The Mises Institute monthly, free with membership
Volume 16, Number 6
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Having failed to nationalize health care at the beginning of its first
term, the Clinton administration seeks to nationalize children in its second. With little
opposition from Republicans, the administration has proposed spending tens of billions of
dollars on subsidized day care, mostly through federal grants to state day-care
We have virtually no details on how this system of nationalized day care
will work, but some insight can be found in a proposed California law, the "California Children
that is strongly supported by the administration and will serve as a "model" for all other
The initiative effort is being led by Hollywood comedian Rob Reiner (who
played the role of "Meathead" on All in the Family),
who has become a high-profile "unofficial" spokesman for the administration on child-care
policy. His state-level
political vehicle for promoting the initiative, which will be on the November ballot, is
the nonprofit organization, "California Children and Families First."
The proposed law would create a gigantic state bureaucracy of day-care "experts" who would
work to "optimize early childhood
development from the prenatal stage to five years of age." It would be a nationwide
extension of the so-called "Beethoven Project," a ten-year federal program begun in 1988 that
provided "extensive counseling" and "intensive social services" by government bureaucrats to
4,400 young mothers for the first five years of their childrens' lives.
The program costs almost $16,000 per family, and was expected to
demonstrate that such programs should be universally adopted. But when the federal
government hired the consulting firm Abt Associates to evaluate the program, it concluded
that it "did not
produce any important positive effects on participating families." It was another gigantic waste
of taxpayers' money. Nevertheless, the government still wants to make the program
mandatory and universal, starting with California.
Higher taxes on cigarettes are proposed as a means of funding the
California program, but it is unlikely that this source of revenue could ever be adequate
for Mr. Reiner's ambitious plans: other excise taxes, most likely on beer, wine,
liquor, and "junk" food would soon be advocated,
and additional federal funds would be sought.
The idea is for the state--with appropriate "guidance" (and money) from the federal
government--to essentially monopolize all
day care by creating a program "for the purposes of promoting, supporting, and improving the
development of children" through the setting of "appropriate standards" for all day-care
providers. An "integrated, comprehensive and collaborative system" of services would
designed by the state and imposed on all private providers.
Many private day-care providers would intentionally be driven out of
existence, given the proposed law's stated objective of eliminating "duplicative administrative
competition. And politically unapproved day-care providers who have different ideas and
will not be subsidized will be put at a competitive disadvantage and perhaps be driven out
of business--just as
thousands of private schools were driven from the market by the government school monopoly
over the past century.
This regulatory control would be exercized by a "California Children and Families
which sounds a lot like Mr. Reiner's own organization, composed of political
appointees. A California Children and Families First Trust Fund, separate from the state
budget, would be created. The idea is apparently to (undemocratically) isolate the
program's funding from legislative influence.
If the revenues were left in the general fund and the legislature became
dissatisfied with the Commission's performance, it could decide to reduce its funding
and reallocate the monies for other purposes. Plus, all professional and staff employees
of the new state commission "shall be exempt from civil service." This would allow them to
in lobbying at taxpayers' expense, which is illegal under the state "Hatch Act" for regular
Other parts of the state commission's budget would be allocated to
tax-funded propagandizing in favor of the program's expansion through a "Mass Media
Account" (6 percent)
and the rest would go for training of child-care providers, nebulously defined "public education,"
research, and "administrative functions." In short, the California
Children and Families First Initiative is a bureaucratic nightmare waiting to happen. The
obvious objective is for the state to begin snatching children from their parents at birth
in order to isolate them from the cultural and educational influences of their own parents
so that they can be educated by "qualified child-care experts."
This already occurs on a massive scale in government schools throughout
America. But child-care socialists are unhappy that they cannot begin brainwashing the
nation's children until they reach the age of five or six. The program can only lead
to a further destruction of the American family by providing tax-funded incentives for
parents not to behave responsibly toward their own children.
Thomas DiLorenzo teaches economics at Loyola College.
For a copy of the "California Children and Families First Initiative of 1998," contact
Initiative Coordinator, Department of Justice, State of California, 1300 I St.,
Sacramento, CA 95814.