Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What will we tell the children? The dead ones, I mean.

Molly Ivins points out that the American media no longer does its own work; it reacts instead to the squeakiest wheel. But Bush's budget is stabbing an "interest group" whose screams are only heard indoors, not in the public square: children.
What this budget means, quite literally, is that more kids will be hungry and malnourished. More kids who get sick will be unable to see a doctor, more kids with diseases will go undiagnosed until they get so sick they have to be carried to the emergency room. More kids who need glasses or hearing aids won't get them, causing them to fall behind in school. More kids will show up to start school without being in the least prepared, and they will remain behind for the rest of their days. Less money for childcare means more kids left alone or in unsafe places with irresponsible or incapable people while their parents work. More kids who are being severely abused will go unnoticed, and fewer of them will find safe foster homes.
Sure, lots of people don't like this budget: farmers, cops in small towns, disabled people trying to find a place to live, anyone who thinks young people should get accurate information about sex. Some of the folks who don't like it might actually be heard; veterans have fraternal organizations, and even food stamp recipients have social-work agencies. But there are no children's lobbies. They shouldn't need a lobby; we should all be their advocates. As one minister put it in a newspaper op-ed:
Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state, or nation. They tell us what is most important and valued to those making the budget. President Bush says that his 2006 budget "is a budget that sets priorities." [...] We must speak clearly now about a budget lacking moral vision. A budget that scapegoats the poor and fattens the rich, that asks for sacrifice from those who can least afford it, is a moral outrage.


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