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Whistle While You (Don't) Wirkkala
We've got a live one -- a lady (calls herself "Leslie," anyway) coming to the defense of the poor, underprivileged Dana Point family: you know, the Wirkkalas, in their ocean-view, $535,000 home, with the dad who earns $70K, and the mom who'd really rather home-school their THREE children than get a job. Poor dears somehow can't make their healthcare costs. Seems the rest of us should pick them up for them. My attitude, quoted in the link above:

Why should I pay for them? Lose the ocean view, send the kids to public school, have Mommy get a job, and get Kaiser, mooches.

By the way, where's my taxpayer-funded $535,000-plus home? I mean, if I don't have to pay for health insurance because other people are paying my way, there are a lot of luxuries I can afford!

I'm with this commenter on the LAT story:

10. They have a choice. Every kid does not need thier own bedroom. I shared a bedroom with my sister and 1 bathroom with 3 other siblings. Live in a less expensive palce, other state or even another city. The father work for a company that provides insurance. He is being very selfish wanting his own business that does not provide for the family. He says he wants time with his family, but he works 6 days a week. The mother put your kids in public school and get a job during the day. You want that lifestyle with 3-kids, its your responsibility to PLAN for it! It's not right to ask me or anyone else to feel sorry for them. Submitted by: Leza 11:24 AM PST, November 25, 2007

Yeah, you know what? You can keep Universal Health Care. What I really want is Universal Beachfront Homes. Pony up, taxpayers! Ocean view, here I come!

Now, some lady who calls herself "Leslie" comes to the poor dears' defense in the comments of the entry above:

not a single one of you people know the entire story about the wirkkalas, they are awesome parents, it makes me sick to read all the mean horrible things that are being written about this family. I dont remember reading one time in the article that they want a hand out, i think the main reason for the article is to show that even families of middle class are priced out of health care.

My comment in response to hers:

Nobody told these people to have children they couldn't afford to support. The mother could work and send the kids to public school. They could live in a rental or in a cheaper house. Saying they are "awesome parents" is ridiculous -- you give no rebuttals to anything posted about them or included in the article.

Furthermore, I e-mailed them and got no response. You know them? Ask them to respond.

The questions: How dare they extrude three children and live in a fancy community and think they have the luxury of home-schooling their kids and then expect the rest of us to pay their health insurance? How dare they burden their kids the way they did, telling them to not fall off their skateboards because there's no money for broken arms. How...disgusting.

I have always paid my way, including my healthcare costs. And sorry to mention it again for all you regular blog readers, but at one point, after I was forced to leave an NYC apartment share, I couldn't afford a bed. (I slept in a sleeping bag on an old door propped up on two milk crates.) But, even then, I paid my health insurance, because my health care is MY responsibility, nobody else's.

Come on, tell us "the entire story."

"Priced out of health care"? A family has three children it can't afford to take care of because they live in a fancy schmancy ocean-view house and would rather home-school their kids? Vile.

Posted by aalkon at November 30, 2007 1:44 PM


It's 2 am as I write this.

Someone, somewhere in the U.S., is working the night shift at the factory while her husband snoozes at home with their kids, waiting for the morning in which she'll come home and he'll head off to work.

Someone, somewhere in the U.S. is slaving away at an assignment due Friday, that he has to turn in then even though his boss won't look at it until next Tuesday, because he has several kids who all need health insurance and school supplies and his wife's potential salary would be totally eaten up by childcare costs.

Someone, somewhere in the U.S. is rocking his baby right now, wishing that he could be a stay-at-home parent, but knowing that that's not practical given his family's financial situation.

Some couple, somewhere in the U.S., is trying to sleep after having decided, once and for all, that they're not going to have that second or third kid they've talked about, because they're not sure that they can do that and provide for their existing kids to the best of their ability.

Someone, somewhere in the U.S. is doing her homework for one of her many grad school classes as she struggles to juggle full-time work, single parenthood, and part-time grad school so that she can get a better job and her kids can have a better life.

Someone, somewhere in the U.S. is living in a home without granite countertops. Not me! I'm typing on a granite countertop right now. Note: I am childless and have health insurance.

