children; of course, in order to benefit, recipients must raisenchildren. Second, the United States will benefit economicallynand spiritually and educationally if our society is reorientednto the idea that children constitute a positive good. Andnfinally, a clear connection between having children andnreceiving Social Security benefits would thereby be established.nAfter all, if nobody has children, there will be nonSocial Security for anyone. Social Security is an intergenerationalncontract that seeks to take the place of the family as anmeans of providing security in old age. It equalizes parentsnand nonparents. But as has already been pointed out, thisnform of socialism, as every other, has its weakness, and thenweakness comes when the burden on those who contributenmost becomes too high and they cease contributing. This isnwhat has happened today. There are people who would likento have more children, but the burdens have become toongreat and the rewards too few. (If this assumption is wrong,nthat there is no willingness to increase the birthrate, then thisnproposal as an attempt to increase fertility will fail, but thenbasic justice of it will remain.)nIt is not expected or desired that people who do not wantnchildren will have them for financial reasons. The incentivesnshould be large enough to help support a large family, butnnot so large as to try to serve as a temptation to people tonbreed for purely economic purposes. With this caveat innmind, is it fair to reward people for having children? Yes, fornseveral reasons. First, as I have previously said, new workersnare needed to support the economy and the dependentnpopulation, particularly the elderly. If children becomenworkers, they are the essential contributors to their parents’nretirement. Secondly, parents spend a great deal of moneynraising children. Current estimates exceed one hundred’nthousand dollars for raising a child to age 18. Third, parentsnare not usually able to save and invest very much for theirnretirement until children are grown, and therefore they arennot in a position to accumulate as much for their retirementnas childless couples. These provisions would compensatenparents for the tremendous costs they incur and also, as anpart of the law of the nation, tell a story to ourselves aboutnwhat we as a community value.nThere is one other objection to the above proposal thatnneeds to be anticipated and answered. If Social Securitynis an intergenerational compact based on the myth thatnsociety has children and not families, why not eliminate itnaltogether and privatize retirement? Families would benstrengthened, people would save for their own retirement,nand unused retirement savings could be passed on to thennext generation. The generations would become less isolatednfrom each other. However, anyone observing recentnevents is compelled to conclude that Social Security seemsnto enjoy such powerful political support so as to render suchna course impractical to follow. Yet modifying Social Securitynto make it sounder and more equitable may be politicallynpalatable. In a recent nationwide poll of 519 adults (marginnof error 4 percent, 95 times out of 100) conducted bynMarketwise, Inc., of Charlotte, North Carolina, 90 percentnof those surveyed disagreed with a statement that changes innSocial Security must never be considered, although 88npercent wanted current retirees fully protected so thatnchanges would not adversely affect those already drawingnbenefits.nRepresentative John Porter, also responding to thenMoynihan challenge, has proposed the following change innSocial Security financing along these lines: excess SocialnSecurity funds, meaning those remaining from workers’ncontributions after all benefits are paid, would be remitted tonworkers for deposit into a kind of IRA that he calls annIndividual Social Security Retirement Account, ISSRA.nThis system could be combined with an effort to privatizenSocial Security, allowing each worker complete control ofnhis or her ISSRA. This plan is appealing in that it furthernde-socializes Social Security, but it does nothing to promotenchildraising since nonparents would still be in a betternposition to earn more income and thus increase theirnaccounts. Nevertheless, the Porter Plan does hold thenpromise of certain potential benefits for families, such as thenpossibility to tap ISSRAs for housing down payments orncollege tuition.nSeveral other recommendations to relieve the financialnpressures on families were included in the final report of thenNational Commission on Children. For example, instead ofnpushing for parity in the value of the dependent exemption,nthe commission recommended a $1,000 per child taxnrefund. This money would be available whether or not thenparents were employed and paying taxes and would be givennregardless of the amount of family income. Its worth to anfamily in the 15 percent tax bracket would be the equivalentnof a $6,666 exemption. The logic behind this recommendation,naccording to commission member Allan Cadson, is tonmake it perfectly clear that children are a resource whetherntheir parents are employed or unemployed, rich or poor.nThe proposals set forth here, to tie Social Securitynbenefits to workers’ most important nonfinancial contributions,nmeaning new workers for the system, are offered notnto solve the problems of that system alone. Rather, innmaking recommendations to strengthen Social Security bynstrengthening the family and promoting larger families, allnof the important institutions of society may be strengthenednas well. It is hoped that by modifying the Social Securitynsystem to make it more just and more pro-natalist, thensystem can not only be preserved but can serve as a model ofnhow to rethink our country’s family policy in general.
nArchilochus: Two Fragmentsnby Jack FlavinnShe held a sprig of myrtle picked for her delightnAnd the fresh beauty of a budding rose. Her longnHair made a shadow down her shoulders and her back.nFox knows many tricks, butnHedgehog knows one great one.nnnFEBRUARY 1992/23n