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Families First: Good public policy prioritizes children over adults

Everything gets better when we stop putting adults’ interests ahead of children’s

From the author: This is the initial entry of Families First, a new column that argues that public policies should only be enacted if their chief effect is to benefit the one group that is simultaneously the most important but the least powerful among us — our children. Disciplining ourselves to consciously think of their needs first when crafting public policy is a simple technique to cure a wide variety of modern woes affecting national debt, public health, homelessness, illegal immigration, crime, abortion, and more.

When the United States was in its infancy, the right to vote was limited to only propertied white males. A generation passed before a majority of states allowed all white male adults to vote, and another generation (followed by a civil war) before the franchise was extended to all men. Women’s suffrage would have to wait another fifty years until 1920, and in 1971 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.

Nevertheless, 70 million American citizens have no voice in the elections of state and federal legislators. They have no lobbyists, no special interest groups, no super PACS, nor legions of political operatives. Perhaps this is why they often are thought of last when it comes time to craft public policy.

They are the children of the United States, and they must rely on adults to be the voices for them. Unfortunately, they often aren’t even part of the discussion. But no other group has more at stake in the future direction of the country while possessing less power to do anything about it. Although Americans are greatly divided politically, the plight of children is a vast swath of common ground we all share. In no decent home are adults putting their interests before children, but outside the home many are doing just that by supporting policies that indirectly (and directly) hurt children.

The purpose of this new column is to highlight that contradiction where it exists and suggest policy that puts children’s interests ahead of adults’.

Although Americans are greatly divided politically, the plight of children is a vast swath of common ground we all share.

Adults are placing themselves ahead of children

Like a gambler blowing his children’s inheritance at the track, we’ve taken out a credit card in our children’s name and maxed it out to a $31 trillion, enjoying the windfall they’ll never see while we have every intention of sticking them with the bill. The interest on the debt is $642 billion, the nation’s 4th biggest budget item. The top two most expensive budget items our children will be on the hook for are Medicare and Social Security. In a role reversal, the young now support the old.

That’s not only immoral, but it’s a poor long term-strategy when having children is of little concern to many Americans. CDC figures show the birth rate now is half of what it was in the early 1960s, as women postpone motherhood to middle-age and in the interim satisfied maternal instincts by spoiling tiny white dogs. Children are so little valued by gatekeepers that a high-quality movie about the true story of rescuing children from sex trafficking rings couldn’t even get fully released in nationwide theaters this summer. U.S. Southern Command caved to pressure and abruptly canceled two planned screenings of Sound of Freedom, despite acknowledging that human smuggling falls within SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility. Of course, when they need to be reelected or dip into your pockets politicians promise more money for schools ostensibly to benefit the children, but it turns out that eighty-four cents of every dollar goes to adults on the staff.

Covid health policy was contrary to the interests of youth. Children were deemed a threat to spread Covid-19, even as it posed no danger to themselves.  Playgrounds were closed and schools were shuttered by frightened adults who prioritized their health over children. For the sake of their own perceived well-being, adults mandated that school-age children be injected with a rushed Covid-19 vaccine without testing its long-term side effects as condition that they be allowed to resume their lives.

no other group has more at stake in the future direction of the country while possessing less power to do anything about it.

Children are of so little political importance they are the only humans it is legal to kill. Even capital punishment cases, to the extent they still exist, require due process to execute the criminal, but the most innocent among us can be terminated just for being an inconvenience to their parents. According to a Guttmacher Institute survey, only 80 percent of babies avoid termination in the womb. Of those that were killed, the top reason the would-be mothers gave for doing so was “having a baby would dramatically change my life.” A 2022 Pew poll found that 19 percent of adults favor abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy, and last year California passed Proposition 1 with two-thirds of the vote, thereby amending the state constitution to allow abortion seemingly without restriction. Nationally, Americans executed 18 criminals in 2022 while performing nearly one million abortions.

