Friday, April 07, 2006

Suffer the Little Ones

Big business weighs in on child care. In to-day's Toronto Star business columnist Dave Crane posits that "Harper is killing key chance for kids". In this opinion piece Crane cites the research of one James Heckman, of Chicago, who sees nothing but a rosy future with government-supported, equal-opportunity head starts in government-funded daycare centres. His sentiment is echoed by no less than David Dodge, governor of the Bank of Canada, who also percieves a national day care system as a panacea for social woes.

Yes, ladies and germs, just let big business do what it wants with the little nippers and there'll soon be an end to just about every social ill that the young grow into. Nothing in the land but good, obedient citizens and, no doubt, obedient little consumers and corporate trolls. Unless, of course, there is bad parenting involved! Because, after all, good parenting is an equal requirement of any good daycare system (it leaves someone to blame for poor performance).

Seems to me these fellows haven't taken their research far enough. How about the effects of some 'national daycare programmes' that have been around for a while - like in Russia, or China. Fifty years, or more, of government child care haven't done much to make Russia a land of sunny promise, with or withhout communism.

The Swedish model could stand a look as well. Just how does being socialized and institutionalized at a young age affect the adult of the species? In fact, I believe, that the research would tend to indicate that good parenting is more than just an adjunct here, it's vital.

So what does Bay Street want - the best for your kids? No, the chance to make a buck so they can get the best for their kids, of course. And what better way to do that than to get the taxpayer to fund their operation.

Have these guys ever been in a day care centre? They are run by professionals ( i.e. trained, 9 to 5 types - extra charge for late pick-up - who have lives outside the centre) - with structured programming (toilet time, meal time, activities, etc) all very nice but aimed at inculcating a herd mentality among the infants - " Yes Donnie, we all sit on the potty till everybody is finished." These centres are as 'natural' as a feedlot operation. You can bet your bippy that even with a 'nanny', as some of these elite fellows might have had, childhood was never like that. The only kids I could see benefiting from such warehouses are those from homes which are profoundly deprived.

I like Steven Harper's thinking because it keeps the focus of child nuturing exactly where it should stay, on the parents. If the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, then the results of what goes on there should remain, for the most part, the responsibility of the participants.

Governments have an interest in what happens to kids. Some say that institutionalizing them young means not having to institutionalize them when they're older - that's a theory requiring proof - basically I think it's hogwash! Supporting parents as they fulfill their child-rearing responsibility is government's prime function, not usurping it. Families are important and need support, they are not primarily economic units - as they have been treated by Liberal governments for too many years, but the milieu in which good citizens develop. We need more healthy families, not more institutions to play a poor second to them.

Bottom line, we need Bay Street style National Day Care like we need another market crash.

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