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On boogeymen and reality, or "We're from the government and we're here to help raise your kids"

Posted on August 12 2009 12:00 pm
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Shortly after 10 o’clock in the evening Tuesday night, I (Alissa) watched a clip of President Obama on Anderson Cooper 360. I had just had a bowl of ice cream and was nursing my almost-7 month old, Sam. The President was talking about health care reform, of course.  He said, “Where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”

I don’t think anyone is opposed to reading the bill. In fact, I can think of a chant at a recent town hall meeting in Tampa where the concerned citizens wanted Representative Kathy Castor to do just that. I, too, want to get through the “wild misrepresentations” and know what is really going on with the bill.

The President continued:

“Because the way politics works sometimes is that people who want to keep things the way they are will try to scare the heck out of folks, and they’ll create boogeymen out there that just aren’t real.”

Sam stirred. He’d fallen asleep nursing, which is not unusual for him at that time of day. I am so blessed that he is healthy and happy, but this mama’s heart worries about what the future holds, and how health care reform will affect him.

This isn’t a scare tactic, or a boogeyman, Mr. President. This is a real fear, from a real woman, about her baby boy and the world in which he will grow up. My fears are not uncommon or unusual; I’m sure every mom watches the news at night and worries about those sleeping babes down the hall (or in their laps). And call me crazy, but I am not sure that the answer is to put our trust in Big Government and It Will All Be Okay.

Especially when ObamaCare, as currently written in H.R. 3200, wants to “provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional … and coaching on parenting practices.” What exactly, Mr. President, does this mean? I’m not trying to create a “boogeyman,” but it sounds to me like the government is going to tell me how to parent my child, and if I don’t do it “right” someone will intervene. Does this mean the government is going to tell me when my child should be walking, talking, crawling, sleeping through the night, teething, weaned? And just what will happen if my child doesn’t fall into what some government official thinks is “normal”?

After the show ended I carried Sam to bed – our bed, which is where we all get the most sleep. At this writing, co-sleeping is not illegal, although a recent ad campaign in Indiana made co-sleeping seem very dangerous (a side note: co-sleeping on a couch or other unsafe surface is not a good idea. All co-sleeping safety guidelines must be followed). But what happens if my Government Parenting Coach decides co-sleeping is bad, and that Sam should sleep in his own bed?

I chose to give birth to Sam at a freestanding birth center, not at a hospital. I am planning to follow a similar route with any other babies we might have in the future. What if my Government Parenting Coach decides that it is “unsafe” to give birth anywhere other than a hospital?

We’ve decided to selectively vaccinate but I know many parents who have decided to forgo vaccination altogether. I respect their choice – but what if their Government Parenting Coach decides that all children must be vaccinated according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ schedule?

What happens if we don’t need or want this “coaching”? What does “provides” really mean? Must we comply? And what happens if we don’t?

And this is a real problem with the health care bill, and so many more like it – vaguely worded phrases ripe for bureaucratic expansion and endless reinterpretation. If history has taught us anything, it’s that unless governmental powers are strictly and explicitly limited, government will expand to take every inch it can. And even when those powers are specifically limited, it takes the vigilance of patriots to keep the government from seizing more power anyway.

The problem I think we, the concerned citizens of America, have with health care reform is not that we have not read the bill. The problem is that we’ve read this bill, and based on the actual wording, foresee many possible negative implications. And when we ask questions about these implications, no one has any answers; more often than not, we’re told we’re simply “fear-mongering.” We’re having a hard time differentiating between the boogeymen and what’s real because even the people who wrote this bill can’t tell. Some Democrats, in fact, snicker at anyone who suggests they should read the bill. Remember Rep. John Conyerssmug comments a couple of weeks ago:

“I love these members [of Congress], they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

I think what it boils down to it that we patriots are not content to let Barack Obama, John Conyers, or anyone else in power wave their hand and tell us, “These are not the boogeymen you’re looking for.”

It’s morning now, and Sam is napping, again, on my lap as I awkwardly type around his small-but-growing frame. There’s simply too much at stake to leave discerning boogeymen and reality to someone other than us.

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