Several highly-placed DCF sources have told me that they are
aware that DCF often frightens citizens unnecessarily, and does
not do a very good job in child welfare. However, DCF maintains,
at least privately, that it has no choice. It will point to
various federal child welfare acts, starting with social
security in the 30’s, which put a premium on removing kids and
placing them in foster care, or putting them up for adoption.
And, of course, this almost always mean “poor kids.” The well-off can hire better lawyers and usually work around it.
The history of federal laws which encourage child removal is a perfect example of why the Founding Fathers intended a limited central government. It is a perfect example of why disregarding the Constitution has led to problems.
I gladly acknowledge the research in the fine article “A Brief Legislative History of the Child Welfare System”, by Murray and Gesiriech, in preparing parts of this section. However, any errors in this section are my own.
THE OLD DAYS
In ancient Rome, parents had life-and-death power over their children. Children were property, and it was no one else’s business what parents did with them.
Things gradually improved. One result of books like Oliver Twist was to create public awareness of the plight of children. And yet measures to reduce child labor and other forms of child abuse were once regarded as wildly radical.
In the 18th Century, the practice developed of hiring out orphans and other children in poverty to work for families. Some of these families were kind; others were abusive. The famous poem “Little Orphant Annie”, by James Whitcomb Riley, romanticizes the life of indentured orphans. Even today, it has inspired a comic strip and a notable Broadway musical.
By the 19th Century, this practice largely gave way to orphanages, run by charitable and religious organizations. While out of favor today, it must be remembered that orphanages were intended as a kindly benefit for innocent children. However, progressive persons realized that orphanages, at best, were not pleasant places to grow up. The idea of foster care began to develop in the mid-19th Century.
Of course, there were few if any controls on foster care or other child welfare matters.
THE SPCA TO THE RESCUE
There were social workers in America in the early 20th Century, although they were not quite what they are today. In New York City, a social worker discovered an unbalanced woman in the slums who was abusing her daughter horribly, even by the standards of the day. She was beating the kid regularly and stabbing her with scissors. The social worker was appalled, but could do nothing, as the woman had broken no laws. The child was her property.
The social worker was creative. Earlier activists had passed laws against animal cruelty, resulting in the development of the SPCA. The worker used animal cruelty laws to rescue the child, and to push for laws against cruelty to children.
The federal government also got involved, but its role was very small at the time.
States began to recognize that kids in criminal trouble should be treated more kindly than were adult criminals. The first Juvenile Court began in Illinois in 1899. Connecticut began juvenile court in 1921. These were juvenile delinquency courts, intended to help and reform kids. Juvenile jails were thus known as “reform schools.” Court proceedings were private, and the kids were not publicly identified.
THE NEW DEAL
The most famous legislation of the New Deal is, of course, the Social Security Act. The Act was intended to protect the small number of Americans who lived too long to work, in the days of no pensions and little savings. Of course, social security expanded to include disability insurance, and later Medicare and Medicaid. It is hard to believe that Americans once lived without social security laws.
A little-known provision of social security, in 1935, offered federal grants to states for child welfare services. As might be imagined, these grants caused the states to increase their own child welfare programs. Still, child welfare was considered a State-based matter.
In 1937, a group of judges dedicated to improving the juvenile delinquency courts, and the plight of children in trouble or from broken families, formed the NCJFCJ – National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
THE KENNEDY YEARS
Federal child welfare expanded in the 1960’s. Assistance was provided to needy families with dependent children. However, there was a problem. Many needy children were born out of wedlock, and their homes were deemed unsuitable by the mores of the day. In one famous incident, the State of Louisiana expelled 23,000 children from the welfare roles, simply because they had been born illegitimate. People quickly realized that illegitimacy was not the child’s fault, but what could be done if the kids were in unsuitable homes? Orphanages were out of style.
The answer was to push the little-used concept of foster care. The government developed two ideas which are accepted today: try to provide appropriate services to parents, to make their homes suitable; and move the kids to suitable placements in the interim.
However, as with all federal programs, no one knew where to stop. The feds conditioned grants to states with the requirement that states aggressively report to the courts all kids who were candidates for removal. As might be expected, the states went where the money was, and more and more children were removed from their homes.