You want people with evocative stories that can tug at your heart a bit? There you go (well, except for me, as my story isn't heart-tugging at all). All around the country there are people doing things they do not particularly want to do because they believe that they owe that to their children. I see no sign that the Wirkkalas are willing to do things they don't want to do. He wants to be a contractor. She wants to be a stay-at-home mom. They want to homeschool. They want granite countertops. All of those are great - if you can afford them. If you can't, the response is not to turn to the government to ask for money to insure your kids, but to make sacrifices yourself that will enable your eight-year-old to quit fretting about the possibility that he might need to go to the doctor.

No one here is arguing that U.S. health care is perfect. It's not. There are people out there who need health care who can't get it for one reason or another. We should address that issue. But I think everyone on this board has loved ones who are currently or have in the past worked very hard and made significant sacrifices in order to preserve the well-being of their kids, and when we are told that we are supposed to sympathize with people who expect their young children to shoulder the burdens of the parents' *choices* regarding their lifestyle, we get damn pissed.

Posted by: marion at November 30, 2007 12:18 AM

Well-put, Marion.


Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 30, 2007 12:23 AM

Nicely put, Marion.

I think of it as a kind of reverse feudalism, where the responsible toil away in support of the irresponsible.

Posted by: doombuggy at November 30, 2007 4:38 AM

The factory worker on 12 hour overnight shifts is me. Many nights it sucks. I have health insurance for my children and a decent wage for my area and my (lack of) skills. Skills being my responsibility, no one elses. Caring for my kids to the best of my abilities keeps me going.

I dont care how great, wonderful or caring the wirkkalas seem to those that know them, they make me want to vomit.

I thought one of the main jobs of parenting was to prepare your children for adulthood in the real world, by example as well as words. In the real world you do not get to have everything you want right now, trade-offs and effort and choices MUST be made and the sooner littles absorb that the better off they will be, oh and also that actions and decisions have consequences. Have a bunch of children and not enough income from one wage earner? guess what, both parents are in the workforce. Big beutiful house vs insurance? Rental time baby. grrr. I am sorry, but whiny gotta have it all people who expect me to fork over a part of MY paltry wages to enable their lack of accountability enrages me.

Oh, First time poster and Amy love your column and blog, especially when I dont agree. Makes me think and consider and refine and define my own opinions and thoughts. Thanks

Posted by: Renee at November 30, 2007 5:18 AM

Come on, tell us "the entire story."

The reason they won't tell their "entire story", Amy, is you've blown their cover, or, rather, the reporter who wrote the original story did. I'm sure he didn't write that to expose the Wirkkalas as irresponsible parents, even though that's how it comes off. Obviously, that article was written to evoke sympathy and to "expose the healthcare problems" in this country, or something to that effect. They weren't counting on people telling them to suck it up and forego the granite countertops and ocean views if that means insuring their children. Renee's got it right when she says the parents are supposed to be setting an example. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at November 30, 2007 5:38 AM

I have to join the chorus -- well said marion. Awesome parents? The wirriklas? Hardly. There is nothing awesome about parents that not only neglect their children's health care for the sake of their own comfort and ease (it's all together too obvious that he's self-employed and she's stay at home because they don't like time clocks or bosses; well, boo hoo, who does) or who won't let an eight year old play not because they're afraid he might break his little arm but because they might have to pay for it if he does and then put a major trip on the kid's head for it. God's sake, let him make believe he's Tony Hawk for two seconds. Please, let's not even pretend it's about the kiddies, if it were, those kids would be insured, they have the money; the kids are nothing but four more playthings and status symbols to these two asshats.

Posted by: Donna at November 30, 2007 5:45 AM

Dear "Rah-Rah Wirkka-la!" writer:

Right now my 28 year old boyfriend is already saving money every month in a 529 plan for the college education of children he doesn't have (kids aren't even up for consideration right now). He calculated that in order to send a child to college in 25 years a parent needs to put $600/month (and some change) into investments.

That's how scared he is, and that's how responsible people should plan (well maybe not to that extent...). But the reality is tough: providing for your children is your responsibility and most of the time caring for them properly is at the expense of not having certain luxuries. And, shock of the year, granite IS a luxury.

The fact is, health insurance costs ARE high and ARE a tough reach for many people...including middle class families like my own. My parents do have granite (actually their kitchen is fucking amazing) parents are the lucky ones - but they know where the limits are and they stick to them. They've made some poor choices but they've always been able to cover their ass and us kids haven't really suffered.

