Crime, nurse home visits, and wingnuttia

These days even a motherhood bill is controversial, if it’s attached to health care reform.

You might expect a program that strengthens families, saves money, and prevents crime to be pretty uncontroverial among conservatives, especially once the program has the support of Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, Republican former Governor of Pennsylvania (and Bush Administration Secretary of HHS) Tom Ridge, and James Q. Wilson, author of Thinking About Crime and Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine.

But you’d be wrong.

In a piece just up on Newsweek site, I describe how the Heritage Foundation, Glenn Beck, Chuck Norris, and the House Republican Conference decided to oppose grants for nurse home visits because the propsal is included in the House version of health care reform.

Did you know that a public health nurse trained to coach young mothers is just a “babysitter” – or perhaps she’s carring a “stealth agenda” to “impose a federally directed, top-down approach to parenting” on behalf of the “fat police”? ├é┬áNeither did I.

You learn something new every day.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Crime, nurse home visits, and wingnuttia”

  1. Mark:

    I believe when the protests over this began, the argument was that such visits would really be judgments of the parents' 'suitability' to raise kids. They seemed to see these visits as equivalents to adoption or welfare agencies' home inspections. Nonsense, of course, but given the affection right-wing Christians have for 'bible-based baby beating' and other forms of physical and (less often) sexual child abuse, it is possible to understand their fear. (Remember that James Dobson himself has no religious or theological qualifications. He is a child psychologist who first came to notice — and still gets a large proportion of his revenue from his book, DARE TO DISCIPLINE. This book, and only this, gave him his credibility among the far right Christian set.

    And, while this is impressionistic, and I have no idea how you could get even vaguely accurate statistics, I would venture that the rate of physical child abuse among ultra-Christians is several times higher — and child sexual abuse might be double what it would be in any other group — corrected for wealth and educational status. And that includes conservative (but not ultras) Christians and extreme Conservatives of any other religious group.

    When I read some stories of children who broke away from this type of environment, I could almost wish these fears were true.

  2. Thanks for raising my blood pressure again. As a parent of a kid born prematurely in winter, I find the people who oppose these visits particularly evil. Without such visits (luckily funded by insurance for us) said kid had a significant chance of dying in horrible pain from a simple respiratory infection. The prophylactic for the infection can only be delivered by injection, and it can't be delivered in a doctor's office because, hey, sick people exhaling there.

    The visits also provided general support for infant care and an additional connection to the outside world, from which parents of a newborn tend to be cut off. It's pretty clear to me: opposing these grants means being in favor of dying infants. Now perhaps liberal indoctrination in things like putting your baby on its back to sleep is so evil that it would be better for a child to die than be exposed to it, but I don't think that's a position that would be tenable in public.

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