Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Modest Proposal: Rescind Childhood

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Modest Proposal: Rescind Childhood

Article excerpt

Now that we have repealed welfare, I have a modest proposal. Let's go all the way and rescind childhood. Childhood has become far too burdensome for the American public to bear. It isn't good for the country. It isn't even good for children who are captured in an unwholesome and prolonged state of dependency.

The whole idea of childhood, it should be remembered, is nothing but an anachronistic leftover from the original liberals. Before the so-called Enlightenment, before Rousseau, before the left-wing conspiracy of 18th-century do-gooders, the young were dressed, worked and looked upon as short adults.

Children existed, but they didn't have their own 'hood - a place where they were supposed to be educated and nurtured until they reached maturity. Adolescence, for that matter, wasn't invented until the early 20th century. Nor was the concept of juvenile as in delinquency, nor the notion of teen-age as in pregnancy.

But now we are stuck with this useless thing called childhood, a drain on the private and public exchequers. Not to mention a merciless drag on private and public conscience.

Consider what happened when Congress passed and the president approved the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996" (also known as welfare reform). The only teensy-weensy reservations about cutting $56 billion from the poorest Americans, ending the federal guarantee of assistance to poor families and launching them into the unknown had to do with children.

A handful of people are still troubled by the fact that America has the highest child poverty rates of any industrialized country and that when this "reform" clicks in, a million more children are expected to become poor.

Why not eliminate all this messy, counterproductive guilt? Why not a pply the same principles of "personal responsibility" and "work opportunity" to our youngest citizens?

I am not alone in my plan, though perhaps I am the first to put it quite so baldly. But we are already erasing the line between childhood and adulthood whenever we want to.

At the Olympics, we had 14-year-old gymnasts on the "Women's Team. …

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