Thousands of school-aged children died of drug overdoses in the past few years and the proliferation of fentanyl caused teen overdose rates to double, according to a study published by UCLA researchers. Between one-fifth and one-third of high schoolers use narcotics, meaning that in a class of twenty, four to six kids are using drugs with nearly all having the ability to acquire them. But although the Biden White House admits that the southern border is a major artery for drug trafficking, the president vowed not to build another foot of wall and 52 percent of American adults apparently agree with him. An open border also harms the children who are crossing into the country because they become prey of cartels and coyotes.

Self-medication with illegal drugs is one symptom of an underlying problem facing youth. Home life isn’t going so well. U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that 41 percent of children are from broken homes where either or both of the parents decided they would be happier with other partners, a shock to the system that is difficult for children to absorb. Six million children were treated with prescription psychiatric medication in 2021 according to the largest vendor of U.S. physician prescription data. Teen suicide rates doubled between 2008 and 2018, while a Gallup poll showed that 20 percent of Gen Z identifies as LGBT.

Some are eager to make children more tolerant of alternative adult lifestyle choices by exposing them to pride parades and drag queen story readings, without regard to whether they are tacitly encouraging impressionable kids to embark down a difficult life path with a 50 percent attempted suicide rate.

Our compassion and tolerance knows no bounds, except when it comes to children. We feel bad for the adult who prefers to be strung out on drugs on our sidewalks and in our neighborhood parks, but not for the children who have to be exposed to them or avoid those areas of their community altogether. We let prisoners out of jail early without regard for the safety of the cities our children must grow up in.

Having more compassion for children than adults

Balancing compassion between different groups should be easy: the child’s interest is more important than the adult’s. We can have compassion for adults who are homeless, alcoholics, addicts, insane, or convicts. However, we must not let our compassion for adults to be greater than our compassion for children and compromise their safety and well-being. Too many of us are feeling good about ourselves for being “compassionate” without realizing that we are effectively putting adults ahead of children. Those that do cannot occupy the moral high ground while exposing children to harm.

we must not let our compassion for adults to be greater than our compassion for children and compromise their safety and well-being

Putting the next generation first is something humans have naturally done for thousands of years until our own self-absorbed and materialistic times. Reframing public policy in terms of consciously benefitting children merely restores society to its natural order.  The results look very sensible.

Restoring the natural order

Public policy that puts children’s interests first will necessarily cause us to prepare for the future and be judicious in the present. A city that values children more than adults will not have a homeless problem. There won’t be needles and piles of human feces lying on the sidewalk. County health officials who truly value children more than adults do not force kids to wear masks during Covid outbreaks, or lock them down, or interrupt their education to reduce the already-low risk for adults. A state that places an emphasis on children puts criminals in prison and keeps them there. A nation that values children stops the drugs and sex trafficking across the border by sealing it tight and ceases borrowing and spending money and saddling future generations with that debt.

Each of those government failures occurred because we are not explicitly and consciously putting our kids first, even at home.

Each of those layers of governance failed children because we are not explicitly and consciously putting our kids first, even at home. The family is the most important form of government, and it’s too easy for parents to avoid some of the harder parts of parenting by giving kids screens and prescriptions, or just giving up on their families entirely. We can repair the country by repairing children, which starts with repairing families and restoring power to parents to be the protectors and leaders they have always been.

We can repair the country by repairing children, which starts with repairing families

Not one of us would turn our back on a child we knew to be in need and could help. This series will identify the need and advise how to regain the means to help them. Each installment of this Families First series will reexamine policies–at the national, state, local, and family level–by testing them to see if our children’s well-being is placed ahead of adults, or if we are putting adults ahead of children. After identifying the problems, solutions will be presented to strengthen families to put into action the idea that children should be placed first.

Eric Ingemunson is the author of hundreds of articles on Ventura County public policy, and his work has appeared in the Ventura County Star, CNN, and Fox News. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, and served as a board member for youth sports and Boy Scouts. He resides in Moorpark with his wife and four children and are active in the homeschooling community.


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