Copyright 2002 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner

                                          Parental License

     Consider, if you will, a Utopian country in which there is no unemployment, hunger, overcrowded schools, or
abused and neglected children.  Human nature being what it is, this will never happen, but it's fun to conjecture what
the results would be if people were required to have a license before they could have kids.  There are too many
people in the world already, with more being born every day; licensing might be a way to slow down the flood.

     You need a special license to open a restaurant, become a barber, or own a dog.  You must pass a test and
prove "financial responsibility" before you can get a license to drive a car.  The complexity of the licensing process
depends on how serious the consequences would be if anyone at all could undertake whatever enterprise they
chose; therefore, a license to practice medicine is harder to get than a license to style hair.  Society imposes
licensing in an attempt to protect itself from bunglers and irresponsible oportunists.

     Doesn't it seem odd that the same society that uses licensing, regulations, and inspections to protect itself from
day-care centers with chipped paint on their playground equipment doesn't bother to use the same controls to
protect itself from an ever-increasing need for those day-care centers?  People who want to adopt a child have to
meet stringent requirements for housing and income and character, but anyone who is physically able to have a
baby is allowed to do so, and nobody can tell them not to.

     Oh, I can hear it now.  "You can't do that!  People have a right to have children, as many as they want!"  Not
as many as they plan for, or can afford to support, or provide a stable home for; all of those unimportant
considerations get swept away by the emotional tide of "having a baby."  Kootchie-coo, they're so cute when
they're little, and everyone loves that new-baby smell, don't they?  But, just like puppies, babies grow up into larger
and more unmanageable creatures, especially if raised by folks who have no clue what they're doing.

     I always figured that, if new tires for my car were a financial crisis, I had no business having children, because I
couldn't afford them.  Also, I never felt like I wanted to make a commitment of at least eighteen years; kids aren't
like a house, that you can sell when you get tired of paying the mortgage.  Before you can buy a house or a car or
anything expensive that you plan to pay for on time, your friendly bank or other lending institution runs a credit
check on you, or asks for collateral for the loan, or does something to make sure that you can afford the payments.  
Not so with children; even if you have no visible means of support, you're still entitled to bring another life into the

     Persons under eighteen years of age are not allowed to buy cigarettes or to enter into legally binding contracts,
and those under twenty-one can't even buy a wine cooler at the carryout; our society has determined that people
that young can't handle the responsibilities that go with those actions.  Does it make any sense, then, that nothing
prohibits a fifteen-year-old from deciding to keep her "accidental" child, and that we suppose she can handle the
responsibilities of raising it?  With all the birth control methods available, and with all the emphasis on "safe sex" and
the use of condoms, teen pregnancy is still out of control.  Obviously, being too dumb or careless to avoid getting
pregnant doesn't mean that you are too dumb or careless to raise a child.  Let someone who's been waiting on a list
adopt that "accident," and give it a good home.

     Are children any less precious, valuable, or important than cars or houses, that we have no regulations
regarding their production?  Sure, it's technically illegal to give birth to a baby that's addicted to drugs, but that's
probably more because it's illegal to use the drugs in the first place.  The government places no restrictions on
conception; there are no intelligence or psychological tests, parenting classes, inspection of living conditions, or
security deposits required before people reproduce.  Maybe there should be
     If every child could be born to parents who were qualified to care for it, who had taken the time to acquire the
skills, finacial stability, and infrastructure that every child deserves, how much money and trouble would society be
saved in the long run?  No more latchkey children, no kids whose only decent meal is the one they get at school, no
unsupervised teens getting into trouble in the afternoon when mom and dad aren't home from work yet.  Fewer
mothers drowning their children in the bathtub, and less Shaken Baby Syndrome from boyfriends and babysitters.  I
know it'll never happen, and I know I sound like a Fascist, but I still think we'd all be better off (especially the kids)
if we required prospective parents to pass the tests for a parental license.