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Each year since about 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a report on the cost to raise children in America. The most recent report, released in June, showed the cost for children born to middle income families in 2011 would be nearly $235,000, over the child’s next 17 years of life.

This figure covers such things as food, shelter and other necessities of childhood. For families that earn less than $59,000 a year, it is estimated they will spent slightly less on the same child — about $169,000.

For the middle income family, this means about $1,152 dollars a month in child-related expenses. For those below middle income, they would spend about $830 a month.

Of course, these are estimates.

But they show one thing, in my opinion, and that’s that the cost to raise children isn’t cheap.

If you plan to raise children (with your own money), it’s going to take some planning.

I don’t know any couples who set aside $235,000 worth of income before the child arrives — that would be extreme.

Unprepared

But there are plenty who cannot afford to replace the tires on their car, or pay their rent, but they’re giving birth to the next generation of Americans.

In so many families, debt and government dependence is a way of life. From the time the child is conceived and delivered, until he is raised and buried, his whole life is paid for through government money.

Planning ahead

When I was born, my family had already started a savings account in my name. It was a very small amount at first — a far cry from a family trust — but it sure helped. I remember in the fifth grade, when one of my closest friends told me how excited he was to have reached $150 in his savings account. I kept my mouth shut, because with $4,000 of my own, it would have been a rude comparison.

I was taught that you didn’t do something unless you had the money beforehand. And I learned to work and save. I raised some beef cattle, painted barns and houses, and followed the wisdom taught to me through 4-H and FFA, as well as church. When I graduated high school, I had enough to pay two-thirds of my college education.

During the annual Ohio Farm Bureau County President’s trip to Washington, D.C., I listened to a couple Congressmen who are very concerned about the future of our youth — and the debt they’re going to inherit.

National debt, especially, effects just about everything this country does, including defense.

Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said generations before us have always worked hard and done the things they needed, to ensure the next would be better off.

Not anymore

“We are guaranteeing the next generation’s going to be worse off,” he said. “We’ve never done that before.”

Ryan warned of “consigning the next generation to a debt-ridden future that they won’t be able to pull themselves out.”

Congressman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said he’s “living in the most selfish generation America has ever seen.”

He concluded, “If you think what’s going on today is cool, you better take another look at it because you should be furious.”

I understand we’re still in a difficult economic situation, with unemployment and low-paying jobs. And that we’re all susceptible to hard times and difficult situations.

Set for failure

But we’ve got too many people whose choices are taking away “susceptibility” and replacing it with a “guarantee” that they’re not going to make it.

I met a young man in Mansfield over the weekend who asked me whether I ever wrote anything about marijuana. He said he’s a regular user, he loves the product and thinks the press needs to start giving it a positive spin. I told him the only time I write about pot is when someone is busted for it.

That wasn’t the answer he wanted, but it’s the truth. He had plans to get drunk that night. I had plans to go home and go to bed, to prepare for a busy weekend.

We need to continue to be merciful. But I’m tired of paying for people who shoot themselves in the foot — not once or twice — but continuously.

I don’t have any children of my own, but as a taxpayer, I feel I have too many.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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