The media have made much of police removing some 460 children from an isolated Texas ranch. The authorities received a telephone call which purported to come from a 16 year old girl in the compound who said she had been forced to marry a 50 year old against her will. On April 8, Fox News reported:
Children's Protective Services (CPS) spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said each child will get an advocate and an attorney. But she said they would have a tough time adjusting to modern life if they are permanently separated from their families. [emphasis added]
Questions are being asked. On April 25, Yahoo News posted an API report:
The state of Texas made a damning accusation when it rounded up 462 children at a polygamous sect's ranch: The adults are forcing teenage girls into marriage and sex, creating a culture so poisonous that none should be allowed to keep their children.
But the broad sweep - from nursing infants to teenagers - is raising constitutional questions, even in a state where authorities have wide latitude for taking a family's children.
"Of course, we condemn child abuse and we don't stand up for the perpetration of that," said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. But "what the state has done has offended a pretty wide swath of the American people with what appears to be an overreaching action to sweep up all these children."
The Yahoo article says, "rounded up 462 children at a polygamous sect's ranch." That's libel, pure and simple.
These people have interacted with government officials before. They know that polygamy, that is, being married to more than one person at a time, is against the law, so they don't do that. Each man in the group marries one and only one woman.
They believe that a man gains great spiritual blessings if he has a lot of children. Limiting himself to only one woman would mean that a man could have a child only once every two or three years. The only way a man can have more children than one woman can produce is to persuade multiple women to have his children - for which technical marriage is not necessarily required.
Scragged has pointed out that men gain reproductive success if they can keep more than one woman pregnant. These men are careful to formally marry only one woman because polygamy is against the law, but it's not against the law for a man to have sex with a woman to whom he isn't marred. When these men get other women pregnant, the women sign up as single mothers and get welfare benefits.
Historically, the main issue with polygamy was a man having enough money to support multiple wives. Texas taxpayers are stupid enough to pick up the cost of supporting all the other "wives;" the men get extra reproductive advantage and the accompanying spiritual benefits and more opportunities to have sex at taxpayer expense.
Given the tax-free cash benefits from not marrying the other women, it should be no surprise that the police were unable to find any polygamy at all. The only real issue they've been able to raise is whether some of the men might have had sex with women who were younger than the "age of consent."
DNA testing to find out which men had had sex with underage mothers could be done at the ranch. Why have the social workers kept the children? At first, CPS workers said they were checking to see whether the children had been abused. The Yahoo article provides an extremely important bit of information:
CPS officials have conceded there is no evidence the youngest children were abused, and about 130 of the children are under 5. Teenage boys were not physically or sexually abused either, according to evidence presented in a custody hearing earlier last week, but more than two dozen teenage boys are also in state custody, now staying at a boys' ranch that might typically house troubled or abandoned teens.
Another legal issue may emerge if investigators discover the call from the 16-year-old girl was a hoax.
Authorities are investigating whether the calls came from a woman in Colorado who has a history of making fake calls, but CPS officials and legal experts say the outcome of that investigation will likely have little bearing on the custody case, given that authorities went to the ranch believing the calls were legitimate and then found possible evidence of abuse [emphasis added]
Let's ignore the fact that the compound happens to be in the way of a new highway that's being planned. Let's be charitable and forget the fact that when the highway people approached the group leaders, they didn't want to sell because they'd set up a self-sustaining community with factories, farms, houses, and all the infrastructure of a community that was not a burden on the local police, fire, or school district.
Let's assume that the cops didn't know that if they could show that if enough crimes had been committed on the compound, they could seize the property under civil forfeiture without paying a dime for it. Let's assume that the police really had reasonable grounds to suspect child abuse based on what happened during their first visit to the compound.
Now that the Child Protective Services have conceded that they have no evidence of abuse, the children should be returned to their parents. Why are they still in state custody? Why is the government continuing to abuse the children by keeping them away from their parents?
The answer starts with the CPS statement of April 5 - "Each child will get an advocate and an attorney." Whenever CPS snatches a child, the court appoints an attorney for the child as well as a licensed worker to serve as the child's advocate.
These people are chosen by the judge. Suppose the attorney or the advocate finds out that there was no reason to remove the child at all and that judge made a mistake in ordering the removal. Is either of the people whom the judge appointed going to embarrass the judge? Not if they want more referrals in future cases.
On January 31st, 1974, President Nixon signed Public Law 93-247, The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which had been sponsored by Senator Walter Mondale. Although social engineering was not particularly popular at the time, child abuse was regarded as abhorrent. As Senator Mondale put it while running for the Presidency, "Not even Richard Nixon is in favor of child abuse."
Child abuse was such a potent concept that Janet Reno's popularity soared when she claimed child abuse prevention as the purpose for the Waco, Texas raid that incinerated 87 children and adults. Here are some of the provisions of CAPTA:
Another defect of CAPTA is that Title IV-E Federal funds require removal of children to a foster or group home. States receive federal funds only if they remove children from their homes.
Removing more than 460 children in one shot results in a massive windfall of federal funds to the child protection agency. The children ought to be returned home given that the state has not been able to find any evidence of abuse, but giving the children back to their parents would shut down the federal reimbursement stream and take more than 460 clients away from lawyers and advocates.
