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Hillary's Affliction:
She's a Glutton for Government

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

After experiencing unparalleled negatives in her poll numbers, Hillary Clinton all but disappeared from public view for several months. As luck would have it, her absence turned out to be the best remedy for her low standing in popularity. Recently, her numbers have rebounded significantly. Encouraged by the improvement in ratings, she has resurfaced to champion a new crusade.

Last week, Mrs. Clinton referred to the need to provide daycare for children in the United States as a "silent crisis." In order to make sure that as many Americans as possible were alerted, she appeared on all of the network morning shows with the identical urgent rhetoric. If we search our memory we can recall the faint echo of the "health care crisis" that initiated the campaign for Hillary-care in Clinton's first term. Déjà vu all over again ­ we've got another emergency.

The President and the first lady then hosted a one-day conference on childcare at the White House. Mrs. Clinton cited the childcare program of the military as a model for the rest of the nation. She lauded the fact that it is the largest childcare system in the entire world that is run by any one agency.

It seems as though the "era of big government" is not quite over. The choice by Hillary Clinton of such a mammoth governmental program as a prototype is revealing. Mrs. Clinton has always been one of the staunchest advocates of big government as a panacea for human travails. This is reflected in her legal writings, her Arkansas practice and her record as a legal activist. Her clandestine management of the White House Health Care Task Force and her attempt to push through a total restructuring of our health care system illustrate the zealous implementation of her big government beliefs.

There are already warnings that this new mission to assist parents has a hidden agenda, that being, to revive proposals for a massive and obtrusive federal daycare program. Although they will no doubt continue to utilize their effective but insidious fear tactics, this time around implementation of the system will be accomplished in incremental stages.

Similar to the approach used to promote the Global Warming initiative, scientific data are being misused and distorted to persuade the public that a dangerous situation exists, one the government alone can solve.

Recent research on early childhood development lends itself remarkably to the creation of a crisis. Reports suggest that the amount of stimulation and affection children receive in the first three years of life has a great deal to do with how well their brains develop. We will be told, therefore, that it is critical to establish new federal childcare standards and regulations in order to protect the future brains of America.

Issues which involve children have already been employed as a political tool by President Clinton in the 1996 election to reach the hearts of suburban soccer moms. With a focus on child related matters, this same constituency is likely to have equal importance in the elections of 1998 and 2000. Examples of Dick Morris-inspired proposals have included the campaign to curb youth smoking, to give health insurance to five million children of the working poor, to provide safety standards for car seats, to develop a plan for controlling children's access to pornography on the Internet and to revamp immunization programs. The Administration took a drumming when they proposed midnight basketball, but somehow they keep coming back to satisfy their government spending addiction. This time they feel that proposing "midday diaper changing" will be a solid winner.

Led by Hillary Clinton's child rights rhetoric, the Clinton administration has expressed its support and approval for the UN's approach to parenting. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was signed by more than 70 countries, embraces the precept of centralized governmental step parenting. As is typical of UN documents, the language expresses omnipotent power vested in a bureaucracy with limits only ostensibly ordained by vague language.

Particularly disturbing is the language contained in Article 9 of the Convention. It declares, "States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child."

Elsewhere in the document, a wide variety of broad powers are granted to the "competent authorities" to arbitrate and, if necessary, intercede when a child is asserting rights that are not in his or her "best interests."

The idea of entrusting government to raise our children is contrary to cherished American values. Today more than ever parents and families need to be strengthened. There is no substitute for the precious relationship between parents and their children. Governmental bureaucrats and their agents cannot and should not attempt to appoint themselves as surrogates.

Moreover, daycare has very often been provided by relatives, friends, neighbors and churches. Governmental regulation threatens the existence of these legitimate and more appropriate ways of safeguarding and nurturing our children.

Beware of liberals proclaiming a crisis. It means that big government programs, regulations and bureaucracies are soon to follow. Clear thinking is required to restrain the irresistible desire of government gluttons to feast upon more of their publicly financed initiatives. The concepts of decentralization and limited government have their foremost applicability in the area of childcare. The relationship between a parent and a child is quintessentially local. The manner and approach to the care of one's children involves many complex, individual, value-based decisions. It is difficult to promulgate centralized federal or global standards without undue incursion into the most private of family decisions.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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