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Elon Musk is known for bemoaning the declining birthrate. He’s doing his part to remedy that situation, having fathered eleven children himself. But, as usual, he’s not fitting in with the other billionaires who are very interested in ways to reduce birthrates.
The other billionaires aren’t so keen on babymaking.
Most of the billionaire class seems convinced with a religious fervor that overpopulation is responsible for the world’s ills, especially climate change. Britain’s Prince Philip is famous for saying, in 2009, that when he died, he wanted to come back reincarnated as a virus, to solve the overpopulation problem. King Charles has spoken out about problems related to overpopulation since the 1970s. Prince William recently gave a speech about Africa, particularly, having an unsustainable birth rate/
The British royal family is not alone. In Bill Gates’ Innovating to Zero TED Talk in 2010, he expressed hope in reducing population by “10 to 15%” to meet climate goals.
The Rockefellers, in particular, have been involved in population control schemes since the 1950s. Assisted by hefty donations from groups like the Ford Foundation, they have been funding various projects to restrict the births of low-income people around the world.
It’s been easy, for a long time, to dismiss concerns about worldwide eugenics programs as conspiracy theory. Groups like the Rockefeller Foundation are good at framing their projects as nothing more than educational programs, which the general population has seen as something positive. Most women don’t want eight or ten kids (I never did), and see birth control education programs as a necessary counter to that.
It isn’t just the Communists who want to interfere with or reduce birthrates.
Westerners more often associate draconian population reduction measures with communist regimes, thanks to China’s well-known One Child Policy. While China imposed harsh financial penalties, along with such barbaric practices as forced abortions, forced sterilization, and infanticide, communist Romania went in the opposite direction, making family planning nearly impossible.
In 1966, Nicolae Ceausescu banned abortion and all forms of birth control for women under 40 with fewer than four children. This led to an out-of-control population increase, and because Romania was so poor, parents regularly abandoned their children to state-run orphanages, which became notorious for cruelty, disease, and neglect. Daisy wrote of this in her article about Communism in Romania.
Totalitarian leaders are obsessed with all kinds of control, whether forbidding children or forcing them upon the population.
Communists are not the only totalitarians out there. India has never been a communist country, but they, also, have been subjected to aggressive population control measures. In fact, India was the first nation to launch a government-sponsored family planning program in 1952.
These are not just educational campaigns.
The mainstream press treats these population control drives as nothing more than educational campaigns, but they are much more coercive. In 1975 alone, 6.2 million Indian men were forcibly sterilized. India has been under so much financial pressure from groups like the World Bank and the United Nations Population Fund to limit family size that surgeries are often performed very haphazardly. More than 700 women died as a result of botched tubal ligations between 2009 and 2012.
These programs are not just about birth control and giving parents better tools to plan their families; they’re about totally changing sets of values.
The pressure to limit family size is not only overseas.
It’s in America, too, and it’s getting harder to ignore. When I drive into the big city nearest to me, I see “Stop Having Kids” billboards all over the place.
Stop Having Kids is the force behind billboards across major cities. Perusing their website, they state that, “We believe there are no reasons for having children that aren’t selfish (besides through force) and that having children is unethical and irrational—despite the fact that birth is a natural process.”
The entire website, while falsely cheery and pseudo-inspirational, is at its core so hopeless, so negative, so depressing one wonders if the founder was ever held as a child.
As heartily as I might disagree with the Stop Having Kids movement, we do have a First Amendment, and freedom of speech means other people are allowed to say things I disagree with. I find the billboards depressing. They shouldn’t be illegal.
What should be scrutinized is the way financial standards are changing to severely penalize families with more than one child.
Anyone filling out FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms is probably aware that the process has gone through a total overhaul. And the new FAFSA rules penalize families with more than one child. Under the old rules, FAFSA calculated a family’s ability to pay based on how many family members were attending college. This seems intuitively obvious. Putting two kids through college costs twice as much as one.
But they no longer look at that. All they look at is family income. One kid, four kids—it doesn’t matter to FAFSA! They expect the same amount of money to suffice.
Is this the same as a forced sterilization campaign like the ones in China and India? No. But it is coercion. Restricting access to the loans most families find necessary for college means shutting off access to a wide set of career options.
This isn’t the only way American parents are penalized.
Unfortunately, college is hardly the only place in which parents are finding they have to fork over ever-increasing sums of money.
Over the past fifteen years, more people have switched to high-deductible healthcare plans because the monthly payments are lower. However, your out-of-pocket payments are quite a bit higher if you ever do need treatment and this rise in high-deductible healthcare plans means that families pay far more for childbirth. Between 2008 and 2015, a large study found that out-of-pocket spending for maternity care rose from an average of $3069 to $4569, even though the hospital charges didn’t change.
This study involved over 650,000 women, and it actually represented a picture slightly better than average. It involved women with insurance plans from large companies, which have more generous options than the ones offered by small companies or available to purchase individually.
So, if shelling out $4500 out of pocket for childbirth is not the worst option, what can people who work for small businesses or have to purchase their own insurance expect?
Well, there are insurance plans that expect you to pay $7000 or $8000 out of pocket. This is still preferable to having no insurance since C-sections cost well over $20,000. But in a country where the average household income is about $75,000 per year, this represents a huge percentage of household money.
And I think it’s going up. I had a good friend tell me that his insurance company, for 2024, will switch to a fixed $10,000 flat out-of-pocket fee for each childbirth. This is not someone working on Wall Street; this is a company in the South that employs middle-class workers. Asking around, he found that this was typical for young adults in his area.
It’s hard to find precise data about this online, but if any readers have heard about sharp increases like this, I would love to hear about it.
Now, of course, these expenses all apply to people with private insurance. If the household is on Medicaid, those expenses go away.
This is not about judging families on Medicaid. I know that there are plenty of hardworking people who use it because private insurance is ridiculous. I merely want to point out, why are maternity expenses almost totally covered for one group of people but not another?
Personal decisions are being quietly taken away.
Who remembers, back in 2012, when Obama said, “If you’ve got a business– you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
When we put a large percentage of the population in a position where they need government support to have a family, might not part of that impetus be to demoralize parents, to make them feel like they can only have a family because the government allows them to?
Only two generations ago, having a family was something most people chose, regardless of religious affiliation. Children are hilarious when they’re little and a support in old age. New babies are the ultimate symbol of hopefulness for the future.
I’m not telling anyone to have kids or not to have kids. That’s a personal decision that should be made by each couple based on their own goals and emotional capabilities. But I resent the restrictions that make no logical sense, like the FAFSA revisions, other than to discourage families from having more than one child.
Celebrating birth and renewal is part of cultures all over the world. Many people celebrate the birth of one particular baby this time of year. What does it say when we are asked to ignore that very natural impulse?
What are your thoughts? Do you feel that there is pressure to reduce birthrates here in America? Do you have other examples you can share? Do you think that is a good thing or a bad thing?
Let’s discuss it in the comments section.
About Marie Hawthorne
A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.