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When Willie Wet the Bed
Fathering poetry about a classic problem.

When adult control fails, the resulting power vacuum is filled by gangs and bullies. By Clyde Verner.

Teaching Children the Importance of Winning
Encouraging in our children the drive to win can be just as important as teaching them to lose gracefully. By Chris Call.

Suggestions for the New Single Father
Russel Wayne provides some immensely practical childcare tips for the man who has to go it alone.

Promoting Your Child's Balanced Development
Giving your children the opportunity to develop a special talent can provide them with a sense of their uniqueness and be a healthy enhancement to their self esteem. By Gerald Alpern.

Classical Fathering versus the Judeo-Christian Model
We interview historian Frederick Hodges about raising children with classical Western values by avoiding the methods imposed on the West by Middle-Eastern religions.

What Fathers Do
by Jack Kammer.

The Fathering Advisor
Selected Reader Mail Gets Our Response

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TANF/AFDC Hell: Commercialized Social Services

by Richard Hiatt

TANF: boy with trouble in mind
TANF trouble © Per Tillmann - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.

In Washingtons' furious exchange of credit and fast deals it's just as quick to toss out its kids as it is a vetoed bill or last night's garbage. Children, like art and homosexuals, are frivolous legislative pursuits that don't enhance corporate ledgers or comply with the rules of minimum cost.

Consider the facts: Although family preservationists stepped in to "save" families from orphanages in 1909 (as TANF now tries to do) legislation has been mostly about big money and disposable children - the former being upscaled, the latter being suited up for orphanages.

Unskilled, low income families are being forced to self-destruct by being pushed to the fringes. This guarantees poverty, which according to Rene Pico of the Women's Economic Agenda Program is the most important contributing factor to the breakup of families. One in four children in America now live in poverty. And though "neglect is a code word for poverty," to social workers poverty is a code word for "neglect." And "neglect" to the Department of Social Services is the trigger word for litigating hell ever after.

Once kids are taken into "protective custody" the experience is like a black hole; what goes in never comes out. Kids average four to five foster placements before the age of 12, and the saying goes, if he's in the system over a year he's "gone forever." He ends up either with a juvenile record or a psychiatric record. By eighteen most go straight to homelessness.

Parents (including those with no charges against them and whose only crime was to get into the system in the first place) must comply with a "reunification plan." This is like a POW signing a paper saying he "conspired to kill the emperor" just to get rations - a forced presumption of guilt. Twelve months are given to comply with conditions set by the court (job, stable home, counseling, etc.) the failure of any which only doubles that presumption. All the while aid is "suspended" upon which food and housing depended in the first place.

"Incompetent" caseworkers aside (another can of worms), Renny Golden (author of Disposable Children: America's Child Welfare System) cites a University of Chicago study which interviewed 59 children in foster care. It revealed that "40% were confused as to why they were in foster care, 61% were told little as to why they were in foster care, 60% had no involvement in the decision to be put in foster care, one-third didn't even know why they had a caseworker, 41% didn't know why they were in counseling, and all but five ... said the way they were removed from their homes was humiliating" (i.e., by force, without warning).

A more encompassing dilemma: Since 1969 child poverty has risen 50% while the GNP has increased 50% in that same time frame. That means poorer parents are working harder in a wealthier but illiterate country (paranoid, litigious) and forced to stricter standards just to avoid that dreaded "n" word (neglect).

Ms. Golden in an interview for the National Radio Project said the US has "the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation in the world," a [child] suicide rate "double that of any industrialized nation in the world," and an infant mortality that ranks with Ireland and Romania. "A child born in the shadows of the White House has less of a chance of survival than a child born in Haiti. And so here we're giving 53% of our budget to the military and a scant four to two percent to social welfare programs which we're now dismantling. It can be considered a war on children."

Lawmakers blame poor women (and men) for "burdening" taxpayers by having more kids just to receive more aid. But they won't tell you that the same parent receives only an additional $125/month - far less than a foster-care family gets ($850/month) or an orphanage ($1000/month). Hardly an incentive.

From a distance one can see a scheme for social engineering at high levels to destabilize families and encourage takeovers. This fits into a more sinister trend - the shifting of money to more laws, jails, and orphanages simply for profit. The wealthy may take the view that putting welfare money in the hands of ungrateful rabble only wastes it: on idle pleasures and foolish toys - pickup trucks, tract houses, discount stores - more babies.

According to Barbara Ehrenreich in an article for Harpers (August, 1997), a conference was held in March of that year in Washington on "welfare privatization." The Park Hyatt is a setting "where the affluent gather discreetly over topics of mutual interest." Its theme: "Capitalize on the massive growth potential of the new world of welfare reform / Gain a leading edge in the market while it is in its early stage / Profit from the opportunities available."

The conference involved such powerful industries as Lockheed Martin, Electronic Data Systems, Andersen Consulting and Unisys. Lockheeds senior v.p., Holli Ploog, said, "We're approaching this marketplace the way we approach all other marketplaces" (New York Times). And $28 billion/year is an easy price tag (what government now spends for welfare) considering that companies face drastic cuts in the defense industry . The World Research Group (who held the conference) puts welfare in the same category as "airport management," "hotel contracting" or "sports/music." There is apparently a total indifference of the topic du jour with which to glean profit potential.

Right now privatization is a favorite theme particularly with regard to prisons. Last December's conference brochure stated, ""while arrests and convictions are steadily on the rise, profits are to be made - profits from crime. Get in on the ground floor of this booming industry now!"

Jails are already privatized thus capitalizing on crime (no different than the gun or drug industries) and, as Pico says, promoting "free labor" while taxpayers still pay $40,000/yr. per inmate. Likewise, orphanages just happen to be the next way companies can invest in "parenting" by translating children into the language of market goods and services, supply and demand. It's about planning a harvest of low-wage workers among those who won't make it in a high-tech world, being pushed to poverty, and who themselves will probably commit some form of "neglect" down the line.

As Lewis Lapham of Harpers once said, "the comfort of the rich rests on an abundant supply of the poor," what Leona Helmsley called "the little people" - people to clean toilets, carry golf bags, mow lawns, shine shoes, and then disappear to their respective "bedroom communities" at day's end.

If the disbursement of the national treasury is any measure of conduct, America truly does hate its children.

Copyright © 1997, 2009

The on-line magazine for men with families.

Must parents accept early puberty as normal? How early puberty wrecks your child's health.

Is the new baby a boy, or a girl? One out of every two thousand births presents parents with a sudden gender dilemma.

Fertility, Circumcision, Prostate Cancer

Protect Your Son
How a father discovered, too late, that circumcision is not a good thing. By Rio Cruz.

Children in Single-Mom Households "at Risk"
The fact that children raised by single mothers are at increased risk is found over and over again. Trev Martin asks, "What do we do about it?"

In Search of a History
"The Preamble, the Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address are the sacred scriptures of this nation." By Richard Hiatt.

Day Care - A Dangerous Experiment in Child-Rearing?
"Social science confirms that children raised in day-care centers and similar institutions are often emotionally maladjusted and mentally impaired." - The Wall Street Journal