‘Extreme’ population control

Brian Thornton

Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton signed a controversial bill that drastically altered government welfare.

Don’t worry, this column isn’t about welfare reform.

Opponents of the old welfare system used to complain that one of the biggest problems was that women were practically encouraged to have more children because their benefits would go up.

As sometimes happens when the government gets out of a particular business, the private sector has stepped in. Bring on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Is it even possible to get on the show without having a litter of children? The actual ABC network standards are, no doubt, the subject of an intense confidentiality order. But I’m guessing if you don’t have at least four kids, you’re not getting an extreme makeover. And if four rugrats are all you have, one of them better have a severe disability. Or your spouse better have died in a horrific accident.

Eight or 10 kiddies is a much better number in TV’s logic. Last week, I watched Ty Pennington rebuild the house of a family with six kids, plus one who had recently died and one on the way. The producers must have seen that application and shrieked, “Eureka!”

That family was living in terrible poverty. If you’re a regular viewer of the show, you’ve seen crowded double-wides, unbelievable mold growths and living conditions that can be described as nothing other than a shack.

I have great admiration for the “Extreme Makeover” families made up of foster and adopted kids. Those parents, so often single mothers, are clearly taking in children who have no place else to go.

What I don’t understand are the parents popping out a dozen kids the old-fashioned way. How dare they continue to procreate, knowing that each child pushes the others closer and closer to a desolate life of poverty?

My liberal, logical side wants to lecture me on the effects of poverty on judgments about birth control. But another part of me just wants to shout, “Next time you’re pushing out another baby, have the plumbing turned off, too!”

Big, natural-born families in this day are simply irresponsible and selfish. I come from a large family &mash; I have nine uncles, two aunts and literally dozens of cousins. But mine is a family born in the Catholic farming world of the 1930s and ’40s. Birth control wasn’t an option, and my grandparents had a need for kids to plow the fields and feed the hogs.

But with this generation, my parents had two kids and stopped. In time, my sister and I will “replace” our parents. We won’t add to the world’s population, and we won’t, if we try, consume more resources than the previous generation.

I don’t see how the human race (and all the rest of the world’s animal and plant species, for that matter) can survive if we keep reproducing at this rate. We keep buying and eating and burning and throwing away such vast quantities of garbage that one day the beautiful trees and sky and water will all be gone, and we’ll just be drowning in gray smoggy skies and enormous piles of cardboard packaging and plastic Target bags.

I won’t be having any kids — after I’m gone, only my 165 pounds of organic matter will be left to pollute the planet. Perhaps I should grant my “replacement kid” to my sister — that way she and her husband can have three.

That still won’t get them on “Extreme Makeover.”

Brian Thornton is a graduate journalism student and Forum editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]