‘87, observing that the punishment was in fact brief and not severe; having it explained why the children were being punished: “because of original sin we have to discipline some of the children.” None of the children appeared unhappy in the least; quite the contrary, the quiet surroundings of the mansion appeared to buoy them.
Nonetheless, for every overreaction by state authorities another legitimate case of child abuse is justifiably investigated & prosecuted; and such is why I mistrust far rightists—their one-sidedness. No genuine progressive would argue against their rights & privileges to obey their consciences; yet it always goes back to our not being all things to everyone. If it isn’t correct to generalize on what rightists are like, it also isn’t correct for someone such as rossmark22 to seriously expect a technoprogressive site to even attempt to compromise with rossmark’s superstitious dogma. Only reason for rossmark to even want to blog here would be to test boundaries, however rossmark, Seymour Kleirly, and some Christians who blogged at IEET last year have to learn the hard way this is not the site for it, nor are very many techno-oriented organizations interested in their ludicrously one-dimensional faiths. Island Pond was similarly rigid, but no one visited their community to discuss scientific matters of any sort. Island Pond is the kind of refuge I personally understand religion/spirituality to be: escapism in a more positive sense than continuously running away from reality. The revealed truth presented at such refuges doesn’t interest me at all, yet it does seem to offer a great deal to its members, quiet (“silence is golden”); communalism for those who can take the hardline religion; certainty.
I say every man to the devil his own way smile





PS,
We don’t want to make it appear we are picking on Christians, even fundamentalists; if a Marxist were to promote dictatorship of the proletariat at IEET, or a libertarian to promote hatred of the state, we might tell them all we cannot please everyone until we can make copies of ourselves; then we can be libertarian bloggers, Christian bloggers, Marxist bloggers—anything we want.
Aint progress grand?





Hank, that’s a very classist and racist perspective. You should know only the most privileged people have the option to do such things. How, for example, would you recommend an immigrant woman called “illegal” by our racist government, get licensed? What makes you think women usually choose to get pregnant? What about girls impregnated by their fathers or their mom’s boyfriends? What about women who are routinely raped by their boyfriends or husbands?

You’ll have to end incest and rape—and all of patriarchy, as well as racism and classism, before such a position would be at all considerable and considerate of most women.

And, you do know you, a white man, is declaring yourself as Holder of The Truth in a nation that remains pro-genocide, yes? We whites are still committing this atrocity against Indigenous people across the land that was stolen—and many “Indigenous nations’ people are struggling in many ways to survive the atrocity. We whites allow our government to plant nuclear waste nearest to Indian reservations, don’t we? And we whites have a history of forcibly sterilising poor women of color—especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous women and girls.

Your proposal also does nothing to substantively stop white wealthy het men from traversing the Earth to rape girls and women in systems of trafficking and sexual slavery.

I hope you know that the term “breeding” for child-bearing is one that was used by white men against Black people throughout U.S. history—and never, ever to describe the “breeding” of white wealthy men.

Do you see any of these very related issues as relevant to a discussion of “ethics”?

Julian





Based on this criteria, it’s a wonder anyone could possibly qualify to be a parent at all.





The comments from JulianReal and marydelta bring up the issue of meritocracy. There is potentially bias (especially as outlined in some of your categories) built into the definition of what makes a good parent.
This essay also overlooks both the resilency of children and the importance of community in child-rearing. While a parent may have an illness that inhibits their full participation in the child’s life, that may compensated for by a network of friends and family.
As for eliminating the tax benefit for children, that is an “after the barn door is closed” solution. About 1/2 of pregnancies are unplanned. Reducing safety nets for children is likely to make abuse rise, not fall. What is needed is greater education about, and efficacy of, birth control. And, again, the education and mentoring for this needs to come from within the communities of which the women are a part.





How about that: live the permissions to reproduce alone and instead provide a free classes with education on parenting to every potential parent and make it mandatory. Parents without “graduation” from this class can not get pregnant/deliver baby/take baby home.





I’d be interested in any comments on the idea that giving up babies should be destigmatised, as a way to close the supply-demand gap for adopted children and (since adoptive parents are, and presumably will be for some time to come despite this discussion!, held to a higher standard) improve parenting standards.

@dor…yes children are resilient, but that doesn’t mean they’ll grow up to be happy. An abused child is an abused child. But I agree with your “after the barn door” point in relation to Core’s suggestions.

PS where are we on that poll?





dor - thank you for your comments.  I agree with you that “greater education and efficacy of birth control are needed.”

Julian Real—thanks also for your comments.  I know all the information that you are referring to.  I know it quite well, really. But I have different conclusions about it than you do. For example, I don’t believe that just because I am a white man I am supposed to be silent and not have an opinion.  I also don’t believe that past historical atrocities - like African-American slavery and Native American genocide - are supposed to dictate policy forever, especially in rather unrelated fields. 

I can’t buy into the “white shame” that you seem to want me to feel, for a variety of reasons.  1) I personally had nothing to do with slavery and genocide 2) My ancestors had nothing to do with it either, they arrived here rather recently 3) I do my charitable bit to help disadvantaged people of all races. 4) Even without items 1-3, I find your notion of “white guilt” and “white shame” very silly and non-productive.

You regard my parent-licensing proposal as invalid, and you claim it is racist and classicist.  I maintain, as I have throughout this thread, that my motivations are charitable, I am interested in guaranteeing that children are born into this world in good health and that they live in family situations that promote their well-being. 

We are looking at situations from a different perspective—I see children as the victims and I want to remedy this, perhaps you see Native Americans as the victims and you want to protect them.  You have also resorted to calling me names, and that is unfair. You say I am racist and classicist, because I elevate child welfare above other concerns.  What if I said that you “hated babies and children” because you don’t think their rights are equal to the rights of adult Native Americans?  It would be unfair, wouldn’t it?  I believe you owe me an apology.

There are too many separate sections in my proposal to discuss them all right now, but let’s just talk about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  I am interested in ending this horrible maiming of human beings before they are even born, and I am interested in doing it quickly.  dor wants to end it via education, which would be a incrementally slow and perhaps entirely futile approach.  Your attitude about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome seems to be that it is a Native American issue and I should not have any say in it?  because I am just a white male perpetrator of genocide? 

I very adamantly disagree and I am happy to represent the infants in this situation.  I believe they have the right to be born healthy and I believe we all have a moral responsibility to help them.  Do you think the threatened fetus, in a womb toxic with alcohol, if it had a vote, would side with its mother, or with me? 

I think discussion of ethnicity and even gender in regards to my proposal are just paralyzing distractions and that I’ve been subjected to very foolish name-calling and finger-pointing.  I believe that the USA should be much more egalitarian - my recent article on Denmark exhibits this - but waiting for that to happen while babies are born unnecessarily damaged and children are severely abused - is cruelly negligent.

I know who I am defending in this discussion - the future children.  WHo or what are you defending?  The right of Native American women to drink heavily when they’re pregnant?  I oppose their right to do that.  Is that what we’re disagreeing on? 





“I’d be interested in any comments on the idea that giving up babies should be destigmatised”
Absolutely, this is a wonderful goal. How does destigitization happen? Partly the media and this has started to happen. Workplaces being more accepting of pregnancy in general and out-of-wedlock pregnancy in particular. Community support through schools, churches, etc.

Stigma isn’t the only issue. Childbearing as a “rite of passage” might be another. Again, in-community mentoring.

“let’s just talk about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I am interested in ending this horrible maiming of human beings before they are even born, and I am interested in doing it quickly”
What about health care intervention? We have mandatory reporting for child abuse. Can a Dr. who knows a patient has an issue with substance abuse be authorized to require detox for pregnant patients? Can drug screening and questions about alcohol abuse be administered at the same time a confirmatory pregnancy test is done?
Can a kind of half-way house/OB-GYN hospitals be established in areas of at-risk populations? Pregnant women get (residency? and) prenatal care, food/clothing etc. for the term of their pregnancy in exchange for abiding by healthy standards, attending classes on parenting/post-natal care, and alcohol and drug in-take testing, etc. Again, need to be designed by/administered by in-community mentors to even see if it is feasible.





ALL bases have to be covered, every string has to be pulled including promotion of gay/bi activity to reduce direct heterosexual reproduction. Surrogate reproduction is more positive as the raising parents are usually more affluent; i.e. Elton John as a well-known affluent (to say the least) gay-reproducer via surrogate.
But you know all that, correct?





They’ve already tried to destigmatize giving up children for adoption. The problem isn’t the stigma, it’s the lifelong horrific grief that women feel in losing their children in this manner. Many adoptees find as they go through life they have way more feelings than they previously thought about it and late adolescents can be particularly problematic.

As long as your solution doesn’t involve removing new born children from parents while they sob hysterically, sobs they will grow occustomed to in the coming years, simply because their age dictates no matter how educated they become on parenting issues or how researched they are or how dedicated they are you will remove their child regardless——

I think mandatory parenting education would be fine and that it should be taught in high school along with basic child development and health. I don’t think that teaching teens that parenting means giving up everything fun (in the mind of a teen), not getting to see your friends, not going out, not doing goofy carefree kid stuff will cause them to choose early parenting. I think it will cause them to think more serioiusly about what it means. And if they still choose to procreate but with knowledge of what parenting means, the children would still be for the better.

Basically your plan is mandatory birth control and that is pretty contoversial since most hormonal birth control has side effects and IUD’s can as well. How do you tell all parents their children will all be fitted with an IUD at 12? You think everyone would vote on that?

And if the method weren’t forced birth control, your proposal would involve forced abortion or forced 9 months of pregnancy and bonding with the baby with removal at birth? Would you do what they did to my mother and force her to through the labor with no drugs and then as the infants head crowns put her to sleep so she can’t see the birth of the child you take from her? And allow her to wake up sobbing hysterically in a room alone?

You are speaking for me a child born of a teen as if I do not have a voice. I have my own thank you. And I would not vote on your proposal as it’s presented. Education is great. I would LOVE to make sure every human has a grasp of what healthy parenting looks like and what kinds of parenting techniques are unhealthy and abusive. Many of the subtleties are controversial and that would have to be addressed in the classes but methods that have so far (within the limitations of research) demonstrated to cause well being and health in children should certainly be taught.

The idea however that research should be trusted can be elistist. Who does the research? Where is the bias in the research? That would have to be addressed.





” Surrogate reproduction is more positive as the raising parents are usually more affluent.”

WOW—- you really think hollywood raises healthy kids? AFFLUENCE = HEALTHY PARENTING

Not so.
Is the goal here to create a breed of humans who will all have the capacity to earn the same amount of money thereby all be “rich”? If this were the case we would need to level out payments for service industry workers who we would still want to exist. If everyone were equal in genetic “health”, healthy early childhood, equal affluence, and equal ability, who gets marked with cleaning the toilets?

And by default, once marked as service industry employee despite having equal abilities and not wanting to work in service industry (but SOMEONE has got to get that mark so it would have to be assigned to some group) either you pay them equal to everyone else:

Or you mark them as unworthy of parenting license due to having less affluence.

