In my recent piece on fertility panics, I write:
The more relevant question, and the one rarely broached, is whether women who choose not to have children should be forced to subsidize those who do.
In a long and thoughtful response, Rod Dreher ponders this question and writes:
Well, should people who choose not to go into the armed services be forced to subsidize those who do?
I'll confess to feeling slightly uncomfortable with the idea that American uteri are a national resource to be cultivated for the greater glory of the nation state. But I do think Dreher has hit upon a fundamental disagreement central to the debate over fertility policy. If you think we're all involved in a collective project, the object of which is the reproduction of the genetic constitution of our current population, there is really nothing to do but to subsidize zygote production. Inevitably, such burdens will fall hardest on women, and so it will seem just—progressive, even—to compensate them. Where "survival," means replication, underutilized uteri are the equivalent of unmanned guard posts.
You might think that our current genetic composition is trivial, but the furtherance of our culture is crucial. And if you're skeptical that our culture can be transmitted successfully to out-groups, you will again turn to fertility. But only drastic changes are going to change the birth rate dramatically. Mere $4000 baby bonuses—state-sponsored push presents—won't get you there. And if you lurch dramatically in the direction of treating half the population as hired breeders, you're quite obviously changing the culture. So what, exactly, is being preserved?