The family in this story isn't covering their ass. Health care costs might be out of control, but asking someone else to fund your kids' health care isn't the answer/solution. Fuck the home schooling, get a job and get those kids some health care coverage. Then, if you have some spare time, start a local group to push for changes in how the health care system works.

I'm sure they love their kids (no one is questioning that) and I'm sure they think they're doing the best they can but in reality their idea of "the best" is WRONG. Wrong, in this case, is objective, there is no room for opinion. Socialist programs aren't the solution b/c it puts an unfair burden on those of us who do plan accordingly and cover our asses. It also does not provide an impetus for health care companies to wake the hell up and figure out how to operate differently so as to control costs which will, hopefully, be seen in the form of reduced costs to customers.

Posted by: Gretchen at November 30, 2007 5:46 AM

Thanks, guys. Normally I am in favor of discussing the merits of policy decisions using data and philosophical priorities instead of anecdotes, but when someone else decides to make anecdotes the center of their argument, I feel perfectly free to dissect those anecdotes.

The ironic thing is, I actually heard a story on the radio yesterday that, assuming it's authentic, was a far better argument for changing our approach to health insurance to allow for more of a safety net. But the people in that story had actually made sacrifices in order to stay solvent and insured, and those sacrifices weren't made on the back of their one kid (well, he was going to have a less impressive Christmas this year, but he'll live). So they probably would have been less impressive to a reporter looking for a sob story.

Posted by: marion at November 30, 2007 6:48 AM

Actually, Grethchen, I have my doubts that they love their kids... Well, at least that they don't love them as much as they do the big house, the granite counters, the ocean view, or not having a boss. I think it's all too painfully obvious that the poor children aren't valued as much as those material things or else they would be doing like the rest of us and putting those kids before those things. A loving parent doesn't tell a kid they can't play because paying for a granite counter top is more important than paying for doctor bill. I wouldn't be surprised if the home school thing isn't so much about the quality of the kids' education as it about them having control over their belongings. I wouldn't even be surprised if it comes out that it's because they're afraid of what the schools might pick up on if the kids were there. There's something really eerie in parents that will buy all these material things but not give their kids health care, even go so far as to tell a kid not to risk falling off a skate board. When I read that frankly I heard a snarling voice, not a gently concerned one.

Posted by: Donna at November 30, 2007 7:14 AM

I'm not suggesting the writer of this article had the evangelical Christian demographic in mind when he picked this family to profile, but . . . they are remarkably similar to many of the families in my parents' (pentecostal) church. Dad's a contractor (electrician, cabinet-maker, log-home builder), mom stays home and teaches the kids because sending them to secular public schools is considered the height of irresponsibility in those circles. Because many, many, many evangelicals are Republicans who consider government-sponsored healthcare to be a socialist/satanic plot. So perhaps this reporter selected a family of whom that particular voter could say, "These people are doing EXACTLY what they should be doing, and there but by the grace of God go I"?

Posted by: Stephanie at November 30, 2007 7:17 AM

I wouldn't even be surprised if it comes out that it's because they're afraid of what the schools might pick up on if the kids were there.

I wondered something similar. Also, home schooling is like Prius driving. Sure, it has its benefits, but it's also a major style statement, and if you live in a certain socially conservative community, home schooling is a definite social merit badge.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 30, 2007 7:26 AM

oh amy amy's so easy for all of you to sit behind your , how did you say it "fancy schmancy" computer and judge someone else and their decisions to actually PARENT their children, when did it become a crime to want to stay home and be a mother?? Answer me this, when and where in the article does it quote either wes or sophia asking for a free handout?? ya thats what i thought, it doesnt!!! not one time, re-read the article.
And another thing...i cant even believe my eyes, you had the nerve to say they shouldnt have kids, are you kidding me?? hasnt your financial circumstance ever changed?? do you think for one minute they wanted to be priced out of health coverage! come on you must be smarter than that! I could see your anger if the wirkkalas were on welfare, or worse yet not citizens of the U.S asking for the rest of us to pay their way, clearly they have not, so instead of attacking with viscious words, perhaps you should re-read the article

kinds regards

Posted by: leslie at November 30, 2007 12:47 PM

It "became a crime to stay home and be a mother" when choosing to stay home and be a mother means that you are depriving your children of healthcare and expecting society to pick up the slack for your choice.

