Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Obamacare and parental rights: part one

By Bob Confer

There’s this ongoing belief perpetuated by Big Media that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is all about mandated health insurance. The analysis and/or debates of the inner workings of health care reform have failed to materialize in any substantial form, so most citizens are oblivious to the fact that the law features some pretty horrifying things unrelated to insurance.

Among the most heinous of them is something called the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Through this endeavor the states will be required to identify at-risk communities and provide to them services to improve child care and the art of parenting. Undoubtedly, the communities in question will be those with any combination of lower incomes, increased Medicaid participation and lower student achievement. For readers of this paper and its sister publications, that would put the crosshairs on Niagara Falls, Lockport and all of Orleans County.

The federal government would then provide the funding and supervision necessary for the affected municipalities to initiate and maintain an oversized ground force of social service workers empowered to initiate the various aspects of the Obamacare agenda. This new breed of child-protection agent will be allowed to visit the homes of at-risk families in those at-risk communities without the reports of child abuse or neglect that are necessary now. That grants the government another means to circumvent the Fourth Amendment (wasn’t the Patriot Act enough already?) and a frightening ability to give itself a presence in the home without legal warrant.

This begs the question, what constitutes an at-risk home? This is answered at length within the language of Section 2951 and elsewhere where parents of supposedly suspect abilities and character are identified. Are you among them? Let’s find out…

Low income families are first on the list. One thing that Uncle Sam fails to realize is that low earnings (and what exactly is the income threshold?) don’t necessarily equate to bad parenting. There are a lot of poor parents who give stronger love and a better home to families that have more. They may not be able to provide the material goods that richer families can, but they give their children a richer life because family and the shared experience is all they have. Those same parents are also driven to give their kids a better life than they had, so they guarantee that the children succeed at school and take a stab at college.

The next class of risky person is pregnant women under the age of 21. We’ve become a society where woman are becoming first-time mothers at a later age (many in their 30s) but, a majority of mothers are still in that 18 to 21 age bracket. That’s the way it’s been for decades, even centuries. Does that mean we were all raised poorly? No, I surely wasn’t. My mom had me at 18. She did a fine job of raising me and I am the man I am because of her. It’s frustrating that a woman is old enough to vote, join the military, and be considered an adult, but the government considers her too young to raise a child.

Obamacare also identifies tobacco users as parents that need to be put under the microscope. The Libertarian in me says smoking does not make a bad person or a threat to society; adults can do with their bodies what they’d like as long as they don’t harm others. A majority of today’s smokers - after years of castigation by society and knowledge of the dangers of their habit (though unable to kick the addiction) - willingly smoke outside of their homes and apartments so as not to expose their children to second hand smoke. Sounds like wise parenting to me.

One of the at-risk classifications that really gets my goat is this one: Individuals who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces. Think of the stark raving mad hypocrisy of that; the government considers these individuals to be among our very best citizens, exuding honor and defending our country to their potential death, yet, as parents, it finds them to be absolutely unworthy.

Looking at the above classes of individuals, almost any family could be visited by the government. Once they are, what’s to happen to the home environment? You’ll find out in next week’s column.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at


This column originally ran in the 31 October 2011 Greater Niagara Newspapers

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