Petit, founder of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, argues that the American government is willfully squandering childrens’ health and well-being.
The author presents a forceful case–unabashedly pro-child, yet within the context and welfare of society in general–that over the past 25 years, anti-tax policies and government-led suspicions cast on the efficacy of federal institutions have undermined previous advances in the health and security of Americans, and children in particular. Self-styled â€œcompassionate conservatives,” Petit suggests, have launched a â€œstrictly ideological” attack against federal environmental standards, social-welfare programs, public-health agencies and support of medical research. Relying on countless statistics to prove his points, the author shows that the United States lags behind other wealthy, democratic nations (among them Canada, Japan, Germany, France and England–though why he omits the Scandinavian countries is a mystery) in such critical indicators as infant mortality, life expectancy, insurance coverage and child-maltreatment deaths. He also demonstrates how liberal blue states consistently outperform conservative red states on children’s issues (Texas’ abysmal record during George W. Bush’s governorship receives specific scrutiny): insurance, low birth weight, prenatal care, childhood death, etc. Funding and priorities are the culprits, Petit writes. The Bush administration’s proposed budget in 2006–which jeopardizes 200,000 childrens’ insurance coverage, cut Medicaid, eliminated $735 million for special education, eliminated funding for the Safe and Drug Free School Program and cut or eliminated block grants for community services, preventive care and maternal health–is a recipe for child-health impoverishment.
A persuasive indictment of what amounts to child neglect by the conservative priorities of the current American government.