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November 25, 2010


Charles Wheeler

The idea that withdrawing child benefit from high earners will reduce the number of children they have is laughable. It might knock their wine consumption a little. After the first child, it's £13.40 a week - one decent bottle of red.

Pull the other one.


Surely the problem is not that he points out what he believes the difficulties created by the changes, but the manner in which he does so and the inappropriate use of the word 'breed' which has awful connotations and historical resonance ...


terrific spot S&M - have linked and quoted.


For me there's a suggestion in his comments that working class/less well-off people will 'respond' to the incentives beyond having children they'd always wanted but not felt able to afford. Basically, that they'll have children solely for the money - and in the absence of any supporting data, that's a hugely unpleasant claim.

It doesn't add up...

Perhaps Jim would care to explain the motives of Sharon Matthews.


The reasoning seems a bit faulty here, along the lines of a Daily Mail headline:

"The Middle class will shag less to save on money"


"The Rich put off kids to pay for another car/holiday/set of golf clubs"

Well? I can't see it myself...maybe they will, being to tight-fisted with money...then I suppose you'll end up with the Evening Standard saying:

"No more sex until we get paid"!

Michael Fowke

Is he resigning as well? There'll be no one left - hopefully.

Michael Fowke

Is he resigning as well? There'll be no one left - hopefully.

Luis Enrique

it appears your commentators do not agree with your 'of course'

in another context, one might find an unimpeachably virtuous left-winger explaining how being born on the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder condemns one, in expectation, to poor educational outcomes, higher incidences of family breakdown, violence, bad peer group effects, and all manner of disadvantages.

you seem to agree with him that changes to incentives will result in more children being born into that position. But you say his comment "that's not very sensible" is an example of class hatred. How sensible do virtuous left wingers think increasing fertility rates in disadvantaged sections of society is?


Sharon Matthews does not count as convincing supporting data.

David O'Keefe

Karen Matthews. (pedant)

There are other reasons for having children than the possibility of a couple of quid from the state. What they are is a totally different matter.


This sort of statement reveals more about the motivation of Tories than of other members of Society. It is also erroneous in fact and irrelevant. The benefits paid to parents are only a partial compensation for the economic costs of child bearing and rearing. Children are a blessing for most people and the rewards of having them are not primarily economic for anyone.
Shame their Lordsships house will have more crass people in it soon.


Chris is the Johnny Wilkinson of blogging...anything he does not like is ipso facto "tory" and an example of "class hatred". He really is priceless as an anthropological specimen.


“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”
(Theodore Dalrymple)


Luis - a possibly inadequate remark here, but if you increase benefits to those lower down the income scale don't you mitigate some of those negative points? (though many are based on the neighbourhood/area you live in, which is less easily solved)


Charles Wheeler wrote "The idea that withdrawing child benefit from high earners will reduce the number of children they have is laughable."

If you have two children, have only one parent earning, live in the South East, and bought your first home in the last few years, then it is entirely possible that withdrawing child benefit will make you rethink having a third child because of financial worries, I assure you.

Niklas Smith

@pablopatito: Maybe, but I don't think that it makes sense for taxpayers to subsidise people to be housewives or househusbands.


I'm not sure whether Howard Flight is in favour of keeping child benefit for the rich or removing child benefit for the poor.

Luis Enrique


as probably inadequate response: I'd have thought anything that reduces the degree of disadvantage would help. But as you suggest, it's not clear to what extent the important disadvantages are reduced by cash transfers.

Down Under

Similar evidence from Australia where the introduction of new welfare payments saw parents time conception to ensure they got the state welfare.


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