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Who's Your Daddy?

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted March 10, 2006

Dear Wealth Daily Reader,

This is an article about reproduction. Don't worry, Wealth Daily isn't delving into the abortion debate. Nope, this is a piece on what it means to procreate. For you and your children, and your prosperity.

Lots of children can preserve your family name and family business well into the future. Fighting over a birthright also gave us Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and some of the bloodiest wars in human history.

I've long had a problem with the modern application of the biblical directive to "be fruitful and multiply." What was a good idea in the open plains of Canaan and Bronze Age deserts doesn't translate so easily to the era of tenements and AIDS.

The preservation of wealth is linked not to mere seed propagation but to well-planned sowing. Women's liberation and the rights (justly gained) that have come to the fairer sex in this past century have much to do with that turn, as hip-hop star Kanye West's recent mega-hit "Gold Digger" demonstrates:

18 years, 18 years/ She got one of yo' kids got you for 18 years/ I know somebody payin' child support for one of his kids/ His baby momma's car and crib is bigger than his!

Of course this presents an underlying lesson to men: The farmer must be careful with his implement! I hold no sympathy for the young and reckless, and responsibility must be taken for choices made. But these words of West's also point to a growing, almost completely counterintuitive, issue: men's reproductive choice.

Yesterday, the National Center for Men filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Michigan. The NCM is billing this legal action as "Roe vs. Wade for Men," a moniker catchy enough that they have trademarked it.

The issue at stake is one of responsibility vs. deception. The Voluntary Fatherhood Project run by the NCM has long been seeking a man willing to showcase his personal paternity woes in the national spotlight, and they found him in Saginaw.

Matthew Dubay and Lauren Wells had an intimate relationship. A young man of 25 today, Dubay explicitly stated to Ms. Wells that he did not wish to become a father at his age.

Wells responded with a claim of infertility, and a shield of contraception she said she exercised as an extra-cautionary measure.

According to court documents, she was lying, because she wanted to get pregnant.

After things went sour, as relationships often do, Mr. Dubay was horrified to learn that his ex-girlfriend was about to give birth to his child who - no offense to the wee one - was both unwanted and unanticipated. At least on the father's part.

But here's the kicker...the mother went ahead and sued for child support!

Seeds of Power, Seeds of Sorrow

So this must be the mirror image of the farmer's caution I mentioned above. Does the field that yields the harvest have a part to play if it wishes to lay fallow? And should said field be at all responsible for an ill-conceived bounty?

Agricultural metaphors aside (hey, I'm from Kansas, it's easy!), this is a very serious issue with broad implications in a society where Choice is a wedge word.

Birth control has changed the way society works. Though religious authorities may decry it as contrary to God's will and many power-strapped ethnic groups see babies as the best way to ensure future strength, the ability to control if and when one creates progeny has given great freedom to the lives of many; it has increased women's opportunities in countries throughout the world, and helped to ensure that when a child is born, he or she will be well taken care of and not lost in a crying hoi polloi.

But those who exercise contraceptive technology are also putting themselves and their offspring at a real disadvantage.

It is estimated, for example, that famed and feared Mongol warrior Genghis Khan left his Y-chromosome in 1 out of 12 Asian men and 1 out of 100 worldwide. That means that he was 800,000 times more successful in passing on his genes than his contemporaries.

Chalk that up to some pretty horrible methods, but Genghis Khan followed the biological instinct to spread seed as far and wide as a dry dandelion blowing in the wind.

Daddyism

The current issue of Foreign Policy magazine is called "Why Men Rule," and it focuses on the argument that conservatives (i.e. those who want to be fruitful and multiply) will inherit the earth, and patriarchy will reign.

For example, there is a branch of my family that is extremely well educated, caring, successful, and liberal. Though three generations ago, in the old country, the matriarch of the family was one of 12 children, the generation of my mother's age will be the last. Have they done themselves and the world a service or a disservice? I will be sad to see them go.

The poor of the world reproduce like crazy. We call it ignorance and send them condoms, but as the people of France are learning with the high-reproduction Muslim immigrant population, demography is as potent a changing force as any bomb.

By the way, when the wealthy have tons of kids we call them dynasties. The Kennedys, for example, all descendants of a bootlegger with strong cheekbones, are "well-bred," but I doubt that the urchins of Gaza refugee camps would elicit similar admiration from high society.

In the end, who we are and who we bear determines the future. In recent years we have seen the political effects of patriarchy play out with the whole Estate Tax affair. Emotionally tagged as the "Death Tax," the government's cut of patrimony has been a thorn in the side of those who wish to pass on their wealth wholesale. Are more similar debates on the horizon?

As for reluctant daddy Matthew Dubay, I'm sure Genghis Khan would tell him he's a fool. "Sow your oats, you idiot!" the pillager might say. But Genghis never had to pay child support.

In the quest to secure a legacy, one's own ego can't help getting in the way. But to preserve your self, your wealth, and your health, here's a rule of thumb culled from the combined wisdom of Star Trek and the Bible: Live long and prosper, and be fruitful and multiply if it suits you.


Sam Hopkins
Buffett's Envy: 50% Annual Returns, Guaranteed