Robert B. Reich
America's children seem to be shortchanged on almost every issue we face as a society.
Not only are we failing to protect our children from deranged people wielding semi-automatic guns, we're not protecting them from poverty. The rate of child poverty keeps rising - even faster than the rate of adult poverty. We now have the highest rate of child poverty in the developed world.
And we're not protecting their health. Rates of child diabetes and asthma continue to climb. America has the third-worst rate of infant mortality among 30 industrialized nations and the second-highest rate of teenage pregnancy, after
If we go over the "fiscal cliff" without a budget deal, several programs focused on the well-being of children will be axed -- education, child nutrition, school lunches, children's health,
At the same time, states and localities have been slashing preschool and after-school programs, child care, family services, recreation and mental-health services.
Conservatives want to blame parents for not doing their job. But this ignores politics.
The NRA, for example, is one of the most powerful lobbies in America -- so powerful, in fact, that our leaders rarely have the courage even to utter the words "gun control."
A few come forth after a massacre such as occurred in
At the same time, big corporations and the wealthy know how to get and keep tax cuts that are starving federal and state budgets of revenues needed to finance what our children need. Corporations systematically play off one state or city against another for tax concessions and subsidies to stay or move elsewhere, further shrinking revenues available for education, recreation, mental health and family services.
Meanwhile, advertisers and marketers of junk foods and violent video games have the political heft to ward off regulations designed to protect children from their depredations. The result is an epidemic of childhood diabetes, as well as video mayhem that may harm young minds.
Most parents can't protect their children from all of this. They have all they can do to pay the bills. The median wage keeps falling (adjusted for inflation), benefits are evaporating, job security has disappeared, and even work hours are less predictable.
It seems as if every major interest has political clout -- except children. They can't vote. They don't make major campaign donations. They can't hire fleets of lobbyists.
Yet they're America's future.
Their parents and grandparents care, of course, as do many other private citizens. But we're no match for the entrenched interests that dominate American politics.
Whether it's fighting for reasonable gun regulation, child health and safety overall, or good schools and family services, we can't have a fair fight as long as special-interest money continues to poison our politics.
- The Other Cliffs
- A Holiday Letter from America
- Take Care of the Children
- Newtown: The American Paradox
- The NRA vs Common Sense
- NRA 'Solutions' are Straight Out of a Stallone Movie
- Put Prospective Gun Owners Under the Microscope
- Too Many People Who Should Not Have Guns Do
- Newtown Shines Spotlight on Mental Health
- After Newtown: Will We Finally Act?
- Sandy Hook: Explaining Evil
- Fine Words, Delayed Action
- On Newtown, Mourn First, then Act
- School Shooting a Watershed Moment
- News and Social Media Amok
- In Colorado, Empty Gun Dorm Sends a Message
- Who Moved My Twinkie?
- The 'Land of Opportunity' is Becoming Hollywood Fiction
- Our Endless State of War
- Name that Foreign Policy Legacy
- A Date with History: The Cuban Missile Crisis
- False Tweets, Future Jailbirds?
- Hurricane Sandy's Wakeup Call
- Principled Pragmatism Beats Bush-style Bluster
- Empire and Its Consequences
- Netanyahu Foolish to Take Sides in American Election
- Hurricane Sandy and the Living Planet
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: New Jersey's Even-Odd System
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Mamaroneck Damage
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Brooklyn Looters Beware
- New York Cancels Marathon for First Time Due to Sandy
- Canceled NYC Marathon Disappoints Runners
- Hurricane Sandy Retrospective
(c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.