Three too many

Universal Credit, which provides cash benefits if you are on a low income or out of work, has been often mentioned in the Press. The major issue has been that the allowances are paid at the end of the month rather than at the beginning. The consequence in many cases is that recipients fall into debt. They can get loans from various commercial organisations but the rates of interest are huge. And then they may find themselves in a cycle of debt from which there is no easy way out.

But today I want to look at another issue. Not surprisingly, parents with dependent children get benefits for these. But the situation has changed. I quote the officialese: “If your children were born before 6 April 2017, you will be able to claim for them all. If one or more of your children were born on or after 6 April 2017, you will only be able to claim for the first two unless you had a multiple birth or have adopted.”

Many people would agree with that. Why should couples have endless children at the expense of all of us? Their poverty may not be their fault but that is no excuse when there are plenty of ways to avoid pregnancy. Others would argue that the threat of global warming is highly relevant. The more the children the more the population – and so, the more consumers, the more the warming. So far I have not yet heard the argument that abortion is a virtue in its contribution to protecting our climate. But I daresay that will come.

It would seem that, leaving aside the demands of poverty, any family who has more than two children is damaging society. Do we agree with these arguments? If we do I am in a sticky position: not only do I have five children but I have several grandchildren and a swiftly growing number of great grandchildren. (Twenty-three descendants so far.) The older ones have had, or are having, fine and important careers, but that make no difference: I am clearly responsible for too many consumers.

What do you think?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Moral judgment, Quentin queries and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Three too many

  1. David Smith says:

    Oh, this one’s easy. You’re fine; they’re in a materialist rut. It seems to me that Britain may leave Europe, but Europe lives comfortably in the minds of British technocrats. It’s very sad to see. Worrisome, too, of course. The mother country has a heart of stone. As do our technocrats. the best and the brightest everywhere – at least in the West – are grimly determined to turn humanity into machines. I’m very much afraid that the Force (mindless inertia) is with them. Pray for rain.

  2. galerimo says:

    Sounds like the same argument for Euthanasia is being presented here for global warming.

    To eliminate suffering, get rid of the sufferer.

    To eliminate global warming, get rid of the warmers.

    And fundamental to the arguments are premises of human life as a comodity and economics based on constant growth. Which are both essential to understanding our world. Both false.

    So the simple arguments in favour of reducing carbon emissions by producing energy using available carbon neutral technologies and making space with a fairer distribution of wealth and property, also using our advances in science, are barely audible.

    Our boomer generation have had it so good.

    Sadly, however we seem to be incapable of caring properly for our greatest assets so as to bring them to a greater level of health and prosperity for the future – God’s gifts of nature with humanity as part of it. Both in abundance.

    But there are exceptions – and well might you continue to be proud of your place among them with such progeny and enlightenment.

    • David Smith says:

      galerimo writes:

      // So the simple arguments in favour of reducing carbon emissions by producing energy using available carbon neutral technologies and making space with a fairer distribution of wealth and property, also using our advances in science, are barely audible. //

      To redistribute wealth evenly, you’ll have to force people to behave and think in ways they’re naturally disinclined to behave and think But it will be for their own good, of course. Once you’ve made peace with that much autocracy, why not go just a little further and prohibit them from having too many children? Even better, you could require licenses for child bearing. Once that’s working well and the dissenters have been disposed of in one way or another, you can move full steam ahead and create paradise on earth.

  3. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Universal Credit, which provides cash benefits if you are on a low income or out of work, has been often mentioned in the Press. The major issue has been that the allowances are paid at the end of the month rather than at the beginning. The consequence in many cases is that recipients fall into debt. They can get loans from various commercial organisations but the rates of interest are huge. And then they may find themselves in a cycle of debt from which there is no easy way out. //

    It’s the establishment’s noble burden to care for the dispossessed. If the ignorant wretches behave unwisely, it’s the establishment’s fault for not having controlled them correctly. In this instance, they’re being fed too late in the day. The feeding schedule must be changed. Write a memo, call a meeting, submit a bill.

    • milliganp says:

      It’s sad that this blog has descended to drivel responses to such an important issue. The family is the bedrock of society and integral to the Christian vision (how can we call God father if we no longer have any model of what father means). Many of the greatest names of history and our faith have emerged out of poor families and our society is fashioning a message that the poor are merely to be despised. For our society and culture to survive we need to produce children and we are turning family life into a luxury only the well off can afford. We desperately need 3 and 4 child families to balance out those not having (or unable to have) children and those choosing to have a single child.
      We also need children to grow up knowing what it is to not have enough so they appreciate what they have. This is so much more important than to reduce our argument to sniping at the social state.

  4. milliganp says:

    A story from my own life; at the age of 24 (1975) I announced to work colleagues that my wife was expecting our third child. I had a decent job and was buying my own home. A dry, English colleague, working in a different team sidled up to my desk and said “don’t you f*cking paddies know how to control yourselves”.
    My wife and I went on to have 5 children and I continue to believe that large families have an important role to play in creating a society that counters selfishness and individualism but I also believe profoundly, despite natural law based morality, that couples should be allowed to decide how to plan their family. I wanted to have a large family and was willing, in the old- fashioned role of provider, to work to support them. My dry, English, interlocutor of 1975 was a thoroughly miserable individual and I’m happy to be have been branded a feckless Paddy but I’m not so orthodox a Catholic that I don’t care about the difficult choices my children’s and grandchildren’s generations find themselves having to make.

  5. ignatius says:

    Having been in China in the late 1980’s and worked in a hospital where forcible abortions were routine my wife and I could not but be appalled by the charnel house nature of such a society. Yes I know it is possible to mourn the slaughter of the innocents we have here, but a culture that forces abortion on its population needs to be seen to be believed; as do the knock on effects to the orphanages, one of which we helped out at.

    • milliganp says:

      I realise our abortion system has long since departed from the original intent of the enabling legislation and we now have de-facto abortion on demand but I wonder if a woman could claim the benefit limit as a reason for requesting an abortion?

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