Bryan Caplan  

Why People Hate the Octomom

The Wonder of Economic Freedom... Back to Basics...
I assumed it was mostly anti-population Greens, but on closer examination the main haters seem to be fiscal conservatives.  But if she gets her own reality show and makes millions, will they withdraw their complaints? 

Critics might respond that Octomom will have have to earn tens of millions before her extra taxes reimburse Medi-Cal, which is ultimately footing the octuplets' delivery bill.  But have they considered the long-run likelihood that her kids will pay for themselves?  Inquiring minds want to know.

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COMMENTS (29 to date)
Steve Sailer writes:

"But have they considered the long-run likelihood that her kids will pay for themselves? Inquiring minds want to know."

Yes, they have. The odds that a badly premature and underweight baby born to a deranged and bankrupt mother with 13 other children will grow up to be a net tax consumer rather than a net taxpayer is quite high.

Bryan Caplan writes:

I'll grant that the kids have a few strikes against them, Steve. But a large majority of people with these problems still grow up to be self-supporting.

Chris Rasch writes:

I don't hate her, but I certainly not happy to be forced to pay for her offspring. Even if she gets a reality show, and can pay off their costs on her own, she didn't know that beforehand. Therefore she still deserves opprobrium.

Chris Rasch writes:

Incidentally, I'm not against people having large families. If the Pitt-Jolie's, for example, want to have 20 more kids, I would be perfectly happy about it. What I object to are people who have lots of children and expect the rest of us to pay for them.

Kevin Nowell writes:

There is a finite amount of space available on the world. For every new person my space gets smaller and smaller. Or atleast my rent gets higher and higher. The least I ask if you are going to come into my world and raise my rent, I ask that the cost to raise you to adulthood not be borne partially by me.

Caliban Darklock writes:

I have spent the entire debacle wondering why this is any of my business.

So she has six kids and just had eight more. Okay. That's freaky. But what business is it of mine? She's getting tax dollars, so her business is my business? I don't like that idea. I think her business is not my business, and I don't understand where all these people get off criticising her reproductive choices.

I also suspect these are the same people who get up in arms about government invading their privacy.

Fazal Majid writes:

Hatred is an extreme reaction. The woman is clearly mentally ill and needs care. Nor is the drain on public coffers my primary concern.

The real issue is that she had 6 embryos implanted in her womb (2 of them split, hence the octuplets). Even if she "only" had sextuplets, the risk to the mother and children's welfare was extreme. The physician who agreed to the procedure should be hauled in front of a disciplinary commission, and have his or her license to practice medicine revoked.

Of course, given the medical profession's penchant for omerta, I am not holding my breath.

Randy writes:

"What I object to are people who have lots of children and expect the rest of us to pay for them."

What I object to are the people who force us to pay for them.

Checking writes:

"I'll grant that the kids have a few strikes against them, Steve. But a large majority of people with these problems still grow up to be self-supporting."

Are you saying that the *expected* net present value of their taxes exceeds the expected NPV of the cost of education, policing, EITC, government healthcare, etc? Not being permanently on welfare or in prison is a rather lower bar.

James Feldman writes:

Why isn't the most likely explanation for why people despise her status oriented?

It is extremely unlikely that the public will ever have to pay a cent to support Britney Spears' children. But she has been subjected to similar public opprobrium for her poor parenting choices. People generally enjoy feeling superior to others, particularly famous others. By publicly bashing the octomom, we all look like we are more responsible, more sane, and better parents - we are using her as a benchmark for acceptable behavior.

mgunn writes:

Just to start, everyone in the country besides octomom is not using IVF to have eight babies. By revealed preference, you can clearly show that nearly every woman capable of bearing children thinks that what octomom did is a bad idea.

Carl Marks writes:

No chance that those kids will ever pay for themselves. These children are in an abusive household right now, maybe not physical, but definitely mental. How could a parent care for that many children?

Zac writes:

@Carl- "No chance"? Really? None? Come on. I'd say the odds are good, and although my confidence is weak as to a precise guess, I can definitely say there's more than "no" chance and to say otherwise is ridiculous.

The octomom definitely has some weird preferences and anyone with preferences this weird is going to be vilified. The fiscal conservative critique is just a ruse; people just think she is crazy. mgunn was right, above, saying "By revealed preference, you can clearly show that nearly every woman capable of bearing children thinks that what octomom did is a bad idea." This is the issue.

I think it is likely that she is just "doing it for the attention," perhaps with the hope of getting a TV show. I'm not sure that this, in itself, makes her a monster, though. If she suffocates them all, then I'm on board the hate wagon.