Do you see some of the bazillion problems here?





Hi Hank.

I’ll reply in sections.

You wrote:
For example, I don’t believe that just because I am a white man I am supposed to be silent and not have an opinion. I also don’t believe that past historical atrocities - like African-American slavery and Native American genocide - are supposed to dictate policy forever, especially in rather unrelated fields.

I don’t see whites’ genocide against American Indians, which is current, as something that is unrelated. And I’m not suggesting you be silent. There are also more slaves now than in the past. So neither genocide nor slavery are matters of the past, and whites benefit to this day in all kinds of ways due to their on-going reality. I won’t take up this thread detailing how that works. I recommend reading Tim Wise’s work for more on this, though.

You wrote:
I can’t buy into the “white shame” that you seem to want me to feel, for a variety of reasons.

I’m not at all suggesting you feel any guilt or shame. I’m asking you, I suppose, to be responsible for the structural location you inhabit. We are not all placed into this world equally, even if equality is a value for some of us. Surely the Royal Wedding proves this point. And also the fact that bin Laden can have a bullet blow his brains out and U.S. Americans can cheer, but if such a thing happened to Cheney or GWB, or Rumsfeld, we’d bomb the CRAP out of the countries we determined to be involved. Oh wait: we already are doing that.

You wrote:
I find your notion of “white guilt” and “white shame” very silly and non-productive.

Where do I use those terms? I don’t. So why are you quoting them? And that’s not what I’m speaking about at all. Please don’t presume what I’m saying. If you’re not sure, I welcome you to ask.

You wrote:
You regard my parent-licensing proposal as invalid, and you claim it is racist and classicist.

Yes, the proposal is. And I apologise for saying that you are racist and classist, if I did. I meant that the proposal was. I still find that to be the case.

You wrote:
I maintain, as I have throughout this thread, that my motivations are charitable,

I find most white people’s charity to the less materially fortuned to be racist and classist as well.

You wrote:
I am interested in guaranteeing that children are born into this world in good health and that they live in family situations that promote their well-being.

Riches not only don’t guarantee it, but rich folks tend not to even raise their own children: they have servants do it and send their kids away to boarding schools. This is addressed to the person who seems to think that having more money makes someone a better parent, automatically.

You wrote:
We are looking at situations from a different perspective—I see children as the victims and I want to remedy this, perhaps you see Native Americans as the victims and you want to protect them.

Not at all. I see people as people. And political location as a meaningful factor in what people say and how they say it. For example, I find that rich folks tend to talk down to poor folks. And whites tend to talk down to people of color. And that middle aged people tend to talk down to children and to the elderly. Not each and every time, and not without plenty of exceptions. But these are patterns that correlate well to “what one has experienced” and if someone has never been treated as a non-person by whites because they are white, they likely don’t know what it is like to be treated the way Black and Brown people are often treated by whites. I’m speaking about the real world, in reality. Anyone who isn’t white will likely have plenty of stories to tell about not being treated as well as the average white person similarly economically located.


You wrote:
You have also resorted to calling me names, and that is unfair. You say I am racist and classicist,

I meant that the writing, what you say, participates in patterns of racist and classist writings by others. Sorry for not being clearer.

You wrote:
let’s just talk about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I am interested in ending this horrible maiming of human beings before they are even born, and I am interested in doing it quickly.

Hank, you can’t. I hope you truly understand that you can’t do that. That’s an aim well beyond your capabilities, or mine, or anyone else’s.

What we “want to do” is not at all what we can do, necessarily. And I think it’s important to soberly realise that.

You wrote:
Your attitude about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome seems to be that it is a Native American issue and I should not have any say in it? because I am just a white male perpetrator of genocide?

I said nothing of the kind. I never asked you not to speak. And I never called you a perpetrator of anything. My comment is up there. Please re-read it. What I wrote about was your political structural location in society as white person, as a man, and as someone with relative class (economic) privileges. And nowhere did I associate fetal alcohol syndrome with being Native American, and for you to do so is, in your writing, “racist” to me. Because it plays into a common negative stereotype about American Indians—that white folks write about and think they’re being “charitable” to American Indian babies when doing so. I welcome you to engage with American Indian children and get their point of view, and not try and speak for them. Or for any children who you don’t know personally. That’s not asking you to be silent. It’s asking you to speak responsibly about what you know—not from reading, but from life outside of reading. Are you implying that white babies don’t suffer from F.A.S.? And every other color of babies? Rich, middle class, and poor babies too?

You wrote:
I very adamantly disagree and I am happy to represent the infants in this situation.

I’m saying that you don’t represent them, Hank. Nor do I. In theory or in abstraction you might. But not in reality. You don’t, unless you’re an attorney or a social worker. You’re speaking here, writing here—that’s not “representing” them. I’m asking you to be honest with what you say and write.

You wrote:
I believe they have the right to be born healthy

So do I.

You wrote:
and I believe we all have a moral responsibility to help them.

Hank, I find this to be an issue of abstractionism. How does you having this discussion in cyberspace materially or spiritually benefit any children in the U.S., or any fetuses? Can you explain that to me please?

You wrote:
Do you think the threatened fetus, in a womb toxic with alcohol, if it had a vote, would side with its mother, or with me?

Assuming a level of distinguishing itself from its mother, which cannot happen before birth, my answer is: no doubt with its mother. The baby doesn’t know you at all and would likely be frightened by you pretending to be someone who “represents” it.

You wrote:
I think discussion of ethnicity and even gender in regards to my proposal are just paralyzing distractions and that I’ve been subjected to very foolish name-calling and finger-pointing.

I’m addressing the content of your writing. I’m naming it a certain way. You get to disagree, but that doesn’t mean I’m right and it doesn’t mean I’m wrong either. We get to disagree about what you’re saying above, and to me here. A person above noted that there are unowned biases in your work. I agree. I’m asking you to be more conscious of those and to be responsible with them.

You wrote:
I believe that the USA should be much more egalitarian - my recent article on Denmark exhibits this - but waiting for that to happen while babies are born unnecessarily damaged and children are severely abused - is cruelly negligent.

Hank, you haven’t shown how writing about this makes any difference at all in the lives of real fetuses, babies, and children. Writing out ideas isn’t the same thing as shifting societal patterns and systems of harm. We might call it a written proposal, or a statement of belief, or an argument for something. But that doesn’t mean it is more than that.

You wrote:
I know who I am defending in this discussion - the future children.

I’m calling that statement dishonest. I don’t think future children will likely ever know you or me, honestly. I doubt much that either of us has to say will impact their lives at all. So I hear you attributing to yourself as power I don’t believe you (or I) have: to advocate, in material reality, the lives of children, unless you are raising them or being an uncle or teacher to them directly.

You wrote:
WHo or what are you defending? The right of Native American women to drink heavily when they’re pregnant?

I wish you’d please stop putting really sexist-racist statements in my writing that aren’t there. Is that a fair thing to ask of you? I’m not defending anyone at all. I’m only speaking for myself. I object to racist and sexist and classist speech. I find your writing in this post to be all of those things. Am I not entitled to come here and state that? You welcomed me to come here and post comments, so I did.

You wrote:
I oppose their right to do that. Is that what we’re disagreeing on?

You don’t oppose a racist-sexist stereotype; you promote and perpetuate it. How does that help anyone of any age?

I’ll try and be clearer. I don’t believe that people writing things down means they magically happen. I don’t believe you have the power to do what you say your statements can do. I don’t believe you are, in reality, advocating for any Native American children. I believe you think you are. But that’s not the same thing. If you were working with poor women and children, assisting them in finding more social services slashed because the rich don’t want to be taxed 3% more, I’d argue you are, in fact, helping those very few women and children. Is that your line of work? If you were a doctor attending to babies, white ones, or not, with F.A.S., I’d argue you are helping those few children. Is that your line of work?

I hope I’m being clear. I’m not insulting you, I hope. I mean to be communicating truthful statements. I’d like racism to go away, and sexism too, and classism, and for all children to be loved and cared for in family systems if that’s the social model, or in community, raised more communally. But me writing that doesn’t do much of anything to make it socially real. It helps no children in the present. And future children aren’t here. And I don’t believe you or anyone else speaks for them. When they are born and grow up, if they grow up, if they can speak, they will speak for themselves.





“Basically your plan is mandatory birth control”

More comprehensive than this, if you would please tolerate another rambling, desultory rant, it is going all-out to promote with a minimum of coercion the reduction of miscreant reproduction- and we ought to be open about it… Glasnost: we should openly say we will promote gay / bi behavior, even porn, anything to possibly short-circuit prole reproduction. Saying ‘those at the bottom’ or ‘underclass’ is too PC, today too many see right through it, which segues into something you wont discover by way of statistics, you have to do ‘field work’, examine carefully what is transpiring at the bottom. What you will discover when you look carefully at the poor is how it is more nuanced than many think, it’s not black & white: it is shades of gray. The positive is the poor are more aware than one might think, just for example a miscreant might know as much about sports statistics as a chemist knows about chemistry; the poor are generally crafty, they possess a sixth sense, if you will; miscreants to compensate for lack of education are equipped with good antennae, which is another reason for Glasnost: the poor can sense smarm and manipulation (though, frankly, virtually everyone is manipulating everybody else).
The negative, the dreary negative, is the low-level hostility/aggression at the bottom, it’s instinctive so not a whole lot can be done about it; you can change the way one thinks to a greater or lesser extent but you can’t change such viscerality—at this time you can change how people think yet not Who - What they are. And the more I look at what some call the underclass, the worse it looks. A decade from now for instance the poor might live longer yet that’s it, nothing more. Lifespans have been lengthening to the point government has to spend more to keep indigent smokers and drinkers alive, and that is the point, the sick-poor are almost on state life-support; all the self-destructive behaviors that derive from coming from bad families; associating with negative-reinforcing peers, genetic predisposition to alcoholism, et cetera yet still they reproduce; there’s no way minarchists or even anarchists can put a positive spin on such irresponsibility, it’s not amenable to any degree of escapism. So licensing babymaking, IMO naturally, is not only desirable but will prove to be inescapable.





“I’d like racism to go away, and sexism too, and classism”

Very ambitious, commendable, open-minded; however for Now—this decade—can we concentrate on Glasnost, leaving Perestroika for the next decade? foresight is the year 2020 smile





hi Julian—thank you sincerely for writing in and participating in this conversation—I wish I could respond at length to you, but I think, unfortunately, that we have miscommunication problems that are too complicated to be addressed in a brief amount of time and space. 

Basically, yes, I felt like you were calling me a racist and classist and that you will continue to do so, for reasons you consider valid, but for me—I’d have to be a masochist to enjoy that, and I’m not.  I’m not even inclined to give your opinions attention, because I dislike being called racist and classist - I find it deeply offensive and distracting, and you have also called me “dishonest” which is equally insulting.  My advice is this - if you want to engage me in the future, please refrain from the “ist” name-calling, and from defining viewpoints that differ from yours with those terms.