As in the Texas case, removal of the children from their family is almost always the first response of children's agencies to any report of abuse or neglect no matter how ill-founded or malicious. Once they've taken the children and haven't been able to find any evidence of abuse, the only way to keep the children is to have a psychological evaluation which states that the children need counseling because their parents messed them up somehow.
The social service agency contracts out the evaluation to a certified counselor. The counselor has a choice - declare that there's nothing wrong with the child or intone, "This child needs therapy" for which the agency will pay.
What's the counselor going to do? Embarrass his best customer and give up a patient or collect hourly fees for years to come? This blog has further details on how social workers make money by abusing the system.
The real tragedy of the situation is that foster care is bad for children. A person who's had no contact with Child Protection might assume that taking children out of abusive homes and putting them into state care benefits the children.
While this seems like a reasonable assumption, research has shown that it's simply not true. Joseph Doyle Jr. of MIT's Sloan School of Management has shown that children faced with two options - their troubled families or foster care - have better life outcomes when they remain with their families.
The Texas CPS admitted that the children they had seized would have a tough time adjusting to modern life if they're permanently separated from their families. Given the vast amounts of federal money available so long as more than 460 kids are kept in their system, there's no reason to expect that the Texas CPS will give the children back to their parents any time soon regardless of how badly their "care" damages the children.
People with long memories will recall that when some of the Branch Davidian children were removed from their compound in Waco, Texas before the feds burned the place down, the CPS psychologists said that the children had been subjected to severe trauma because their parents had had so many guns lying around. As evidence, they offered the children's sketches which showed bullet holes in the roof of their house.
The psychologists were adamant in rejecting the thought that the children had been traumatized by bullets that Federal agents had fired at the house. The abuse had to have been done by the parents; the only cure was extended therapy at federal expense. We should expect more of this sort of self-serving psychological analysis as this case moves along.
Government employees can't even teach children to read; how would anyone expect that government employees would make effective parents? The MIT study shows that foster care often leads to worse outcomes than leaving children in their homes; the report was written up in USA Today.
Given that there is no evidence of abuse, the 460 Texas kids should clearly be returned to their parents forthwith. By keeping these children in state custody, CPS workers, lawyers, advocates, and the judge are abusing the children, and they know it.
When the history of these times is written, it will be shown that the coercive power of the state has made it possible for the government to abuse far more children far more cruelly than parents ever could.
Government's only asset is its credibility. When people decide that the government either can't or won't enforce its laws, its laws are ignored. When people decide that government is not on their side, they try to evade government and hide from it.
When I first started work, people trusted government enough that they looked at me funny if I ever talked about taking legitimate tax deductions. They felt that government made good use of tax money and that it was somehow illicit not to err on the side of giving the government what the law required.
When the IRS audited me some 30 years later, a friend of mine told me I ought to cheat as much as possible; after all, the government would waste whatever money they got from me anyway. The government in general, and the IRS in particular, had lost all credibility with him.
A few years later, a wave of protests against unfair treatment by IRS agents swept through Congress. Laws were changed, and many IRS agents were reassigned.
CPS workers are undermining society as badly as the IRS did, except that people care even more about their children than about their money. Some years ago, a friend of mine had his four children removed from his home on false charges of child abuse. I saw first-hand how the federally-required confidentiality provisions and the requirement that hearsay evidence be considered made the proceedings utterly unjust.
My children had played with my friend's children on a regular basis; my son knew that his friends had never been abused. After a particularly unjust ruling by the judge, he asked, "Dad, could they take me, too?" I had to be honest; I admitted that if the government decided to turn him into a source of federal money, there'd be very little I could do about it.
My son doesn't see government as his friend, he sees government as his enemy.
CPS is another bureaucracy which has lost sight of its product and is caught up in process. The CPS process is to remove children based on little or no evidence, get the federal funds flowing, then provide all kinds of mental health services to the children to keep the money flowing as long as possible.
The CPS worker's remark about the children having a tough time adjusting if they were not given back to their families coupled with CPS' admission that there is no evidence of abuse shows plainly that the CPS process ignores any considerations of what might be best for the children.
The news reports clearly state that no evidence of abuse has been found. If, indeed, men were having sex with underage girls, that is the crime of statutory rape, which should be prosecuted in a criminal court and punished according to the law. Modern DNA tests should make that case open and shut. Yet we see that no charges have even been filed for the one easily provable abusive act.
What's wrong with this picture? The cultists may be strange; they may live a lifestyle that is bizarre; they may be teaching their children doctrines which seem ridiculous to most normal people.
But unless a criminal act is being committed, provable in court, the freedom that Americans are supposed to enjoy must necessarily include the freedom to be a moonbat, and even to raise up little moonbats. As we've seen many times in many contexts, if you are free only to do what the government wants, you are not free at all.
As with most government bureaucracies, it's all about money. There is no limit to government greed any more than there is any limit to non-government greed. As Confucius noted, when government officials lose sight of the fact that government is supposed to benefit the public rather than exploiting the public, the collapse of the society is not far off.