Where there is fire, someone is blowing smoke

By A. C. Kleinheider
web posted September 25, 2000

On September 6, 2000, in the Haynes Manor area of north Nashville, Tennessee, a 17-month-old boy died in his crib from smoke inhalation during a fire in a house in which he and nine other children had just been put down for a nap. The house was operating as an unregulated child-care provider, which under Tennessee state law, may care for no more than six children, two of who must be related to the caregiver. Apparently the house did not have smoke detectors, which are required by state law in a facility that provides child-care. The baby's death was an unfortunate, tragic, and quite possibly avoidable accident. The accident we as a society must avoid is the tragedy of allowing such incidents to infect the thinking of citizens and legislators emboldening them to enact and enforce regulations of child-care providers.

What is really irksome about stories like these is the language used. Words such as "caregiver" and phrases like "unregulated child-care provider" serve only to obfuscate what is actually being discussed. This was a neighborhood mommy watching neighborhood kids and maybe making a few bucks for her trouble. But as soon as a fire starts and a kid dies, through the miracle of legal jargon and journalistic palaver, "Little Jimmy's mom from down the street" metamorphizes into an "unregulated child care provider". Talk radio immediately chimes in on how the parents should be more responsible in their choice of "caregivers" and that maybe government should step in and supervise and regulate anyone who is watching anyone else's kids.

First of all, whenever possible, some parent, I don't care which one, but some parent should make it their full-time job and mission in life to raise their children until at least the age of five. Maybe they won't be able to pay for the brand new Benz, the Jacuzzi in the backyard, or the latest incarnation of the G. I. Joe with the Kung Fu grip, but they will be fulfilling their most important role as a human being: parent. Many couples with small children who say they are working out of necessity are being less than genuine. But thanks to tax slavery, an excessive consumer culture, and incessant government regulation of life many families do have to maintain two-incomes, one to pay Uncle Sam and one to put food on the table, to say nothing of the trials and tribulations facing single mothers.

While mommy is slaving in the work force to try and pay the State, someone must watch the babies. Mothers in this situation most likely do not have the means to enroll their child in the local Montessori school or even a fully accredited and respected day-care facility. They have to take a crap shoot. They have to risk their children's health and safety by placing them in the hands of either degeneracy or incompetence in some half-ass YMCA basement day-care center. If a mother in this precarious position decides instead to pay her neighbor, "Little Jimmy's mom", who doesn't work and seems like a good mommy, to take care of her kids; what's wrong with that?

The world is supposed to work that way, neighbors helping out neighbors, communities helping one another. Sometimes favors are exchanged, sometimes money. However, if more than few neighborhood working-moms ask "Little Jimmy's mom" for help all of a sudden Jimmy's mom needs State sanction to do a good turn. The care of children is not an area that government, federal, state, or local, need be intimately involved with. If the person you leave your child with doesn't have smoke alarms, and that was important to you, you wouldn't have left your kid there. If "Little Jimmy's mom" has to run around installing smoke detectors (or whatever other hoops the State chooses to make her jump through) in order to help out her neighbors and make a little extra cash, she's either going to have to start upping the price or the next time a neighbor asks her to watch their child Jimmy's mom will give them a big, "Hell no! I don't need the hassle."

Government should not assert itself whatsoever in the rearing and caring of children who have able-bodied mentally competent relatives who can make decisions about their care. Government intervention in childcare takes away our ability to form meaningful bonds with our neighbors, our families, and our community. We should not depend on the sanction of the State for the care of children. People should take care of their own kin. When they cannot they must be free to choose who watches their children and not be forced to deal with government red tape that makes life harder than it already is. As the Outlaw Josey Wales said, "Governments don't live together, people live together." Damn right.

A. C. Kleinheider writes from Nashville, Tennessee. His work has appeared in WorldNetDaily, LewRockwell.com, EtherZone and Themestream.com. His e-mail address is kleinheider@nashville.net.

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