Punchinello's Chronicles

The Mommy-Daddy State

It seems like every recent presidential election year, we get someone wanting the government to treat us like children. People look more and more to the government as a solution to everything, including personal lives, raising children, morality, and everything else. It’s as if Americans want a mommy and/or daddy for a government, or at least a President.

Okay, let’s accept that and take a closer look.

Of all the people and organizations in the world, who really and truly has your best interests at heart? Is it your employer? Is it your school, your neighborhood civic groups or your local mayor? Who’s willing to teach you hard lessons, reward you for being great at something, root for you when you’re in a contest, and welcome you when you’ve come home?

Only your family really cares what happens to you. Sure, there are plenty of dysfunctional families nowadays, which is part of the overall problem, but in general our parents and extended family are the only ones really paying attention to us.

Does that mean they give kids everything the kids want? What about learning how to be human, how to be social, how to function? When do parents step back and let the toddler fall, knowing that without that fall the child won’t learn to walk? Is that what we mean by having the child’s best interests at heart? Should parents never allow anything bad to happen to a child under any possible conditions? Of course not!

Back in the earlier part of the 20th century, highlighted often in TV shows of the 1950s, the parents were a benevolent authority. Not only did we have a preponderance of two-parent families, parents were moral authorities, judges, disciplinarians, personal bankers, and wise advisers. Yes, our parents were also susceptible to the biases and prejudices of their times, but they still ran the family quite solidly.

Not only did parents set rules, so too did the neighborhood. If you were told to be in by sunset, most other kids were told the same thing. If you weren’t in and one of the neighbors saw you out and about, they likely called your parents. If your school teacher had a problem with you, they called your parents and by gosh, your parents dealt with you and the problem!

When you asked for a car at 12, your parents simply denied the request with no recourse. You weren’t legally allowed to drive. When you asked for a car at 16, they judged whether or not you were mature enough to drive. If you were, they told you to go get a job, save your money, and buy your own car. Wealthy families might buy their kids a car, but not all the time in every situation.

Is all that still true? Are parents moral authorities? Do parents hold court and decide if their kids should be grounded or given some other punishment?

Nowadays, parents not only are contradicted and restrained by “society,” they’re often taken to court. Then there are large numbers of parents who want someone else to raise the kids. We have after-school programs, and an implicit demand that the school system take over all child-rearing chores. More families are single parent structures, with no time to really spend on character development.

In fact, an increasing number of parents can’t define character, morality, ethics, theology, or social conventions. Many people can’t explain values, and have no articulate concept of what a mature, well-rounded adult should be. Hard questions bring a shrug, and “I dunno,” and a general sense of anxiety that nobody has any answers.

Parents today are only a banker. Anything at all a child wants or needs, the parents find it easier to just buy it, pay for it, or have the child go buy it themselves. Nobody saves up to buy something, and lots of kids learn early that instant gratification and credit cards are the solution to everything.

And so we now have a government exactly like the mommy and daddy we grew up with. Need money? Sure, no problem. Need a bail-out, loan, or anything else? Sure, no problem. Where’s it all coming from? Who knows, “daddy” somehow has lots of money, even an unending stream of money.

What happened to saving up an allowance? Where do kids learn about the value, meaning, and structure of money? Nowhere. They grow up to be adults, take executive management jobs, and manipulate numbers that mean nothing and have no connection to anything real.

To fix the core problem of a collapsing American lifestyle, not to mention all the problems of debt-financing, reduced productivity, lowering education, and lack of articulate values, we’re going to need a different type of “mom” and “dad.” We’re going to have to get back to the more realistic, tough-love of a time when children didn’t know a damn thing! They were taught by parents, grandparents, and the surrounding adults.

This inner rot that’s finally starting to blight the surface of society and start to show everywhere isn’t about a real estate collapse. It’s about instant gratification, “me first,” and a bedrock-deep belief that parents are only there to serve as money machines. “Gimme, gimme, gimme” is the rallying cry of so many children today. Doesn’t that look familiar when we see exactly the same mentality in adults and industry?

Before we can truly fix anything, we’re going to have to change the fundamental way we perceive government. Instead of a controller, government should be a facilitator. When a child needs help, the parents don’t take over and do that task, they help the child figure out how to do it themselves. Government should be the same way.

Industry should try to fix problems across the board, instead of being prevented from combined organization. Options, solutions, plans, and analysis should be done in the private sector, then taken to the government for ways to make it happen. Too often problems are handed to the government with an expectation that the problem is now “solved.” The government will take care of it, and private industry is free to go on with their own business. Whatever else is happening in the field or country isn’t their problem anymore.

That’s exactly the attitude so many kids today have about their family, their schools, the future, their lives, and everything else. Nobody will worry about it at all, because someone else will take care of everything. Who?


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