Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2004 / 22 Teves, 5764
Bucks for betrothals
"We've been thinking, Tom, that it's a good idea for you to get married."
"You want me to get married? But you're the federal government. What business is it of yours whether or not I get married?"
"The federal government has plenty of interest in whether or not you get married. Marriage is good for society, good for children,
good for the stability of our country."
"Well, everyone knows marriage is good, but that wasn't my question."
"Look, Tom, our research shows that people who marry are less likely to live in poverty. Children are less likely to get involved in
crime and are way better off emotionally. The higher the marriage rate, the less social ills there will be."
"I know, I know, but how is that the business of the federal government?"
"Look, marriage has been under assault in this country for years. First, no-fault divorce made it easy for people to terminate their
marriages. Now every time people run into a little snag, they head for divorce court. No wonder half of all marriages end in divorce."
"I agree that isn't good, but -"
"And that's if people even bother getting married in the first place. Hollywood and popular culture has encouraged young people to
avoid marriage and cohabitate instead - despite the research that shows such arrangements to be less happy, to foment more
jealousy and to suffer much more physical and mental abuse."
"I agree completely with your assessments, but -"
"The fact is, Tom, a war is raging in America. A cultural war in which traditional values are in danger. Somebody has to do
something to save marriage. And that is the job of the federal government."
"President Bush's plan calls for $1.5 billion in new spending to promote marriage. According to the New York Times, this federal
money could be used for specific activities, such as advertising campaigns to publicize the value of marriage, instruction in marriage
skills and mentoring programs that use married couples as role models."
"A little tip for you: a lot the married people I know are good role models for people who want to stay single."
"Nonsense, Tom. Look, we've got plans to educate couples before they marry. Our premarital education programs will focus on high
school students, young adults, engaged couples and couples that are with child but not yet married. We're going to teach them how
to communicate, rear children and resolve the inevitable conflicts that will arise between men and women in married life."
"Wait a second. Our government can't bring peace to the Middle East and we think we can spend tax dollars to resolve disputes
between married men and women? Besides, I thought churches used to provide this sort of counseling for free?"
"But Tom, our research shows that people on the lower end of the economic scale are unable to access these kind of services as
easily as middle class people. That isn't fair at all. Surveys show that the poorer among us would be happy to make use of marital
counseling services to the betterment of their marriages, families and communities. Would that be good for America?"
"But how will the federal government deliver the services?"
"We'll simply hand over millions of dollars to community and faith-based organizations that are already delivering these services.
With more money, they can staff up and do more good deeds within their areas. It's a no brainer, Tom."
"But I thought Republicans used to be for smaller government and reduced spending? We're bleeding in red ink as it is right now.
And didn't Republicans used to believe the government should stay out of people's private lives?"
"That was before we were in power, Tom. Now that we run the White House, the House and the Senate, we have decided the federal
government is good! And we have decided that it is time for you to marry."
"You've been talking with my mother, haven't you?"
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© 2003, Tom Purcell