The St. Louis Post-Dispatch performs its simple hard-hitting journalism in sounding an unnecessary klaxon calling for more government oversight and regulation. This time, again, a tragic accidental death of a child should lead (in a perfect Post-Dispatch world) to more government regulation and intrusion. The accident:
A year ago last Thursday the Blechas’ second son, Nathan, died at age 4 months in a portable crib in Lutz’s home, after being placed on his abdomen for a nap. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the cause of death “re-breath,” the breathing in of carbon dioxide exhaled by the baby, who was too young to turn his head away from a wrinkle in the mattress.
The next day, Lutz shut the day care for good.
Here’s what we glean from the bits:
- The death was an accident.
- The caregiver, riven by guilt, left the profession the next day.
- The paper is not reporting on an accident; instead, one year later, it’s reporting on the parents of the dead child and their crusade to Make Sure Their Child’s Death Was Not In Vain.
The call to government control:
According to state records, Lutz had obtained a license to cut hair and one to practice massage, but when it came to child care, she never applied to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Child Care Regulation section. That’s the unit that inspects day cares and issues licenses for people routinely caring for more than four unrelated children.
Nathan’s parents say they have been waiting “for the system to kick in.” But nothing has happened: no criminal charges, no fines, no outrage and no reform of a child-care oversight system that the Blechas feel did little to prevent or recognize Nathan’s death.
Steve Blecha said he called the Jefferson County sheriff’s office early this year and was told the death had been ruled accidental.
He also learned that the most Lutz could be fined for operating without a license was $200 — a fine so small that Blecha said it didn’t matter that prosecutors didn’t pursue it.
Of course, the article goes into detail about how the government can only fine unlicensed day care facilities and cannot bring down the wrath of the gods upon them. I suppose the “journalists” and certainly the tragically affected parents would like MURDER ONE charges or something to make the people who’ve thought twice THINK TWICE about having accidents, but jeez.
A license probably won’t prevent every accident. It will, however, raise the cost of doing business as a baby sitter/day care, which in turn will drive out conscientious people who won’t pay the money. Then, when the people who cannot afford au pairs need to drop their kids off while they work, they will turn to less conscientious family members, and further accidents will occur.
I hate it when children die, but I also hate it when their deaths lead to knee-jerk statist action that will have unintended consequences worse than the initial accident precipitating the knee-jerk reaction.
But the papers? Man, they love standing up for the outlier since the little guys have already been accommodated.