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Cloning fever has gripped the nation. Families want to clone their dead children, pet owners want to re-create their dead pets, and barren couples want to clone themselves. The resulting argument is nearing abortion on the controversy scale. ‘How can these people want to defy God like that?’ one camp asks, while the other wonders ‘how can these people not see that since the science exists, we are entitled to use it?’. While both sides are making as many valid statements as they are making outlandish ones, the governments of the world are, as a whole, indecisive on the issue.
Religious perspectives range from the wary to the outright belligerent, and the cry ‘man shouldn’t play God’ is heard far and wide. Scientists question the ethics and morality of cloning a human being for any means, be it research, medicinal purposes, or reproduction. The world at large, though, seems to have missed the most important factor in all of this debate: Common sense.
The world’s population in 1800 was around 900 million. In 1900, it was 1.6 billion people. In one hundred years, the population of the planet rose by 80%. Today, the world counts 6.2 billion citizens, a 400% increase. The population explosion began in the 1950s, and if the current trend continues, the population will reach the nine billion mark within 50 years. With such explosive population growth leading to overpopulation, what possible justification can there be for using artificial means to birth a child? Regardless of whether it is ethical, moral or just, cloning makes no sense from an environmental standpoint. It makes even less sense from a fiscal standpoint.
College tuition in the United States is rising beyond the means of many in middle America. Yet barren families are willing to clone themselves at expenses nearing $100,000. Raising a child will cost an estimated $237,000 over the next seventeen years. The average family income in 2001 was just above $62,000. Let’s look at a breakdown:
Child expenses (per child)
This model leaves just $5000 after expenses per year, for a family with only one child! Now, a second child lowers the tax amount slightly, but the average family also wants to send their child to college. A four-year degree will likely cost more than $80,000. The money that will no longer be spent feeding, clothing and otherwise maintaining a child at home would logically go to that, but everyone knows that just because Junior has left town to go to school, he’s not done raiding your wallet. So the average family saves on food and electricity, but still has to pay for their children to live and for their education. Overall, the money crisis has not ended.
Now, add in a loan for $100,000 with a 15-year term. That’s around $10,000 per year if the rate is good. Suddenly, the parent of a clone is less worried about paying for college, and more worried about paying for the child! The middle-class working family is suddenly saddled with a $5,000-per-year deficit and a child to raise. Considering that cloning and the clones themselves are going to be closely watched, one can expect that medical costs not covered by insurance will be high, as well. This clone, this child, brought into the world to satisfy some misplaced need, will be brought into an environment that cannot support it. It is well documented that the one of the leading causes of divorce is money problems. These families are setting themselves up to have a planned pregnancy that has a greater than 50% chance of destroying their marriage, thus causing no end of problems for the child itself.
The subject of cloning pets is even easier to shoot holes in. The SPCA often campaigns to have your pets spayed, because of the overpopulation of domesticated cats and dogs. Hundreds of thousands of unwanted animals die each year, yet people feel the need to keep ‘Fluffy’s’ legacy alive. One word solves both problems: Adoption. Regardless of how hard it is or how much it costs, it’s less costly and better for all parties involved on many levels. It gives a home to a pet or a child that did not have one, it does not add to an already overpopulated species, and in the case of children, requires that the parents be fit to raise a child.
As the argument over cloning rages back and forth, the one group that suffers the most is routinely forgotten: the children themselves. No child would benefit from reproductive cloning, whether they be the cloned child, or the orphan who is not adopted because a clone took their place. And in the end, the whole human race suffers as our living space gets smaller and smaller. Think before you start donating cells. It’s just common sense.