You are also the person who did a segueway from my article to discussing atrocities against Native Americans.  I tried to fill in the gaps in what in you were trying to say by assuming that you were talking about the Native American higher percentage of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but you called me racist - again - for making the assumption that that’s what you were trying to talk about.

Out of all the offensive things you said, what is most bothersome is your claim that my charity funding is also “racist” and “classist.”  Do you imagine that food from a white man tastes different or is unhealthy?  Do you think malnourished people are contemplating your “isms” when they are eating the food that I have sent them?

I believe you and I are similar in our political viewpoints, but otherwise, we are extremely different.  I consider myself a pragmatist but not an ideologue.  I address the social concern of damaged children and faulty parenting with what I consider to be a solution - parent licenses.  If you spend time looking over the approximately 200+ comments that the article has received, you will find that the majority of my opposition comes from people like you, who approach my essay with a fixed ideology - if they decide that parent-licensing doesn’t jive with their ideology, they start calling me “ist” names. 

I regard people’s attachment to their adopted ideology as akin to religious fanaticism.  It is impossible for me to converse with readers who filter my proposed reforms through their judgmental maze of philosophical stances.  Perhaps the lack of religion in educated society is causing intellectuals to create their own fundamentalist belief systems?

but, I digress.  If you write back, keep the “ism” ideology talk out of the conversation, if you want me to respond.  You are free to add something new to the conversation, but at this point, that requires a lot of background reading, since the thread is extremely long.





for post—thanks again for your often entertaining and enlightening posts.  Regarding class hostility—I have been treated shabbily on occasion by both the poor and the rich, and probably everyone has.  I also wanted to congratulate you because Pres. Obama had an excellent day yesterday, emerging victorious over both bin Laden and Donald Trump, and I suspect you are well-pleased.





Hank, the thought of the GOP electing a Nixon, Ford, Bush, Dole, or McCain next year is not appetizing. Palin wouldn’t be bad, she would modify her positions as they all do after the election; however I think America is too macho to elect a woman soon. The UK had Thatcher, Germany has Merkel (as far as we know no relation to Ralph Merkel), but America has never had a female Top-leader. At any rate, if Obama is re-elected the feeling will be like a reprieve from execution; it’s similar to death—if we can each put off our deaths (yes, this will be another digressive comment) long enough we might be able to live until conditions change to ‘x’.
The quote below is apparently directed my way:

“Riches not only don’t guarantee it, but rich folks tend not to even raise their own children: they have servants do it and send their kids away to boarding schools. This is addressed to the person who seems to think that having more money makes someone a better parent, automatically.”

A half-truth. What is unwritten above is though the children of the wealthy might not have better parents nor are necessarily healthier, their parents can afford better health care for them; they surely live in better conditions than say HUD housing; they have playdates with perhaps less dysfunctional—merely because someone is poor doesn’t mean there is anything decent about them—children; and maybe there are other reasons, don’t know, can only at this time attempt to frame comprehensive questions, not answers.
Don’t want to be hard on you, it is older people who control this world, they send youths off to war, they lie to the young and withold crucial info from them. This is an aside, yet it is an important one.





Vasectomy for all with tax break. Must jump thru family/partnership training hoops to have the Vasectomy reversed. We have all we need now to do this.  Life time tax exemption for not reproducing.  As I see it.





Hi Hank,

Understood about the terms used. Re: President Obama. I’m not a fan of his at all. You’re again making an assumption about my politics and my view and feelings. Please refrain from doing so. You’re welcome to ask “What do you think about Pres. Obama?” or “What do you feel about bin Laden being killed?” or “What do you think of what Pres. Obama said about Trump?” but please stop suspecting and inferring things. And I’ll stop with the “ism” language. Deal?

I’m not supportive of US Conservatism or Liberalism at both are practiced in the U.S. I think Republicans and Democrats serve the same hostile Masters: corporate capital’s owners , shareholders, and lobbyists, and the values and practices which support the ideology of the U.S. version of Western white het male supremacy: neither gives a damn about trafficked and enslaved children, for example. (That’s not ideology: that’s reality.) I think President Obama, like GWBush, has committed war crimes and should be charged with committing them. I think the U.S. military is a terrorist organisation unrelentingly savage and unethical to the core. I think the rich rule this country, no one else. And until the middle class and poor band together to realise that the rich don’t give a damn about anyone else other than themselves, and will do anything and everything they can to prevent media from reporting accurately about what the rich are doing to the middle class and poor, we won’t get very far towards any form of equality.

How this relates to children: plentiful social services, easy access to health care, and early education programs are central to many U.S. children’s well-being, if they’re to be mainstreamed into the dominant culture. We can’t have either—the adequate social supports, the practicioners of health care in poor areas provided to citizens because they are human (not “miscreants” as someone above described the poor—how is that humane or ‘truthful’? And why don’t you call someone out on doing that, Hank?), and services or the pre-school and excellent K through 12 education in poor and now middle class communities—if the rich are hoarding wealth and resources, causing states to cut programs that serve children.





“We can’t have either—the adequate social supports, the practicioners of health care in poor areas provided to citizens because they are human (not “miscreants” as someone above described the poor—how is that humane or ‘truthful’? And why don’t you call someone out on doing that, Hank?),

Progressivism, yes; PC, no. Optimism, yes; excessive optimism, no. BTW if you look up the definition of ‘miscreant’ you will see it is a fair designation. We here can’t agree with everything you write, we can’t be all things to everyone.

“and services or the pre-school and excellent K through 12 education in poor and now middle class communities—if the rich are hoarding wealth and resources, causing states to cut programs that serve children.”

How do you propose to change the ancien regime? we are stuck for the duration with our party duopoly, no political roto rooter exists to flush out cathected memes just like THAT, the memes can be traced back to 1776, 1620, 1492, or before. Who knows?
You are young, it is only fitting you should think the way you do, however I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being gullible… no way—absolutely not.





Just a thought about a possible underlying reason why legislation doesn’t work the way people think it does:

Complex systems theory.

At the very bottom, everything is about energy. Where do you get it, how do you use it.

I think that the reason authority, and thus laws, never work out is due to the fact that it’s the least efficient possible manner in which a system of energy can be structured.

Government is always a parasite, regardless of the good or bad intent of the people who make it. It requires inputs of energy to maintain, but doesn’t produce anything.

At the end of the day, it’s an energy sink. It always takes more than it gives back, because it is not capable of doing anything else, according to the laws of physics.

In such a complex system, it is then inevitable that all systems of governance will fail, some sooner and some later than others, but one day they will all fail. Entropy demands it.

Knowing this, why would anyone seek to prolong something that is by it’s very nature a doomed and wasteful activity?

Which comes full circle to my opposition to creating any new forms of authoritarianism, regardless of the source or reasoning behind it: prolonging misery.

This, I think, is the true value in anarchism. It’s organic. It only requires bottom up, autopoietic organization. It’s not an illusionary energy dump that requires more energy to maintain than it can provide to those that maintain it.

In the end, we answer to Chaos. Would you rather learn to live with Her now, today, and begin the journey of figuring out how to be an integrated part of a distributed network of energy across this planet?

Rip the band-aids off quickly.

Or, prolong the pain. Pass new laws. Create new bureaucracies, departments, and agencies. Increase in every possible way the inefficiencies. Amplify the unintended consequences. You’re still going to have to answer to Chaos, no matter how complex your legal system. No one escapes Her.

Or, there is a rational alternative.

Open sourced transparent government
Social media
Whuffie/Social capital
Abundance
Integration into a fractalized integrated global energy/information system built on Autonomy

Trends in the world over the last two or three years have already convinced me of what’s actually going to emerge from this, leaving debates like this mere intellectual exercise.

The world is evolving.





for Julian—thank you very much for dropping the “isms” from our dialogue.  I really appreciate it.

If you look back, you can see that my comment about Obama was not directed at you - it was directed at post-post-futurist, who is a frequent visitor at this site.  I was not making any assumptions about your politics, it was not intended for you at all.  Post-post-futurist frequently talks about current US politics and I was merely communicating with him about recent events.  It also seems like he might be the person that used the “miscreant” term so you are free to engage him on that topic.

Regarding your recent comments, I am actually writing an article now about unfair taxation in this nation and you can look for it next week.

Thanks again for dropping the “isms” - I really appreciate it.





Want to say kudos to IEET for the format of the poll, it is elegant in the way it’s worded.

Good job smile





To lend some weight to what I said above, I want to reference Philip K. Howard, and his book “The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America”

I saw him on The Daily Show this morning.

To be clear, he is not an anarchist as I am (at least, I don’t think he is), he is much more moderate, but it illustrates the underlying point: authority is inherently bad at dealing with problems, and people are waking up to it.

So, if you can’t take the kind of radical leap I can, maybe someone a little more moderate than I can at least make you think about the root causes, and that is my aim with this post. People are beginning to see the root of all this ill.





Sorry, forgot to provide a link

http://www.commongood.org/blog





“The positive is the poor are more aware than one might think, just for example a miscreant might know as much about sports statistics as a chemist knows about chemistry; the poor are generally crafty, they possess a sixth sense, if you will; miscreants to compensate for lack of education are equipped with good antennae, which is another reason for Glasnost: the poor can sense smarm and manipulation”

Definitions of miscreant on the Web:
reprobate: a person without moral scruples
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

One who has behaved badly, or illegally; One not restrained by moral principles; an unscrupulous villain; One who holds an incorrect religious belief; an unbeliever; Lacking in conscience or moral principles; unscrupulous; Holding an incorrect religious belief
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/miscreant

Miscreants - A villain (also known in film and literature as the “bad guy”, “black hat”, or “heavy”) is an “evil” character in a story, whether a historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscreants

post-post-futurist’s comment conflates “poor” with “criminal”. Was that the intent?





“Government is always a parasite, regardless of the good or bad intent of the people who make it. It requires inputs of energy to maintain, but doesn’t produce anything.”

Well actually it does. It produces laws, guidelines, it provides services, it enforces individual rights. It is not true that authority, and thus laws, never work out. Take the ozone layer for example. This will eventually recover because of an intergovernmental agreement (The Montreal Protocol) facing out ozone depleting substances. That’s government in action. The Internet itself was invented by the Pentagon, right? That’s government.

By all means take a complex systems theory approach to understanding now different governance mechanisms interact with the rest of society, but you cannot dismiss government activities as non-productive any more than you can dismiss any other kind of service.

Personally I don’t have a problem with hierarchy per se, provided that participation in that hierarchical structure is voluntary and the structure itself plays a positive (extropy-generating) role. I believe that governments can and do play such roles, in the best of cases. And it does depend on the intent of the people involved.





for iPan - I used to be an anarchist, quite intently, reading all the books in the canon and studying the quite thrilling history.  But now I’m not - there isn’t enough space here to explain my disinterest with it, but I do have one rather anecdotal reason - I went to Burning Man and it really annoyed me, especially because there was no noise ordinance. The “radical self-expression” seemed self-indulgent.  I loved a lot of it, especially the generosity, but I hated the fact that I couldn’t sleep well for 3 days because no one would ever presume to tell anyone else to be quiet.

