"Is the issue one of self-sufficiency versus child exploitation?"
Yesterday an anonymous blogger wrote this in the comment section. I gave this quite a bit of thought. I am sure that when Jon and Kate were first approached to film the hour special that started this whole thing, they were flattered and excited. It is my understanding that the special was a hit in the ratings and hence- "Jon and Kate plus 8."
From there, I believe it was just a matter of making the family self sufficient. And I believe that they did what most other families would have done given the same circumstances. They created a family business.
Is this child exploitation? I don't believe so. I grew up on a farm. It was our family business. As very young children we were up at the crack of dawn (or before in the winter) milking cows and carrying out a variety of other chores before we went to school. When we arrived home we would change clothes and we were back out performing chores and of course milking cows again. I don't need to go into detail but the chores we performed were at times back breaking. This of course being in 100 degree heat or 30 below temperatures. Did we have a choice? No. Were we exploited? No. We were very much loved and cared for. "It was our life."
I believe Jon and Kate do not ask for or want anyone's pity. Getting paid for speaking engagements, signed autographs - plenty of former presidents and current TV stars do the same. They are running a family business and doing a pretty good job of it from what I can see.