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January 14, 2004


Billion with a "B?"

Somebody help me get my jaw off the floor, please.

Yeah, and better still, apparently they're debating if and where to put this grand proposal in the next SOTU. Hey, it beats yellowcake, but still...

On the bright side, it's great for Stewart, Letterman, Leno, and SNL. (Though Leno won't be funny, and the SNL skit will go on WAY too long.)

My second thought was, Cato's going to bust a sprocket. Sure enough, the first item on their site currently is:

Should the Federal Government Be Promoting Marriage?
President Bush will reportedly endorse more federal programs aimed at promoting and strengthening marriage in his State of the Union address. Cato's Michael Tanner -- who will debate the issue at 8pm ET tonight with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly -- wrote on federal marriage programs for the New York Times last July. And in a 1997 piece for Slate, David Boaz argued that we ought to take the state out of marriage altogether.

If Bush is so into promoting and strengthening marriage, how come he's so against a group of people who have explicitly said they want to get married....?

Oh, I know the answer: he has a large voting base of homophobes to answer to. But one of these days the Republican party is going to figure out that there is no reason for gays to vote Democrat except that the Republicans keep trying to cut off their balls.

So to speak.

This proposal, like Michael Powell's expressed desire to clamp down on naughty words in broadcast media, is part of the opening rounds of Campaign 2004.

So far, Rove's strategy seems to be to pander to the Religious Right.

1. Does marriage need saving?

2. If so, do we want to save marriage?

3. If so, do we think it's worth this money?

4. If so, do we think it'll save it?

From the NYT article:

Under the president's proposal, federal money could be used for specific activities like advertising campaigns to publicize the value of marriage, instruction in marriage skills and mentoring programs that use married couples as role models.

Federal officials said they favored premarital education programs that focus on high school students; young adults interested in marriage; engaged couples; and unmarried couples at the moment of a child's birth, when the parents are thought to have the greatest commitment to each other.

I have no problem agreeing that such a proposal is a bad idea because it is neither a proper nor constitutional function of the federal government. But neither is spending federal tax dollars on “violence prevention programs,” AIDS awareness campaigns, Americorps, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, the Office of the Surgeon General, or numerous other “promotional” and “awareness” programs.

I assume of course that the same people snickering at a proposal to promote marriage, would also favor the wholesale elimination of taxpayer support for these other programs as well.

You assume incorrectly, Thorley (what a neat name, btw. Really, no sarcasm intended.) I can think of lots of reasons the gov't should spend money on AIDS prevention, fitness, the Surgeon General, etc., because these are squarely aimed at the public good and contain pretty low levels of moral judgement. But this proposal stinks of the religious right trying to cram their ideas down the public's throat.

I don't have any trouble seeing my tax dollars going to programs that are in place because only the gov't can coordinate such tasks (interstates, space exploration, trade treaties, you know). But when the gov't tries to tell me what to think and how to conduct my private life (that is, that part of my life that doesn't impinge upon anybody else), it's gone too far.

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