I have been in co-operatives too, that demanded consensus, and I loathed that experience as well.  I don’t like a lot of rules, but I appreciate organization that provides comfort and safety and convenience. 

I live in a very crowded neighborhood, probably one of the most congested in the USA (North Beach, SF) and my neighbors are polite and take care of one another but probably none of them are anarchists, they are just considerate people.

I have also gone in the last 12 years from being an anti-authoritarian punk poet, to being an authoritarian figure myself (Parent and Teacher/Director)  I have crossed over from being rebellious, to being the disciplinarian.

You might well be an anarchist all your life, but you might change like me, if your life circumstances change.  I think that is all I am
trying to say, and I think post-post-futurist would understand that.





Peter Wicks writes:
“Personally I don’t have a problem with hierarchy per se, provided that participation in that hierarchical structure is voluntary”

To me, that contains a logical inconsistency:
If it’s voluntary, then what need is there for laws to enforce it?
Voluntarianism and authoritarianism seem mutually exclusive to me.

“and the structure itself plays a positive (extropy-generating) role.”

I don’t believe that it ever does, or even can in principle.





Hank
I didn’t care much for Burning Man myself, and I don’t consider it a rational expression of anarchism.
Burning Man is a lot of things, and there are certainly anarchic minds involved in it, but I wouldn’t use it as an illustrative example of anarchy.

As strange as this may sound, my views on anarchy come more from my very intimate experience with fractals and psychadelics. I can see the results of how energy flows in systems, so I know where authoritarianism ends up.

If I were “influenced” by anything, it was probably Discordianism. One day, I just got the joke. The Cosmic Giggle.

Authoritarianism doesn’t work due to physics, not because of any doctrine or abstract moral ideaology.

It’s not energy efficient.





And Taoism, forgot to mention that Hank (I use Discordianism and Taoism interchangeably).

Let’s not forget that I’m an anarcho-pacifist, not merely an anarchist.

Anarchy to me is the natural, logical conclusion of abiding by the Golden Rule.

First, do no harm.





@iPan…I’d really appreciate a synopsis of your justification for saying that hierarchical structures can never play a positive role. I have a completely different view. Apart from anything else, hierarchical structures are themselves a result of organic, bottom-up self-organization. There are hierarchies wit in nature. Where is the evidence that these can’t play a creative role? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Give me one example of an organic, bottom-up, anarchic, creative structure that isn’t underpinned an enabled by essentially hierarchical forms of governance? How stable are they?

Hierarchy is not a synonym of coercion, so is not incompatible with voluntarism. The Catholic Church, for example, is a classically hierarchical system, but these days membership is voluntary. If you want to be part of the club, you have to fit in with the rules, but you don’t have to be part of the club.

Am I really supposed to believe that having a law against running red traffic lights is somehow increasing entropy and therefore suffocating us? Surely the collisions that would otherwise result would be far more entropic, mostly because the risk of them would slow everyone down. Civilisation exists because there are rules, some of which are enforced by law. Name one empire that arose anarchically and lawlessly. Clearly entropy wasn’t a problem then.





Name one Empire that hasn’t fallen?

Your point about red traffic lights is great, as this is an issue I’m familiar with, and there is some exciting research and experiment done that yet again confirms my stance.

Here’s a sample (conveniently enough, it’s titled “Controlled Chaos”:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,448747,00.html
European Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs
Are streets without traffic signs conceivable? Seven cities and regions in Europe are giving it a try—with good results.

“We reject every form of legislation,” the Russian aristocrat and “father of anarchism” Mikhail Bakunin once thundered. The czar banished him to Siberia. But now it seems his ideas are being rediscovered.

European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren—by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs.

A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs. Ejby, in Denmark, is participating in the experiment, as are Ipswich in England and the Belgian town of Ostende.

The utopia has already become a reality in Makkinga, in the Dutch province of Western Frisia. A sign by the entrance to the small town (population 1,000) reads “Verkeersbordvrij”—“free of traffic signs.” Cars bumble unhurriedly over precision-trimmed granite cobblestones. Stop signs and direction signs are nowhere to be seen. There are neither parking meters nor stopping restrictions. There aren’t even any lines painted on the streets.

And then there’s this research on the effect of ‘roundabouts’, which fits almost precisely my psychological assessment of society (less rules makes for more peaceful people):

Nevada Department of Transportation
http://www.nevadadot.com/safety/roundabout/benefits.aspx

Safer than signalized intersections

Intersection safety is a serious traffic problem in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration reports that, in just one recent year, approximately one death occurred every hour nationwide relating to intersections. Over nine thousand people lost their lives in traffic intersections in that recent year, equaling nearly one quarter of all traffic fatalities and amounting to a financial loss of over $96 billion.

With different crossing and entering movements by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, an intersection is one of the most complex traffic situations that drivers can encounter. In a traditional four-way traffic intersection, there are 32 points of conflict in which two vehicles may collide. Modern roundabouts have only eight conflict areas, greatly reducing the potential for crashes. On the other hand, the circulating movement of modern roundabouts nearly eliminates the potential for high-speed, right angle and left turn/head-on collisions. Rear-end collisions are also often reduced in roundabouts.





I don’t get the point about roundabouts: this is an issue of road layout, not of rules vs no rules. A rule is not the same thing as a point of conflict. It’s rather a conscious (i.e. explicit) constraint on behaviour either imposed on oneself or on others (not necessarily hierarchically: even communes have rules).

The no-traffic-sign experiments are interesting, but I’d be willing to bet there’s still a speed limit in each and every case. And rules about civil and criminal liability in case of accidents.

This reminds me a bit of the long debate I’ve been having with Burt on my blog about utilitarianism. Much as I believe in the power of intention, and much as I like the idea of a ruleless world where people behave as brethren (let’s get rid of money while we’re at it: it’s just a way of saying I’ll only do something for you if you pay me for it), I just don’t by the idea that you can get somewhere by pretending you’re already there. Human nature is as it is, we don’t become homo angelicus just because we dispense with rules. We invite chaos, until new (and probably worse, more oppressive) rules and structures emerge from the vacuum. Let’s rather progress gradually towards more democratic and participatory forms of governance.

By the way at the European Commission where I work this has already started to happen, as the volume of new legislation has declined sharply and we are subject to ever more stringent “rules” ourselves requiring us to justify (by identifying and analyzing expected costs and benefits) legislation we propose. It’s a difficult transition in some ways because the institution has very much been set up to legislate, but with some goodwill I think we can get there.

Empires rise and fall; in chaos theorynthis is called intermittency. The point is that during the rising phase complexity is increasing, so clearly entropy is being exported fast enough to allow this to occur. You seem to be suggesting that the emergence of hierarchies and rules in such civilisations is a kind of decay process, which even if it appears early on in the lifetime of the civilisation is nevertheless the poison that eventually eats the heart out of the civilisation. It’s an evocative image, but really I don’t see any good reason to believe it, either with regard to empirical evidence or with regard to a compelling argument based on thermodynamics. Rules and hieararchy are just part of the structure complexity of the organism. Sure they require free energy to maintain, but that’s no more true for laws than for any other mechanism for maintaining homeostasis. Decay is precisely what happens when laws are not properly respected: it’s no accident that this is called corruption. Or of course when laws cease to be appropriate or become perverse, as when the immune system turns against oneself or otherwise harmless allergens. 

By the way China is still there, and they *invented* bureaucracy. They’ve had their moments of anarchy too. They are not generally considered to be the high points of their history.





iPan - thanks for the link - very cool, I’d like to check those sign -less towns out.
Also, thanks for the reminder about anarchism - I went from reading several translations of Lao Tzu’s “Way of the Tao” to the Russians and Orwell’s book to various eco-anarchists and John Zerzan and Noam Chomsky.  By then, I found the last two, especially Zerzan, rather overwrought. But good luck to you with your beliefs, they are noble.

I like roundabouts.  But it is a bit late for them where I live.  Better to just make it pedestrian-only and put in people-movers.





Peter
The example of the roundabouts shows that a simple engineering solution is more effective than another rule.

A stop light is in itself a physical embodiment of authoritarianism. Stop. Go. Right of way.

A roundabout requires people to exercise their inherent discretion, and by it’s very existence, promotes better thinking, and courtesy too.

A stop light promotes lack of thinking (because the light does the thinking for you) and competition. For example, you get people trying to “beat” the yellow light. This is simply competition in the car.

Roundabouts also promote calmness.

It’s a psychological example, as well as an engineering example, of how we can do things effectively without authority.

What we need are the equivalents of “roundabouts” for more important issues.

What we need is for more people to take the same mentality as the people who designed the roundabouts into other areas of society and life.

This is why I referenced Ben Goertzel’s piece on ‘Obsoleting the Dilemma’ earlier in the thread.

Hank’s suggestion of “people-movers” (I assume you mean something like slide-walks???) is good too.

My examples are meant to illustrate real world applications of non-authoritarian solutions to real problems.

Now, if we can only apply that to more serious problems. And yes, I believe that any problem whatsoever can be solved, by taking the appropriate perspective on it, namely, a non-authoritarian perspective.





“What we need are the equivalents of “roundabouts” for more important issues.”

Very insightful. Thank you for the metaphor.





“post-post-futurist’s comment conflates ‘poor’ with ‘criminal’. Was that the intent?”

Somewhat. If you observe the situation at the bottom, you will see it is as Andrei Sakharov described the Soviet Union: dominated by “alienation and criminality” (he was asked what the situation inside the Soviet Union was and replied it was the same everwhere: alienation and criminality). Now, most of the crime at the bottom may be petty theft, petty welfare cheating, petty drug crimes, menacing/fighting, etc., however the whole point of this thread is discussing how to prevent certain people from being born and giving birth—and the rather evasive implication is they are unsavories. Naturally it is semantics, but anyone who is familiar with the underclass (a sanitized way of saying ‘poor’) knows that miscreants do exist at the bottom, they are very common; they are not mythological in nature such as phoenixes, nor extinct as passenger pigeons.  The overall situation at the top (corruption is trickle-down) exacerbates it. Intellectuals are so smart sometimes they cannot see the forest for the trees: some of you for instance live on the east and west coasts and might not know exactly how fusty the middle regions (“flyover country”) of America are, there are wild-eyed ultraconservatives living there who are to the Right of Genghis Khan & Attilla the Hun; and that matters because they vote. I’m not really interested in current political events any more, Hank, I just don’t want any more Karl Rovian lapdogs wasting four or eight years. I pay just enough attention to political events to get an idea of which way the ill winds of politics are blowing. And, it goes without saying, the wind blows in your direction, too—as with war, you might not be interested in politics (in a better world why would anyone want to be?) but politics is interested in you.
Above all, I do not want to be gullible any more, reading comments from young people at IEET who appear to think we can change the situation soon is disheartening; anyone in the year 2011 who thinks oligarchs are going to relinquish their grip just like THAT, merely because intellectuals want them to, is out of the loop.