With the increasing strength of public employee unions, social workers saw it as their duty to remove kids whenever possible. Reunification was a remote possibility. And the parents, who were overwhelmingly poor, had little or no legal assistance.
THE GREAT SOCIETY
In 1967, Congress made foster care mandatory for all states. In 1969, Connecticut created the Department of Children and Youth Services (DCYS), from an amalgam of existing agencies. In 1993, the name was changed to Department of Children and Families, or DCF. Even today, many people still refer to it as “DCYS”.
DCF’s mission included identifying abused and neglected children. But these kids were not juvenile delinquents, and the parents were not necessarily in adult criminal court or in family court. Since we already had Juvenile Courts for delinquents, it seemed natural to expand these courts to cover DCF abuse and neglect cases. And thus the idea was born that DCF abuse and neglect cases are conducted in secret, in the Juvenile Courts.
In 1968, the NCJFCJ moved its headquarters to the University of Nevada, in Reno. Of course, NCJFCJ quickly expanded to include child abuse/neglect cases as well as delinquency cases.
Social workers were reasonably quick to see that NCJFCJ, with its prestigious-sounding title of an organization of judges, would be a perfect lobbying organization for the social work industry. Nominally a judge-based organization, NCJFCJ benefits from a great deal of work from the social worker industry, including journal articles, books, seminars, conferences, and the like.
As of December, 2010, there were 8 NCJFCJ members in Connecticut. This firm is the only one of the 8 that exclusively represents private-paying adults in DCF matters.
In 1974, Congress expanded its role in providing federal funding to combat child abuse and neglect. In exchange, states were required to establish child abuse reporting systems, and to implement mandatory reporting laws. While that is in general a good thing, it became obvious that the existence of the social worker industry depended on federal money; which meant that establishing good statistics was more important than success in individual cases. A major bureaucracy was well underway.
As always, the federal government ebbs and flows. Congress got wind of the fact that too many kids were being removed, and that not enough services were being given to natural parents. Therefore, Congress passed legislation in 1980 that was intended to rectify the problem and provide a balance between child protection and family stability. The practical result was the development of what are called “treatment plans.” Again, those are good things, but at least in Connecticut they are largely duplicative of existing state juvenile court efforts. However, being a federal requirement, it must be followed; which is another place that money disappears into.
The rectification lasted about a decade, until Congress decided that not enough kids were being removed. Additional funding was provided for foster care, and state courts were encouraged to test new approaches. As we shall see, that had unintended consequences.
Along the way were various miscellaneous acts. People were concerned that too many Native American (Indian) children were being removed, so special laws were passed to make it harder to remove Indian children from their parents. (This may seem hard to believe in equal-opportunity America, but it is true. It was partially a fallout from Wounded Knee, which also resulted in Indian casino gambling). Then some people were upset that white children might be placed with black families, while others were upset that black children might be placed with white families, and still others were upset that children might not be interracially placed. And Congress, as usual, caught in the political storm, did its best; trying to please everybody, and usually pleasing those with the best lobbies.
In 1980, in order to reward the teachers’ unions for support, President Carter got cabinet status for the Department of Education. This had the effect, of course, of adding layers of education lawyers, and turning education administrators into paper-pushers. It had the unintended effect, along with mandated reporter laws, of making the schools into DCF partners for the purpose of getting child abuse/neglect referrals.
For every good school referral, my experience suggests that there are at least a dozen unnecessary ones. The effect is to keep DCF busy.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PARENTS’ RIGHTS
As a result of the Great Society, the social work industry was flexing its muscle and removing more children. But what about the rights of parents? Isn’t there something in the Constitution about family integrity?
Actually, there is not. The Founders simply assumed that it existed. Thus, parents were caught flat-footed when they discovered that their children could be removed without probable cause, and that they were almost powerless to stop it. The reasons were: child removal had never before been a part of government activity; the social work industry, aided by public employee unions, moved quickly; and the courts and legislatures were caught unaware. The Constitution, in effect, had made no provision for DCF; because no one in 1787 was aware of such a thing.
