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‘Watch your own kid’

A 5-year-old boy drowned at Woodbury’s Carver Lake Park. There are no longer lifeguards at the beach, and although the Public Safety folks organized a human chain to find him and performed heroic resuscitative efforts, the little boy died at the trauma center.

Media coverage of the July 8 event included an interview with Parks and Recreation Director Bob Klatt, who indicated that the withdrawal of lifeguards was at least partly a budget decision. I responded to the article online, noting that as a Woodbury resident I was disappointed that this fiscal decision was made in such a prosperous community.

I was taken aback by the responses my comments drew. Multiple people stated that parents should watch their own kids and that “we” shouldn’t have to pay for the lifeguards. None of these people was from my town, so I responded saying that it was not a pro-life decision and that the city could afford teen-aged lifeguards for the summer (probably cheaper than the rescue and resuscitation). Again, people responded that parents should watch their own kids and be charged with law-breaking if they didn’t. Others bragged that they were more responsible than the grieving parents of the 5-year-old.

An all-too-common response

Sadly, I think this NIMBY response is becoming all too common and is responsible for a decline in our communities. I’ve read comments from people stating they have no responsibility for paying for: supplementary care for children with severe disabilities (that’s their parents’ job and we never did it before); insurance premiums for pregnancy because they are men; decent salaries for teachers (they get the summer off); famine aid; refugee resettlement; mental health crisis services … 

The same week this little kid was lost to us, more than 80 people in Florida risked their own lives to pull in a family swept away by a riptide. Their efforts were celebrated nationwide, as are regular acts of heroism and generosity by individuals across the country. When the opportunity presents, Americans can be selfless life-savers — so why the resistance to hiring a couple of teenagers to sit in the empty lifeguard stand at Carver Beach?

Are folks so protective of the possessions they own and their own families that they can no longer reach out to others? Is selfishness the baseline that is only crossed in extraordinary circumstances by extraordinary individuals? Can we no longer see the value in working together and pooling our resources? Does the meanness in our politics makes us meaner or does our newfound nastiness breed even more nastiness in our politicians?

Once proud of our Minnesota Miracle

Minnesotans used to be so proud of the Miracle that equalized school funding statewide and of the politicians who reached across the aisle to make sure that children were educated, roads were built, and taxes were levied so that together we paid for the range of services that made this a well-run state. Minnesota leaders rose to national prominence on the strength of their experience with good government.

Now we have a speaker of the House who installed a mute button to silence members of the opposite party and such legislative strife that even simple acts like bonding bills languish. The lifeguard stand in our state government is as empty as the one at Carver Beach. Let’s watch our kids together!

That 5-year-old kid was mine not by birth or adoption, but by shared life in Minnesota. I ask you and all Minnesotans to realize that the kids of this state need to be important to all of us. We need to put lifeguards in the chairs, teachers in the classrooms, and leaders in the Capitol to keep all of our kids safe and thriving. Minnesotans, this is how we watch our own kids!

Beth-Ann Bloom is a mom, genetic counselor, and community volunteer from Woodbury. She is not a strong swimmer.


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Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 07/21/2017 - 07:00 pm.

    Hedonism of the bourgeoisie

    What a sad commentary. It reminds me of a poll my church did a few years ago exploring the community reactions to a church related senior living center to help people remain in the community. Some of the comments against seniors were disheartening if not shocking. It’s not a “NIMBY” response although it shares a few of those characteristics. It’s a result of the hedonistic philosophy that suffuses what people unschooled in economics believe reflects free market economics. Which is that ultimately people are really only worth what they can garner is the “free” labor market. Children and old people are really not “worth” anything there. It’s the logical conclusion of the “free market” ethos of the borgeoisie.

  2. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 07/21/2017 - 08:13 pm.

    We’ve lost our sense of community

    or maybe sold it off for a few silver coins. We don’t want to pay taxes for life guards, schools, health care, roads yet we spend 400 billion on a fighter jet (F 35) that’s almost a decade behind schedule and no one bats an eye. For a so called “Christian” nation we have some pretty messed up priorities.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 07/22/2017 - 10:28 am.

      We Even Have

      Politicians who espouse Christianity, and court the votes of Christians, and then advocate the teachings of Ayn Rand. Think Paul Ryan. Are these politicians confused, or just cynical?

      Christians know that Christ created us to be in communion with each other. You are your brother’s keeper.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 07/25/2017 - 09:23 am.

        Yes, anyone who claims to be an Ayn Rand-style libertarian and a Christian at the same time either doesn’t understand Ayn Rand or doesn’t understand what Christ taught and is just using Christianity as a badge of cultural identification.

        When I was in graduate school, I knew an undergraduate who was a hardcore Libertarian, Young Americans for Freedom and the whole bit, until she converted to Christianity. She was smart enough to realize that it had to be one or the other.

        There are a lot of people who go to church, sing praise music, listen to sermons about whatever the (possibly untrained and self-ordained) minister is obsessing about, and think that that makes them a Christian, when they don’t know the Bible, don’t know church history or theology, and think that Christian ethics consist entirely of rigid rules about sex.

  3. Submitted by Greg Gaut on 07/22/2017 - 08:28 am.

    But sometimes.

    I have noticed over the years that sometimes these Ayn Rand-like individualists who don’t want to pay into anything that does not directly benefit them (like lifeguards, parks, Medicare, etc) change their tune the day their homes are lost to a major flood or tornado. Then they start complaining that FEMA is too slow to rush to their aid with our tax dollars.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 07/22/2017 - 09:50 am.

