Blogs » The Grapevine » The government says I'm financially able to have six children


Here's a shocking fact all aspiring journalists should know: a reporter's salary is not very high. OK, so not really very shocking, especially compared to the next fact I'm about to reveal.

The government thinks my husband and I should be able to comfortably support six kids on our wages combined. In fact, according to the 2011 poverty guidelines, we would have to make nearly half of what bring in with six kids in order to warrant their help.

Understandably, it would be very irresponsible for us to go out and have a gaggle of kids, but I don't even think we could afford one right now with what we make. Until we know absolutely that we wouldn't need financial help to raise our kids, we won't have any. And, honestly, with the state of the journalism industry, who knows when that will be.

Warning: I am about to say something that many will call me a bleeding-heart liberal for; we do, after all, live in a conservative state. But here goes.

To say that eight people can survive off $38,000 without assistance is a joke. The government is out of its collective mind if they think that's possible. Yes, people should not be having so many kids, if any, when they make so little -- another problem that can easily be attributed to lack of education and health care.

Let's look at a more reasonable grouping, though, so as to more accurately portray reality. The poverty guideline for three people (presumably two parents and one kid) is $18,530. Seems easy right? To make more than $19,000? Yet, for those who aren't college educated (and probably for a lot who are), it isn't likely that even one of you is making that amount.

Then you have one parent working during the day, while the other takes care of the baby and works at night. Childcare is outrageously expensive in most places. Someone is naturally working nights and weekends. And you'd better hope you live in a place like Victoria where the cost of living somewhat matches your income. Locations on the East Coast, not so much.

Can you imagine what this has done to your quality of life? Are you happy that you never see your spouse and family time is a thing of fiction? Are you excited that you will never be able to save any real amount of money to help your child go to college or even buy that awesome new toy they've been wanting?

In a couple of years, the same hypothetical couple have another baby, but little to no pay raises. One of the parents gets fed up and leaves, or dies without insurance. Now we've still got three people. Parent and two babies, no child care, no insurance and very small wages. The government steps in and finally decides to help.

Or in my situation, the government says if my husband and I have a child (just one) and he loses his job, we should be able to live solely on my income alone since I make a few thousand dollars more than the guidelines dictate. I would never attempt this on purpose (having a baby on one income) because I don't foresee that as a happy life for us.

And I'm not even saying they need to change the guidelines. I am saying, however, that we need to do something. Notice how I said "we"? We as Americans need to step up and start coming up with some real solutions. The government is cutting education spending. Will this fix the problem I've outlined or perpetuate it? For religious reasons, we are preaching against birth control and teaching abstinence-only in schools. Fixing or perpetuating? Those who can't afford health care have limited gynecological resources for birth control and some women are limited in the kinds of birth control they can take (I am one of those women. S-protein deficiency, look it up). Fixing or perpetuating?

I don't presume to have answers or solutions. I am just advocating for the discussion. There will be many who contribute to the comments and have no useful information or suggestions to impart. Such is the way with anonymity. However, I hope we get some thoughtful responses as well.