Thursday, February 15, 2007

For Our Kids

A society is ultimately judged by how it treats it weakest members.

A recent UNICEF report shows the the Unites States and the United Kingdom are at the bottom of the list for child welfare among rich countries. This is disgraceful. While we can spend billions of dollars on a pre-emptive war, while ignoring the hunt for Osama bin Laden, funding for children’s programs are being cut left and right.

What to do? If we end the war and restore funding to children’s health, safety, and educational programs, will everything turn out alright? No. The countries at the top of the list spend less money on such programs, and even poorer countries have higher scores than the US and Britain. Money is a component, but if we are to rise to the top of the list, maybe we should also take a look at what other countries are doing right.
One of the key things is that the role of government is important, but the entire society must have at its heart the idea of improving child well-being.

The Netherlands spends a smaller percentage of their GDP on health care than the US, but as a culture they focus on quality of life ahead of profit.

Sweden has the strongest welfare system in the world. Although their taxes are high, the citizens support such a system because the benefits to the overall quality of life are worth it.

We can take lessons from smaller countries, if we ever decide to value quality of life for all over profits for the individual. That almost sounds communist, doesn’t it? The problem with communism in the real world is the emphasis on the system at the expense of the people involved. It seems like an intelligent society could find a way to help the vulnerable without abridging individual rights. Maybe countries like the Netherlands and Sweden have ways worth examining. What do you think?


Blogger Carl said...

What I found interesting is the distinct difference in the reaction between the US and UK.

In the UK, having gotten advance word of this study, the UK rolled out a series of studies that indicated specific programs that they could implement to improve the lot of children in the nation.

The US?

Do crickets really chirp that loud?

4:19 PM  
Blogger sarala said...

Come on now. The war against terror is making the world safer for all children. At least that must be what Bush would chirp. The quote I vaguely remember is about how wonderful it would be if the military has to hold bake sales and public schools are well funded. Sigh.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Gamely said...

My mother always used to say "women and children aren't valued", with the emphasis on valued. She wasn't aiming for the understatement of the century, she was just trying to get to the essence of the problem - and I think she succeeded. My guess is that the undervaluing is pretty much universal in this patriarchal world of ours, but it's good to hear that there are at least some countries/societies focussing on quality of life for the little ones.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Kelley Bell said...

Confidential to Becky Boop:

Hang in there, the secret will pop soon!

(Thanks for caring.)

4:23 PM  

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