In one case, some children were removed from their mother, admittedly with good cause. The father of the children, who was not living with the mother, then sought custody. The authorities denied this, on the sole ground that the couple had not been married, and that an unwed father was clearly unfit to be a parent.
This outrageous decision occurred, not in Russia or China, or in some American backwater in the 18th century, but in Illinois in the early 1970’s. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided (Stanley v. Illinois, 1972) that family integrity was a basic constitutional right, and could not be defeated by the mere assertion that a parent was unwed.
It is hard to believe that such a case could have arisen in
the United States just about 40 years ago.
We had come a long way: from Roman times, when parents had
life-and-death power over their children; to the Great Society, when
bureaucrats had life-and-death power over family integrity. But fortunately, Stanley came along to remind bureaucrats that there still was a
Even then, however, the public was not generally aware of DCF activities. In fact, when I attended law school (1984-1988), Stanley was not part of the Constitutional Law curriculum.
Then came the next great U.S. Supreme Court case for family integrity, Santosky v. Kramer (1982).
When the State was attempting to terminate parents’ rights, it had been held to a standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” This is the normal standard for a civil lawsuit, such as an automobile accident or a rent dispute: is it more likely than not that the plaintiff is correct? It is far below the criminal standard, which is “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In Santosky, the Court decided that parental rights could not be terminated on so flimsy a reed; the State would have to prove its case by an intermediate standard, called “clear and convincing evidence.” And that is the law today, except in New Hampshire and in Indian Child Welfare cases, which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We considered trying to increase the standard in Connecticut, but it had no legislative support.
You still do not get a jury trial; only a few states allow that in certain instances. But at least State power was being somewhat curtailed.
The State’s rationale for all this was twofold: we are protecting children; and these are civil matters, not criminal matters. Therefore, due process cannot prevail.
Of course, this is nonsense. Children are still protected, as they can easily be removed from the home by a Judge’s emergency order. (In Connecticut, DCF removes the child under a 96-hour-hold, and during those four days seeks an “Order of Temporary Custody” from a Judge. Other states have similar procedures).
As for criminal matters, suffice it to say that most people would rather spend 60 days in jail than have their kids permanently removed. The distinction between civil and criminal law turns out to be a difficult one, and we do not have time to discuss it here. Lawyers are referred to: Paul H. Robinson, The Criminal-Civil Distinction and the Utility of Desert, 76 B.U. L. Rev. 201 (1996). The article is somewhat obscure, to say the least, but leaves one with the impression that juvenile matters are not crimes simply because the legislature chose to not define them as such. Of course, the real reason is that defining it by criminal standards would severely burden the work of DCF and the Assistant Attorneys General who represent them.
Parents originally were not even entitled to lawyers in child removal proceedings if they could not afford one, since these were not criminal proceedings. Fortunately, that changed, in Connecticut; although some other states still do not provide timely legal help to parents in trouble. And even so, the court-appointed lawyers were woefully underpaid, as opposed to DCF and its lawyers who were receiving increasingly generous State pay, benefits, and job security.
More breakthroughs were to come in the 21st Century.
THE DAWN OF A NEW CENTURY
The ebb and flow started to stabilize as the 21st Century approached. Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, known as ASFA.
As one court put it, “ASFA sets strict time limits for states to make certain children achieve permanency to prevent them from lingering in foster care.” This is a laudable goal, but what it actually means is that finally, what everybody had suspected has become established law: foster placements and adoptions are officially encouraged.
The NCJFCJ, in its own training manuals for judges, stated that the indirect impact of ASFA on the courts would be more TPR cases, more adoptions, more guardianships, and more hearings on those cases. The NCJFCJ manual also talks about the need for judicial oversight of the child protection system. Nowhere, not in a single place, does it mention the need to curb DCF excesses. When I attempted to become part of the NCJFCJ Advisory Group on Abuse/Neglect matters, I was given a very polite “Thank you; we’ll call you” response.
Needless to say, I was never called.
Foster and pre-adoptive parents were given more rights to be heard. OTC’s were encouraged. TPR procedures were made virtually mandatory if a child were in foster care for 15 months (but with no enforceable requirement that social workers tell this to the parents). Adoption across state lines was facilitated. Health insurance coverage was facilitated.
