It was clear from the very beginning that Ms. Suleman planned on having her children star in a reality television show to offset the cost of raising them. It seems that she has finally gotten the contract that she was looking for. If a judge approves of the contract that she signed, each child will earn 250$ per day, adding up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per child over the next three years. According to the law, fifteen percent of their earnings must be held in trust until the child reaches the age of eighteen or is legally emancipated.
As with Jon and Kate one can be certain that the cries of stop exploiting children will begin. They will point to the spectacle that their lives will become and the fact that the children had no say as to whether or not participate in the show to begin with. The 15% or 37,500 that is mandated to be put into trust for them will not even pay for their college tuition.
Perhaps these naysayers would be happier if these kids were to grow up on food stamps, wearing second hand clothing and worried each month whether or not their mother can pay the rent on their place of residence. Nope, it far better for these children to live a life of obscurity no matter the poverty that it will entail. Even if they were growing in a two person household, which they are not, supporting fourteen kids would be extremely difficult.
We have become far better at judging others than actually offering aid in difficult situations. It is far easier to stand on the side lines and wag a finger, than to consider that our inability to see children as our communal responsibility leads to situations where women like Nadya have no choice but to turn their families into cash cows. When the octoplets were first born there was no end of commentary regarding the irresponsibility of their mother in their conception. It was argued that because she could not afford to care for them, that she never should have had them. Never was it considered that she could be a good mother, or that parenting is about more than finances.
We behave as though we don’t have a stake in how these children turn out by our unwillingness to finance their childhood. Why should my tax dollars go to support her selfishness is the common refrain, as though tax dollars do not routinely go to the support of reprehensible items. Let’s remember that tax dollars financed the torture at GITMO, the Iraq and Afghan war, and sordid other crimes. There are far more offensive things than raising a child that tax dollars can be directed towards and yet Suleman has been treated as though she has committed the worst sort of crime.
Placing the children on television will eliminate the poverty that they would otherwise be destined to live in. In spite of the judgement and the finger wagging, people will tune in because a desire to consume will ensure that every moment of their little lives become public fodder. They will of course take the time to discipline Suleman for her decision but not take the time to critique the fact that our very desire to consume the bodies of these babies is exactly why this opportunity exists in the first place.