 





One more time, so there’s no misunderstanding, ‘miscreant’ is merely shorthand, for brevity’s sake a comment, unlike an article, cannot go into much detail to say the least, one can’t write every time one references the poor:

“the poor not infrequently use alcohol, tobacco, hard drugs; engage in unsafe sex (the result being herpes especially); know shattered relationships with petty crime inserting them into a predatory, recidivist legal / penal system—in short, depraved lives for not all in the underclass, but a fairly high percentage nonetheless.”

If only some of you would realize I am not interested in PC, it is obfuscation; and if the root problem is economics has devolved to how we help someone economically we are hurting another, such is for an economist to go into. Yet one question, do any of you ever get the hunch when we chase crime & poverty from one location it ‘relocates’ elsewhere?





“Yet one question, do any of you ever get the hunch when we chase crime & poverty from one location it ‘relocates’ elsewhere?”

I think this goes to iPan’s point about entropy. From my perspective crime and poverty are relatively high entropy phenomena. (I’ve just thought: when Tolstoy said that there are many ways for a family to be unhappy but only one way for a family to be happy, he was stating in a very precise and true way that unhappiness is a higher entropy state than happiness. By saying that unhappy families are therefore more interesting and describing, in a novel, one or two examples, he was decreasing the entropic value of the states he was describing by defining smaller subcategories i.e. macrostates.) it’s easy to relocate them: no overall decrease in entropy. To actually sort out those problems rather than just relocate them you need to be exporting entropy elsewhere, i.e. outside the civilisation. Western civilisation has been built in large measure by exporting entropy to the colonies.

What we should be doing of course is to export entropy away from the earth by finding clean abundant “energy” (actually we mean extropy) and using it intelligently. Ultimately I don’t believe the second law of thermodynamics is fate: I think it can be transcended through intention. In the short term however we will continue to build and maintain civilisation by exporting entropy to the rest of the universe, i.e. “ingesting” low entropy sunlight and crapping back out high entropy heat radiation.

Governments can and do play a crucial role in this process.





One must also ask who and what gets damaged by the acts of abuse and who and what gets damaged by the acts of the miscreants that result.
We are dealing with complexity here. Being poor is not a crime (yet). While the vast majority of those imprisoned may be poor, the reverse is not true: the vast majority of poor are not criminals.
There is abuse that happens that may shape someone to be unable to be empathetic towards others, to believe that their needs and wants justify whatever ends they use to achieve them. This abuse may lead some from priviledged families to act unethically in business or in government. Like the poor, these miscreatants are not the majority of the wealthy. But this type of anti-social behavior can do tremendous damage to our societies. Unethical behavior in finance, in environmental measures and in social policy does way more damage than a thug with a gun. But this crime is not aggressively tracked nor prosecuted.
The upperclass may fear class warfare, but so far the only actions taken have been top down not bottom up.
This is part of the problem with parenting licenses. What behaviors do you teach?what values do you instill? Toxicity is not simply in the womb; it is in the attitude that suggests some people are more entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than others.
Law enforcement should apply equally to all classes and all classes of crimes.
Creating poverty is more of a crime than being born into it.





“Governments can and do play a crucial role in this process.”

Yes, minarchists, anarchists and all the rest are naifs concerning government, right off one can see if there are not enough decent people in the state to provide good government, then how much worse would it be if the worst people were to be released from the constraints of the state?
Anti-statists exalt liberty as if it is the end-all, the be-all of existence, they promote even the “freedom to fail”, which sounds suspiciously as sloganeering; sounds like “right to starve” or “right to die.”
Try visiting a nursing home to say to the patients: “you have the right to die, we don’t need you—the costs of care for the aged place a burden on the rest of us.” Or travel to Africa to say to the hungry, “you have the right to starve, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Naturally, such is not what anti-statists mean, however “you are on your own.” is not disimilar to their general tone.
An example of a naive politician in America was the bored billionaire Ross Perot, who thought government could be run as a business.





“This abuse may lead some from priviledged families to act unethically in business or in government.”

Sure, it is only this: one can easily observe the poor whereas the wealthy are beyond the observations of virtually of us, in fact if they try hard to hide their behaviors from us there is probably no way we can really know what it is the rich are doing.
But again, merely because someone is at the bottom doesn’t mean there is anything necessarily decent about them. You don’t want to denigrate the poor yet you also do not want to idealize their motives; some of their motives are extremely negative and if you were to seek the poor out to observe carefully their behaviors there would be no doubt—you would know exactly what that means.





I responded to Hank’s comment on the poll page, so if Mike let’s me, I’d like to post it here as well.

Hank’s comment:

iPan’s idea is interesting - learning what groups of people are in favor, or not in favor, of parental licensing. Out of people I’ve talked to, the ones who are most supportive are teachers and psychologists. Personally, I am supportive of licensing, I have two children, and I was a preschool director for five years. I am guessing that anyone who “already has their kids” might be more supportive than those who don’t have kids yet, but want some in the future.
There was an interesting comment early in the thread—a woman wrote in who represents a “child-free” group - she said she “didn’t like kids” and she supports parent licensing. She probably thinks their annoying behavior is the parents’ fault.
I suppose any group who feels like they might not be allowed to have kids would hate the parent licensing plan. This could be any ethnic or religious minority, especially if they have suffered persecution in their past. Polling African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and Jews might be illuminating. I live near a Chinese-American community and I’m not sure what they’d think…. Off-hand, I think they might support parent-licensing, or at least a fair percentage would. And of course, anyone who thinks they might be disqualified for any of the reasons I listed. Plus, I have seen strong-resistance from anarchists, libertarians and others who generally oppose governmental controls.
I haven’t seen any marked gender-voting block yet, there are pros and cons from both sides.
One group I am wondering about, is people who have suffered abuse. I thought that they would overwhelmingly support parental licensing, to prevent what happened to them happening to others, but I think I might be wrong. There is a prevalent notion that abused children grow up to abuse others - perhaps the abused feel this perception would be used against them.
I’m interested in hearing anyone else’s guesses on this topic. Personally, I was “strongly-disciplined” and I feel sorry for anyone who got more punishment than I got, and I think that impacts my opinion. Also, I have known people who were physically and sexually abused by their parents, and they seem to be semi-or-permanently damaged. My acquaintance with them impacts my decision as well. I have already mentioned on the thread my slight familiarity with people who have genetic disorders.

My response:

In reference to your thoughts about abused children Hank, I come from a moderately abusive background myself.
I have a neurological disorder as a direct result of it (Borderline Personality Disorder), and, after one mishap, have chosen to do what you propose voluntarily, and still support no law be passed.
I have a son. To make this short, I had always believed in not breeding, pretty much for the reasons you want to license parents. I had been abused. I suffer from an extremely difficult to treat mental disorder because of it. Before I had my son, I consciously realized that I did not want to continue the cycle of abuse, and therefore vowed not to have children.
I fell in love. The co-dependency I felt, itself a symptom of the abuse and neurosis, caused me to acquiesce to her wish to have a child. Basically, she planned to get pregnant, I went along with out of fear of losing her, knowing the entire time I didn’t want to be a parent.
My son has Asperger’s syndrome, so I meet some of your criteria on several levels. I have passed on a genetic defect. I do not meet my own criteria for parenthood. And, having learned painfully from this mistake (I am now divorced, and the trauma of my childhood abuse was amplified by this to the point that I spent more than 8 years in and out of psychiatric wards), I still would not support this policy.
Autonomy is the first Universal Value. My experiences have taught me that.
I have voluntarily chosen to do what you would enforce by law (admittedly I did make that first mistake).





@iPan…I’m very glad you posted this comment here as well. As well as being touching at an emotional level this type of personal testimony provides crucial input to our otherwise theoretical discussions.

I hesitate a bit to write this, but I kind of want to merge and reword your pen- and pen-penultimate sentences as follows: “my experiences have taught me to value autonomy above all else”. I personally would have no problem with that, for the simple reason that what you value is primarily your business: you don’t have to value the same thing as me, and vice versa. Of course you don’t have to believe the same thing either, but when we’re talking fact/reality it makes sense to talk about evidence, right and wrong. Values for me are something else: a matter of choice.

I don’t value autonomy above all else, I want to be connected and to some extent see these as opposites. Is co-dependency such a terrible thing? I think it really depends on how well it’s working. A synthetic way of describing my own values is basically: love, joy, peace, physical well-being.





I get your point Peter.

But let me explain why I persistently refer to Autonomy as the first Universal Value.

Organisms seek Autonomy. I guess we could debate the definition of Autonomy, but from what I see, all living things seek Autonomy.

Do you value your own Autonomy?

This is why I call it Universal.

Of course, everyone wants Autonomy, but some are willing to decrease the Autonomy of Others, to increase their own (something I believe is a falsehood - the master/slave relationship is as enslaving to the “master” as it is to the “slave”).

To me, evolution is indication that autonomy is universal.





But isn’t it also the case that all living things seek connection?





Mike,
I disagree.

All living things live. They also require inputs of energy (food) and create waste (entropy).

Even in the example you give, Mules, the males do not reproduce because they are infertile, but do they not have sex? They try to reproduce, but are thwarted by a genetic defect. Also, some female Mules, “Molly Mules” do in fact reproduce, but it is rare.

So, your example doesn’t really work either.

All living things exist. That much, at least, they have in common.

What is existence?

In process philosophy, things are thought of as in a state of “becoming” (this is essentially what a “process” is - a thing becoming).

I associate “autonomy” with “degrees of freedom” (from physics).

That is, I see living things adapting through time to increase access to greater degrees of freedom in space. This is why the become more complex, with greater energy inputs and outputs (example: a simple organism might obtain energy from a single source and nothing else - while humans obtain energy from a multitude of sources, more so than any other living thing - hence we are the most complex animal).

The more degrees of freedom an animal attains, the more autonomous it is.

Looking at evolution over billions of years, it would seem that all life is pointed this way.

That doesn’t mean all are successful, or more accurately, some are more successful than others.

An electron has very little autonomy. It always follows the path of least resistance.

A fullerene has slightly more autonomy than an electron. It can bond with a great many number of other molecules.

A carbon based lifeform has even more degree of freedom than that, and can swap out molecules within it’s cells to maintain their from.

A land based animal enjoys a few more degrees of freedom than most ocean dwelling animals.

Primates, with opposable thumbs, have even slightly more degrees of freedom than animals without them.

And humans, with our origami brains, and enhanced temporal senses, have possibly the highest degree of freedom of all the animals on the planet.





“There isn’t anything that “all living things” do—not even reproduce (e.g., mules). Such blanket statements aren’t very useful in dealing with difficult questions.”

This actually made me giggle too, it is itself a blanket statement.

“There are absolutely no absolutes!”





