Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "Target: Taiwan," May 5, 2001

A GENERATION OF BRATS? "The advocates of 'it takes a village to raise a child' are having a rough month," remarks Phyllis Schlafly about a landmark study showing negative effects of day care on children. Its conclusion: Kids who spend more than 30 hours a week packed off away from mom are more likely to become aggressive by the time they hit kindergarten. Principal researcher Jay Belsky announced the findings-from the largest study of child care and development ever-that such children "scored higher on items like 'gets in lots of fights,' 'cruelty,' 'explosive behavior,' as well as 'talking too much,' 'argues a lot,' and 'demands a lot of attention.'" The federally financed study followed more than 1,364 children in a variety of settings over 10 years in 10 cities. Mrs. Schlafly noted that the report came as the day-care industry was "preparing to launch a national advertising campaign for federally funded, federally regulated day care as a new middle-class entitlement." Such conclusions drain the force of arguments that government bureaucrats and self-appointed experts should control child rearing. They also hint that perhaps moms really should put their kids ahead of their careers, something that "strikes at the heart of feminist ideology." A MILLION POINTS OF LIGHT: Timothy McVeigh will pay for his crimes and Boston Herald columnist Don Feder says the high-profile execution adds focus to the capital punishment debate. The Oklahoma City bomber killed 168 people and showed little remorse, referring to 18 dead children as "collateral damage." The columnist notes that over 250 loved ones and survivors want to watch Mr. McVeigh die in person next month. "They need to know that the man with blood on his hands will draw breath no more," he said. Mr. Feder disputed arguments against executing the bomber, saying that his guilt is known with certainty and that execution is the only fitting way to express societal horror at his crimes. He made light of the anti-death-penalty argument that the punishment creates a martyr with dripping sarcasm-"like there are millions of militia types out there who'll be lighting candles before McVeigh shrines." ILLEGITIMACY CHIC: Fatherlessness is rampant and Americans treat the crisis with complacency and indifference. So argues Washington Times columnist Suzanne Fields, who cites recent numbers about illegitimacy from the National Center for Health Statistics. In 1999, 1.3 million babies were born to single mothers. That's 33 percent of all births-and UPI reported that this was a dramatic jump from 18 percent in 1980, 10 percent in 1969, and only 5 percent in 1958. "We're supposed to regard it as just the accepted American way of families," complains Ms. Fields, "just another lifestyle choice." The problems range from not having Dad help with homework and baseball to increased poverty and prison sentences. The columnist argues that having babies out of wedlock should be made embarrassing again, so that potential single moms get the hint: "Anyone squeamish about making a moral issue of it can call it dumb behavior. A society that can transform the image of a smoker from chic fashion to social felony can make illegitimacy unacceptable." THE DEBT'S NOT DUE YET: Doesn't the national debt cancel any need for tax cuts? Heritage Foundation head honcho Edwin J. Feulner picked apart the argument, pointing out that saving taxpayers is a higher priority. He argued that proposed debt elimination by 2011 isn't necessary since the burden is carried by outstanding T-bills that have terms lasting up to 30 years, not 10. Besides, if the debt is so horrible, Congress should start whacking back tons of unnecessary pork-barrel spending and programs. Mr. Feulner also said that the national burden isn't nearly as heavy as in the past. He said the current $3.4 trillion debt is less than a third of our gross domestic product, compared to 80 percent in 1950 and "a little less than half" in 1960. "America did OK economically back then with those huge debts," he concludes. "It makes little sense now to cry havoc against a smaller debt and refuse to give taxpayers a refund from the surplus they created."

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