By Mencken’s Ghost
I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY LONGER!
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
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
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 fatherhood.gov,
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.”
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
Supporting Breastfeeding is one of many “fatherhood” programs listed at
fatherhood.gov 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 fatherhood.gov. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.