Far too often, I hear new parents admit they never cared much about environmental issues, education, healthcare, politics, gun control — or much of anything of importance, for that matter — until they decided to raise a family. As if struck by a lightning bolt in the delivery room, they’re suddenly very concerned about what kind of world their child might have to grow up in. Apparently, living in the dystopian nightmare America has become wasn’t such a big deal prior to that epiphany.
If you had a baby during the past year, it will now cost you close to a quarter of a million dollars to raise the little tyke. The latest research from the Department of Agriculture confirms that the price tag for raising a kid through the age of eighteen has skyrocketed. It currently costs more than $245,000 for the average couple to rear a child from infancy to adulthood. That figure is up a whopping $4,260 from 2012. Note that this amount does not include the cost of sending your kids to college — that’s 250K just for basic food, shelter, clothing and transportation, plus all the other material goods demanded by modern society.
Here are five good reasons not to have kids (there are plenty more):
1. The environment
If current trends continue, there won’t be much left of the planet’s resources by the time your kid grows up. If you really want to get serious about reducing your carbon footprint, researchers at Oregon State University have concluded that the easiest way to do this is not to have children. The impact of bringing another human being into the world is far more significant than any eco-friendly lifestyle could ever hope to compensate for. When a couple produces a child — who will likely produce more offspring — the environmental consequences are enormous. Continuing population growth and increasing consumption of finite resources are important issues that must be considered.
2. Prisons for profit
The “school-to-prison pipeline” is a term used by civil rights organizations and education reformers to describe the widespread pattern of pushing students — especially minorities — out of school and into the criminal justice system. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation on earth by a wide margin. Your kid will probably end up in prison at some point.
3. Endless war
Millennials have known nothing but constant war in their lifetimes. It’s no surprise that other than a career in the fast food industry, joining the military is the preferred option for most low-income high school graduates. The ongoing ‘war on terror’ will surely intensify in the coming years. Your son or daughter will likely grow up to be cannon fodder in another pointless military conflict on the other side of the world.
4. College: an impossible dream
The higher education system in America is a very lucrative business. College costs are rising way ahead of the rate of inflation, and even farther ahead of the ability of most families to pay for them. More than half of U.S. parents help their children pay off college loans, which usually means they have to dip into home equity funds or retirement accounts to settle those debts. There’s no escape from student loans, either: even gambling addicts can declare bankruptcy protection, but student loan debt can never be forgiven. Send your kid to college and they face expenses that may leave them saddled with huge debt and no degree. Choose not to send them, and they face an anemic job market and paltry wages ... if they can even find a job, which leads to number five.
5. Jobs — or the lack thereof
For many young people, a substantial decline in retail jobs has made even the lowest-paying, entry-level positions scarce. Employment among people between the ages of 16 to 29 is at its lowest level since the Great Depression. A record 21.6 million Millennials lived with their parents in 2012, the highest number in at least four decades. Unmarried Millennials are more likely to be living at home, while marriages among young adults have also hit a new low. So even if you do have kids, there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting any grandchildren soon. They’ll probably wind up living in your basement.
Jason Darensburg is a columnist for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.