Gary Rogers writes:

What gets me is how often we see the same thought process. First, we have what is considered an unlimited pool of other peoples money and, second, "We can't not do it." Whether it is Octomom, bailing out the banks, bailing out foreclosure victims, a trillion dollar stimulus package or a trillion dollars to stop global warming, I keep hearing the phrase "We can't not do it." How can I withdraw my permission for irresponsible dunderheads to spend my money this way? Of course we can not do it! Let Octomom get a job and be responsible. Then she might think twice before she has her next litter.

You are correct. Conservatives are angry at Octomom because she is a classic example of how not to run a society.

Jason Malloy writes:

Actually I'm much more surprised at how much less opprobrium the octomom gets than the 18 child Duggar family, who are a responsible, entirely self-sufficient family that haven't exploited tax payers.

kathleen schmidt writes:

I can't believe how cold,uncaring, and downright mean people are about Nadya. Yes maybe she should not of had anymore children, but I'm sure she said OH i should have eight at once. We don't know her or her life, every story that is written is different. The news media is having a party because they have turned this into a circus, and people love to see circuses. And they the media are cashing in on this big time. People in Cal. are affraid they won't have the money to buy their designer clothes,purses, etc. Yeh, she got a whopping 450.00 a month in food stamps. WOW. That probably put everyone in Cal. in the poor house.When newcasters, actors, sports figures make millions and milllions of dollars, who do you think pays for that? We admire the beautiful people and will pay anything to see or hear them. They can do no wrong, like drugs, DUI's, beating each other up etc, but we still admire them like royality. Let's listen to Rush Limbaugh, he only makes 100 million dollars a year, and sits there saying rubbish most of the time. And everyone is against Nadya getting a reality show to help her out. Ever hear of John and Kate plus eight reality show. It has been said if Nadya gets a reality show it would exploit the kids. Gee J&K plus 8 has been on since the sextuptlets where babies and are almost 5 now. The mother herself said she sent in pic's and videos to TV stations to get a show. John quit working years ago, Kate got a free tummy tuck, John got free hairplugs. They have gone on numerous trips, Disney,Utah,Ski Resort, Hawaii, and many many more. And they themselves say all these trips, the housing, hotels.planes, food and everything is paid for by the comapanies, because it is advertising for the co's. They just moved into a home worth over a million dollars, and then there is health care. Kate and John sell pic's of their children for 20.00, like we all need a pic of someones children. (and how about Tom and Katie selling their pic's of Suri for millions, they sure needed that money). Kate tours the country speaking at churches and groups for very large sums of money for each engagement.and you can see her calandar of engagements online. Everything they have is paid for by TLC and the companies that show them at resorts and the places they visit.When they fly they have their own plane with all the camera people and their kids and whoever else goes. Kate says the cameras are in their home 3-4 days a week all day long.The show is on every week, and their are reruns on constantly running hours at a time all week long. They have made millions and million off of this show. But why is this ok for them and not Nadya? Maybe because they are married, and look ao good on TV and didn't recieve all the bad rap when they had their kids. No they look good on TV, perfect family, and guess what, we the public is paying for every single cent they make. But Nadya has had such a bad rap since this all happened, that companies don't even want to give her any products because the news media has made her into some kind of freak show, so the co's don't want to do anything for her. If 2million people would give her 2 dollars, (hardly the cost of a cup of coffee) she could have a decent home and money for a long time to care for her kids.EVeryone says the kids are going to have all these diseases, and what about college. Just maybe they won't have a lot of health problems, and y ou know what, my children paid for their own college.I say give her a chance, and then if she can't do it with her support system, then some action should take place. But most have already condemmed her. She has had death threats, and even threats about her children. We are a sick society when we can't help our fellow man. And for all you religious people out there that are allways saying it's "Gods way" when things happen well maybe this was "Gods Way" in giving her these children. I was raised in a foster home, and believe me that's not allways the best. Some are good but others are people just making money taking in children, but not caring about them at all. And there are a lot of people in this country that commit welfare fraud, and keep having kids just to get more money. Nadya isn't perfect and probably shouldn't of had more children, but they are here and need to grow and be a family. None of us are perfect, and the worse people write about her, the more they are trying to make themselves feel better, hope it works for you. I don't see a civilized society here at all, I see a bunch of barbarians ready to lynch her just like we used to do many many years ago when we didn't like what we thought was too different for us to accept. All of you haters out their will have your day of reckining, oh but maybe not because you are all so perfect in everyway aren't you?

The Cupboard Is Bare writes:

I don't care if it's one, six, eight or fourteen children. If you have no means of supporting the child(ren), then you should not plan to get pregnant until such time as you can provide a means of support.

This is not about being mean, or not liking children...this is about millions of financially strapped taxpayers who are being forced to withhold college, medical/dental care, clothing, etc. from their own children in order to provide for someone else who is too selfish to think about anyone else's needs but their own.

Additionally, this woman's parents enabled her behavior by supporting her up to the point where she had six children. Now I've been told that it's a family matter and none of my business. But it ends up becoming my business when the parents decide to withdraw their support, resulting in their child and grandchildren needing taxpayer dollars.

