I'm the author of three parenting books, am an outspoken advocate of public education reform, plus I have two kids of my own. So when I see children getting the short end of the stick, it gets my knickers in an uproar. And not only are children getting the short end of the stick, they're getting their backsides beaten with that stick even though they haven't done anything wrong.
I swear, America seems to really hate its children these days. How else to explain all of the efforts in both federal and state government to take away so much that is essential for children's health and welfare? And whatever happened to the motto, "Children are Our Future"? A lot of people out there aren't acting like that's the case any more.
Let's get specific. A substantial part of the recent legislation to reduce the federal deficit (which, by the way, was passed by both the GOP and the Dems!) directly harms children. There are the draconian cuts to school budgets, nutrition programs, early child education, and health care (though children will be helped if Obamacare survives), all essential for the futures of so many children. Talk about a country shooting its future in the foot!
And then there are the indirect effects that are no less hurtful. When parents lose their jobs and their homes, who do you think suffer the most? The children, of course. Is there anything more fundamental to healthy development than having loving, attentive parents and the security and comfort of a home to grow up in? Yet, when parents lose their jobs, they are stressed, depressed, and preoccupied, generally qualities not associated with good parenting. And when they lose their homes, children experience nothing less than a major earthquake in their lives; what had been so solid under their feet has been yanked out from under them. I wouldn't be surprised if in a decade or so, there is an epidemic of PTSD among the young people who were traumatized by, first, the ongoing financial crisis, and, then the results of the recent deficit legislation.
And what I find especially appalling is that many of these cuts, and the related suffering by children, could be mitigated by doing what is both fiscally prudent and morally required, namely, raising taxes on the wealthy. What kind of nation are we that puts the needs of wealthy and powerful ahead of those who are poor and powerless?
I applaud Warren Buffett for declaring publicly that the wealthy should be taxed more. But I didn't see any Millionaire Man March on Washington come of it. Are the wealthy so out of touch in their gated communities, private schools, and country clubs that they have lost all sense of decency? Have our elected representatives lost all sense of who they represent and why they are in government? And have they so thoroughly prostituted themselves to special interests and their own reelections that they have lost their humanity and their values?
Yes, I accept that the federal deficit is a serious problem, but no rational economist sees the answer in radical spending cuts without appropriate tax increases. From what I've read, not only is the recent legislation not going to cut the deficit down to size, but it's also going to extend and worsen an already bleak short-term economic outlook and, by extension, America's long-term economic prospects. And, again, who suffers the most from this misguided and mean-spirited policy making? The children, of course.
And this is not a partisan diatribe. Those on both sides of the aisle should be ashamed of themselves. The right for putting ideology over reason and the family values about which they so often preach. And, despite my left leanings, I have more venom for the left because they're supposed to be the defenders of the weak and helpless. Yet they act as if don't believe in anything and are exhibiting the worst sort of cowardice, namely the kind where they have the power to do what's right, but lack the conviction or spine to wield that power.
In my view, all of those policy makers in Washington and the state capitols who are pushing such severe spending cuts without offsetting tax increases are both morally bankrupt and destructively myopic. This wanton disregard for America's children, to the benefit of the wealthy, cannot be supported in any virtuous universe. And their short-sightedness is going to leave future generations of Americans -- today's children -- incapable of rebuilding the America that they inherited because they were abandoned by the very people who were supposed to see them as America's future.