Menckens Ghost

More About: Welfare: Social

An Outburst about Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding

By Mencken’s Ghost


Sorry for the outburst, but just when I was thinking that the federal government couldn’t get any sillier, any more kleptomaniac, or any more wasteful, I discovered the Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding initiative.

I’ll explain what the initiative is momentarily, but bear with me as I retrace my steps to show how I discovered the federal program.

The journey began with my daily ritual of listening to the radio in the wee hours of the morning, a time when the airwaves or full of nauseating pubic service announcements (ads) from the government or from the Advertising Council in conjunction with the government.  All of the ads are inane, but the gold medal in inanity goes to an ad about visiting the forest. 

A talking tree in the ad encourages Americans to visit the forest to see the wonders of nature and get clean air and exercise.  The irritating, elf-like voice of the tree is done by a woman who must have put a clothespin on her nostrils and tied her ovaries in knots to produce such grating sounds.  There is no telling how many apparatchiks and how many committee meetings it took to produce the ad, but no one apparently had the judgment, courage or IQ to ask, “Do we really think that a single parent in the ghetto or barrio is going to hear the ad, drop what she is doing, grab the kids, and head for the forest?”

Of course that would be a career-ending question and would result in the asker having to get a real job that produces something of real value--a job that apparatchiks are woefully unqualified to do.

The silver medal in inanity goes to another ad in which a daughter is asking her mother if she knows the whereabouts of some item of hers.  The mother fibs and sends the daughter to room after room looking for the item.  The sound of running and panting can be heard in the background.  Finally, the mother comes clean and tells the daughter where the item can be found.  The moral of the vignette, as the narrator explains, is that there are many ways to see that kids get exercise.  The narrator doesn’t say that the best way--the way that doesn’t result in inane government ads--is for mothers not to become fat themselves and to be role models of healthy eating and exercise.

One recent morning, after years of hearing this claptrap, I decided to visit the Advertising Council’s website, where, in all their glory, are examples of their public service announcements.  The site also has the Council’s syrupy propaganda about itself, along with links to the websites of its government partners. 

Warning:  Take Pepto-Bismol, Beano and Maalox before visiting any of the sites.

One of the links was for, which is the site of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, a federal organization that describes itself thusly:  “The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse is an Office of Family Assistance (OFA) funded national resource for fathers, practitioners, programs/Federal grantees, states, and the public at-large who are serving or interested in supporting strong fathers and families.”

Got that?

Keep in mind that the federal government’s welfare programs are a primary cause of fathers skedaddling from the responsibilities of fatherhood, like buck deer pausing to mate does in heat and then prancing off to leave them to fend for themselves.  In 1965, the sociologist and Democratic bigwig under Lyndon Johnson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, warned what was going to happen if welfare became an incentive for such irresponsible behavior.  He was referring to blacks, not thinking that it would eventually affect whites the same way.

Equally harmful to fatherhood is the federal War on Drugs, which has incarcerated hundreds of thousands of fathers.  It’s difficult to play catch with your son from behind bars.

Anyway, Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding is one of many “fatherhood” programs listed at and offered by various government agencies. This particular program comes from the Department of Agriculture and is targeted to “African American fathers so they can positively impact a mother’s decision to breastfeed,” assuming the fathers haven’t skedaddled or been imprisoned. 

Ironically, the nation’s chief welfare agency, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, also brags about its great programs at  Even more ironic, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Department of Justice tout their great work, too. 

Which brings me to one of my heroes, W. Edwards Deming, the statistician and quality expert who was pooh-poohed by the American car industry but enthusiastically embraced by the Japanese car industry.  Of his many management tenets, Deming said that quality problems should be fixed at their source, not down the line or after a consumer drives a new car home.  To accomplish this, employees should be trained and empowered to make decisions responsibly, and should be rewarded, managed, and organized accordingly.  Not fixing root problems at their source leads to inefficiencies, unnecessary costs, layers and layers of expediters and bureaucrats, and initiatives like Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding. 

Okay, Deming didn’t mention the last item, but he probably would if he were still alive.  The initiative, like so much that the federal government does, is the result of not fixing a problem at the source--namely women marrying the state instead of the father of their children, due to the perverse incentives of welfare.  Because the problem wasn’t fixed at the source, it has gotten worse as it has moved down the line.  Trillions of dollars have been wasted, scores of agencies have been created, and tens of thousands of bureaucrats are doing unnecessary work instead of real work.

Instead of encouraging fathers to support breastfeeding, let’s fix the root problem and wean mothers and fathers off of welfare.



Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at 



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