Monday, February 24, 2003

It's For The Chiiiiiiiilllllldren!

Twice in as many days, the Memphis Commercial Appeal has used that vapid phrase: "Do it for the children." It's the new last resort of scoundrels who don't otherwise have a good leg to stand on. Even when it really is for the children, the phrase evokes squirmy distaste.

First, in Sunday's guest editorial, Michael P. Saba finally evokes it in an anti-Iraqi war column that is otherwise unconvincing. After taking fully three-quarters of the column establishing his bona fides in relation to Iraq, even admitting that Saddam Hussein is a real danger, he then goes on to limn the horrible, horrible threat we present to Iraq:
After 12 years of enduring harsh postwar economic sanctions and daily bombings, Iraq is surrounded by more than 150,000 troops, fighter aircraft, warships and high-tech weaponry. It even has been threatened with a nuclear strike. Yet Bush administration officials argue that Iraq is the great threat to peace.
It's part of the build-up to war, Saba. The sanctions can be stopped any time, if Saddam will only comply, as he agreed to do 12 years ago. You'll notice that all that weaponry hasn't been used yet, either.

Still, he wants the inspections to solve the problem. His best argument is this:
The potential economic cost of a war has been estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars, in an already ailing economy. This money could be better used to educate our children, provide health care and meet other essential human needs.

Our closest European allies want to give United Nations weapons inspectors more time to do their work in Iraq. We owe that to our children.
The Federal government, first and foremost, owes us security from enemies both foreign and domestic. Saddam clearly falls into that category. He is unfinished business from two previous administrations that can and should be ended while we can. Then we go on to the next threat.

In their second abuse of the "for the children" plea, the editors predictably have something to say about the announcement by the Department of Human Services that it will change or not implement some of the new rules that resulted after last year's child deaths in day care vans. Forcing parents to place their children into unsafe homes, where nothing resembling day care happens, to satisfy public anger over irresponsibility by a few day care operators is dangerous.

The DHS has apparently understood that Governor Bredesen is serious in looking for cuts and isn't keen to take on new oversight when they will have less money to do what they already do. Also, they have finally realised that if they force all day care centers to get new vehicles it will force cost increases that will cause some people to give up day care. Or worse still, these folks will go to the "Aunt Mabel" day care -- relying on older females to keep 6 or 8 small children in their homes. You'll recall that this was the situation at the home that suffered 9 casualties from a fleeing drug dealer.

But no, government must do all it can and more. It's "for the children."
Better transportation of children in day care facilities will cost money. It will put an added strain on the budgets of parents, providers and taxpayers.

But protecting children who are not in a position to protect themselves - or to lobby in Nashville for the protection they need - is too important to dismiss as just another routine casualty of the state budget wars.
That's right. Even if it kills the patient, he's gonna get treated.

On a related note, I'm glad to see the requirement for mandatory drug screening of drivers being dropped. It is, as it always has been in whatever industry this presumptive tactic has been used, unconstitutional. It's not hard to suspect if someone is using drugs; and that is sufficient threshold to then test someone. Failure to test a suspect is a failure of responsibility and that is sufficient also to close a business, if crime or criminal negligence results. Yes, someone will have to commit a crime first, but then this is America, where we used to presume innocence before guilt. We need only deal harshly and ruthlessly with one example to make clear the costs of not taking responsibility.

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