Another thing that parents and lawyers were not told is that ASFA provides additional Federal grants to States, based upon the State’s adoption rate. Naturally, the formula is complicated and subject to change.
In the 1997 ASFA, if the number of adoptions in a fiscal year exceeded the “base number” (an average of the number of foster children adopted in previous years), then the State got $4,000.00 per adoption. For some inexplicable reason, special-needs-child adoptions got only $2,000.00 per adoption over the base number.
The formula was made more generous in a 2003 revision. The $4,000.00 regular figure remained, but special-needs-child adoptions over the base number increased to $6,000.00 per adoption. For older children (age 9 and above), who traditionally are harder to place, the figure was a whopping $8,000.00 per child over the base number (Eight thousand; it is not a typo).
In an amendment signed into law on October 7, 2008, states may receive an additional $1,000.00 per adoption, if the state’s adoption rate exceeds its highest recorded foster child adoption rate since 2002. The $4,000.00 and $8,000.00 over-base-number figures remained unchanged.
It is true that in fiscal year 2007, Connecticut DCF received none of this additional money, as it did not exceed its own base numbers. But obviously, the incentive is present to exceed the base number. As any DCF defense lawyer will attest, DCF is thinking foster placement and adoption whenever possible.
One good thing about facts is that you are free to interpret them in any way that you like. The obvious social worker response is that the money helps to get kids adopted. Nowhere is there any consideration, or any audit, of DCF overreaching, or of whether the adoption was justified in the first place.
Another federal act is CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Training Act). When you look at ASFA and CAPTA and the regulations, you find:
• Interminable data gathering, to keep bureaucrats busy forever;
• Grants to social workers and prosecutors, to facilitate more child removals;
• Nothing for defense lawyers to represent adults.
THE NEW NEW DEAL
The NCJFCJ has lost no time in lecturing President Obama. In a press release dated November 20, 2008, it noted, among other things:
A commitment by our new President to make [additional funding and new programs] a reality has likely never been more important. Even in the face of substantial social and economic challenges, it is essential to continue and expand support for juvenile and family court improvement efforts. Doing so will help ensure more positive outcomes for all system-involved children, youth, and families….Please take a few minutes to contact President-Elect Obama and members of your own Congressional delegation to let them know it is critical to make these recommendations a priority in the coming four years.
The term “system-involved children” is a code phrase for social worker interventions.
And what exactly are the “positive outcomes” that NCJFCJ wants to push? Do they encompass meaningful child welfare?
Hardly. NCJFCJ lists five programs, which I quote verbatim:
1. Support reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act;
2. Continue and expand support for prevention programs through the child protective division of the officer of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention;
3. Continue and expand support for judicial and interdisciplinary training, technical assistance, and research;
4. Continue and develop new funding for improving case processing practice in both dependency and delinquency cases through NCJFCJ’s model courts initiatives; and
5. Develop a national program for reforming juvenile delinquency practice at the state level.
1. Items 1, 2, and 5 refer to juvenile delinquency.
2. Item 3 says “give us more money for studies and research projects.” No goals are even hinted at. The “research” likely includes more NCJFCJ training manuals, which help judges to help DCF.
3. Item 4 refers to “dependency cases”, which is code for child abuse/neglect cases. “Case processing practice” means “helping DCF to move these cases through court.” Again, not even a hint, not a mention of meaningful child welfare measures. In all fairness, while the vast majority of social workers would agree with the need for child welfare, implementation of measures other than child removal would do nothing to help the DCF budget.
No one is quite certain what President Obama will do, what Congress will allow, or what the economy will tolerate. However, we already know that President Obama has selected moderate establishment public figures in the areas of foreign policy, homeland security, and financial reorganization. As several columnists have hinted, he has little experience and no interest in these areas, and wants them stabilized by establishment figures so that he can concentrate on his real interest: economic policy. Or, as some as termed it, the implementation of the new New Deal.
Translated, this means more government spending, in terms of projects and employment; and hope that someone else, or Divine Providence, will fix the deficit. One rather obvious spending need is child welfare. But the social worker industry has already started to co-opt that to mean child removal and social worker benefits; just as the education industry co-opted the idea of solid education into multiple choice tests for the benefit of professional administrators.
