Why should we care? Because the children in the house in Whittier are old enough to understand the public (and their grandmother’s!) revulsion at their mother’s having given birth to eight more children. They will go forth into the world, likely hearing from their peers (and sometimes adults) that their mother is a scheming cheat, a nutjob obsessed with Angelina Jolie and celebrityhood. Implicit will be that they do not belong in this society and do not deserve to live. Imagine the taunting her older children will receive from their classmates who have seen magazine covers like the above.
From what we’ve now seen, Ms. Suleman deserves *pity* as much as she deserves a stern lecture and a hard lesson. I find it cruel and odd that her mother, having a daughter who clearly suffers from mental or emotional illness, would grant such disparaging interviews. In a similar situation, I’d be doing everything I could to get help for my daughter … not throwing her under the bus! It doesn’t take much to imagine how twisted a child could turn out, growing up with a parent’s betrayal and spite.
What should we care about? Not the SSI payments and food stamps! I’ll argue that our job as a society is to help children become reasonably contented, responsible, healthy and productive adults. Individuals who give back and support their communities. Otherwise known as “taxpayers.” In 2001, the average operating cost per prison inmate was around $21,500, not including lost tax revenues from the prisoner not being a productive member of society, or the cost of providing services for his or her family members. Much better for a society to spend a little on child welfare, than lose a lot on controlling criminals.
We should care about the funds Suleman receives only to the extent that they feed — not her children — but her obsessions (presuming she has some, as seems clear). That was my previous point — failing to spend any assistance on her *children* is the problem — not the receipt of assistance, per se. There have been calls to boycott any corporation giving support to Suleman. How is this helpful to anyone at this juncture of the problem? She should be given as much support as is necessary for maintaining her children — *including* help finding employment and psychological counseling — which she appears to need.
Finally … we should all *tune out.* Watching the reality show … buying the tabloid magazines and glossy books … would just feed a needy obsession with attention. Cruelty is inherent in ‘Children as Entertainment.’ Let the social workers and the experts sort out this misery.
Cost of prisoners (pdf)