Blog & Podcast

The aim of this space is to discuss the issues that we face as a community with an eye toward advocacy.

Those wishing to contribute should email .

Friday, July 13, 2007

There have been several articles on workplace issues in the last few months posted to Childfree News, one on a similar issue in South Africa, one from a HR site, and one on the latest Hewlett whine-and-flop.

Most notably, California lawmakers are considering a bill that would make parents a protected class for purposes of employment discrimination. This is notable, since such protection is actually rare, and typically reserved for such classifications as race and religion. The general law in the US is that all employment is at-will, and aside from these rare exceptions, employers are free to let people go for any reason. Could this signal the demise of one of the last vestiges of capitalism and free-market economy that America supposedly believes in? Or is it an anomaly of the law signaling just how far pronatalism has come?

The original article has been removed, although one lone comment remains. I cannot find trace of the bill elsewhere; it may well have died in committee. Californians, keep your eyes peeled for news in case a call for action is later required.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The New Environmentalism

In light of the recent article in the Globe and Mail article, (see commentary on Childfree News) and Kugel's recent blog entry, I thought that it was about time we start talking about this. Perhaps as the new issue.

Now I should admit right off, I do not expect any progress on this issue. At least not yet. Instead, I think our next goal should simply to put the issue out there so that people can get used to it. It is uncomfortable for many, on both sides.

The right wing will write us off, because many of them are not keen on environmentalism to begin with. Therefore, they have all the more reason to dismiss an idea that uses environmental ideals to clash with some of their sacred values, such as "family" and opposition to birth control (and immigration, but more on that later)

Those who are environmentalists will not just oppose this idea logically, like their conservative counterparts. It will be deeply offensive to many, because it is, in essence, calling them hypocrites. It is telling them that to faithfully and fully live the life they profess to, they will have to give up something very dear to them. They will have to change more than their car, do more than install a solar panel on their house. The most profound thing you can do for the environment is also the greatest sacrifice.

It will also offend parents, because it hits at an emotional level. While they cheer Gore's statistics on overpopulation, their peace of mind relies on not connecting those facts with the son or daughter they love so dearly. They do not want to acknowledge that their child is part of the problem. Of course, their child is no more of a problem than you or I - once we are here, there is nothing to be done. But since they were the ones who made the conscious decision to bring that person into the world, it may well attach a sense of guilt. It may be over and done with, but it remains something they could have done differently. The fact that it was the wrong for the planet pits a human who they adore against ideals they are committed to. That is going to make people very uncomfortable.

This applies, to a lesser extent, to environmentalist who is planning to have children. Their desire to have a child may be deeply ingrained. It may spring from an emotional attachment to their spouse. Or it may be something they want so badly that they are emotionally attached to that decision, that future person.

The idea that creating a biological offspring is one of the worst things one can do to the planet will not go over easy. We will have harsh attacks launched against us by both sides. By very angry people. They will remain attached to their self-image as Earth Mother when they sport a bump. They will continue spurting their idea that their child will save the planet. That the children are the point of environmentalism. (I address these issues in my other blog, but will deal with them more at length in an essay soon)

We will not change their minds any time soon.

What we can do is get the idea out there. Make it infiltrate the subconscious. Make them start launching logical attacks on it. For those who had never made the connection, they may well hear the flaws in their reasoning. It will nudge the door open, just a crack, for these ideas when the world is ready.

In the meantime, get ready for an uphill battle. Get ready to feel like Ann Coulter crashing the Democratic Convention after-party.

Then in a dozen years or so, when the idea is not so new, we can begin a real dialog. And maybe people will be ready to listen.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Don't Have Children, Save The World
In a society that holds up childbirth and parenting as the moral gold standard, the idea that procreation might be an irresponsible environmental choice is not a popular one -- even among environmentalists.
Please see the link; the article is not easily available online, but I except and respond to it extensively in the Childfree News blog.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

As if to settle the debate about which party best represents out interests, Democrats in California have proposed a health plan that would exclude the childless. Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan would be more universal.

Democrats go their own way on healthcare

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Potential parents opt to put the planet before procreation
By Jennifer Willis
Pamplin Media Group, Apr 10, 2007

For Michelle and Kevin Schneider, seen here in fall at Oktoberfest in Munich,Germany, one of the benefits of not having kids is being able to travel.Besides Germany, the couple spent six weeks in Australia in 2005 and isplanning a two-month tour of Europe.

We have a global population problem. Some Portlanders are doing — or, not doing— something about it. They are choosing not to have children. According to the 2001 State of World Population report from the U.N. Population Fund, the number of people worldwide surged from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion over the course of the 20th century. In that same period, carbon-dioxide emissions increased twelvefold.

“Most people would rather focus on the symptoms — pollution, sprawl, speciesloss,” says Albert Kaufman, founder of the Portland chapter of Population Connection. “If we don’t bring the number of people down, these are just stop-gap measures.” Based in Washington, D.C., Population Connection advocates stabilization of the world’s population at a level that can be sustained by the planet’s resources.