Yes, it is all debatable. What is not debatable is that DCF, and its counterparts in other states, will grow.
We can only hope and pray that a Federal Department of Child Protection Services does not rise to Cabinet status, as a payoff to the social worker industry. I have no predictions. It would not surprise me if it happens, regardless of whether I live to see it.
Philosophically, DCF may be seen as a residual institution, in the sense that Jacques Brazun, former Dean of Faculties of Columbia University, dubbed schooling.
Dean Barzun said that the schools were “residual institutions”, in the sense that society expected schools to do whatever it could not do itself. Thus, schools today teach driver education, consumer education, self-esteem, and workplace training. These are all good things for society, but society for one reason or another cannot accomplish them privately; therefore, the schools are nominated.
Similarly, DCF is expected to do all things for children that society cannot do itself. This includes running kiddie prisons, running kiddie hospitals, chastising less-than-perfect parents, and the like. The latest one that I read is for DCF to report instances of animal abuse in families. Again, these are all good things for society, but for one reason or another society cannot get them accomplished; therefore, DCF is nominated.
As may be expected, DCF’s role of child protection will suffer, as its focus is expanded to include nearly everything. Its possible role in child welfare virtually ceases to exist. See: Meaningful Child Welfare Article. And a Federal Department of Child Protection Services will only institutionalize this situation.
THE ROLE OF CHILD PROTECTION LAWYERS
Connecticut had a Chief Child Protection Attorney (CCPA), who oversaw the State-paid lawyers. Those lawyers represent both children and parents in Juvenile Court cases.
The overwhelming emphasis of State-paid lawyer training regards children, not adults. It appears that the State will not reverse the trend of federal action to benefit the social worker industry.
In August of 2008, all Connecticut Juvenile Court state-paid lawyers were sent by the CCPA to a conference in Savannah, GA. A sympathetic friend, at the risk of his livelihood, gave me the instructional CD from that conference.
The instruction was a prodigy of social worker psycho talk. Some examples:
"Children’s stories, like those of women ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups, have been hidden in plain sight between the lines of histories written by and about the powerful.
"Viewing children in developmental and ecological context [includes the fact that] Piaget’s observations of children yielded stage theory of child development that captures the child as an evolving organism.
"Exosystems (workplace, healthcare, labor markets, fiscal policies, courts, political systems) surround and affect micro systems.
"Macrosystem is the surrounding “culture of ideas and power (values, politics, prejudice, etc)” in which we find ourselves.
"Human rights are “ozone layer” of Macrosystem.
"Childhood is a contested and contingent notion [to be seen through] anthropological lens [and] historical lens."
Yes, I have the printed materials. And no, they were not taken “out of context.” I will observe that after reading the above, I feel that there is no longer any need for parody in our society. Real life is its own parody.
The Savannah instruction goes on to explain that America’s “cultural macrosystem” is bad for children. One reason is that “individual responsibility is the dominant value”. [I am not making this up]. For more traditional statists, we are also told that the “cultural macrosystem” is bad because it “erodes [the] culture of solidarity [due to] classism, sexism, racism, sectarianism.”
Another part of “The Future of [Children’s] Rights” explains that we need a “Children’s Summit gathering”, and quotes from a 2002 UN summit. Guess where that is going.
Obviously, any overgrown flower child has the right to believe what he or she wants to believe. However, why are Connecticut taxpayers subsidizing plane fares, hotel rooms, meals, and incidental expenses, so that state-paid lawyers can get this “education”?
There is even a printed handout on how to get children talking, to get the goods on their parents. Suggested questions:
1. How does your house get clean? Tell me about everyone’s chores.
2. What do you usually have for breakfast?
3. How do you get to school?
4. Tell me about what you do when you get home from school
5. What happened the last time you were sick?
I wonder if President Obama is aware of this particular agenda.
