« Longevity, success and friendship | Main | Housing crash: why worry? »

April 13, 2008



I thought that Sure Start had been proven to actually damage children?


You seem to have overlooked the possibility of cutting their goolies off.


Excellent, Chris - get rid of the iniquitous Child Support, break the back of the Feministi and get the money directly to the kids who need it.


"To bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide food for its body, but instruction and training for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate offspring and against society; and that if the parent does not fulfil this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled, at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent"

This isn't strictly true, most parents, not all, don't have children thinking they can't support them. And, James.... If it wasn't for the CSA mothers and fathers would never support their children therefore it would be left to the tax payer and people such as post writer would have more to whine about and point the finger. Lets get one thing correct, there are many who produce kids with no thought as to their upbringing but those that do are put in same basket once their marriage or partnership breaks down and they become single parents. We don't live in the Dark Ages anymore, CSA should make them pay be it mother or father who has to.


Agreed. Apart from the tiny minority of women who are raped, anyone who has a child chooses to do so. Even "unplanned" pregnancies. And they shouldn't expect the world to bend over backwards because they want to reproduce. Paternity and maternity leave are a load of bollocks too. If they can't provide for their children they shouldn't have them. I couldn't afford to bring up a child, so I don't have one.


Have to disagree here. I've dealt with a lot of lone parents in my job (DWP), some are lazy, some are just unlucky. There certainly is a percentage who have kids to avoid going to work, but there is also a lot who end up lone parents being let down by their partners, and have literally no-one else to help them out but the state. I've met enough of these types of lone parents to know they are not an insignificant minority. If I had the slightest faith that the govt could reform the system to discourage lazy lone-parents whilst not penalize the hard-working unlucky ones I would say go for it, but I don't. And I don't see any recognition made by govt or commentators for the complexity of the circumstances that often surround lone parents - so much policy and hot air seems to try to fit all lone-parents into a nice, simple little box and isolate them. Until someone suggests something sensible, I think I'll be falling back on my comfortable lefty softy-headness as a default.


"the low-skilled, the unlucky, but not parents."

What about low-skilled unlucky parents then?

You really have to stop quoting JS Mill on this topic. He was never less realistic or more illiberal when he spouted this crud.


Watching Jeremy Kyle lately ?


Well, that's an impressively long post without mentioning the elephant in the corner... Equality of opportunity.

Punishing a child for the fecklessness of her mother might entertain you Chris, but it doesn't do much for our future society. Helping ensure said child doesn't live in deep poverty increases her chances of turning out a productive adult who can contribute to society and indeed her own wellbeing.


"There’s no good leftist principle that requires the tax-payer to write blank cheques to people who get into messes of their own choosing."

In other words, discriminating between the deserving and undeserving. Do you realise you're uttering heresy ?

Ohe billions that you feel could be diverted to more useful interventions, may I quote Charles Murray. The Peter Rossi he mentions is a guru of "Bayesian Statistics" which should appeal to you.

"During the 1960s and 1970s, the Americans tried everything: pre-school socialisation programmes, enrichment programmes in elementary schools, programmes that provided guaranteed jobs for young people without skills, ones that provided on-the-job training, programmes that sent young people without skills to residential centres for extended skills training and psychological preparation for the world of work, programmes to prevent school dropout, and so on. These are just the efforts aimed at individuals. I won’t even try to list the varieties of programmes that went under the heading of “community development”. They were also the most notorious failures.

We know the programmes didn’t work because all of them were accompanied by evaluations. I was a programme evaluator from 1968 to 1981. The most eminent of America’s experts on programme evaluation — a liberal sociologist named Peter Rossi — distilled this vast experience into what he called the Iron Law of Evaluation: “The expected value of any net impact assessment of any large-scale social programme is zero.” The Iron Law has not been overturned by subsequent experience.

I should add a corollary to it, however: “The initial media accounts of social programmes that ultimately fail are always positive.” Every training programme for young men or parenting programme for young women can produce a heart-warming success story for the evening news. None produces long-term group results that survive scrutiny.

None of this experience crosses the Atlantic. When the Blair government began its ambitious job-training programmes, I wondered whether anyone within the bowels of the appropriate ministries said: “You know, the Americans tried lots of these things years ago. I wonder how they worked?” But apparently nobody did or nobody listened. Now the government seems ready to admit that the results of the training programmes have been dismal. But as it sets off on the next round of bright ideas, I still don’t hear anyone saying: “You know, the Americans tried those programmes too . . .”

The bottom line for this accumulation of experience in America is that it is impossible to make up for parenting deficits through outside interventions. I realise this is still an intellectually unacceptable thing to say in Britain. It used to be intellectually unacceptable in the United States as well. No longer. We’ve been there, done that."

Larry Teabag

Well "low-skilled" and "unlucky" certainly cover the ickle kiddies of the Karen Matthewses of this world, so you would seem to agree that there is a moral imperative to help them, if possible. Your challenge is to find some way of accomplising that without at the same time incentivising reproduction for Laban's undeserving poor. I'd guess providing them with free pushchairs, nappies, and childcare rather than throwing cash at them might be a start.


Bollocks. People don't have children for the child benefit. Just... bollocks.

Also bollocks: "Having children is not a right, but rather a burden one imposes upon others - it‘s not as if the country is under-stocked with people.". Yeah, but if no one has them, everyone's screwed. It's called continuation of the human race. No children, no nothing, no nobody. And you might change your tune about whether the country is "under-stocked" when the country has to deal with its rapidly aging population. Saying that the country is not "under-stocked" is a trite thing to say.


It is, well, not always easy to distinguish between the low-skilled and the indolent, or between the unlucky and the feckless. I can guarantee that the government won't be any good at it.


Free pushchairs and nappies would go the way of milk vouchers and the like - everything will be traded at a discount for cash.


The words missing from your comment are "husband", "child support" and "alimony". Marriage is the way that a woman can nail a man's balls and his wallet to the floor, so that she can't be "let down" by her "partner". Men lie, particularly if they think there's a chance of a shag in it. No sex before marriage - or at least, no unprotected sex before marriage - is a woman's way of protecting herself.

No, it's not perfect. Sometimes she'll be let down by her husband losing the family's entire wealth to William Hill, or in a speculative business venture. Sometimes he or she will be taken ill or die.


Would it not be better to stop subsidising old people, who will make no further economic contribution to society?



If only it was that simple. Some of the time, granted, the feckless bloke who got his girl pregnant and doesn't fancy responsibility could probably just do with a bucket of cold water over his head. Marriage would be a solution only in that society and family was prepared to recognise it as such, which we all know it won't. So you either bemoan the lax morals of modern Britain, or try to work with what we already have.

But I'm afraid that in my experience, many of the lone-parents are actually better off without their would-be husbands. Some even have to hide away from them in Woman's Shelters, miles away from their home just to avoid them. There is so very few things our system gets right, but giving lone parents a chance from violent partners is one of them.


Chris yes I completely agree but Don has some real world experience that needs to be answered before its a polic.

Meh - "Punishing a child for the fecklessness of her mother might entertain you Chris, but it doesn't do much for our future society. Helping ensure said child doesn't live in deep poverty increases her chances of turning out a productive adult who can contribute to society and indeed her own wellbeing." - I think this is correlations gone wild. I'm not sure how a child growing up seeing their family being rewarded for fecklessness is more likely to be successful.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad