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It Doesn’t Take a Village This Big

Is there anything that Democrats won’t offer for free? Amid “free” college, “free” healthcare, “free” childcare” and the cancellation of student loan debt, a new proposal has popped up.

Kirsten Gillibrand, desperate for attention in a very crowded field, proposed a Family Bill of Rights. Her intention is to pay for this through a financial transaction tax. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this tax has a number of downsides. Primarily, it would cause a reduction in the number of financial transactions and reduce capital gains. If you have a 401K or other financial instruments for retirement, let’s look at what your loss in revenue will be buying.

I have to question the first item in her Family Bill of Rights, the right to a safe and healthy pregnancy. No woman has that right. I lived in an area where healthcare was abundant, had an excellent doctor and had good insurance. I had no complications until delivery, and then they were severe and life-threatening.

The Senator cites fixing the shortage of rural healthcare providers as a way of addressing this. I am not sure making it cheaper and easier to turn out Ob/Gyn’s is the best approach. Maybe reduce the burdens on doctors from an administrative and tort perspective and more doctors will open independent practices in these areas.

I like that the Senator noted making adoption more affordable in her second plan element. However, one item she insists on will actually reduce the number of adoptions. Much was made about the Trump administration restoring funding to religious organizations that facilitate adoption because some do not support gay couples. It was asserted this would reduce the number of adoptions which is insane.

It will actually facilitate more adoptions and maintain the number of agencies gay individuals or couples can access. Lawsuits and government mandates have actually left children without forever homes as faith-based agencies defended lawsuits from the ACLU and faced states refusing to work with them. This element is not about helping children or the LBGTQ community. It’s pandering in the wrong direction.

Sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words. Here is what the Senator posted to explain the basics of one element of her plan:

So, essentially, Senator Gillibrand wants to give all pregnant women a baby shower. I know these still exist. I have been to two in the last 3 months. This is where a bunch of women get together and go through a list of what mom wants or needs. then they buy or locate those items.

In addition, hand me downs are one of the best ways to recycle baby equipment and children’s toys and clothing ever invented. My babies slept in two hand-me-down cribs which I then handed down to others or donated to groups that help new mom’s. Same with clothes, toys, swings, jumpers and other items that had been lovingly provided for my kiddos or handed down to me in the first place.

When my best friend’s daughter delivered a preemie, calls went out. She had no premmie clothing. Low and behold, most preemies grow pretty quickly. And between social media, church groups, and extended community, the little man received more clothing and preemie equipment than his mom probably ever got to use.

The final two items on the proposal are paid family leave and universal childcare. Because she does not give any specifics, Elizabeth Warren’s universal child care proposal was priced at $700B over 10 years. Likewise, family leave has been projected to be $12.7B per year. Just doing basic math, Gillibrand has outstripped her financial transaction tax revenues, forecasted a $777B over a decade, with just two elements of her program.

Gillibrand and her Democratic counterparts like to cite the policies and programs of Nordic countries, like Finland as models for their proposals. These countries all have less that 10M people, are ethnically homogeneous and a long history of a social compact that includes large redistribution programs based on a free market economy. These programs have been strained by increased migration and several have considered or passed austerity measures to reign back the welfare state.

The United States is more than 30x more populous that Sweden, much more geographically spread out, and diverse. Our social contract has also been based largely on individual rights. It was also founded on the idea the level of government closest to the people makes the best decisions on how to solve problems.

So it should be no surprise that states, who deem it a priority, are already running “baby box” programs. It is primarily aimed at preventing SIDS deaths. Based on Finland’s program, which requires a mother to get prenatal care early in pregnancy to participate, these programs are aimed at teaching parents not to co-sleep and encourage breastfeeding which all reduce the occurrence of SIDS.

Also not surprising that three red states, Ohio, Texas and Alabama are some of the first to implement the program, along with New Jersey, which had a Republican governor and administration until 2016. So maybe we should leave policies that affect babies and families closer to home.

The village that it takes to raise a child is not 350 million people. It’s actually family and the few dozen or so that show up to your baby shower and put out the calls when you need something. It’s really time to get back to the idea of local communities in America and focus our broad efforts on those truly in need.

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