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“It’s the economy, stupid”

By Nina Steele 

Watching the news, you would be forgiven for thinking that childless people are a tiny proportion of the population, barely worth mentioning. This perceived slight of the childless, is even more pronounced in the run up to elections, when all you ever hear about is politicians trying to outdo one another on the issue of who has the best policy that will benefit families with children, particularly middle class ones.

That we pay more in taxes than we take out, seems to matter little to a politician. To them, we are invisible. Of course it is all to do with the economy as rightly pointed out by the now famous Clinton 1992 campaign slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid”.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that a typical middle class family with 2 children is more useful to the economy in terms of spending power than a childless family. The economic model of most Western societies including the UK, relies heavily on consumer spending. Long gone are the times when manufacturing played a key role. Now that our corporations have outsourced all their manufacturing needs to less developed countries, the service industry has become the dominant sector. In the UK, it accounts for about 79% of GDP.

There are currently no exact figures, at least in the UK, as to how many households, are households who never had children. The current figures take empty nesters and young couples who may have children later on, into account. Even so, I think we can safely anticipate that childless households will run into a few millions. With that in mind, you would expect us to be acknowledged, at least for the fact that we pay our taxes.

I was therefore understandably delighted to read about an Australian politician, who in complete departure from what we have come to expect from our politicians, took it upon himself to defend the childless. Ok, some of the things he said are likely to upset some parents. However, the bottom line is that, it was about time that someone stood up for us.

Yes families with children are likely to spend more and children are the future of society, even so, to ignore an entire section of society is morally wrong. There is this widely held belief in politics that if you want to be elected, you have to appeal to families with children. And of course, that means not referring to childless people, for fear of upsetting those potential voters.

If anything, it is this blatant snub of the childless that has in my view, partly contributed to the bias against childless people. Politicians often set the tone for what people in society see as important, and for them to ignore the childless, reinforces many people’s view that childless people are of no real value to society.

It is about time that we had more politicians come forward in defence of the childless. And for that reason, I am very grateful to the Australian politician for having the guts to do so.

Photograph: news.com.au

Senator David Leyonhjelm

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