Home Population Thomas L. Knapp: If you want more of something, subsidize it (population edition) | Opinion

Thomas L. Knapp: If you want more of something, subsidize it (population edition) | Opinion


“There is a scientific consensus,” said U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in a 2019 climate change livestream, “that children’s lives are going to be very difficult.

And this leads young people to ask themselves a legitimate question: is it okay to have more children? “

Less than three years later, the AOC is furious with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) for suggesting that Congress limit itself to perhaps one or two, rather than three, federal grants (among a credit d ‘child tax, paid leave or’ child care ‘in his multibillion dollar expense bill.

Ditto Bernie Sanders, who in 2019 indicated his support for population control to fight climate change, but in 2021 declares himself “thrilled” by the widening of the child tax credit and scolds that “we must now either make this extension of the child tax credit permanent, that is, at least, extend it for a certain number of years.

I’m agnostic about the relationship between population and climate change, but I can’t help but notice a contradiction when prominent progressives who claim to believe overpopulation is a problem simultaneously support paying Americans for more money. ‘children.

And that is exactly what schemes like the child tax credit boil down to.

It’s a time-worn truism: if you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less of something, penalize it.

Granted, these same progressives generally support the use of foreign aid to subsidize “family planning” elsewhere, but if overcrowding is the problem, it is like draining the water from the bow of the boat and pouring it down the drain. stern rather than the stern. The best.

At worst … well, paying the rich whites to reproduce and paying the poor blacks and browns not to sound like something I would expect to hear from a Tucker Carlson guest panel on “replacement theory.” .

In addition to being agnostic about the relationship between population growth and climate change, I am agnostic about the desirability or undesirableness of population growth as such.

Assuming certain conditions – conditions prevalent in the United States, where contraception is inexpensive and widely available – it seems to me that population growth is largely self-regulating.

The costs of having children are strongly correlated with the conditions affected by the population. Prices will reflect abundant or insufficient food. Child care will be easy to find and inexpensive, or scarce and expensive.

Wages will be high and unemployment low, or vice versa. More or less people will choose to become parents depending on these conditions.

Government subsidies in both directions disrupt the complex but largely rational operations of this “market”.

To a certain extent, they encourage having children when conditions prohibit it and discourage it when conditions say to go ahead.

Cutting taxes for everyone would be a better policy than spending tax dollars to encourage or discourage parenthood.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is Director and Senior News Analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in North Central Florida.