$450 is not "priced out of healthcare" if someone in the family can still get a part time job. At $6.00 for 20 hours a week this mother would be able to provide health care for her kids. And if she chose to work at someplace like starbucks that actually provides health insurance for its part time employees she would be able to KEEP that money.

"I could see your anger if the wirkkalas were on welfare, or worse yet not citizens of the U.S asking for the rest of us to pay their way, clearly they have not,"

So somehow being a US Citizen means that the rest of us should have to pay their kid's way? If that is what they, or anyone else expects then I think they are living in the wrong country. In Communist Russia Health Cares for YOU!!

Posted by: Shinobi at November 30, 2007 1:05 PM

Leslie, when an 8 year old child has to remind his father to be careful because they don't have health insurance to cover even a small accident like a twisted ankle, that is called neglect. That is NOT a burden that should be placed on a child! Granite countertops and an ocean view are very nice, but not at the expense of being able to properly take care of my children by providing health care. They may not have been "asking" for a handout, but the implication was there. Their false sense of entitlement does not preclude my paying into their healthcare, or lack thereof. I pay for my and my daughters healthcare, and so should the Wikkalas! I make less money than they do, too, and I rent the house I live in, so if I can do it, they can too, they have no damn excuse.

Posted by: Flynne at November 30, 2007 1:24 PM

I meant the Wirrkalas should pay for their children's healthcare, not my kids'. I've got that covered. (Because I'm a responsible parent.)

Posted by: Flynne at November 30, 2007 1:26 PM


Of course circumstances change, which is exactly why one must be flexible to evolve should things change and intelligent enough to reevaluate one's situation.

Staying home with your kids is a great idea (more kids need "hands on" parents!) and I'm sure that most people who have kids would like to work less and spend more time raising the children they brought into this world. It's particularly sucky: you have kids hence you want to stay home more, but since you have kids your expenses skyrocket and you have to work more. But who doesn't "get" that before they have kids?

Please don't insult all the hard working parents who make incredible sacrifices everyday in order to provide their children with health care. I take it personally: my mother works 12 hour shifts as a labor and delivery triage nurse. She loves her job, but part time at her age would be easier on her body. Unfortunately, it isn't a choice as she has two high schoolers at home.

$450 is $450. Anyone can easily put that in over the course of a month working nights while the kids are in bed. Working nights will take a toll on Mrs. W's body, she'll be tired and maybe less effective during the day as a teacher. She will see her husband less. Guess what? That doesn't make her unique in any way. It puts her in w/ the rest of the folks who are doing what it takes.

I know this is offensive to many people: having kids isn't 1) a mandatory step in life 2) a "right" in some sense of the word. No one is simply entitled to have kids just b/c they want them. Why? B/c they're a huge responsibility and unless the parents are willing to do ANYTHING necessary to give them what they need they *should not* have kids. If having kids means placing a financial burden on society b/c of poor financial decisions - not merely getting dealt a shitty hand - then "no kids for you" (Soup Nazi voice).

It's not too late. They can decide to be responsible and reevaluate their financial situation and make the necessary adjustments.

Woo, 5 pm. Time for some pinot noir :-)

Posted by: Gretchen at November 30, 2007 2:02 PM

Thanks, guys - been away from the Internet for the afternoon/early evening.

you had the nerve to say they shouldnt have kids,

Can't afford to pay for three? Have two or one! In fact, don't have any until you can support them and not pass off their suport on the rest of us. Wow...novel concept.

And like others have wisely said above - when your "circumstances change" you adapt to deal with them. You send your kids to public school and get a job. Or take in wash. Or whatever it takes. My dad would've dug ditches and waded through raw sewage before he expected anybody else to pay for our health care. I don't see that level of personal responsiblity relected in these people's statements.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 30, 2007 5:54 PM

I read about these people yesterday at ohmygodo'clock am - at work. The blissful ignorance of them and the reporter writing the story amaze me. Rather than sell the house for a profit and move someplace cheaper, or take a night job, or work ebay sales and consignment shops, or cut grass and deliver pizza, or take a regular job with benefits, they expect us all to pay for their healthcare. Astonishing. Meanwhile my wife and I work opposite shifts and drive ten-year old cars to free up the cash to clear our debtload - because a debt-free life will allow us to make choices like pursuing our dream careers and homeschooling. Our small kids go to public school, read books from the library, wear secondhand clothes and Have Health Insurance. What we do is a pain in the ass. But if it was easy then everybody would be doing it, including those assholes.

