Darrell Berkheimer: The children are our nation’s greatest assets | TheUnion.com

Darrell Berkheimer: The children are our nation’s greatest assets

Darrell Berkheimer
Columnist

Caring is the key.

We must care about our people – but especially our children – because caring is the key to our future, according to Riane Eisler, author of the book titled "The Real Wealth of Nations."

I recently completed reading her book, and I agree with Eisler.

In recent years, we have been told numerous times how we are losing our middle class. I guess many people either got tired of issuing that warning, or hearing it; because now the code phrase is "the rise of inequality" – an inequality that emphasizes our nation's mounting poverty.

Both warnings are correct, of course, and both are foundational in Eisler's concern and emphasis on why we must become a more caring and caregiving nation.

Her reasons are based on numerous issues, including:

Recommended Stories For You

A climbing infant mortality rate;

Policies cutting funds for prenatal, neonatal and pre-school health care;

Cuts affecting school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program;

Soaring health-care costs as drug companies report bigger profits;

Public schools forced to do more with less as teachers use personal funds to buy supplies;

Many teachers poorly paid;

Young adults strapped with enormous college debts – living with parents;

Parents sacrificing retirement funds to finance children's education;

Retirees filing bankruptcy over exorbitant healthcare costs; and

Today's young parents earning less than their parents.

Do we care about these issues? What are our priorities?

I certainly question our priorities when Eisler cites various comparison statistics such as these:

"According to World Military & Social Expenditures, the cost of a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile would feed 50 million children, build 160,000 schools, or open 340,000 health centers."

"According to a UNICEF report, the cost of one nuclear submarine would provide low-cost rural water and sanitation facilities for 48 million people, and the cost of 11 radar-evading bombers could provide four years of primary education for 135 million children."

I just turned 77 and I care about these issues and our misplaced priorities – even though I might not be around another 10 or 15 years. I care because I have grandchildren. And they and their children will be forced to cope with the demands and costs of our failures today.

These are all family-value issues that everyone should be caring about – because the future for all our children and grandchildren, and of our nation, is in jeopardy as a result of our failures.

Unfortunately, many of our modern-day capitalists have corrupted the ideology of Adam Smith as prescribed in his book "The Wealth of Nations." They concentrate on advocating for a free market that can produce huge amounts of wealth that then will trickle down to the less fortunate.

But any semblance of a free market is destroyed when our congress is pressured to adopt subsidies, tax credits, patent monopolies and loopholes that favor some products and services over others. And the trickle is entirely too miniscule.

Instead, Smith advocated an entirely different interpretation of how capitalism works best – some of which is better explained in his earlier book, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments."

Smith advocated that merchants need to share their profits and wealth with the workers. He explained that a capitalistic economy works best when workers have money to spend – beyond the necessities.

Eisler cites how modern-day capitalists tend to overlook the warnings issued by Smith in his Moral Sentiments book. No doubt Smith would be referring to our oligarchy of today when he berates the rising merchant class for its greed, and adds that they "neither are, or ought to be, the rulers of mankind."

Eisler notes Smith also wrote "no society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which by far the greater part are poor and miserable."

"Smith did not say that government has no role, nor did he advocate privatization of government services," Eisler writes. Instead, Eisler notes how Smith indicated it is the responsibility of governments to enact policies that ensure the safety and well-being of all its people.

She adds that most industrialized nations today – with the exception of our United States – "realized that caring for basic human needs cannot be left to the market."

And she is mystified "why U.S. corporations don't insist on a government health care program, since health care costs make U.S. companies less competitive in the global economy – while at the same time the current U.S. system is actually more costly and less effective than those of other industrialized nations."

Eisler goes beyond Smith's thinking to explain the real wealth of nations is its people. She explains the state benefits more when it does everything it can to develop its citizens to their fullest potential – beginning with children and prenatal care, and continuing through our entire education system.

Eisler cites several companies who have learned in recent years that bankrolling services for their people provides the best return on investing – especially through increased production and low turnover. And she emphasizes that is how we all can benefit from caring and caregiving – because it's the best return on investment.

Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of five books available through Amazon. Contact him at mtmrnut@yahoo.com.