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Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2004 / 22 Teves, 5764

Tom Purcell

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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 -"

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"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."

"It is?"

"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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12/27/03: Holiday Pork
12/19/03: FOUND! The captured-Saddam transcript
12/12/03: Peace, Man
12/05/03: Who are you, Miss Manners?
12/01/03: Joyless, selfish children
11/21/03: Thanksgiving, updated for our times
11/14/03: Hang in there, tubby America, your day in the sun will come
11/07/03: Morale at Veterans' Day
10/31/03: The Big Picture
10/24/03: A sorry bunch
10/17/03: Conversation with a typical poll respondent?
10/10/03: Men and women and brains
10/03/03: Iraqi Pork
09/26/03: They would not leave
09/19/03: A radical idea
09/12/03: Food Guide Pyramid has a "stupidity factor"?
09/05/03: Flag waving and football cheering
08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't
08/25/03: Attack of the 'virus twits'
08/08/03: Why not have a whole slew of the world's dignitaries and leaders come by to visit you?
08/01/03: Do you really want to live until 500?
07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
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01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
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10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
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09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
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08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
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06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
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05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2003, Tom Purcell