September 26, 2008

LA Representative wants the poor sterilized, rich to procreate more

Posted in economics, intersectionality, myths, politics, privilege, reproduction at 5:11 pm by LB

I just heard on CNN that Louisiana’s Rep. John LaBruzzo (R) is looking into a plan to pay poor women to have their tubes tied. This is based on his concern that poor people reproduce at a higher rate than more economically privileged people do, who pay more in taxes. Folks, this is his guess–he has no data to this effect. Mark Waller from The Times-Picayune reports on nola.com that “He said he is gathering statistics now.”

Hmmm…so instead of looking at the actual range of factors that affect poverty and aiming to solve those, he’s going to racistly assume that it’s because they’re voluntarily having “too many” children “they can’t afford,” and if they can’t afford them, we should encourage, not free contraception and education, but sterilization, so he’s then going to try to find data to support this?

It also could include tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, he said.

Now we’re at the meat-and-potatoes.  It’s not really about “helping” people to avoid welfare (as if having kids is the prime reason people are on welfare in the first place), but also ensuring that the “right” kind of people reproduce–those who are wealthy and educated.

The idea here is that poor citizens receive social welfare and therefore do not have the “right” to have families.  This is bullshit in and of itself.  On top of that, LaBruzzo is essentially hoping for the “extinction” of the poor on account of his faulty logic that that would reduce or eliminate poverty, as if poverty were a function of people, not of societies and economic systems.  Even more, well-educated, wealthier people should have even more children to make more educated, wealthy people!  Who knew economic privilege was genetic!

OK, I know he’s not saying that.  But if he really thought about the implications of poverty begetting poverty, he might realize that helping people out of poverty is not at all accomplished by telling them not to have children (and since when should we coerce the poor with money to do invasive, irreversible, medical procedures on their bodies?–and for the record, he’s sure not suggesting that we pay for or demand that poor women have abortions), but to help change the environmental circumstances and social structures that perpetuate economic inequality.

And never mind that the rhetoric that children and families are the “foundation” of our society that justifies a slew of tax advantages given to middle and upper class families.  Forget the college tuition credits given, and deductions for homeowners’ mortgages that partially subsidize the middle-class American life.  The right consistently talks about tax breaks to help families out, but those breaks are for people who owe taxes to begin with: they are tax breaks for the middle class, not the poor.  But folks like Rep. LaBruzzo seem appalled that folks on welfare would dare to be free citizens and have children, who allegedly are the reason for their poverty.  Meanwhile, middle and upper class families benefit from their own share of social welfare in the form of tax deductions and government-guaranteed education (as well as partially taxpayer-funded state universities), and this welfare is completely invisible to them.  I don’t have kids and I am forced, through taxation, to pay for the education of other people’s children.

In one way or another, aren’t most of us social welfare recipients?

2 Comments »

  1. Evan Carden said,

    This surprises you? I direct you attention to the IHS sterilizations in the 70s, Buck V Bell and Skinner V Oklahoma, just for starters.

    Isn’t eugenics fun?

  2. Renee said,

    Even more, well-educated, wealthier people should have even more children to make more educated, wealthy people! Who knew economic privilege was genetic!

    Exactly…there is not acknowledgment of the ways in which the isms interact to ensure that some will always be marginalized within this society. He is not interested in helping the poor, he is only interested in increasing his race and class privilege.


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