Jack Gannaway writes:

Apologies if someone else has said this, but the opportunity cost of my attention is relively high at the moment (I'm at work).

Octomom is surely expecting to make some money from selling various media rights. The allegation is that her children will grow up to be net tax consumers. However, consider this: the more unusual and over-scrutinised their upbringing in the media, the more the children can make from selling *their* story. Kelly Osborne's children reaching maturity will surely prove my point.

guthrie writes:

Good point Bryan! But look again at the critics and you'll see another facet. My wife isn't a 'fiscal conservative', but her objection is that she was irresponsable. Apparantly it costs a significant ammount to go through the IVF process, so the question is, why not spend that money on the kids she already has? If it's at all true that this family is struggling financially, then she's not paying attention to the clear financial signals. Her prioritys are off suggesting a mental disorder, and that will affect her care of these kids.

Not that you believe such care is even necessary!

Plus her protests of innocence to the charges of seeking notoriety ring hollow and disingenuous. If she admitted to wanting a reality show, this honesty would go a long way to quelling the controversy.

g writes:

Excuse me, that would be 'her priorities are off'... sorry!

Dan Weber writes:

In most (but not all) regards, children scale well. Raising 10 kids is not more than twice as hard as raising 5, because the older can take care of the younger.

A multiple birth event, however, puts extreme strain on the mother, the children, and the ob-gyn. Five children at once is a lot harder than five children serially. Eight even more so. The heaviest child was 3 pounds 1 ounce. That would require exceptional intervention even in the case of a single birth.

guthrie writes:

PS: Her repetitious invocation of 'God' also seems disingenuous. She doesn't appear to be sincerely religious as much as someone who's using religion to justify questionable actions. Again this (understandably) leaves a sour taste in many mouths, mine included.

PPS: In her broadcasted snit with her mom, she kept saying, 'you can't go back and ring a bell'. The phrase is - you can't UN-ring a bell. These small irritations add up.

She likely can't make gobs of money now b/c she's turned off a lot of people and no network in their right mind would hand her a series (unless she does porn, apparantly).

Mitzva writes:

The highest form of charity is to take care of yourself and your own family so you don't impose on others' sympathy and good-will. She's rude for violating that tenet of good behavior

matt cox writes:

IVF, egg/sperm sales, womb rentals...

Life has become a commodity.

Barbara writes:

Why I dislike her:
1. If she wants to have a lot of babies I just don't want to pay for them. Six kids is more then most people can afford so why would she HAVE to try to have another.
2. And because she is on welfare and is getting insurance from Kaiser for her kids and I am one 61 year old person that is paying $785. a month for Kaiser just for me and this is why each year I have to pay more for people like her. In the last 5 years it has been going up each year and since I have belonged to Kaiser since I was 24 there is no way that I can get insurance anywhere else because of medicial problems but I am tired of paying for other people also and then having to pay with taxes for the same person again because I live in CA. It sure is not right. I will not be able to pay for insurance much longer and am not sure what I should do. All of my life I tried to put a little money aside for a raining day and never thought that it would have to go for insurance because of people that keeping having kids and to think that these were not accidents and that she paid to have all of them so I think that since she could do this then she should pay for her own children and insurance herself. Seems fair to me and all of the other people that try to do the right thing.

Cappy writes:

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Kelso writes:

The thing about this "octo-mom" that bugs me the worst is that she used children- innocent children who will have to grow up in a life that they were only made for money and publicity- to gain fame and popularity. If she wanted 8, 10, or even 50 children, that wouldn't be a problem for me and thousands of other people if- stay with me- SHE COULD PAY FOR THEM HERSELF! Think of the facts. No husband, no money, almost no house. Add up the facts lady. Thats not going to go too well with the public. What happens when she can't pay for their meals on a daily basis? Is McDonalds going to come to her rescue? It really makes you think what kind of upbringing she was raised in if she always expects others to do her bidding, like earning money. If this was such a normal and great thing, then how come poor women all over the world aren't doing this? BECAUSE ITS WRONG! I say people, that we should focus more on pressing issues such as more and more woman dying of breast cancer every day, and give our money to that organization, instead of this silly mother. And kathleen, why don't we all give two dollars to starving african children instead of her? Maybe instead of buying octomom a house, we could buy those kids a LIFE!
Think about that one. Thanks for reading! :)

Lisa writes:


They were on Food Stamps and Medicaid early in their lives.

The Losers with the reality TV show, Jon and Kate + 8, are just adored by housewives everywhere. Those worhtless losers were unemployed and had twins when they conceived six babies by IVF.

You hate Nadya because she is a single mother, and single mothers are the most despised group of people in America. We are really no better than third world Muslim countries who stone women.

What's going on with the media here is nauseating, disgusting, and putrid. T

Kathleen Schmidt writes:

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