In their defense on one issue, the granite counters and beams may not have cost anything. He's in construction, they may be salvaged from some job he's worked. My contractor father brought lots of cool salvage home and used it in our home. But he didn't have an oceanview house, shiny truck or stay-at-home wife either.

Posted by: Scott at November 30, 2007 8:44 PM

Leslie -

My partner is the stay at home mom who will be homeschooling our son after the holidays. I don't make a whole lot, just enough to cover th bills, including health insurance for my son and pregnant partner. We don't live in a fancy house, indeed we live in a crappy apartment. We don't have cable tee vee and we don't have vacations, unless you include awesome hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. We are slowly but surely saving up for a decent downpayment on a house and relatively soon, I will be switching us to a HSA that will provide coverage for me, as well as the rest of my family.

Due to some poor decision making, we have been on state assistance. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am that it was available to us. We got past it though, when I was making considerably less than the assholes described in this story. When I first got him on insurance that I was covering, I went hungry on occasion, to make sure he was covered.

As I mentioned on the other thread, there is no reason whatsoever, that they could not have simply canceled their own insurance and covered the kids. Or they could ditch the insanely out of their range house with an ocean view - at least until they can afford it. We live in a craphole apartment, so that we can save for a decent down payment. They could get rid of the cable bill, assuming they have cable. That would be enough to cover at least one kid right there.

Parenting is all about sacrifice. Not sacrificing your kid's healthcare, but making sacrifices that crimp the parent's style. Don't like it, don't fuck - or at least wear a condom. If your financial situation changes, you don't pretend it didn't. Sell the fancy house and get an apartment or cheaper house.

While my neck of the woods is not as expensive as his, Portland isn't exactly cheap - I would be thrilled to bring home Wirkkala's income. With that, I could quit screwing around, trying to raise sixty grand to put down on a home for my family. What I have now would be sufficient. Hell, it would be a huge help if I quit paying the insurance premiums for the family - emptying the startup account for our HSA would help to. Hey, you want to help cover my families healthcare costs, so we can cut some of the time off our wait for a house?

The Wirkkalas can go screw. At my income, my kid probably still qualifies for the Oregon health plan. But I have this inane notion that the limited resources there should go to kids who's parents really can't afford it. Selfish assholes.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 30, 2007 8:49 PM

I am actually very sympathetic to the argument that 1) our health-insurance/health-care system is screwed up; 2) that said system is screwed up in a way that disproportionately penalizes certain groups, especially those who wish to work independently (such as Amy!) and run their own businesses; and 3) that something needs to be done about all that. But the solution is not to say, "Screw it, I'm going to do what I want, my wife is going to do what she wants, and we're going to have a nice house, and the way we're going to rebel is by telling our three kids that our lives will be ruined if they sprain their knees skateboarding." The Wirkkalas are failing at Parenting 101 - not because they have no resources or tools with which to do a better job, but because they are unwilling to sacrifice to provide a minimum level of physical security for their offspring. And newsflash: Plenty of families have fewer children than they might ideally want because of a perception of limited resources, including families with more resources than the Wirkkalas. If you can adequately support three, or five, or seven kids on your salary, whatever that salary is, great! Otherwise, you may have to make some hard decisions about how many children you bring into the world.

Due to some poor decision making, we have been on state assistance. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am that it was available to us.

I'm of the belief that, if possible, no one's life should be ruined because of *limited* poor decision-making - i.e. getting knocked up at 16 and deciding after the baby arrives that you're going to make something of yourself, damnit. The problem comes when programs are set up in such a way that they allow continued poor decision-making. Among other things, that causes a lot of people who have never needed those programs to decide that EVERYONE who has ever received help from them is a leech. I'm in favor of the idea of providing insurance for kids who fall between the regular insurance/Medicaid cracks, but if various forces continue their push to have the program slowly but surely *replace* regular insurance coverage, I'm going to rethink my support.