Individual beings don’t always pursue autonomy in the sense of increasing degrees of freedom. Sometimes we even commit suicide. Nevertheless I agree it’s a fundamental driver, perhaps even more fundamental than the desire for connection (which may, after all, just be a way of pursuing autonomy e.g. By helping us secure resources. But what about reproduction? What does that have to do with autonomy for the individual?





@
Peter

It all comes full circle to how we define the boundaries of an individual, or ‘self’.

Process philosophy.

Who am I? Who am I becoming?

See a pattern yet?

smile





Yes and no. I get the point: the more we identify with some kind of wider community/technium or whatever the more autonomy and connection become entwined and synergistic. But it’s like our debate on libertarianism and government: what makes sense in the context of a long-term vision doesn’t necessarily make sense in the short term. Do you really want, in the short to medium term, to lose all sense of *individual* autonomy, i.e. of your current, physical, individual self.  And do you not see any tension between that desire for individual autonomy and a desire for some kind of connection with a nevertheless distinguishable “other”. And finally, is that tension something we should necessarily see as a problem, or rather something to embrace and manage?





“Unity is plural, and at minimum two”
- Buckminster Fuller





The tension is evolution in action.





Yes! smile





Sadly, I’m probably too late to this discussion to get a reply, but I will try anyway.

I do not agree with parental licensing. I actually find the idea, especially as it is laid out here, extremely abhorrent.

For one thing, there’s a whole heap of concerns I would have towards child abuse that are simply not addressed. Not all children that are abused or killed are abused or killed by their parents- I know that “stranger danger” is not statistically comparable, but it exists. What about children that are abused by non-parent caregivers? For example: my sister works sixty-hour weeks, during which care of my niece falls to me or our parents. If one of us was abusing my niece, parental licensing does nothing to circumvent that.

Children are also abused/murdered by non-relative caregivers (perhaps you remember the scandalous Louise Woodward case in 1997, where an au pair shook her eight-month-old charge to death?). Those people are already required to be examined for fitness by an agency, and yet abuses still happen. How does parental licensing circumvent that?

What about sexual abuse? I know far too many women who were sexually abused at one point by someone in their lives that was not their parent. One friend was raped from the age of nine to the age of fifteen by her cousin. One, at the age of six, was molested by her grandfather. Another, at the age of ten, by her brother. Another, from the age of seven to the age of thirteen, by a friend’s father who never touched his own daughter. Another, from the age of fifteen to the age of eighteen, by her stepfather. Yet another, from the age of eight to the age of fourteen, by her stepbrother. I have heard many, many, many more variants of these stories by women while I have volunteered in rape crisis counseling centers. I have heard of children molested by their scout masters, soccer coaches, karate instructors, their priests, their teachers, even by their approved adoptive parents or licensed foster parents. How does (biological) parental licensing protect *them?*

What role would parental licensing have in divorce and re-marriage? As many experts state that married parents are more ideal for children than single or divorced ones, is divorce in and of itself a disqualifier for parental licensing? (It is in some adoption by-laws- China, for example, does not allow people who have been divorced more than once to adopt.) If a licensed parent wishes to re-marry after divorce or the death of his or her spouse, does the new spouse have to get licensed to be a stepparent? What if the prospective stepparent never intends to have any biological children of his or her own?

What diseases disqualify someone from a license? Are paraplegics disqualified to parent in your purview? What about epileptics? Or asthmatics? Or diabetics? (China also disallows these groups to adopt.) Is a person with a Body Mass Index outside a certain range disqualified to parent? (China’s adoptive parent standards again.) The blind? The deaf?

What “weirdnesses” disqualify someone from a license? I have a friend whose mother was loving, kind, protective, and financially secure…but who had an unfortunate hoarding compulsion. Her children grew up fed and loved and well-educated in a house that was elbow-deep in junk. Do all of her other qualities as a mother cease to matter because she felt unsafe in a clean house? How would you even catch something like that without regular inspections until the children reach the age of majority- something NO parent is currently subjected to?

What religious practices do you classify as dangerous/abusive? I’m a Jewish girl who doesn’t personally believe in circumcision (should I ever have a son, he’ll have brit shalom- a naming ceremony- instead of brit millah- ritual circumcision), but certainly other members of my tribe believe in it. Would that disqualify us from reproducing in general? Or would it depend on the biases of the person who was interviewing us for the license? (Peg Tittle above acknowledged that the system would be abused, even as she endorsed it- this is in part what JulianReal means by “genocide,” I should think. Racists, Antisemites, or even just people with a religious or political axe to grind could stop whole ethnic or cultural groups from breeding on flimsy justifications. Does that not bother you? Or does it just not seem statistically significant enough to care about until that problem’s already here?)

Another point made by JulianReal that you ignored is women who become pregnant by rape. Would they be legally penalized for that pregnancy?

If this platform was adopted by the whole world, do you not see how inevitably problems *would* arise? Who licenses disenfranchised persons without a country, like Palestinians? Israel? Lebanon? Who licenses immigrants in a country on a work visa? Their country of residence, or their country of origin? Both? Is a license from one country valid in another, even if their licensing standards are completely different? What about groups that live in cloistered communities that could easily underreport births, like the Amish? Or Mormon fundamentalists who are already getting away with child trafficking and polygamy? (Consider how many YEARS it took for authorities to curtail Warren Jeffs’ activities at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Texas, and the fact that it cost over $14,000,000 tax dollars to rescue all the children being abused there.) [I imagine THAT is what you meant by “dangerous religious practices,” but see how impossible it was to enforce?]

Hank, I’m sorry, but I have to agree with others who’ve said that they don’t think you’ve thought this through.





Hi Heather - thank you for your contribution to this discussion.  By the way, I congratulate you on your decision to do a brit shalom instead of the bloodier option. I also am pleased that you have apparently read through all the comments, all 250+ of them! 

Thank you for sharing all the personal information in your post - it seems to me that you have multiple reasons to support “parent licenses” since you have seen numerous atrocities perpetrated on children.  You have many well-thought out hesitations, but all of them could be addressed within a system that strived harder to protect children from abusive adults.

I am particularly thankful to you for providing the information on restrictions in Chinese adoption.  I have stated before that I believe either China or Singapore will be the first to adopt parent licenses, and your facts about China in your post lend validation to my prediction.

I don’t know if you’ve read my latest post, entitled “Let’s Elevate Global IQ” , but I do regard that as a companion piece to the Parent License article.  I would very much like it if people understood what created and damaged intelligence, so that society could be compassionately constructed in a way that maximized the cognitive abilities of the newborn and young children.  It seems grossly unfair to me that children’s intelligence is maimed in the neonatal and formative stages.  In a “parent licensing exam” I would want all prospective parents to understand the neuroscience of human development and what they need to do to assist, rather than destroy, their offspring’s mental abilities.

thanks again for your remarks.





I appreciate your polite response, Hank, but, respectfully, I find it woefully lacking. You don’t address a single one of the issues I brought up, other than to gloss over them with “all of them could be addressed within a system that strived harder to protect children from abusive adults.” It’s what I call the Perfect World argument. (e.g, when fiscal conservatives oppose food stamps in favor of food banks, and it’s pointed out to them that food banks are undersupplied by donations, and their response is, “Well, in a perfect world, enough people would donate to maintain the supply.” This hypothetical world where problems don’t exist because they just don’t, a way of caring about the problem without having to actually contemplate working solutions.) What are your solutions to these problems? Your answers to these questions? If you want popular support for your proposal (as you asserted in many of the comments), these questions demand answers. So I’m asking you as the author: what are those answers?

I’m somewhat surprised that you consider China’s adoption rules regarding health factors not to be at least a little spurious. Body Mass Index, for example, has been proven multiple times to be an ineffectual indicator/predictor of health. A person who is 6’6” and weighs 295 has a BMI of 34.1 (China’s maximum is 30), even though, proportionate to such a height, that weight isn’t all that unhealthy- particularly if we’re talking about someone with a high muscle mass and an active lifestyle. What we’re talking about here is not just barring people who are too fat; we’re talking about barring people who are too tall. They also ban people with a history of cancer in their family without specifying what kinds of cancer; there’s a documented history of cancer in *my* family, but it’s all been lung cancer in a family with a history of smoking. Should people be banned from being parents because their grandfathers couldn’t give up a pack a day habit? That seems a little reaching.

Other questions I would like to see answers to while we’re on the subject: Do you have any suggestions for how to make sure these contraceptives are administered to all girls? (I’m aware that in the comments, you added that you didn’t leave out boys from the initial proposal intentionally, but we don’t even have hormonal/implantable birth control for men at this time, and it could be many years before we do. So I’m sticking to the science I actually have data for that would apply to this hypothetical.)  Or any thoughts on an effective long-term contraceptive device that won’t interfere with puberty, hormones, etc?

Hormonal birth controls (such as the pill, the Nuva ring, Depo provera, and so on) have multiple documented side effects, such as severe weight loss, severe weight gain (on the order of up to thirty pounds in thirty days), menstrual pain, even cardiac-pulmonary blood clots and deep-vein thrombosis. Have you read any studies on the long-term effects of progesterone and estrogen on young girls? Here’s one: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/understanding_birth_control_medications_contrace/article_em.htm And here’s another: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/35663.php

Implantable birth controls (such as Norplant, Mirena IUDs and Copper-T IUDs) also have documented side effects, including uterine scarring that can cause long-term pain and even *permanent* infertility. (I say this as a person who uses an IUD- I’m an adult, and I chose to take the risk and tolerate the discomfort. IUDs aren’t even supposed to be given to women who haven’t had children because of the risk this method poses. And you’re suggesting giving it to early pubescent women? To girls who are approximately eleven to thirteen?)

What is your solution for girls who are allergic to the materials used in contraceptives? (Such as a copper allergy in the use of a Copper-T IUD, or juvenile diabetics who can’t consume the sugar base in a pill?)

There are reasons most early pubescent girls aren’t given birth control besides the U.S’s puritanical terror of telling kids about sex.

The only option I see remaining is tubal ligation, or, being egalitarian, vasectomy (both of which are reversible, to varying degrees of success), but at that point, you’re asking people to submit their children to an invasive surgery with a painful recovery time and a chance of rendering them permanently infertile on the off-chance that they might have unprotected sex someday in the future. I don’t see how this is either humane or ethical.

So, again, Hank, I respectfully put the question to you: it’s your proposal. What are your solutions?





“You have many well-thought out hesitations, but all of them could be addressed within a system that strived harder to protect children from abusive adults.”

Excellent, very good work. Some of the best I’ve seen.

My advise, my modus operandi, is ask the children. I don’t give advise that I, myself, do not follow.

How many of the ‘commentators’ here, concerning the RIGHTS of our future generations, have done this? Have you, Heather?

I’ll give you 0 statistical results of mine. You show me yours.

Will you choose to protect your so-called personal ‘rights’? or the innocent’s.

It’s all of our choices really. We make them everyday. I know what my choice is. What’s yours?

