Monday, March 29, 2010

Falkenberg's Child Care Dilemma

The decision to have a child is not one that should be undertaken lightly. The time and expense involved can be substantial. A parent will be faced with many difficult choices and may often have to forgo their own short-term desires in order to meet their parental responsibilities.

Sadly, many parents seem to give little thought to the responsibilities of raising a child before choosing to do so. As an example, consider Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg. Having recently returned from maternity leave, Falkenberg has embarked on a crusade for tougher state regulation of child care facilities. In a column last week, she bemoans the difficulty in choosing a child care provider:
[I]n Texas, the tools to help parents shop for quality, affordable child care are few. We just might have more sophisticated ways of choosing movies and restaurants. 
Falkenberg goes on to whine that other states have more accredited child care facilities and provide parents with more information regarding those facilities.The "tools" she wants at her disposal are more government involvement. Ignoring the best and most important tool already at her disposal--her own mind--she inadvertently reveals her own thought processes (or lack thereof)
For many Texans, the crucial decision of where a child will spend dozens of hours per week can be based on such arbitrary factors as word-of-mouth recommendations, Internet reviews or even how full the parking lot at the day care down the street seems to be at any given time. 
Interestingly, she finds word-of-mouth recommendations arbitrary, but mandates issued by the state are not. She finds the recommendations of her friends, relatives, and neighbors--people she knows--questionable, but the dictates of unknown bureaucrats are above reproach.

Apparently Falkenberg finds the process of interviewing child care providers, visiting their facilities, and talking to other parents overwhelming. Apparently she doesn't trust her own judgment, and rather than be faced with such choices, she wants the state to impose standards upon the industry. The judgment of child care providers and other parents is irrelevant.

Falkenberg's desire is nothing new. In 1989 I wrote:
But a growing number of parents refuse to accept the responsibility of choosing. They want the government to mandate standards, to provide licensing, and to pay for child care. They want the government to assume their responsibilities as parents. Sadly, this is the real crisis in child care.
When an individual regards his own mind as impotent, he projects his fear and confusion onto others, believing that all individuals share his mental turmoil. When an individual finds the responsibility of choosing overwhelming, he finds "serenity" in having choices eliminated--not only for himself, but for others as well. As Ayn Rand noted, the refusal to think is the source of all evil:
Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think—not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. 
When an individual refuses to think, his only recourse is to blindly follow the dictates of others. He will voluntarily place his head in a noose and demand that others do likewise.


Jenn Casey said...

Good post. It's more than a little horrifying that someone is willing to trust the state to decide her childcare requirements for her. There's no substitute for one's own judgment--yet people don't want (don't know how?) to use it, because using judgment requires that one take responsibility for one's decisions. If the state decides, then she thinks she's off the hook, morally, if anything goes wrong and she has an automatic scapegoat. Awful.

Brian Phillips said...

It is horrible enough that someone would default on their responsibilities, but to demand that others be prevented from making their own decisions makes my blood boil.