The Duggar Family having their 16th child is no news to us. Ann read a profile of them in Parents magazine years ago when they were at 14 or so, and the reaction of many is less than kind. I'll agree that 16 children and counting is, to my New York sensibilities, sort of freak show-ish. However, I grew up in a house with 4 sons, and most families we were friends with had 3-5 kids. To us, eight children was a large family. Times have changed. We have three, and every so often people will react to that as if we should get cable. On the other side, both my mother and wife were only children, & my father was one of two and their parents faced derision for that, as if having fewer made my grandparents selfish or lazy. So, I'll admit to being somewhat sensitive to any criticism based on family size.
Some bloggers I respect and read often have been less than kind. From Kip Esquire at A Stitch in Haste:
The first thought that crossed my mind was how the prolific couple plan to adequately finance sixteen college education funds.
Then I remembered: they're from Arkansas.
Kip is most likely joking. However, a comment on Kip's blog says this:
I am certain that, when the time comes, big-spending "family values" sorts will insist that gay families hand over big chunks of their hard-earned income in taxes to subsidize this sort of recklessness, in order to "bolster families."
That the gay families are themselves hurt by this policy doesn't matter to the big-spending "moral" minority. Their gonads are their gods.
From Dave Friedman at Soul of Wit:
Having 16 children is nothing if not irresponsible. Plain and simple. Religious faith or creed provide no excuse or justification.
Religious conservatives believe we ought to cast moral aspersions on those who we think act immorally. Well, consider this blog post my moral aspersion on religious families who bear an irresponsible number of children.
I disagree. Jim Bob Duggar (how I wish his name was not that of one of the Walton Boys) is not looking for a handout. He's a real estate broker and former state representative. He can afford it. Last year he built a 7000 square foot house with his two oldest sons. So what's the beef?
Well, they are devout Christians. If that makes Duggar a better person swell. If it makes him a closed minded bigot who only believes that civil rights are for "his kind," not swell. But if his religion plays into his own family planning (and this number is by design), none of our beeswax.
There is another angle that the rest of us will end up having to foot the bill. I don't see how. Again, these people aren't asking for any help from anyone. They can afford this. Does he get a tax break for all those kids? Yes, he does. But he's also self employed, so does anyone really believe he would be paying out loads to begin with? He's also paying property and school taxes on a 7000 square foot house, yet the kids are home schooled. I don't hear any complaints about that. I also don't hear any complaints that the odds of Jim Bob and Michelle having a child die for their country are eight times that of the average family. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will introduce 16 (at least) contributors to the social security system, which is just what that stupid ponzi scheme needs.
The number of pups these people want to squeeze out should be their business alone if they can pay the bill. The economic effects on the rest of us merit a thank -you card from society, not derision. Large families are
a wet dream tremendously beneficial for the economy. These people have 4 washers and 8 dryers. They built their own home. They spend $1500 a month feeding these children. Does anyone without children realize how much money circulates in the economy when just one child arrives? Ann and I calculated that when we had our third, Gregory, that over half a million dollars changed hands as a result. We added onto the house, bought a larger car (3 child seats. The Duggars have a Partridge Family-esque bus), refinanced 2 rental properties, and bought another investment property upstate. Would we have done it all anyway? Perhaps some of it, but not the addition or car. But you don't need to have half a million dollars change hands to vindicate having a baby. And admittedly, there may be diminishing returns for the economy as you have more children. The 4th child may not get the same new pair of shoes, but rather hand me downs. So be it. Society still wins. Whatever a child may take out of tax revenue they more than replace with commerce. And tax revenue is not the name of the game in this system it is commerce.
Perhaps the criticism is more for the welfare of the children. Maybe they don't get as much love. Folks, love is not a zero sum thing. They have each other too. Is this bad? Trust me on this one, you can't replace a sibling. What about the unique and special things these children will experience? They grow some of their own food. Their home schooling includes violin lessons. The two oldest helped build the new house. The older ones help with the younger ones. Horrors.
The fact is that so long as Jim Bob and Michelle can pay the bill they are doing more good than harm. We could go back and forth plenty if you wish, but all that will show is that I have a good answer (or two) for any objection you might have. The real problem is not the Duggars. What about the DSS tenant I have that just had her 9th by who know how many men? Why doesn't this make the news? Because political correctness does not protect white southern Christians.
People criticize this not because the Duggars have done anything bad, but because they cannot understand it. I can't imagine 16 children but I can relate to the joys of parenthood, the camaraderie of having siblings, the economic imperatives, and many of the "cup half full aspects." I still have my prejudices (who doesn't? But do you really believe that Kip Esquire dislikes southerners? If you do, get real), but they aren't in this realm. People have scorned what they don't understand for eons. This is the basis of any bigotry you can name. Here's what I would say to those who cast a critical eye on these hayseed christian yahoos who keep spawning: If you'd just give them a chance, you'd be how similar they are to you.
Quick Update: Jim Bob is a real estate investor who owns his primary residence and investments outright, with no mortgage. I also saw something I haven't been able to confirm that he is involved with an auto dealership. So much for the suggestion that he cannot afford this.