We can really make a difference for the change of suffering in more ways than can be imagined. It all boils down to, to whom are you more loyal? Yourself? A child? Both? Is that possible? Can a human really put another on this planet and make horrible choices, with the best of intentions? Is it possible to not even care, and not even KNOW that(?), well… or even admit that there are things you DON’T know? The answer is written plainly on every wall in sight. Outside opinions are SUPREMELY necessary, in any and all event’s concerning the best interest of any concern. When it’s this important to us all, you can put money on it. Or the life and well being of a child.
I choose the child.





Sherakee, I have a child. She’s nine. She’s the most important thing in the world to me.

Hank’s proposed legislation and its effects on my rights are not what I’m worried about. I’m worried about the day someone asks me to consent to an invasive medical procedure on her just so that she doesn’t accidentally get pregnant.

I’m pretty firmly on “no.”

Re-read my objections above in both comments and actually come up with some real suggestions on how those abuses/problems would be dealt with. Your ramblings above, while vaguely noble-sounding, barely make any sense, let alone contain any serious examination of ethics, or medical issues.

If you’re not willing to engage with me on them, I apologize, but I am not willing to engage with you.





Hello Sherakee, I read your response to Heather’s response to Hank’s article. What is Hank really suggesting in his polemic rant? He uses terms like ‘parents’ and ‘children’ rather carelessly. This man has no interest in family groups, or the poverty and diseases of disadvantaged children. What IS advocated in this argument is essentially a bureaucracy that will either be incompetent or brutal. I’ll give you an analogy: Let’s stop crime! We all know that all humans are capable of vice, sin, and social disobedience. Now that we can agree on that, by using an expanded justice system, with well-resourced prisons, all citizens of the state will have to report to their cells and only be unlocked when they have proven their innocence. I’m sure the costs will be heavy upfront, but administered correctly, the filtered population will have only criminals behind bars. This will save massive resources in police stations and courts. Assume everybody guilty until proven innocent.

Would you really want to live in a state like that? I have an interest in history and this reads more like the Nazi eugenics laws and anti-Jewish laws than I have seen in any similar legislation. I’m sure that I’ve pressed the Godwin’s Law button, but claiming in an argument that the best interest of “children” (in fact, the state) will be efficiently served by controlling the breeding of an extended list of malcontents, Hank is talking about Aryan paradise. This should be disturbing. When a guy rants he’s not racist rather than explaining any of his arguments, he’s more interested in deflecting “ad hominem attacks” than dealing with the principles that his argument is really a fascist solution.

You want to change the course of poverty or childhood diseases? This requires communities, educational institutions, public health resources, and a sense of serving the citizen, not elevating the state as absolute ruler over individuals who are socially marginalized. When you start treating people, you help people. When you start treating problems, you get problems. Qualitative difference. Thank you. And good luck.





@ Tom - this is what you said about me -

“This man has no interest in family groups, or the poverty and diseases of disadvantaged children”

and you also said, “Hank is talking about Aryan paradise”

That is really quite unfair and wholly inaccurate. My motivation, if you read the thread, is exactly what you claim it isn’t.  I have started 2 preschools, plus a non-profit that assists disadvantaged kids, I purchased land in The Philippines that 100 impoverished people live and grow food on, and I’ve lent support to other children in Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Fiji, Nicaragua, Myanmar, and elsewhere. That is my background. 

Plus, I have written numerous pro-Israel articles, quite recently, and I was a blogger for a Israeli/Jewish website.  I am not remotely a Nazi. You are wrong wrong wrong.  You are imagining that I am some stereotyped Bad Guy but it is wholly in your imagination.  I would appreciate it if you tried to accept that people can have different opinions than you, without ear-marking them as absolutely evil.
Just because I reach different conclusions than you, doesn’t mean that you are morally superior. Hummph!





@ Heather - thank you for your continued interest in this topic.

I can give you my personal answers to your questions, but they’re just my off-the-top-of-my-head opinions that I am not entirely attached to, because sensible conclusions would require more research than I have so far allocated to each of your questions.

Please use a more polite tone with me in the future, if you expect a response. I simply do not have time to answer every question that I get, and I don’t feel required to do so, especially when the request has an aggressive tone to it. Plus, I don’t think my expenditure of time and thought is going to change your mind one iota, so it’s seems impractical for me to devote a segment of my day to convincing a stubborn stranger to alter their thoughts.

That aside, here’s my brief answers to the questions you had posed throughout your first email:

Q.  What about children that are abused by non-parent caregivers?

*** Very good question. Perhaps non-parent child care-givers should also be required to get some sort of license before being allowed to take care extensively of children.  But your question makes no mathematical sense. If parent licenses protect 1 million children from harm, but don’t protect an additional 2 million from being harmed by non-parents, the first 1 million should still be protected.  My closer-to-perfect proposal is superior to doing nothing at all.

Q.  How does parental licensing circumvent that?

*** See above. If we can’t circumvent that, it’s unfortunate.  But we should still circumvent what we can.

What about sexual abuse? How does (biological) parental licensing protect *them?*

*** See above.  Why are you insisting that my parent license proposal be abandoned, just because it doesn’t protect children from being abused by non-parents? It is clearly defined as a “parent” license intended only to safeguard children from parents. Someone else, if they wish, can come up with other proposals to safeguard children from adults who are not parents. 

Q.  What role would parental licensing have in divorce and re-marriage? As many experts state that married parents are more ideal for children than single or divorced ones, is divorce in and of itself a disqualifier for parental licensing? (It is in some adoption by-laws- China, for example, does not allow people who have been divorced more than once to adopt.) If a licensed parent wishes to re-marry after divorce or the death of his or her spouse, does the new spouse have to get licensed to be a stepparent? What if the prospective stepparent never intends to have any biological children of his or her own?

*** You are making my proposal far more complicated and exclusive than it has to be. I propose a simple test, of behavior, knowledge, and possibly genetics, for everyone who wishes to be a parent. If they pass, they can be parents. I never said that their married or non-married status should be part of the criteria. DO you fear that single people wold not be allowed to be parents, like China’s adoption policy? I would not support that. My opinion is that one good parent is certainly better than two bad parents.

What diseases disqualify someone from a license? Are paraplegics disqualified to parent in your purview? What about epileptics? Or asthmatics? Or diabetics? (China also disallows these groups to adopt.) Is a person with a Body Mass Index outside a certain range disqualified to parent? (China’s adoptive parent standards again.) The blind? The deaf?

*** Very good question.  I haven’t put in enough good research to answer this in depth. I am imagining that I would be stricter than you but not as strict as the Chinese adoption laws. Somewhere in-between. My hope is that a person’s good personality and parenting characteristics would over-ride their physical limitations. I think one good loving blind parent is still better than two bad parents with 20-20 vision, for example. I’d have to answer this on a case-by-case level though. A very good question.

Q. What “weirdnesses” disqualify someone from a license? I have a friend whose mother was loving, kind, protective, and financially secure…but who had an unfortunate hoarding compulsion. Her children grew up fed and loved and well-educated in a house that was elbow-deep in junk. Do all of her other qualities as a mother cease to matter because she felt unsafe in a clean house? How would you even catch something like that without regular inspections until the children reach the age of majority- something NO parent is currently subjected to?

*** Yes, I recently researched “hoarding” and studies show that an environment like that is detrmental to a child’s development. By a few IQ points. I don’t think I would automatically disqualify a “hoarder” but really, this has to be taken on a case-by-case basis. If someone was a kind, intelligent and loving person, but they were also blind, a hoarder, and epileptic, well, that would be challenging, and I’m not sure they’d make ideal parents.

Q. What religious practices do you classify as dangerous/abusive? I’m a Jewish girl who doesn’t personally believe in circumcision (should I ever have a son, he’ll have brit shalom- a naming ceremony- instead of brit millah- ritual circumcision), but certainly other members of my tribe believe in it. Would that disqualify us from reproducing in general? Or would it depend on the biases of the person who was interviewing us for the license? (Peg Tittle above acknowledged that the system would be abused, even as she endorsed it- this is in part what JulianReal means by “genocide,” I should think. Racists, Antisemites, or even just people with a religious or political axe to grind could stop whole ethnic or cultural groups from breeding on flimsy justifications. Does that not bother you? Or does it just not seem statistically significant enough to care about until that problem’s already here?)

*** Ah yes, the fear that a dominant group would simply not allow a minority group to breed. This is a very interesting question. Controlled breeding to maintain a certain demographic. I think this is your most interesting question because I think it is the #1 fear most people have with the licensing idea. Julian Real, for example, expressed this fear, which I interpreted as a fear that NativeAmericans would be curtailed from breeding if they were regarded as possible contributors to fetal alcohol syndrome. I don’t see the USA as instigators of any controlled breeding or planned exterminators of certain races via parent licenses, but I imagine that others fear the USA government more than I do. Internationally, it seems possible that this concern would be very valid.

I still don’t understand your desire to have parent licenses be perfect, or not exist at all.  WHat about a woman who is an alcoholic, a drug addict, and she is already beating her three kids senseless when she isn’t neglecting them? Should she be allowed to have a fourth child? What if her husband is a violent abuser?

Q.  Another point made by JulianReal that you ignored is women who become pregnant by rape. Would they be legally penalized for that pregnancy?

*** Of course not. Isn’t she going to get an abortion? I don’t understand that concept at all. I can’t fathom why a woman would keep an embryo from a rape. Crazy idea. In a world I’d like to see, the woman would get an abortion, the man would be put in jail for a long time, and the man would never get a parent license.

Q.  If this platform was adopted by the whole world, do you not see how inevitably problems *would* arise? Who licenses disenfranchised persons without a country, like Palestinians? Israel? Lebanon? Who licenses immigrants in a country on a work visa? Their country of residence, or their country of origin? Both? Is a license from one country valid in another, even if their licensing standards are completely different? What about groups that live in cloistered communities that could easily underreport births, like the Amish? Or Mormon fundamentalists who are already getting away with child trafficking and polygamy? (Consider how many YEARS it took for authorities to curtail Warren Jeffs’ activities at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Texas, and the fact that it cost over $14,000,000 tax dollars to rescue all the children being abused there.) [I imagine THAT is what you meant by “dangerous religious practices,” but see how impossible it was to enforce?]

*** I do have a gripe against dangerous religious/traditional practices, like clotorectomy (FGM) and not allowing kids to see a doctor. I am opposed to male circumcision, as you are, but I wouldn’t prevent parents from doing that to their sons.  That is just my opinion. Regarding all the complex questions above, I regard them as a bit unfair. I am sure you can present me with a very difficult situation that I would be hard-pressed to immediately answer, but I could do the same as well. See my example above. I could name a potential parent with very bad qualification and you would have a difficult time explaining whay they should be allowed to be parents.  We could do that back and forth, like a game.  But I wold rather not.  I am in agreement with Peg Tittle, I don’t want to argue abou tthe “grey zone” yet, I’d just like to make sure that people who are absolutely terrible potential parents are prevented from causing damage.

thanks, this turned out to be rather fun.





