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"No Bride Left Behind"
That's what Arianna calls Bush's new $1.5 billion marriage initiative. Like me, she wonders whether the federal government really belongs in the marriage counseling business:

"Marriage programs do work," insisted Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families of the Department of Health and Human Services. "On average, children raised by their own parents in healthy, stable married families enjoy better physical and mental health and are less likely to be poor." Yeah, well so are children who can read. And those raised by parents who have a job. Or health insurance. Or access to a decent education.

What makes the president's proposal particularly galling is that it's being offered up by a politician who came into office attacking federal programs like the one he is proposing for being too intrusive. "I trust people," said candidate Bush during one of his debates with Al Gore. "I don't trust the federal government."

Indeed, the very people who have been complaining for decades that government programs are not the way to fight the war on poverty are now determined to use Federal tax dollars to fight the war for matrimonial bliss. And they're using the same line of argument they excoriate liberals for using to explain why we need to invest in education, health care, and poverty fighting: "For every $1,000 we spend on public programs addressing family breakdown," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, "we only spend one dollar trying to prevent that breakdown in the first place. The President's initiative puts the emphasis in the right place prevention."

Of course, these "family values" types, who insist that "marriage is between a man and a woman," uniformly fail to mention that, these days, marriage in America is, quite often, between a man who works eight hours a day in a factory and five hours a night as a security guard and then comes home to an empty bed because his wife is on the night shift, stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. It's pretty damn hard to "manage your conflicts in a healthy way" when the two of you are never in the same room. And for all the talk about how much better off kids in unbroken homes are, there is very little said about how these barely-making-ends-meet parents are supposed to pull off the Ozzie and Harriet routine. Talk to your kids about drugs? When? In the waits at the emergency room, which you're using as your GP because you haven't got health care?

Posted by aalkon at January 22, 2004 10:04 AM

Comments

"'On average, children raised by their own parents in healthy, stable married families enjoy better physical and mental health and are less likely to be poor.' Yeah, well so are children who can read. And those raised by parents who have a job. Or health insurance. Or access to a decent education."

As Amy will be quick to point out -- particularly after a couple of glasses of Estancia Chardonnay -- this is what epidemiologists might call "bias by confounding variables." It's not marriage per se that promotes better physical and economic health among children, it's all the benefits that come with it. Those pro-marriage lunatics just need to take a class in multivariate regression analysis. HELLO!

Posted by: Lena at January 22, 2004 7:08 PM

What factory jobs are left in America?

Posted by: Damein at January 22, 2004 9:14 PM

Arianna Huffington writes: "It's time for voters to rethink their relationship with the Commander-in-Chief and file for divorce."

Hear! Hear! Can you imagine the fiasco that state sponsored marriage counseling would be? Some social worker will be doing counseling sessions like a McDonald's Drive Thru, satisfied if she can only convince them not to divorce. Speaking of divorce, will married couples then be required by law to attend x number of counseling sessions before they get to throw in the towel?

There is one way that the Government can improve marriage: allow both partners to draw their own Social Security rather than making a married couple survive on one partner's benefits.

The government has no business promoting marriage, as marriage is a religious institution. If they wish to extend certain rights to domestic partners, all well and good, but to forward the Christian concept of what a domestic partnership should entail is not the government's business.

Posted by: Patrick at January 22, 2004 11:15 PM

"[...] allow both partners to draw their own Social Security rather than making a married couple survive on one partner's benefits."

Even if both have worked and contributed to the Social Security fund for years? That would be insane. Are you sure?

Posted by: Lena at January 23, 2004 6:50 AM

Lena writes: Even if both have worked and contributed to the Social Security fund for years? That would be insane. Are you sure?

Actually, I'm not sure about that at all. Someone told me that his parents got a divorce and were still living together so that they could both draw their social security to survive on. I have yet to look into it, but I figured it that's true, it should most definitely be done away with.

Posted by: Patrick at January 23, 2004 6:56 AM

"Someone told me that his parents got a divorce and were still living together so that they could both draw their social security to survive on."

I don't know why you'd have a problem with that. If both individuals worked and contributed to the Social Security trust fund, shouldn't they both be able to get individual checks later on in life, whether they're married, divorced, or whatever?

Posted by: Lena at January 23, 2004 8:20 AM

I'm new to this blogger stuff but I suspect, from prior posts, that Patrick gets a kick out of yanking chains.

Posted by: Sheryl at January 23, 2004 6:42 PM

Lena writes: "I don't know why you'd have a problem with that. If both individuals worked and contributed to the Social Security trust fund, shouldn't they both be able to get individual checks later on in life, whether they're married, divorced, or whatever?"

I don't have a problem with that. I think they should both be able to draw their Social Security. What I object to is the fact that they had to divorce so that they both could draw their Social Security (if this account is true, by the way).

I think they should be allowed to stay married and both get their Social Security, not be penalized by being allowed only one partner's benefits just because they are married.

Posted by: Patrick at January 23, 2004 9:13 PM

Sheryl: "I'm new to this blogger stuff but I suspect, from prior posts, that Patrick gets a kick out of yanking chains."

Goodness, I must not have been clear. Did you both misunderstand me? I agree with Lena that they BOTH should be allowed their Social Security. What I object to is granting the couple only one partner's benefits, forcing them to divorce so that they can draw both partner's benefits. If they both paid into Social Security, they should both be allowed to draw it, regardless of their marital status. They should be allowed to stay married and still both get their benefits, not be penalized by being allowed only one partner's benefits. And again, I must add, I haven't had the opportunity to look into this to find out if the Government does indeed give married couples only one partner's benefits.

Posted by: Patrick at January 23, 2004 9:19 PM

Oh, and as for "yanking chains," I only enjoy yanking some people's chains. Since I love Lena, I would take no pleasure at all in yanking his chain. Or Amy's.

On the other hand, if someone is a pompous gasbag and launches into a seven paragraph tirade over a trivial dispute, they deserve to be aggravated.

Posted by: Patrick at January 23, 2004 9:26 PM

What? I've had an occasional gasbag moment but not on this site. Thanks for clearing up your statement. I did read it as your opposition to both married individual only getting one social security statement. I figure if we all pay in we should all get to withdraw, however I doubt what many of us have paid in will be available in the near future.

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Posted by: Sheryl at January 23, 2004 10:20 PM

Hi Patrick! Lena loves you too. I did indeed misunderstand you, and I think it's because your friend misunderstands his or her parents' situation. A couple doesn't have to get divorced to draw on both partner's social security benefits. Each individual who works has a statutory right to their money (though it ain't much).

Posted by: Lena at January 24, 2004 1:26 PM