My original intention was to write a post with this title in response to the news that Tony Blair has been given a lucrative half-a-million-a-year post at J. P. Morgan. Since this bank was implicated in the illegal reconstruction of Iraq, I hoped to find a figure for the number of Iraqi children who died to enable this colonialist wheeze and do the maths. Now who's thinking like an economist?
Economists actually work out the cost of children - and this is part of the problem. Even the most liberal newspapers encourage parents to see their children as 'costs', a recent estimate rising as high as £165,000. This reminds me of the work of economist Gary Becker, who discusses all family relationships as market trade-offs. I laughed at his foolishness; now I realise others were more gullible.
Children have become an important part of the consumer-based economy, with pester power now the subject of discussion in academic journals read by marketing gurus. Parents have been willing to take on debts to over-feed and over-equip their infants - and to assuage their guilt at not giving them enough of what they really want - time and love.
What has finally pushed me into posting on the subject of children is the appearance of Thatcher's feral children in the newspaper headlines. Can anybody really be surprised that the generation that grew up in the 1980s have emerged as bestial and amoral? Wasn't that the culture their generation inherited?
The era of Thatcher was dominated by the law of the jungle so why should we be surprised that it has spawned a generation of wild, untameable people? But this is being unfair to the jungle and its inhabitants. My memory of feral children from Romulus and Remus to Kipling's Kim is that they are noble savages; the stories stand as reminders that the natural world has its own balance and harmony.
Commentators identify the source of the problem as failed parenting whereas they should rather criticise the absence of parenting. In this late and decadent form of capitalism only those who sell their souls in the workplace are accorded value. Even people heroically bringing up children on their own are forced to abandon this most important role to spend hours on the telephone persuading others - perhaps other single parents like themselves - to take on debt to keep the economy afloat.
Many of the children who compete to attract the most ASBOS - a sign of distorted aspiration or an alternative pecking order? - would have probably preferred to be brought up by chimps or wolves since their own parents no doubt spent every waking hour at work on the consumption treadmill.