I’m very glad that you feel this turned out to be rather fun.

“Please use a more polite tone with me in the future, if you expect a response. I simply do not have time to

answer every question that I get, and I don’t feel required to do so, especially when the request has an

aggressive tone to it. Plus, I don’t think my expenditure of time and thought is going to change your mind one

iota, so it’s seems impractical for me to devote a segment of my day to convincing a stubborn stranger to alter

their thoughts.”

I apologize if you feel my tone has been aggressive. I am not intentionally badgering. I’m imploring.

“Very good question. Perhaps non-parent child care-givers should also be required to get some sort of license

before being allowed to take care extensively of children. But your question makes no mathematical sense. If

parent licenses protect 1 million children from harm, but don’t protect an additional 2 million from being harmed

by non-parents, the first 1 million should still be protected. My closer-to-perfect proposal is superior to doing

nothing at all.”

I disagree. You’re still very behind by the numbers there. Twice as many children aren’t protected by your

proposal as are. Legislation so invasive into people’s lives and bodies should have a higher than 33% success

rate.

“DO you fear that single people wold not be allowed to be parents, like China’s adoption policy? I would not

support that. My opinion is that one good parent is certainly better than two bad parents.”

Of course I fear it. Once legislation is given into the hands of bureaucracy, it can spiral out of control. And

certainly it’d happen in some states/countries, even if not in all of them. Were China to apply their adoption

policies to biological reproduction licensing, thousands of innocent people would be penalized by a rigged

system. Furthermore, parent licensing in cases of stepparenting is sort of a double-edged sword: either

stepparents are not required to become licensed (in which case stepparent abuse goes unchecked while bio-

parents jump through hoops) or they are (in which case people who intend to marry the parent of older

teenagers, for example, have to jump through a bunch of hoops for a license they won’t even need in another

year or two). It just seems a logistical nightmare.

“Very good question. I haven’t put in enough good research to answer this in depth. I am imagining that I would

be stricter than you but not as strict as the Chinese adoption laws. Somewhere in-between. My hope is that a

person’s good personality and parenting characteristics would over-ride their physical limitations. I think one

good loving blind parent is still better than two bad parents with 20-20 vision, for example. I’d have to answer

this on a case-by-case level though. A very good question.”

That’s a fine answer, though I do wonder how legislation could be effectively written along these lines.

“If someone was a kind, intelligent and loving person, but they were also blind, a hoarder, and epileptic, well,

that would be challenging, and I’m not sure they’d make ideal parents.”

I would think such a person would be a statistical anomaly. *g*

“Why are you insisting that my parent license proposal be abandoned, just because it doesn’t protect children

from being abused by non-parents? It is clearly defined as a “parent” license intended only to safeguard children

from parents. Someone else, if they wish, can come up with other proposals to safeguard children from adults

who are not parents.”

Because we have legislation in place *now* intended to safeguard children from abusive adults- both their

parents and not- and it doesn’t catch it all, either. I don’t see how introducing more legislation is going to help.

This sort of thing tends to penalize good, law-abiding parents (how many cases have you heard of where parents

have gotten in legal trouble for taking clearly non-lascivious nude photos of their children- such as photographing

their baby’s first bath- while child pornography continues unabated?) without actually denting the lives of

criminals until they’ve already abused *several* children.

“Ah yes, the fear that a dominant group would simply not allow a minority group to breed. This is a very

interesting question. Controlled breeding to maintain a certain demographic. I think this is your most interesting

question because I think it is the #1 fear most people have with the licensing idea. Julian Real, for example,

expressed this fear, which I interpreted as a fear that NativeAmericans would be curtailed from breeding if they

were regarded as possible contributors to fetal alcohol syndrome. I don’t see the USA as instigators of any

controlled breeding or planned exterminators of certain races via parent licenses, but I imagine that others fear

the USA government more than I do.”

Well…not trying to be offensive here, but…you’re a white, heterosexual, able-bodied cis gendered gentile male,

Hank. You have less to fear from the government than the rest of us. hmmm Have you ever worn a Star of David to a

Democratic Party convention as a small, non-threatening woman? You’ll spend the entire evening being made to

answer for every single thing the state of Israel has ever done that the other attendees disapprove of. You’ll be

told you’re the new Nazi, that they’re looking forward to the day your tribal homeland is driven into the sea or

wiped off the map. (Yes, this has happened to me. Repeatedly.) Try living in the midwest as a Jew at all; other

parents recommend that you not let that information slip at your child’s elementary school because such-and-

such teacher is Antisemitic. You’ll have strangers walk up to you to inform you that you’re going to Hell. You’ll

have to go over the principal’s head to the state superintendent of schools to get something done about

Antisemitic bullying happening to your child. The local bureaucracy here turns a blind eye to that kind of thing

and accuses you of being an oversensitive troublemaker when you seek their help. Accordingly, I’m reluctant to

put my ethnic group’s survival in said bureaucracy’s hands. hmmm

“I still don’t understand your desire to have parent licenses be perfect, or not exist at all.”

Because we are talking about legislation that will involve medical intervention to be performed on existing

children (remember, in your proposal, you suggested this contraceptive program be administered to early teens,

who are, in fact, children) to protect hypothetical ones. Because I see a proposed system that is rife with

potential for institutional abuse of groups who have already endured generations of such abuse. With those two

items alone at play, disregarding all my other reservations, the system *has* to be perfect before it could be

employed. There can be no margin of error for a proposal that would affect so many lives so very thoroughly.

Driving is not comparable to parenthood; if you can’t get a driver’s license, there are still several options

available to you for travel- public transportation (buses, subways, cable cars), private transportation (such as

cabs), friend and family carpools, riding a bicycle or walking on your own two feet. If you are disallowed from

parenting for a reason that is unfair (such as racial prejudice), that’s sort of an endgame right there; there’s

nothing you can fall back on. If you are put on a birth control for sex you’re not actually having and it does

physical damage (such as the risks I cited above), the damage is done. Before entering such a thing into law,

those risks would have to be eliminated.

“WHat about a woman who is an alcoholic, a drug addict, and she is already beating her three kids senseless

when she isn’t neglecting them? Should she be allowed to have a fourth child? What if her husband is a violent

abuser?”

What if they are? Such people should serve out long prison sentences (for the illegal drug abuse, illegal child

abuse, and illegal child neglect- all of which can carry sentences of up to twenty years or more per proven count,

depending on the state). As prisons are single-gender environments, they’ll hardly be having a fourth child in

there.

“Of course not. Isn’t she going to get an abortion? I don’t understand that concept at all. I can’t fathom why a

woman would keep an embryo from a rape. Crazy idea. In a world I’d like to see, the woman would get an

abortion, the man would be put in jail for a long time, and the man would never get a parent license.”

Some women choose to for various personal reasons. I’ve known plenty. Other women are forced to by

circumstances beyond their control (such as inability to pay for an abortion). [As long as we’re having dreams of

an ideal world, I think that a rapist should also be obligated to pay for his victim’s abortion. If he can’t afford it,

he can work it off in prison during an extended sentence.]

“I do have a gripe against dangerous religious/traditional practices, like clotorectomy (FGM) and not allowing

kids to see a doctor.”

As do I. However, FGM is already illegal in the United States. You don’t need parenting licenses to prevent it. I

don’t see how parenting licenses *would* prevent such a thing without resorting to institutional abuse. Such

persons could be dishonest about this disqualifier in their interview and then break the law anyway, harming a

child. Thus the only other option would be banning all members of cultural groups that have historically practiced

FGM from breeding at all, which I would consider to be an institutional abuse. There is the third option of

revoking the license of a couple who broke the anti-FGM laws, but at that point, it’s already failed their

child/children.

Not allowing children to see a doctor can be challenged in court; there have been many such cases, in many

countries. In Japan, for example, the wishes of parents and children regarding life-saving medical intervention

can legally be disregarded if the child is 17 or under. Here in the United States, the American Academy of

Pediatrics has an official policy that in cases of an imminent threat to a child’s life, physicians may intervene

over parental objections. Physicians that choose not to intervene for fear of a lawsuit seem to me to be the

problem there.

“I am opposed to male circumcision, as you are, but I wouldn’t prevent parents from doing that to their sons. That

is just my opinion.”

But how do you prevent large special interest groups such as NOCIRC from successfully lobbying to enforce an

opinion other than yours? Why should we believe that, once breeding controls have been instituted upon the

population, such lobbying will in the future be unsuccessful?

“Regarding all the complex questions above, I regard them as a bit unfair. I am sure you can present me with a

very difficult situation that I would be hard-pressed to immediately answer, but I could do the same as well. See

my example above. I could name a potential parent with very bad qualification and you would have a difficult

time explaining whay they should be allowed to be parents. We could do that back and forth, like a game. But I

wold rather not. I am in agreement with Peg Tittle, I don’t want to argue abou tthe “grey zone” yet, I’d just like to

make sure that people who are absolutely terrible potential parents are prevented from causing damage.”

Succinctly: Because the gray zones are where innocent people are hurt. I consider that an important concern

before enacting legislation of this magnitude.

You’re right, this was fun.





Hi Heather—well, let’s not disagree anymore, I’ll just offer you sympathy - you really do seem to have a different POV being the rare Jew in your little town?  I remember years ago being in Albuquerque talking to some resident friends there and they all said that they’d never met a Jewish person in their city.  Yikes!

Try to get away if you can?  I live in San Francisco and there’s probably a half-million Jews around here. Everywhere. And I’ve always been around Jews wherever I’ve lived in California.  Plus I’m also the sperm-donor dad for two lesbian Jews who have my biological son in Oakland, one’s a rabbi.  It just sounds really wretched to be in that Christian Midwest where you live?  And that seems to explain why you’d be concerned, as you are, about parent licensing.

What city are you in?  I’m just curious.  I am so unfamiliar with vast parts of the USA. 

best of luck and write back if you want





That was a thoroughly interesting and exciting debate to read! But I must tell you, if your plan had been in place already, my life would be very different in a way that saddens me. It would have affected not just me, but my oldest son, all of his brothers, all of his grandparents and the rest of our families in a tremendously negative way. We’re talking about over 30+ people here who are thankful he’s in this world, as I certainly am.

I understand your passion behind the reasoning. It is my wish that no child ever suffers, however this is not realistic within the current state of humanity.

I’m curious about exploring an alternative allocation of time, energy and finances that would be necessary to implement and regulate such licensing, which is certainly extensive on all accounts.

What if we invested said time, energy, and money into education rather than regulation? Entrepreneurship rather than incarceration? Spiritual practices that teach evolution of consciousness, compassion, respect for oneself and others, and healing from abusive cycles?





Hi Amma—thanks for the comments—I am interested in what specifically in your life my suggestion would have impacted.  You say it would impact 30+ people but you don’t say how.  If you don’t want to let the world know here, send it to my email.  thanks





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: The Kids Today

Previous entry: Open Source Blueprints for Civilization

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-428-1837

West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @ ieet.org