The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

December 7, 2006

A Lesson In Subjective Value

Alternate Title: How cynicism ruins something sweet.

My wife got an email from her sister (with an admonition to “get on it”) the other day. She made me sit through the sappy forward, and afterwards, I had her forward it to me to teach a little lesson.

The lesson is subjective value. How much does it cost to have kids? From the below email (no clue where their number comes from), it’s about $160K. But the email goes on to tell about all the wonderful things you get for that money… All the experiences you have, that you won’t have without kids.

But there’s an implicit assumption in this email that you value those things more than money. Or, the more sinister reading is that you should value those things more than money, and if you don’t, you’re cold and heartless. But that’s the thing about value. We all value different things. My wife values european cars, even if they’re overpriced and prone to require repair. I don’t care so much about the badge, but I value economy and functionality, so I’ve got a nondescript truck with a manual transmission and without cruise control. And we’re both happy.

There are a lot of couples who value $160K, vacations every year, and the freedom to sit quietly together in front of the fire, sharing a bottle of wine. Other couples value smelly, loud, demanding rugrats who litter toys all over a house and get deep into things they should stay out of. My wife, for example, loves stinky babies who sit there and do nothing but eat, sleep, cry, and poop. I can do without those first few years, and look forward to the day when I can be the teacher and guide to help my kids navigate life, filling their heads with all the quirks and beliefs that make me such a misfit.

But no matter how many sappy email forwards you send, you’re probably not going to get someone to change their values. At best, you can set up a system (like classical liberalism) where people are free to fulfill their own values, as long as those values don’t conflict with another person’s rights. Values are subjective, and email forwards like this are only sappy to those who share the values.

(sappy email below the fold)

PS – I’m sure when they’re my stinky loud babies, I’ll love them. I’m not that heartless. Just heartless enough that I don’t love yours!


The Price of Raising Children

This is just too good not to pass on to all.
Something absolutely positive for a change. I have
repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a
child, but this is the first time I have seen the
rewards listed
this way. It’s nice.

The government recently calculated the cost of
raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with
$160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about
sticker shock! That doesn’t even touch college

But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you break it down. It
translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week
* That’s a mere $24.24 a day
* Just over a dollar an hour

Still, you might think the best financial advice is
don’t have children if you want to be “rich.”
Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for
your $160,140?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites.
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what
the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh
* watching Saturday morning cartoons
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under
refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle
wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay or
Mother’s Day, and cards with backward letters for
Father’s Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck.
You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof
* taking the training wheels off a bike
* removing a splinter
* filling a wading pool
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a
sports team that never wins but always gets treated to
ice cream regardless

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:

* first step
* first word
* first bra
* first date
* first time behind the wheel
* and first love and first heartbreak

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added
to your family tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list
of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and
great grandchildren. You get an education in
psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communication,
and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under
God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare
away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart,
police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love
them without limits, So . . one day they will, like
you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a
deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love and enjoy your children!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 11:11 pm || Permalink || Comments (5) || Trackback URL || Categories: Economics, Internet, Personal Life


  1. Screw that. I’ll take my wine/beer, nice pickup, and vacations every year over some stupid brats messing with everything and stealing all my money. :-p

    Comment by Mike — December 8, 2006 @ 1:01 am
  2. You’re still young, Mike… Give it a decade or so, you might change your tune. My brother was the same way (also a Cyclone) before getting into the Marine Corps. But by the time he got into his 30s, he decided he might have to consider marriage, and shortly after he got married, he and his wife had a son.

    When he was your age, I don’t think he had kids in his mind at all, and now he seems happy as heck with the situation.

    Of course, this is a Warbiany baby, so he’s a bit better-behaved than most.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — December 8, 2006 @ 10:15 am
  3. My wife and I ran the numbers; she and our two children cost me about 50-60 grand more a year than my single life.

    Worth every penny.

    Comment by Chris Byrne — December 8, 2006 @ 10:30 am
  4. “I can do without those first few years, and look forward to the day when I can be the teacher and guide to help my kids navigate life, filling their heads with all the quirks and beliefs that make me such a misfit.”

    Ha Ha!

    Comment by VRB — December 8, 2006 @ 8:08 pm
  5. The author of the email lost me at:

    Glimpses of God every day.

    Other than that, I love my kids, wouldn’t trade them for the world, but I’m not willing to discuss their subjective value. They probably cost me more than the $160K figure, but so what?

    Comment by Eric — December 10, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.