There was a small part at the Savannah conference actually devoted to representing parents. It consisted of a hopelessly inadequate blurb published by the American Bar Association (ABA). The material was first-grade stuff, and would have embarrassed even my secretary. I wrote to the ABA person, twice, and offered my assistance in upgrading the material. No response was received. Her name is Mimi Laver, and her boss oversees a "children's rights" project and counts the NCJFCJ as one of his allies. The conflict of interest is too obvious for comment.
The Chief Child Protection Attorney wrote to me on August 5, 2009, politely explaining that the Savannah conference was no problem, since the costs were paid by federal funding. And how do you think the feds got those funds? Again, taxpayer money wasted on the social work industry; to say nothing of lawyers’ time.
Juvenile court-appointed lawyers are now subject to the State Public Defender Services Commission. As of August, 2011, hourly fees have been lowered, and expense reimbursement made even more difficult. One friend complained to me of "slave labor for attorneys struggling with case overloads."
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF PARENTS’ RIGHTS
Despite pressure by DCF and its lobbyists, NCCFCJ, and the social work industry, parents continued to make gains in court.
I would be very surprised if any of these gains are discussed in law school classes on Children’s Rights or on Constitutional Law.
Judges started to give less deference to DCF. Social workers often had to defend their status reports and social studies in court and be cross-examined on them. This was new for an industry that had previously thought that any hearsay ordered by its management would be accepted as Holy Writ.
Judges who had once been reluctant to interfere in DCF’s visitation decisions suddenly began to hold hearings, and would often order increased visits for parents whose children had been removed.
Pressure from our office caused court-appointed
psychologists to no longer be hired, paid by, reviewed by, and subject to
removal by, DCF; but instead, this responsibility was transferred to the
Judicial Department. Judicial responded admirably,
by changing the standard psychological evaluation court form, to ensure that
parents would have a fair shake.
Judges started questioning more OTC motions and were less likely to automatically remove children; sometimes ordering a hearing first, sometimes denying the motion altogether.
While most termination of parental rights (TPR) petitions continued to be granted, judges began to have second thoughts. One courageous judge actually stated with approval that “termination of parental rights has been called the civil equivalent of the death penalty.” It is actually worse, since death penalties take decades to implement, and can be overturned on habeas petitions or Executive clemency; neither of which is the case today for TPR. However, in 2010, the New York State Assembly considered a bill that might restore terminated parental rights under some conditions. That remains a new frontier.
It is reasonable to suppose that the enormous volume of complaints that Judges and the State Legislature had received from ordinary citizens, concerning DCF, had something to do with the new attitude. There are, in fact, several judges and legislators who have seen enough, and are openly suspicious of any DCF filing; while others realize that most such filings have to be scrutinized closely. There is no longer any doubt that DCF, while it does some good, is primarily in business to provide State employment.
And no one at all believes that DCF is actually a child welfare agency. However, no state as yet has such an agency, which is a pity. Fortunately, however, children are getting better representation in court than they used to.
And then, in 2006, came Christina M. [In re Christina M., 280 Conn. 474, 908 A. 2d 1073 (2006)]
In Christina M., a TPR trial was held. The parents asserted that the children’s lawyer had not adequately represented the interests of the children, and had failed to assert effectively that the children in fact wanted to return to the parents. [Lest you think that the children could simply have testified, that is generally not allowed in TPR trials, ostensibly to protect the children].
DCF objected, stating that the parents had no right (“standing”, as lawyers call it) to even raise that issue. The children were separate parties from the parents, and the parents had no say in how the children’s lawyers handled the children’s case.
The Connecticut Supreme Court disagreed, stating that the children had a federally-protected right to effective assistance of counsel, and that their parents had a right to assert that right for them. The Court made it abundantly clear that Connecticut recognized that parents had a federally-protected right in family integrity, which could not be taken away lightly. Part of the decision reads as follows, with internal case citations omitted:
it is beyond dispute that, "the interest of parents in the care, custody,
and control of their children . . . is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental
liberty interests recognized by [the
Christina M. settled, once and hopefully for all, the idea that even though DCF petitions are civil actions, parents have protections akin to those provided in criminal actions. We have come a long way since Stanley.
Obtaining rights is something that most Americans take for granted. It is actually a never-ending process, sometimes won in court, sometimes in the legislature, and sometimes granted by the agency itself. But rights are never lightly granted, and bureaucrats are jealous of their prerogatives.
