Sunday, April 02, 2023

The Government Encouraging Marriage And Child Bearing Shouldn’t Be Controversial

It is no secret that Americans are not having as many children as we used to. I have no room to talk on this front, I’m divorced and childless at the age of 38. In fact, we Americans are having so few children that we are not having enough kids to maintain current population levels without increased levels of immigration.

This issue is back in the forefront because of an interesting bill that has just been filed in the Texas legislature. The bill, filed by Texas State Rep. Byron Slaton, is called the “Get Married, Stay Married, and Be Fruitful and Multiply” law or HB 2889. The proposed bill would give a 10% property tax credit for each child born to or adopted by a heterosexual married couple. The max credit that is awarded by the proposed legislation would be 100% for 10 kids, which would return a substantial amount of money into the pockets of a couple considering how high property taxes are in Texas.

If you want to read more about the bill itself, I recommend this piece on Red State from streiff. We’re not going to spend much time on this proposed piece because as even streiff notes, Slaton is known for proposing legislation like this that usually go nowhere. It has no cosponsors and no one of importance in Texas politics has come in favor of it.

But it is telling that the left had a collective freak out about this legislation. One Texas progressive activist even compared this legislation to The Handmaid’s Tale, which is about a society that uses sex slaves to solve an infertility crisis.

It is clear that some on the left have hostility to those who want big families. After all, if that hostility wasn’t there they wouldn’t compare mothers with many kids to sex slaves. But I would caution my friends on the left that they shouldn’t be so hostile to the ones who will grow up to pay their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The government absolutely should encourage the institution of marriage, family formation, and having kids. Strong families are the bedrock of American society. Married people are happier than single people. The social science is very clear, the best outcome for children is an intact married, two-parent family. In addition, people are a resource, not a burden. More people are always needed to pay for retirement and other welfare benefits and they increase innovation.

Currently, the government puts up barriers to marriage and child bearing. Despite Republican Party rhetoric on taxes, the federal tax code still has a marriage penalty for the two-thirds of families with dependents that have two-earners. In addition, as of 2019, 15 states have a marriage penalty in their state income tax, including some solid red states.

The obvious first step in encouraging family formation and marriage is the eliminate the marriage penalty for income taxes. Marriage and family formation is a good thing and the government should encourage it, or at the very least not penalize it.

Now how do we solve the dilemma of encouraging people to have babies? We already have child tax credits. Some have proposed “baby bonuses” but it has not always been successful. The evidence shows that fixing the high cost of child care would do more to increase fertility than one time payments or even monthly cash payments. However, the ones who want the state to subsidize child care reject the free market-based solutions that would actually lower the cost of child care.

Another solution that could help increase the nation’s fertility is to encourage more flexible working conditions. There are good conservative proposals to increase paid parental leave. Finally, we should encourage flexible work solutions such as freelancing.

Building strong families and rearing children are important blocks of a free society. It should not be controversial for governments to encourage those things.