Editor’s Note: The item in this column was first published in the June 30, 2010 edition of the PROGRESS.
By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… Many Americans believe that dependency on the federal government is a panacea for the ills of America. Let me quote a man who mistakenly thought relying on the United States government would solve all his problems. Chief Washakie, c.1804-1900, of the Eastern Shoshone Indians of Wyoming stated the following about his experience with the U.S. Government. “The white man’s government promised that if we, the Shoshones, would be content with the little patch allowed us, it would keep us well supplied with everything necessary for comfortable living, and would see that no white man should cross our borders for our game or anything that is ours. But it has not kept its word! The white man kills our game, captures our furs, and sometimes feeds his herds upon our meadows. And your great and mighty government… It does not protect our rights. It leaves us without the promised seed, without tools for cultivating the land, without implements for harvesting our crops, without breeding animals …, without the food…, without the many comforts we cannot produce, without the schools we so much need for our children. I say again, the government does not keep its word.”
The citizens of Nevada should remember what this Native American learned the hard way. It is dangerous to turn your fate over to the government for it can, and will, arbitrarily change the rules because they own the game. While the intent of the
Founding Fathers was that central government would be an organization to enhance and protect the rights of the individual, it has grown into an entity unto itself and will function for its self preservation. Those of you who believe you can make a deal with the federal government for a fair use of Gold Butte should not be shocked when these agreements are arbitrarily abridged after what you considered an equitable settlement.
No one asked me but… A mother was lamenting the fact that her eleven year old son had no program to entertain him after school. She and her husband both work until 6:00 in the evening and her son was home at 3:30. That meant he had two and half hours of unsupervised time. She suggested that the schools should be responsible for her off-spring until she gets home, or her boss ought to be willing to adjust her work hours to accommodate that new family structure. She indicated that school attendance hours are arcane and should adjust to the modern world.
I would suggest those who agree with this lady read Lenore Skenazy’s book entitled Free-Range Kids. You may recall Lenore Skenazy; she is the lady who gave her nine year old son twenty dollars and a subway ticket and allowed him to make his way home from downtown New York. Being a newspaper columnist, she used the adventure for the subject of her column. We columnist should know better but often become desperate to make a deadline. The incident ended up getting her on national TV shows as well as a visit from Child Behavior Services. The number of protests by child rearing specialists, many who labeled her “the world’s worst mother”, triggered her book. Every parent should read this book.
In her book, Skenazy relates the story of a reporter who interviewed four generations of the same family. The eighty-eight year old grandfather walked six miles to his favorite fishing hole, by himself at the age of eight. His sixty-six year old son recalled playing in the woods a mile from his home when he was eight. His daughter at the same age was allowed to walk a half mile to school. His daughter’s son, now age eight is driven to school each day, not allowed to leave his block and neither can his friends. Most aren’t allowed out of their yards without supervision. An interesting note for those of you hung up on child safety: Over 50 percent of the children hit by cars on the way to school are hit by parents taking their kids to school.
It is interesting that one of the charges brought against the polygamist in Texas was they had boys of eleven working along side their fathers in construction work and this was considered child abuse by the State of Texas. That used to be called vocational training. At the age of eleven, Mark Twain was working on a riverboat and Ben Franklin on the printing press at his brother’s newspaper. Something has happened, apparently genetic, young boys can no longer carry papers and young girls can no longer baby sit.
We have become a nation of paranoid people when it comes to our kids. Read Free-Range Kids and see where these unfounded fears come from. Kids are much more capable than we give them credit for. A mother who cannot seem to believe her eleven year old can take care of himself for two and half hours until she arrives home needs to evaluate how she has dealt with the child for eleven years. She may be correct for the child has probably never had ten minutes of unsupervised time let alone two and half hours. Now I will admit I am closing in on eighty, but by the time I was eleven, most of my time outside of school was spent with other kids anywhere from seven to fifteen years old running without adults around. We played softball in the summer and never had a uniform, coach, or umpire. In the fall we switch to football and the nearest thing to an adult we saw was the twenty year old who stopped to play one day. We knocked him down the hill and broke his leg. I don’t recall any of us regulars ever getting more than a black eye or bloody nose, none of which stopped the game or was cause to consult an adult.
Today children have no unsupervised time and we wonder why they have trouble making decisions for themselves. It is little wonder that when a survey was taking by polling expert Tom Smith of the University of Chicago as to when people in America believe childhood ended in this country, the fourteen hundred people polled answered twenty-six. However, after attending a Nevada/UNLV tailgate party I believe that age thing could be extended well in the seventies.
Thought of the week…“I will take credit for the first nine months. After that you were exposed to your father.” – Mother.