    Addiction to tax cuts

    This attitude comes from the party of Reagan, who talked about how big bad government was the problem – taking “your money.” It wasn’t that Reagan didn’t spend money like a drunken sailor – he just didn’t tax sufficiently to cover what government cost, pretending that works in the real world. Republicans started to think that tax cuts were solution to all problems. Now we have Trump, who hasn’t batted an eyelash about spending government money on his golf, while proposing to take away not just lifeguards, but basics like food, shelter and healthcare from poor children. That he for years personally avoided pay a cent in federal income taxes is the perfect reflection of how many conservatives. You take care of your own children and also pick up the cost of my tax cut. We are better than this. Let’s make Americans great again, as the current version falls short.

  5. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 07/22/2017 - 10:44 am.

    Your Dentist & Social Security Retiement

    Much of the costs of old age have been socialized. We have Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security with it’s retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. Many older folks still struggle, but it’s not like what it was in decades past, they are far more likely to have at least a modicum of dignity.

    For some reason, when it comes to the costs of raising children, it’s just not seen in the same light. It’s considered “your problem”, because “you decided to have kids”. I never heard my father-in-law complain about school taxes until a couple of years after his youngest had graduated public school. Funny how that works.

    But it’s not kids parents are raising. It’s the dentists, nurses, tax accountants, auto mechanics, fire fighters, and on and on, that you will need in the future. Who will replace your furnace in 20 years? Who will fix your teeth? Who will teach your grandchildren? Who will pay FICA taxes so you’re check won’t bounce? Will you replace your own toilet when you’re 72?

    Curiously, many of the folks who would foist this all on parents also pine for the days of yore, when, they tell us, they knew that other adults in the neighborhood could phone their parents if they were caught misbehaving. They liked the village they were raised in, but want no part of such a village now.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/22/2017 - 10:54 am.

    Welcome to Rand’s dystopia

    The most toxic effect of reactionary/libertarian/small guvment era has been a severe erosion of basic morality and compassion. This is predictable and it was predicted but liberals and conservatives alike fell under the spell of those who promised a better world through low taxes. So we build stadiums for billionaires and watch children drown. It’s flat out sociopathic.

    We have too many people sprinkled throughout our society who’s one and only response to ANY circumstance or event is to whine about their taxes, despite having the lowest tax burden in nearly a century. So let bridges collapse, buildings burn, children drown, etc. etc. etc. The only thing we can really do is ignore these sociopaths. The day will come when their bridge is collapsing, and their building is on fire, and their child is drowning… and they’ll scream out for help… and we’ll be there because we can be nowhere else. Human beings managed to build civilization despite ignorant yah-boos, and we’ll continue… but we pay a price celebrating their selfishness.

  7. Submitted by Misty Martin on 07/22/2017 - 11:01 am.

    Excellent article!!!!

    Ms. Bloom:

    How right you are! Statewide or nationwide, what has made this country of ours great was that we pulled together and watched out for each other (more importantly, our children) who are our future. Ever watch a baby elephant fall into a pit of some kind? All the tribe gets involved in rescuing the baby – not just the mother. The whole tribe of elephants watch after the “little ones”, knowing that they are vulnerable and need protection. Elephants are reportedly very intelligent animals – can it be that they are more intelligent than their human counterparts? I pray not.

    Beth-Ann, this article is so timely at a period of history where unkindness seems to be almost celebrated, especially in politics. You are right – either it has trickled down to the general population or is a sign that politicians have taken notice of how the general population reacts now to situations where a little kindness is necessary. I don’t know. It’s just SAD.

    We might not even be in this country if a few well-meaning, albeit KIND Native Americans hadn’t reached out to starving, at the brink-of-death pilgrims and offered them the hand of friendship and nourishment during a very stark winter. Have we progressed so far that we have forgotten?

    Yes, as a very famous politician once co-penned, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”. It does! My heart goes out to these grieving parents who lost a child. May the life of that little one not have been in vain – find the funds wherever you have to and fill those empty lifeguard seats. Don’t let this tragedy repeat itself. This nation cannot afford to be so callous regarding human life.

  8. Submitted by Nancy Hassett on 07/22/2017 - 05:42 pm.

    I’m totally with you!

    Simply stated, we are turning into a narcissistic society. “It’s all about me, and if it doesn’t affect me, oh well”. Yes, it does take a village. I hope these people remember their words when something unanticipated happens to them!

    accident |ˈaksədənt|
    1 an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.

    Accidents happen. Over the decades, we recognized that and implemented precautions such as seat belts. Accidents still happen, but we can certainly lessen serious injury or death by taking common sense precautions like life guards.

  9. Submitted by George Brown on 07/23/2017 - 09:34 am.

    Social Wellness

    I completely support and agree with the post and comments. Our condition as a society of caring citizens is largely impacted by our environment and while our physical, mental, spiritual well-being is intertwined, our ability to be with and among our fellow inhabitants may be the single most important aspect of our overall health and ability to not just survive but thrive.

    Our family moved to Minnesota from the deep south less than a year ago as we truly believe the spirit and ethos of caring for one another and being there for each other as a community was stronger than where we once lived and supported by state local institutions of governance. No place is perfect and while resources will never measure up completely to all needs, making sacrifices on a sometimes personal/individual level for the greater good of those we live with and among seems to me a fair and just trade-off. Now more than ever, we need one another.

  10. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 07/24/2017 - 10:24 am.


    Ronald Reagan’s first job was as a lifeguard. He was credited with saving over seventy lives.

  11. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 07/26/2017 - 08:54 pm.

    A recent Strib article

    Pointed out that lifeguards aren’t posted to save lives and that all children should be actively supervised by an adult. I believe that the article was part of the story about the deceased 5 year old. It was very interesting reading and informative about the purpose of lifeguards and the responsibilities of the users of lakes and pools.

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