Posted by: marion at December 1, 2007 9:21 AM

The problem comes when programs are set up in such a way that they allow continued poor decision-making.

Exactly, marion. We're now into the 4th Welfare generation, with no end in sight. How the hell are we supposed to fix this, when so many people are content with the status quo? o_O

Posted by: Flynne at December 1, 2007 9:41 AM

Flynne -

Personally, I am a fan of a more comprehensive and far more minimal welfare state. I.e. the state will clothe, feed and shelter - provide healthcare as well. But we provide what is necessary, not what makes people terribly comfortable. No foodstamps, instead provide the food itself and nothing fancy. Clothing vouchers for second hand stores or other sources for cheap clothing. Apartments along the designs that I and others have come up with for very cheap construction and turnover (i.e. everything is modular, mass produced and easily replaced).

The other factor that would make a difference is getting beyond this dependency would be to require those on assistance to do community service within their abilities. A great example that was brainstormed, people who can cook, teaching and helping those on assistance who cannot. Or the guy in a wheelchair can watch the surveillance screens. Point being, if your on assistance, your gonna do something that benefits your community. Too, you will receive on the job training for a real world, paying position.

There are a lot of ways to help get people out of dependency mode, without just throwing them to the wolves. The ones I have listed barely scratch the surface.

Posted by: DuWayne at December 1, 2007 1:24 PM

We're now into the 4th Welfare generation, with no end in sight. How the hell are we supposed to fix this

Well, welfare reform is having some effect, despite the hysterical claims that it would leave thousands of children starving, STARVING! on grates in the street. I like DuWayne's way of thinking, though.

Posted by: marion at December 1, 2007 5:34 PM

In Australia we don't really have issues like paying for health cover unless you want private, but it is a good idea to buy ambulance cover. My uncle runs a carpet store and my auntie has a store on ebay so they can support their five children (aged 6 months-15 years, buy ambulance cover, send their children to good schools, save for the future and finish building their six bedroom dream house.

They've never received a hand out from anyone

Posted by: kyla at December 1, 2007 10:07 PM

That's how accountable people live.

Here's another post from the whining Wirkkala friend "Leslie" on the earlier entry:

some how whatever i filled out to resond must make you all think that i have a web page, i dont, but i am leslie and i am a friend of the wirkkalas and NO im not falling for the reverse psychology of "tell me the real story if its true. Come on...i wouldnt give you people the pleasure of really knowing the wirkkalas, you see what you want to this all you people have to do all day is judge and bash others? you have heard about 1 % of what their life is like,i sure hope none of you have to deal with hardship...its a sad thing....

Posted by: leslie at December 1, 2007 9:12 PM

My reply (and sorry, it's 1am, and I'm in Detroit, and a little exhausted, so it's a little repetitive):

Look, you can't say they have hardship - which was not revealed in an article about them and their health insurance situation -- and then not reveal it. It's just not acceptable.

As for "the pleasure of knowing the Wirkkala's," I don't find it a pleasure to be around such people -- people who burden their kids with telling them not to fall when they're skateboarding rather than doing the parental thing and paying for their health insurance.

What seems clear is that all you have to defend them with is your weak little they're "awesome." Sorry, anonymous Leslie, that doesn't fly here. What's your last name, and why don't you stand behind your posts with it?

Perhaps you're kind of dim, but wanting to know the facts behind your contention that they're "awesome" parents and the suggestion that they have "hardship" (which somehow escaped the LA Times reporter in the story that went down to the nitty gritty of the dad telling the kid not to fall off the skateboard)...well, wanting to know the real story is not "reverse psychology."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 1, 2007 10:12 PM

Amy, I think you're being too hard on Leslie. Clearly, she is suffering from some sort of hardship that makes it almost impossible for her to hit the "shift" key or observe basic rules of grammar and punctuation. Perhaps we should set up a government program to teach her about the proper use of the apostrophe.

(I'm sure that came across as being terribly bitchy, but if she's going to defend the Wirkkalas, she should do so in a way that makes her look minimally intelligent. Right now she's doing the opposite of advancing their case.)