Life goes on. This article will never be finished. There is a parent in Oregon who objected to that state’s version of DCF visiting her child in school, secretly, with a uniformed policeman standing right there, and grilling the child without a warrant or probable cause. The matter was scheduled for argument in the U.S. Supreme Court. Our office is keeping an eye on this, and on other developments.
The inclusion of DCF in the civil rights umbrella may turn out to be the future of DCF defense in the coming decades.
The end result of the New Deal was this: Government was formally established as the employer of last resort. Never before in American history did anyone even hint that it was Government’s major role to directly employ people. Now it was.
The end result of the Great Society was this: Budget deficits are now an integral part of American fiscal policy. Never before in American history was this accepted, except briefly in wartime. Democrats and Republicans disagreed on specifics, but all agreed that budgets should be balanced. No more.
It may be too early to predict the end result of the New New Deal. However, it is fairly clear that the Regulatory State, to use the words of George Will, has been fully accepted. The New New Deal results in the Corporate State, and presages the End of Individualism as the American way of life.
Waitresses making $12.00 an hour are subsidizing Union auto workers making several times that amount, and millionaire corporate executives making dozens of times that amount; not the other way around. The Corporate State is already here.
Along with the acceptance of Government as the employer of last resort, the acceptance of budget deficits as a way of life, the acceptance of entitlements as a political reality, and the established clout of public employees (including social workers), the end result of the New New Deal for DCF defense law is clear enough: challenging government bureaucracy is a full-time job.
Budget deficits as a way of life can only work if foreigners are willing to buy up our debt. This can happen if the U.S. remains a strong, stable, highly-centralized Corporate State. Individualism will be viewed as a polite fiction.
This is why TV shows such as “House” will remain popular. They allow people an outlet that they cannot achieve in real life. Our entertainment producers are fully in tune with the public mood of despair.
We have not even considered the role of psychologists, and the ever-expanding list of mental problems in DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). One result is to provide full employment for psychologists, psychiatrists, and associated clinicians and therapists. Another result is to ensure that, for any DCF involvement, a mental problem justifying the involvement may always be found. “Excessive individualistic disorder” is the next step in DSM, and it is coming, in one form or another.
The Joys of Socialism
A few years ago, a bunch of lawyers were gathered in a Juvenile Court hallway during a court break. One of the lawyers was Mack, a very experienced and likable AAG representing DCF.
Mack started telling war stories to pass the time. At one point he said that he had represented DCF in cases all over the State. “What area”, he asked, “do you think had the highest incidence of child abuse?”
Everyone wanted to name one of the big cities, such as Hartford, New Haven, or Bridgeport. However, we were afraid to do so, lest we appeared racist. So we did what lawyers do in those situations – furrowed our brows, frowned, and looked deep in thought.
After about 15 seconds, Mack broke the silence. “I know what you’re thinking. Hartford, New Haven, or Bridgeport. But you’re wrong. The highest incidence of child abuse that I found was in New Britain. That’s because it’s filled with ethnic Eastern Europeans, people who were used to living under Communist rule, or who grew up with adults who did. In Communist countries, people have no outlet. They are pushed around, made to feel unimportant, and can’t do anything about it. So when they come home, they take their feelings out on their families. It’s sort of a way of life.”
Everyone seemed relieved to hear this. And that is a side effect of socialism, one that you don’t often hear in the national debates. People need outlets; and if they are denied them in work life, they will find them elsewhere. The Russian passion for alcoholism is but one aspect of this phenomenon.
Socialism does have some benefits, in that it quickly raises the standard of living of the very lowest members of society. That happened in Russia after the 1917 revolution, and it happened in Cuba after Castro took over. But it does so at a high cost: demoralizing the rest of society, and destroying the will to succeed on your own.
And socialism depends, for its own survival, on the undermining of the family. It encourages children to look to the State for solutions. That is the message of books such as “1984”. It is interesting that Orwell, once a staple of popular culture, has been virtually read out of the curriculum.
It comes to this: individualism works, if we can only fight the human tendencies of greed, laziness, and cowardice.
Please see Landmarks table.