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    Bureaucracy Makes War on Community {Part II}

    April 25, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Like all debates, this online debate over regulating the sharing and selling of human milk deteriorated into discussions of a few indirectly related topics. {By the way, it is best to read the Introduction and Part I before reading this post.} One of these topics was that formula has made the sharing and selling of breastmilk unnecessary. What about the poor who can’t afford formula? someone asked. The solution given was that most states have WIC {the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children} and some even have “free stores” where one may attain “free formula.”

    Needless to say, I became very unpopular when I pointed out that these items weren’t actually “free.” In fact, in a round-about way, I believe them to be stolen. And, more importantly, I believe that the current system of the State, in Robin Hood fashion, stealing from some {and taking a cut of it, of course} and redistributing the money in the form of goods to the “needy” {I put this in quotes because there have been times where we qualified for this program, but we sacrificed and worked hard and paid for the items ourselves because we had a moral objection to social programs like WIC}, actually has two very negative side-effects: a growing animosity between those stolen from and those benefiting from the stealing, and, even worse, relieving the rich of any sense of duty towards the poor.

    Obviously, I do not believe that poor babies should be allowed to starve. But I am also not one to feel forced to choose between Option A and Option B just because those are the only two solutions to a problem that are immediately offered. In other words, it is a false assumption to believe that the options are to either allow the State to continue providing formula or let a baby starve.

    To recap a bit, the argument has gone like this thus far:


    • There are mothers with an inadequate milk supply


    • There are other mothers with an overabundance of milk



    • These mothers with an overabundance of milk cannot be trusted because the proliferation of sins of the flesh in our society necessitates a wary eye towards all bodily fluids



    • AND people lie about the diseases they have



    • Therefore, the sharing and selling of breastmilk should be heavily regulated by the benevolent State



    • But, maybe we should just make it illegal altogether because formula is just fine



    • AND, the benevolent State is more than willing to take money from some citizens and use it to buy formula for other citizens who have trouble affording it



    I made this point in Part I, but I will reiterate it now: The model of a mother who is “rich in milk” committing a generous act by freely giving her milk to a neighbor with an inadequate milk supply {like me} is a morally superior model when compared to having the impersonal State intervening in the situation and disrupting what could have been a community-building relationship. And the model of a person who is rich in money {but not milk} buying formula for mothers who are in short supply of both breastmilk and money is still morally superior to the State’s compulsory taxes subsidizing the feeding of the poor.

    I know that this is an ideal. I can write about this every day for a year, and there will still be compulsory taxes funding social programs, and there will still be few churches that help the poor {which would cause the social programs to become obsolete in certain geographic areas}. But it is still true that there are morally superior social models that no longer function in our society. And it is still true that the Church has been welcomed by the State to abdicate her throne as the Helper of society.

    When the Church is no longer obligated to be compassionate to the poor, when her work is done by another, she has effectively lost her witness.

    Think of the poor woman whose milk never came in, or who delivered a preemie that was unable to nurse before those milk hormones went away. In the bureaucratic society we live in, where does she turn for help? Where does the hospital tell her to turn for help?

    Who is her Messiah now?

    It’s no secret that I consider bureaucracy invasive {at best} and even destructive. But I also think it is naive to shout against bureaucracy as such without acknowledging that it becomes necessary when the Church refuses to assume her rightful responsibilities within a society.


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