Posted by: marion at December 2, 2007 6:32 AM

I just read the other post from "leslie" and I posted that I thought the Wirkkalas called the reporter to give him "their story" and it backfired! Instead of getting sympathy and a handout, they got us giving them the razz instead. And their "friend" "leslie" can't even defend them properly, she keeps evading the issue, so I told Amy she should just forget about it. We'll never get the "real" story, because, apparently, there isn't one. How sad. /sarc

Posted by: Flynne at December 2, 2007 8:54 AM

I'm sure that came across as being terribly bitchy, but if she's going to defend the Wirkkalas, she should do so in a way that makes her look minimally intelligent.

This is verging on a personal attack on Leslie, which is not relevant.

Leslie - this blog pulls no punches, but they shouldn't be below the belt. You should feel able to put your case here. But you have to have a case to put.

Posted by: Norman at December 2, 2007 2:08 PM

Norman: I don't know about you, but when I see that someone either doesn't know or can't be bothered with minimal levels of grammar and punctuation when making her argument, I think less of the intelligence behind that argument. If I thought that English weren't Leslie's first language, that would, of course, be a totally different matter, but if you can't be bothered to hit the shift or apostrophe keys when making your case, your argument is going to suffer in comparison to those from people who can. I'm having a hard time reading Leslie's "argument," such as it is, and I don't think saying that qualifies as hitting "below the belt" given that it's in line with Leslie's failure to provide *any* substance to support her vague contentions. She's not making the Wirkkalas' case look any stronger with her argument - quite the opposite, in fact. If you feel that the way I phrased what I was saying was too harsh, I concede your point, but I don't think letting Leslie know that she'll be taken more seriously if she puts more care into the quality of her written communication is out of line.

Posted by: marion at December 2, 2007 2:58 PM

Hi Marion - I agree that poor writing quality usually indicates lower intelligence. But the intelligence or otherwise of Leslie is only a factor in how easy it is for her to find her arguments. Once she has made her point, it stands or falls on its own merits, no matter if Leslie is a genius or an idiot. Objecting to Leslie's intelligence is the ad hominem.

I also agree that it is a fact of life that people will take her more seriously if she writes better. And that she has still to make any argument at all.

But how can you, Marion, argue that because Leslie is too stupid to put the Wirkkalas' case, their case is thereby weakened? That does not follow. If you claimed that Leslie was intelligent and unable to put their case, I would agree. You can't have it both ways!

Posted by: Norman at December 3, 2007 8:03 AM

The Wirralas don't know the meaning of the word hardship, frankly. They exhibit as much by their behavior. Those who really survive hardship seemed most determined to stand on their own two feet.

Posted by: Donna at December 3, 2007 10:56 AM

For all we know, the Wirkkalas are in fact "awesome" people. I bet they throw great parties at sundown as they watch the sun set over the horizon of the Pacific. They may be the nicest people on earth for all I know.

However, what is clear is that their priorities are f*cked. I think people are making too much about them telling the kid to be careful on a skateboard (um, I do that every day). I do question the wisdom of allowing your kid to engage in a dangerous activity like skateboarding if you can't afford the consequences though.

The problem is that Wirkkalas are exposing themselves and their children to financial ruin if something (God forbid) does happen to one of them. No matter how you slice it, that is just wrong. Selfish, stupid and wrong. What, pray tell, do the "awesome" Wirkkalas plan to do if he has a heart attack, needs a triple bypass and has three week hospital stay? And are they really not going to get Johnny's arm fixed if he falls off his skateboard? Both events happen every single day, and either case could happen to the Wirkkalas tomorrow.

The answer is, the Wirkkalas know EXACTLY what they'd do - they'd not pay their bills and then pass the costs of their care on to the rest of us anyway. Buying their insurance is actually the cheaper alternative for us.

As one of the responsible taxpayers who would be left holding the Wirkkalas bag of aweseomness, that doesn't like such a sweet deal for me.

Posted by: Darcyman at December 3, 2007 5:57 PM

I stay home and homeschool my children, and I have one on the way. We have made sacrifices to do this - living in tiny places in bad neighborhoods, my partner working jobs he hates, one crappy car - but you know what? It was never more than slightly uncomfortable, because for God's sake, you're doing it for your children. I don't understand people making financial investments in their children's future while their children receive an inadequate education and are mistreated in lousy schools. But I equally fail to understand letting your children not have health insurance. How could any parent do that?

Posted by: Karen at December 7, 2007 2:33 PM

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