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For Mother's Day

Hug the children, not the trees.

3:49 PM, May 8, 2008 • By ARTHUR C. BROOKS
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Some have concluded that the decision to forgo children--increasingly common in Europe and some parts of American society--is not a benevolent decision for humanity at all, but rather a reflection of endemic modern selfishness. In addressing the problem of negative population growth in Germany, none other than the head of that country's left-wing Social Democratic Party said in an interview that, "Living for the moment does not help a society develop itself. . . . A society without children is a society without a future."

W.C. Fields was once asked, "Do you like children?" to which Fields replied, "I do if they're properly cooked." Such disdain for children is amusing, but it is hardly a display of humanitarian bona fides.

Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of the just-published Gross National Happiness (Basic Books).