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The Big Answer


To link to this article from your blog or webpage, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage.

It Takes A Bureaucracy

an article by Gwen J. Broude in Reason magazine

(our site's article review)

Broude tries to push an irresponsible, right-wing/libertarian viewpoint about child-raising at the expense of Hillary Clinton and her book, It Takes a Village. Broude's agenda is to make it look like developmental psychology now says that kids are so resilient that babies are “more impervious to environmental happenstance” than Clinton allows, and kids can remain “on track” even with large variations in the quality of treatment they receive. Kids are “dramatically less delicate” than Clinton says, according to Broude, who goes on to admit that kids really do need a village after all, like Clinton says, but not if the village is defined as the government.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Clinton wants kids raised well, whatever it takes. She’d be happier to leave government out of the picture, but feels that government help is better than kids ending up deprived, hungry, sick, threatened, abused, etc. She wants government to help only when it’s really needed. Broude apparently wants government to stay out of it, regardless of what’s happening to the kids. And she bases her laissez faire attitudes on her interpretation of developmental psychology, which she teaches—ouch! Each woman admittedly has an agenda. Both would rather that people take the responsibility to strengthen community so that government intervention is not needed in the private matter of childcare. And both would like to see children’s needs being well filled—even Broude admits that this is the best way to produce a thriving, competent, healthy child. And both know that community is failing to manifest its functionality to the degree that kids reliably get their needs well filled.

But Broude says not to worry—they’ll be fine in spite of their deprivations. They’re resilient and can, like a Timex watch, take a licking and keep on ticking. Unfortunately, the medical community has lots of doctors that agree with Broude that it hardly matters how you raise kids, and Big Pharma agrees. On the other hand, others in the medical community—especially the parts of it most connected to sociological knowledge and the non-drug-related aspects of psychology and therapy—side with Clinton. (An example: Peter R. Breggin, M.D., who wrote Reclaiming Our Children.) It matters very much how kids are raised!

Clinton emphatically parts company with those who make the "It doesn't matter how you raise them" assertion, citing real social dysfunction statistics and real children’s lack-of-wellbeing statistics (there are plenty more she didn’t cite) that should make it clear to even the Broudes of the world that THEY WILL NOT BE FINE WHEN THEIR NEEDS ARE NOT ADEQUATELY FILLED—INSTEAD, THEY’LL BE PARTIALLY AND SOMETIMES WHOLLY DYSFUNCTIONAL. They’ll be criminals. They’ll be mentally ill—even if we cannot detect it immediately. They’ll be chronically depressed. They’ll be alienated, antisocial, and unhappy. And they’ll grow up to take it out on not just each other, but on you and us as well.

Depression is all too real and the incidence is way too high
Depression is all too real and the incidence is way too high

One can talk development theory all day, but the facts are the facts. Right-wing and libertarian and Big Pharma pressure to consider kids invulnerable to the abuse of parents and society may have made some factions of the developmental schools fold, but this alters nothing about the truth about our kids. Whether you read the conservative William J. Bennett’s book, The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, or any one of a plethora of liberal or nonpolitical books bemoaning the cultural decay symptoms in our children, there is simply no doubt about the fact that when kids are inadequately raised, the results are not pretty.

Big Pharma idiots say these kids merely have 'bad brain chemistry' and need drugs
Big Pharma idiots say these kids merely have "bad brain chemistry" and need drugs


This is your kid's brain on Big Pharma's drugs—any questions?
This is your kid's brain on Big Pharma's drugs—any questions?


Breggin clearly demonstrates in Reclaiming Our Children that we aren’t actually a nation of crazies and defectives needing to be saturated in psychiatric pharmaceuticals to fix our broken brains
Breggin clearly demonstrates in Reclaiming Our Children that we aren’t actually a nation of crazies and defectives needing to be saturated in psychiatric pharmaceuticals to fix our broken brains

Those like Big Pharma that say these kids merely have "bad brain chemistry" and need to be drugged into a hazy complacency are being reductionistic and self-serving. There may be a few genetically caused brain chemistry cases here and there, but most cases of childhood behavioral symptoms are caused by upbringing defects, not brain defects. And it has been shown that bad environments do indeed have the potential to alter brain chemistry and/or functioning for the worse. Ass clown shrinks doing tests, finding the altered chemistry, and concluding that that shows they merely have "bad brain chemistry" and need to be drugged are reading the situation bass-ackwards. Drugs get parents off the hook, and prevent their abuses from being discovered in psychotherapy sessions. What the kids need is not drugs but parenting training for their parents or—failing that—better parents or —failing that—psychotherapy sessions with someone like Dr. Breggin, who is discussed above.

Big Pharma spreading 'good health via medicine' across the land
Big Pharma spreading "good health via medicine" across the land


What the kids need is not drugs but parenting training for their parents or—failing that—better parents
What the kids need is not drugs but parenting training for their parents or—failing that—better parents

Broude is at her best when she asserts that: “Child rearing is easier and works better when people beyond the nuclear family cooperate. But why this points to a government role is never explained. In fact, when the government is the village, the job of the parent is made harder.” She is absolutely right. It’s too bad she couldn’t maintain this level of insight throughout her article—but her agenda was clear, and she followed it assiduously even when it forced her to make illogical and erroneous statements and sell out to the ass clowns at Big Pharma.

Child rearing is easier and works better when people beyond the nuclear family cooperate
Child rearing is easier and works better when people beyond the nuclear family cooperate

It’s true that the government makes lousy parents and we need help from others in our extended family, neighborhood, and local community—not from governments—in our child-raising efforts. Clinton may be right that the government is sometimes better than nothing as a child-raising asset, but our local community’s citizens are better yet—and the social work agencies are starting to realize this. (MCs would be the optimal "local community’s citizens" for supporting child-raising efforts, of course.) Clinton is right that at this moment some parents need a certain amount of government help in some aspects of parenting since no one else is picking up the slack, but this is far from optimal.

Head Start and other programs have proved that governmental help is sometimes better than nothing (although these programs are run locally, and many say it’s the fact that the government does not have direct control over Head Start that has made it a success—government bureaucrats would surely muck it up!). But the overall effect of parents and other types of able-bodied citizens learning to be dependent on government over the last few decades has been to erode community, self-reliance, self-responsibility, self-esteem and work ethics. Liberals like Clinton still haven’t seen this. Broude has.

So why is Clinton’s book so much better than Broude’s article? Because Clinton is a compassionate woman who is acting on a decent, motherly, human impulse to ease and prevent the suffering of real children—many of whom she has met in her political travels as First Lady and then as Secretary of State, while Broude is an academic in an ivory tower who seems to be willing to look the other way when it comes to children suffering, asserting “don’t worry—they’ll be fine” in the most patronizing manner, and—in her haste to condemn government as ineffective, to please the editors of Reason (magazine)—has left kids with nowhere to turn. And this gets rationalized with pseudoscientific assertions of how all these kids will bounce back and be unharmed by it all—a statement emphatically contradicted by the evidence!

Broude is an academic in an ivory tower who, when she sees children suffering, asserts 'don’t worry—they’ll be fine' patronizingly
Broude is an academic in an ivory tower who, when she sees children suffering, asserts 'don’t worry—they’ll be fine' patronizingly