In a Bloggingheads.tv conversation with Mark Oppenheimer, Conor Friedersdorf surmises that, sooner or later, men will enjoy the same or similar workplace benefits that their wives do when they have children. When this happens, Fridersdorf wonders, will childless workers begin demanding some kind of recompense?

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru may already have settled this question back in May, in a piece about how socialized entitlements subtly discourage people from having children:

Incentives tend to change when activities are socialized, and provision for old age is no exception. Now it is possible to enjoy a free ride, as the economists say: Don’t raise children yourself, but benefit in old age from the fact that others have done so. Looking at it from the other direction: Parents contribute more to the programs than non-parents who pay the same amount of tax, but they get the same benefits.

If this issue ever does come to a head, those with children can rightfully say: We’re indirectly defraying a big chunk of the cost of your retirement. The least you can do is grant us a few months where we don’t have to show up to work having had no sleep whatsoever.

Oh, and Oppenheimer’s response is pretty good, too: Government should err on the side of protecting the weak and defenseless.