Kirsten Andersen

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Gov. Swift 'Welfare Reform' makes problem worse

By Kirsten Andersen


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This week's column is being written from a rental computer at Kinko's in Boston, Massachusetts.  I have been traveling all over God's green Earth for my 'day job' and I could really use a laptop.  Unfortunately, there are no Kinko's in rural Wisconsin, where I spent last week, so I did not submit a column.  Several of you have e-shouted at me for this, and I do apologize-and will accept donations toward a laptop computer!

Anyway, back to New England--I spent Monday afternoon listening to a particularly entertaining local radio show out of Providence, Rhode Island.  The topic of lively conversation was Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift's (R-in-name-only) recent legislation concerning welfare mothers and their young children.  To date, welfare mothers have been permitted to raise their children at home with a government check until the children are aged six or in kindergarten, before they are put on the 'fast track' job training program to get off welfare.  The reasoning behind that regulation is to allow the mothers to stay home with their children until they start school, so that there is no need for day care during Mom's training and work hours.

Jane Swift's proposal would make two years the age limit for such allowances.  Under her plan, the state of Massachusetts would pay for state-run childcare from ages 2-6 for children affected by the new regulations.  Mothers would be forced into the job training program as soon as their youngest children are 'old enough' for day care.

Not that I have ever been a huge fan of welfare or welfare mothers, but this plan is really despicable.  The cost to the state for the day-care program is essentially equal to the cost of the welfare checks for these children and their mothers from age 2-6.  If the money has to be spent, it would definitely be better used to let poor children spend early childhood at home with their mommies than used to let them rot in government day care facilities.

Do not get me wrong-I would rather the money not be spent at all, but my biggest issue with this plan is that it further legitimizes the idea of state-run day care as an alternative to parenting.  With all of the recent studies confirming what smart parents have known all along-namely, that day care is bad for kids-it is a wonder that Jane Swift would bring up this sick legislation now.  It has recently been proven that day care kids are both more aggressive and more depressed than their cared-for-by-mom counterparts.  Day care is definitely not the best place for already at-risk children.

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Dan Yorke, the host of the Providence radio show where I heard about this, thinks that the whole plan is an egomaniacal conspiracy by Governor Swift to make her own questionable parenting seem acceptable.  You see, Swift herself had a two-year-old in day care until the citizens of Massachusetts made a big stink about it.  Her husband has since quit his job to 'be with the kids,' but the family retains a full-time nanny despite his being there.  Swift is also currently pregnant with twins (who will no doubt hardly know the governor).  I don't know that I agree with Mr. Yorke's theory, simply because it is hard for me to believe that anyone could be so calculatingly evil.  But the case against Swift can certainly be made, and Yorke made it quite well on Monday afternoon.

Day care is not the only evil threatening our kids.  I am loath to use too much bandwidth discussing celebrities because, as a group, I find them detestable.  However, the divas of detestability-Calista Flockhart, Camryn Manheim, Rosie O'Donnell, and Jodie Foster, to name a few-have forced me to speak out.  I call them such because they have done the unthinkable: they willingly and knowingly became single working mothers.

I say 'working' mothers, of course, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, because I would never call what these women do for a living 'work.'  But they are technically employed, and at any rate spend a lot of time jetting around the continent to do the Late Show, and have pictures taken, and go to parties, and shop, and whatever else those show business types do while the rest of us toil away.  In other words, they are busy--far too busy for their new babies, apparently, as each has one (or more) full time nanny to do the real childcare.  Babies, to these spoiled brats, are accessories to be cuddled and cooed over, not human beings to be cleaned when dirty, comforted when wailing, and taught right from wrong.  Somehow I just cannot picture Calista Flockhart changing a diaper, hugging a screaming infant, or telling anyone or anything 'No!'

Though I feel very sorry for these bought-and-paid-for children, these four 'families' alone are not the problem  The problem lies in the fact that at least two major news magazines had front-cover, multi-page spreads celebrating these four women and their decisions to adopt or birth children without benefit of husbands or daddies.  This travesty, coupled with people like Jane Swift and their anti-family agenda, is warping the moral fabric of our society.  Children are worth less today than ever before.  Over the next three weeks, I will give you a series of articles about the ever-dwindling sanctity of children's lives, and what we as Americans can do about it.  I only hope we are up to the challenge.

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