"Savings" For the Children; Losses for the Nation
August 13, 2004, 05:00 AM
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Last week, at a small gathering of friends, I asked if anyone had noticed that my attitude is more curmudgeonly than normal during these sweltering August days.

Their response was quick and unanimous: "No, this week is no different than any other. You have been impossibly irritable for the last twenty years."

Hmmm…interesting…20 years…the exact amount of time I have spent crusading for immigration reform.

What set me off this week was an item forwarded to me by a sharp-eyed VDARE.COM reader in New Jersey.

He tipped me off that Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) have introduced bipartisan legislation called ASPIRE (America Saving for Personal Investment, Retirement, and Education) that would open a KIDS savings account for every newborn child in the U.S. The federal government would make an initial $500 deposit into an account that cannot be accessed until the child turns 18.

ASPIRE is "for the kids" as the saying so nauseatingly goes. According to the co-sponsors, the bill would teach kids about the value of saving money, encourage investment, and blah, blah, blah.

Maybe that`s true. But if you ask me, Corzine must have left his marbles at Goldman Sachs. What he and Santorum propose is yet another incentive to unqualified parents to have more children. Take it from somebody who works in the California K-12 public school system, what we need is far fewer children.

Here`s how I sum up the Corzine/Santorum legislation: babies born out of wedlock, crack babies, illegal alien babies, "macho" babies conceived by ethnic street gangsters and their girl friends,  can all line up for their first draw from a long list of taxpayer freebees.

For families in any of the above classifications, the $500 would be more frosting on what is already a triple chocolate layer cake. We pay the prenatal care and maternity costs. And we shell out for W.I.C., the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. T.A.N.F., temporary assistance for needy families, and for food stamps.

Probably, we`re already subsidizing their housing.  And maybe some of the new Moms have figured out a way to hit the jackpot with an approved Supplemental Security Income claim for their child. Naturally, we`ll pay for their K-12 education.

Permit me to enlighten you about the baby crisis in California.

The state is a baby factory. More than 9.5 million children under the age of 18 reside in California. To help you put that number in focus, I`ll point out that only six states have a higher total population than 9.5 million.

To become productive citizens, each of those children must be nurtured. But today`s California cannot meet that challenge given the decaying social structure that has overwhelmed the state.

California is broke—tapped out. The taxpayers can`t afford to foot every single maternity bill that is presented to us. And when illegal aliens tender those bills, we feel emotional pain on top of the financial hurt.

Two types of families fuel California population growth:

  • Babies born to illegal immigrant families (mainly Hispanic)

Children from both groups struggle.

In May 2004, the advocacy group Children Now published its report titled, "Children of Immigrants Three Times as Likely to be Poor," which stated:

"California children in immigrant families are much less likely to have access to health care or child care and much more likely to live in poverty than children in U.S.-born families."

And the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy revealed, in its May report, that Hispanic teens have the highest birth rates among all teenagers. This is a pattern that repeats itself annually.

Other findings:

  • 51% of Hispanic girls become pregnant at least once before reaching 20

  • Hispanic teen pregnancy rates declined only 15% from 1990 to 2000 while the overall teen pregnancy rated dropped 29%

  • Over the next two decades, the Hispanics teen population will increase by 60% versus an increase in the overall teen population of 6%.

The statistics are sobering.

A $500 savings account sends exactly the wrong message. Parenting is serious business that shouldn`t be associated with meaningless financial rewards.

During my career at the Lodi Adult School, I have seen countless sad cases where the child`s well being was the least of the mother`s concerns. A few years ago, school districts throughout California began to offer parenting classes. The "students" were adults—mostly Hispanic— in their mid-30s finally learning what they should have known twenty years ago. 

Every social problem in the United States would be more manageable if we had fewer people. If Corzine and Santorum—and their 98 colleagues in the Senate—want to help struggling young people, they should act to cut down population growth with a meaningful debate about immigration policy. Dangling $500 carrots doesn`t mean anything in the long run.

I guess I have grown more cantankerous over the last two decades. What I know is that my position on public funding for population growth has evolved to this admittedly hard place:

"If you want children, pay for them yourself."

I call it a curmudgeon`s definition of "tough love."

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.