Novel Proposals to Remedy Family Life

Anthony Zimmerman
April 1, 2001
Reproduced with Permission

Parents empowered to vote in place of their children:

So far as I know, Otto Von Hapsburg is the originator of the proposal that parents should have the right to cast a vote for each of their children who are below voting age (see 30 Days Sept.- Oct. 1990 p. 47). To flesh out the proposal we might add that unborn children should also qualify for a vote through their parents; that adopted children would qualify similarly; that only legitimately married couples now living together would be so empowered; that spouses allocate the newly acquired voting power evenly as far as possible. In summary: parents and guardians get one vote, in addition to their own, for every child for whom they are providing care and education.

If voting power is thus weighted in favor of families with children - the more young children, the more votes for their parents - political clout would shift significantly. Large families especially might caucus to map out common policies and to make them known to political candidates who would benefit from their inflated voting power.

A candidate who opposes parental notification before abortions are performed on their children would likely lose the local election. A candidate who favors the distribution of condoms and birth control drugs in school-based clinics would fare likewise. One who favors abstinence programs in schools would likely appeal strongly to family constituencies.

Do families have a special right and duty to take in hand the government of the area in which they and the children live? The justification for this development is easily found in the special concern parents have to shape the environment in which their children will grow to adulthood; and to shape the future world in which their children will live.

A Jubilee Year for Newlyweds:

A jubilee year for newlyweds is a humane policy noted in the Old Testament:

When a man is newly married, he is not to be drafted into military service or any other public duty; he is to be excused from duty for one year, so that he can stay at home and make his wife happy (Deut 24.5).

In view of the fact that one of three children is now born out of wedlock, we should devise monetary and social policies which encourage couples to marry properly and to stay married. One suggestion is to provide a tax free jubilee year to duly married newlyweds. When the county issues the marriage license to a couple who are qualified, it might issue to them a credit card which exempts them from taxes absolutely for twelve months after the wedding day. They could then flash the credit card at the supermarket gate, when purchasing hunting and fishing licenses, when buying a car, a house, when buying anything. But divorced persons should not be entitled to benefits at re-marriage. The policy should be designed to attract young people to marry, to marry properly, and to remain married to their partner. Shall we levy taxes on divorce proceedings? Maybe so.

Disincentives against abortion:

States might levy prohibitive taxes on income received for abortions by providers of this macabre “service,” and at the same make abortion an economically foolish choice for an unwed pregnant girl and for her parents. Her parents might be entitled to receive benefits which apply retroactively after the child is delivered; benefits which cover the costs the parents of the girl already paid during pregnancy and delivery, plus one year support of the baby and mother after delivery. This would be an incentive for the daughter to receive care and love from her parents after she made a mistake, and to make a new start in life after the child is born.

A somewhat similar policy was announced on June 6, 2000, by the administration of the Italian city of Niscemi, an important agricultural center in Sicily. The local government will offer special aid to expectant mothers in economic difficulties. The city budget allocates a total of $6,000 to every woman who refuses to have an abortion. Perhaps other local areas will begin to see the wisdom of such an arrangement when the baby-crunch threatens the demographic future of towns and villages.

Pro-birth policies:

Parallel to the proposed tax jubilee year for newlyweds, duly married parents might receive entitlement for tax exemption for one year after a child is born into the family. Some might favor that it be formulated to reward birth spacing at two year intervals. In the long run, babies are the future of the nation, and the public should recognize this by sharing the burden of rearing children with the parents.

When laws gently pressure the citizens and lawmakers with incentives and disincentives in the right places, our currently distorted family life should take on its more natural and beautiful shape again.