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Children and taxes: A Mother’s Day Special

8 May
No babies for me, thanks. No, not even turkey baster babies.

No babies for me, thanks. No, not even turkey baster babies.

This mother’s day, let’s skip the adorable kitten greeting cards and bunches of roses bred to within an inch of scentlessness, picked by fourth-world residents working in inhumane conditions, trucked halfway across the globe and sold at ridiculous markups, shall we? Instead, let’s talk about the politics of child-rearing! Or, more specifically, the politics of taxes for child-education and other kiddo-focused expenses.

I recently heard a new-to-me, somewhat shocking opinion on the topic. Here it is in summary:

“People who make the responsible choice not to have squalling brats should not have to pay to educate and feed other people’s mistakes.”

Harsh words, no? That’s not quite how it was put, but that was the basic premise.

As a properly trained tax-and-spend liberal, I like having lots and lots of social services, some of which I use, some of which I don’t: Maintained roads, public libraries, rest stops, Medicare, social security, food stamps. And I’ve seen the contrast between public schools in well-heeled communities and those in poor towns: I have matriculated at some of the west coast’s best-funded and highest-performing public schools, and also attended the educational equivalent of Siberia in the state’s poorest county. But still, it got me thinking.

As an adult, my senses and my pocketbook are constantly assaulted by pleas for the children. Stop domestic violence … for the children. Build new libraries … for the children. Fund high school sports teams … for the children. Build shiny new after-school facilities with free classes in underwater basketweaving and Tae-Kwon-Do and other oh-so-useful life skills … for the children. Build cushy juvenile detention and drug rehabilitation facilities … for the children, dammit!

It makes one wonder – who is looking out for the old people while we’re busy babying the babies? Social services (in this state, at least) are almost exclusively focused on children, or people with children. As an example, kids under 18 can get subsidized health insurance, but adults cannot (the one notable exception being pregnant women).

This makes a modicum of sense. Faced with a choice between cutting the service entirely or funding it for kids only, it’s a no-brainer. But still. There are a lot of very sick, very poor adults out there not getting the care they need. Why? Because they don’t have cute button noses and tiny little hands. They’re not helpless. Poor children, they just can’t help being born poor! It’s not their fault their parents made such terrible life decisions like being born poor themselves. But once they’re adults it is 100 percent their fault that they’re still poor. What’s changed, other than 15 years, give or take? Nothing but society’s attitude toward them.

And don’t even get me started on the blatantly pandering marketing campaigns around school-funding measures. It’s voting time here, and The Hizzy is being hit with slick upon slick, all featuring pictures of cherubic, well-scrubbed white kids with pleading, watery eyes in grayscale. Turn the slick over and you’ve got the skinny white moms, looking concerned and wearing North Face sweaters, standing sternly with crossed arms next to bulleted lists of reasons why their little Madisons and Jacobs need music programs, shiny new cafeteria platters and better insulation.

So my opinion is wavering. I don’t have kids. I’m not GOING to have kids. Why should I pay to polish the silverware at the elementary school in my neighborhood? Those children having their school spiffed today will be the bitter, abusive high school dropouts that will wipe my nose at the health-code violating old people’s home I’ll live in during my infirmity. If I want care that minimizes humiliation in my old age, I’ll have to shell out for a private facility, since wrinkled faces with watery, pleading eyes just don’t test well with the focus groups.

Grown-ups, especially those with lots of wrinkles or otherwise socially undesirable characteristics (like poverty or disability), get the short end of the stick. They work their whole lives paying taxes to educate and care for the next generation, only to get tossed aside once they can no longer care for themselves. Where are the direct-mail marketing campaigns advocating for safe wheelchair routes and better elder-care facilities? Where are the ballot measures begging for community education and outreach programs designed specifically with old fogeys in mind? And what about crime – why does a 17-year-old get leniency and a clean record, when an 18-year-old in the exact same circumstances gets prison and a lifetime of employment discrimination?

Cutting services to young people can’t be the answer, but a more balanced approach to public policy is certainly worth a look-see. What are your voting habits? Does your having or not having kids influence how you vote on school tax measures and the like? Or are you an across-the-board voter in one way or the other? Any tea party types out there? If so, do you make an exception for social services for youngsters? Any socialist types out there who’ve sworn off baby-having? How do you vote? No name-calling in the comments, please – but do tell me your opinions!

Into moving pictures? Here are some amusing parent- or mom-themed videos you might like:

Happy Mother’s Day, pedophobes!
Pregnant women are smug
Hipster parents: The perfect target market

Today in Animal Rights

24 Feb

UPDATE! This afternoon I learned of a most curious incident: A whale named Tilikum at SeaWorld in Orlando killed a female trainer today. I know that I’m not supposed to say this (and I’m equally sure it needs to be said): Capturing wild animals, “training” them to do tricks for an audience using motivational tools like pain, hunger and fear is bound to lead to tragedy. As horrible as this is for the trainer, her friends and her family, it’s far from the first incident of its kind. I hope it will be a wake-up call to people that using animals for entertainment is just not right.

This morning I spied a really groovy piece of street art: The word “Vegan” scrawled on the side of a building in fancy graffitti font*:


I smiled to myself and began wondering why I don’t know any people that go around drawing dietary diatribes on Division Street. Then I remembered that many vegan activists identify as such merely so they can lord their holier-than-thou attitude over everyone else. Either that or they’re just college students still gifted with the charming delusion that their stupid little opinions matter, who’ll grow up to inherit Daddy’s money, join the corporate world and in all likelihood begin plowing their SUVs through flocks of endangered seabirds for fun.

Which is what Charles Belgard did, as reported by NPR this morning in connection with his too-light-in-my-opinion sentence of 45 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. My hope is that, for 21-year-old Belgard, who is the sort of person that breaks speed limits on the beach and thinks killing is AWESOME, $1,000 is a LOT of money. That and an angry seabird or 400 peck his squinty little eyeballs out a la Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

*Portland people: It’s on 39th and Division.

Related posts: The Rogue Vegan Strikes Again; Vegan Vandalism Pandemic

Grokking the touch barrier

15 Feb

How many times have you found yourself jogging alone at 4 a.m., on a poorly-lit street, blissfully rocking out to some old-school tunes via your trendy compact music gadget of choice, when you spot a gang of no-goodniks looking for some Bad Touch?

Or, perhaps you like to go out on weeknights and have a few pints with your buddies, but woefully underqualified potential suitors, emboldened by booze, keep approaching you. Maybe sometimes they think they can touch you on the shoulder. Maybe sometimes they think they can touch you elsewhere. Maybe sometimes they get a little pushy. Maybe you’re tired of handing out black eyes and running out of bars from which to get 86’d.

Or maybe you’re a 9-to-5er and you have a coworker who just doesn’t grok the touch barrier. Perhaps he touches you to drive his points home, so to speak. Maybe he holds your hand just a bit too long when shaking. Maybe he just annoyingly taps your shoulder when trying to get your attention.

Well fret no more, touch-o-phobes! Ladies and gents, I give you the No-Contact Jacket:

Perfect for fending off hoodlums of all varieties, it’s electrified to deter any and all who’ve not gotten the memo about unwanted touch. Just don’t wear it in the rain.

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