Seeing population at the core of environmental issues, Kaufman decided 10 yearsago to forgo having children.“We can put up all the windmills we want,” he says. “If we can’t stop reproducing at 70 million a year, nothing’s going to prevent us fromoverwhelming the planet.”

The current global population is just over 6.5 billion. The U.N. Population Division expects the number of people to grow to 9 billion by 2050. “The human population is out of balance with the rest of the natural world,”says Ramona Rex, Population Issues Coordinator for the Sierra Club’s Oregon chapter in Portland. “It took the whole time that humans were on the planet to reach 1 billion, in 1800,” Rex says. “So you can see that the human population has really escalated.”

Rex attributes this to positive developments: With advances in agricultural technology, medicine and sanitation, more people are living longer. “The flip side is that we are on a finite planet,” she says. More people means a heavier demand on limited resources, like arable land. “We’re starting to talk about water shortages,” Rex says.

During our own children’s lifetimes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that average temperatures across the planet will increase by 2.7 degrees to 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to global warming. “In the developed nations, we’re consuming fossil fuels,” Rex says. “In the impoverished nations, we’re losing the forest covers — for example, the Amazon being the lungs of the world.”

Adoption’s always an option:
Portlander Sheri Strite was 27 years old when she started considering overpopulation — around the same time that she opted for sterilization. “I thought there’s a lot of problems that the population’s going to cause,” says Strite, now 51 and single. “There are a lot of children who don’t have loving homes.”

She realized that if she decided later to be a parent, adoption was an available option. Strite hasn’t regretted remaining childless. She says the only possible downside might be not having someone to care for her in her old age.“But nothing’s certain,” she says. “Life is full of surprises.”
Kevin and Michelle Schneider, age 33 and 30, are the founders of Childfree and Happy in the Rose City, a support network for Portland singles and couples who don’t have children. The group first met in January and has nearly 50 members. Michelle Schneider had gotten pregnant last year, but the couple lost the baby only eight weeks into a very difficult pregnancy.

“It was unbearably bad,” she says. “I was so sick and miserable. I don’t know if I want to go through that again.” After that experience and after considering the public school system, the proliferation of drugs, and the value the Schneiders place on their own freedom, along with the planet’s population problem, the two decided they will remain childfree.

Within a developed society, it is not uncommon for some people to remain childless, while others have large families. It’s a matter of striking a balance that keeps the population from growing even larger.“If you look at all of the developed countries where women have opportunity, have choice, have access to contraception, the average birthrate is at replacement level of two children or fewer (per family),” Rex says.

Strite and the Schneiders fully support people who choose to procreate, even if others don’t understand their decision not to.“It does frustrate me that there can be so much judgment flying back and forth,” Michelle Schneider says of the criticism that not having children can be viewed as selfish.

“If it weren’t for those having kids, the human species would die off! But there are enough people in the world,” she says.

Do your own thing:
Besides opting not to procreate, Rex says there are other ways to be a part of the population solution. People can support federal legislation for international family planning, and urge Oregon state senators to approve the Access to Contraception Act — requiring coverage of prescription contraceptives by health care plans — which recently was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives.

“My involvement in population work is not about saying someone shouldn’t have kids,” Kaufman stresses. He says Population Connection is working to ensure women’s health and welfare, and to allow access to contraception and sex education for everyone so they can make informed choices. Happy with her own choice, Strite encourages others to make the decision that’s right for them.

“If you feel that you want a family, a question is, Do you feel that you wish to procreate?” Strite asks. “I think that if you do, that’s great. If you want to make another choice, that’s great, too.”

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bush's budget proposal would cut the childless from Medicaid bennies.

Hill Democrats Critical Of Bush's Budget Plan

So far, all I have is one line buried in a generally critical article of the entire budget proposal:
Democrats also panned the president's proposals to stop enrolling childless adults in the program . . .
We all know that defending the rights of the childless is not high on the agenda of either party, so this provision is likely to receive little attention. If anyone knows more about this, please let me know. In the meantime, I'll continue to dig for details.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

In the Childfree News Blog, I post an article and follow-up letter to the editor about MomsRising:
Childfree News: Reader Responds to Bias Against Moms

The author the letter to the editor made some very good points. The truth is, the campaign for workplace equality doesn't need to enact change to be successful. We could very well justify our mandate just by combating the powerful forces evidenced by the MomsRising movement.

It makes sense that these women would be campaigning for more perks. Hell, if I could get such popularity for one of my choices that I could get employers to subsidize it, I can't say I'd turn down the opportunity. The problem begins when these women are given such unstoppable political clout that no one is there to say when.

It seems like this is where the childfree are needed most - when a movement is so unstoppable, so supported by both parties and major players that no one stops to ask what the cost is, whether the program makes sense, and whether basic fairness is being subverted. With Moms Rising gaining heavy momentum, we need to be here to remind people that there is a limit to how much society can give, give, give to parents who want to take, take, take.
Podcast: Australian PM race

I'm resuming my attempt at podcasting - this time with proper RSS syndication. I will be true to my word of this being a multimedia project by issuing more podcasts in the future.

audio file

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