How’s that for a title?

So hey! Have you heard?

The President is going to indoctrinate brainwash talk to the many small children of our great nation on Tuesday! During school hours!

That’s right! There will be some minutes spent on such appalling and morally questionable topics like, “staying in school” and “school is great!” and “education is important” and, the worst one of all – “don’t drop out”.

I know, I am horrified, too. To think. The FULLY DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT of our COUNTRY might OPEN HIS MOUTH and TALK. To OUR KIDS!

I mean, think about the possible consequences:

–They could spontaneously start singing creepily, like the Von Trapp family or small children clad in t-shirts with the word “HOPE” splashed across them

–They could question why Jimmy’s family doesn’t have health insurance, but their family does

–They could want to stay in school until they are 18, rather than drop out and hopefully work in a minimum-wage job

–They could decide that they want to grow up to be the President, too

–They might hear the words “civic responsibility”

–The words Obama uses might become permanently seared into their very impressionable, but-immediately-hardened-upon-hearing-Obama-language, brains. Like, he could say, “It is every American’s responsibility to pay Lots and Lots of money to me, so that I can make sure I make every rich person very poor and every poor person very rich,” children will grow up to believe that there is only One Way to structure taxes, and they will be incapable of analyzing the impact of such questionable public policies, because once they hear it from Obama, there’s no going back.

I’m having trouble coming with any others. Anyone?

Because the fact of the matter is, *none* of that is remotely concerning to me. I mean, according to CNN, Reagan gave a similarly-oriented, but more politically-slanted speech to school kids in 1988, calling taxes “such a penalty on people that there’s no incentive for them to prosper … because they have to give so much to the government.” And frankly, I was 11 in 1988, and I have no doubt (?) that I heard that, and I think that is one of the most idiotic statements I’ve ever heard.

See? It didn’t permanently damage me. It surely wasn’t my parents’ opinion, and yes, there was a time when I completely disagreed with their political opinion: it’s called ADOLESCENCE, and hopefully all children will question their parents’ political (and other) wisdom at some soul-searching point, too, regardless of whether the President talks to them during one school day.

At any rate, my point is that Reagan’s statement was actually a *debatable* one, and *it* didn’t leave any permanent, indelible mark on my brain. Do we really want to debate the merits of staying in school versus dropping out?

Someone on Facebook posted a status response that was something like – “if it was Bush or Cheney, I’m sure you’d be upset, too.”

Well, actually, I’ll tell you what I would do, if it were Bush (or Cheney, if Cheney had ever actually been elected President):

A) I would send my kids to school, anyway, because a) it’s school, b) he is the PRESIDENT, and c) we can discuss how Bush is an idiot (or other, more cerebral policy critiques) later that day, over dinner, and

B) I would pray like heck that Bush didn’t use the word “nuclear”, because man, it WOULD be tough to explain to my child why our President cannot pronounce the word “nuclear”.

Fortunately for us, Obama is a well-educated guy who can, in fact, accurately pronounce all of the words he employs in his speeches. After 8 years of a guy who gave speeches that were really worthy of many a drinking game, I have to say that Obama is both a breath of fresh air and somewhat of a let-down….there are not nearly so many fun rules for drinking when Obama is speaking.

Not that anyone should be drinking during a speech to school kids! Obviously.

I honestly don’t understand the issue.

Moreover, I really do not understand why, in fact, we are so up in arms over this in this country anyway. People are DYING in Afghanistan. People are DYING in America. People are LIVING IN THE STREETS here. We just had dinner with some Australian friends who had moved here from Mozambique – yes, people, MOZAMBIQUE, where people really are dying, and living in dire, dire, dire poverty – and they were *shocked* that they saw homeless people on the streets of America.

They said, “I would expect that in Mozambique, but not in America.”

Who can say, “misplaced outrage”? Anyone? Anyone???

Because here’s the thing:

This country? This very country? The let-freedom-ring country? Was already pretty darn socialist before Obama ever stepped foot in office.

Let me say that again: WE ARE NOT A CAPITALIST COUNTRY.

I’ll give you a few examples, just off the top of my (very tired) head:

Poverty alleviation: In 1986, President Reagan (yes, that President Reagan…the father and stalwart of the conservative cause) expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit. There is, in fact, only one way to receive a bigger tax refund than what was originally owed (ie: profit from taxes), and that is through the EITC. The EITC was designed for families living in poverty, as a way to augment their low wages. It enjoys bipartisan support and has been hailed as one of the most effective anti-poverty interventions in recent history. The Heritage Foundation (a staunchly conservative thinktank) supported the expansion of EITC when Reagan proposed it in 1986.

The EITC is a Robin-Hood-esque intervention: take from the rich [who pay taxes], and give to the poor [who need the help].

Sound like the claims made recently about Obama’s “socialism”, right?

And yet the socialism continues, unabated. In fact, it’s celebrated. On *both* sides of the aisle.

Agriculture: Why do you think we have such a love affair with high-fructose corn syrup? Is it because it is delicious? Is it because it is better than sugar at sweetening carbonated drinks?

Try: it’s cheaper. And also, the government pays people to make corn, so we have a surplus, so….hey, let’s use it to make something that is sort of like sugar! Between 1995 and 2006, the U.S. government paid $56 billion to subsidize the production of corn, depressing prices worldwide and screwing farmers in Africa, who cannot get a reasonable price for corn because the American farmers need to sell it so cheaply, given the flooded market.

So, let’s review: The government decides what crops we need to produce and what we don’t need to produce. The government then PAYS people to produce them. The crops are then in excess, which floods a pseudo-market economy (but for the whole managed-market thing, or the extraordinary barriers to entry, such as tariffs for incoming produce and quotas for subsidized stock) and depresses the price point to the point where no one would want to enter the market, anyway. So we have too much corn.

So we make corn syrup, which goes swimmingly until people start getting obese, and we realize that, perhaps, corn syrup isn’t all that awesome, but by that point, we can’t stop paying people to produce corn, because WHAT would the farmers DO with all this LAND that they’ve been using to produce our nation’s Most Very Valuable corn/wheat/soy?  [*Answer:  Start their own PR campaign, of course.]

(Side note: Time magazine wrote a similar article critiquing the state of the food industry in their August 21st issue. Totally fascinating, if you’re into looking at where our food comes from.)

These subsidies began in 1965, under LBJ, but were expanded in 1970, under Nixon.

Yes, that’s right. Under yet another Republican president.  Renewed multiple times in the last 39 years under both Republican and Democrat administrations.

Have I made my point yet?

We *are* a country guided by some very basic socialist-sounding notions. For the most part, we believe in government control of many, many things. We like the government to fix our roads, fund our police stations, and ensure we are not hit by a nuclear (that’s nu-CLEEEEE-ar) bomb. We rely on the government to protect our crops from foreign germs brought in with travelers, and many of us choose to send our children to schools that are, in fact, funded by government dollars.

Does that mean we have no input on roads, schools, or police activity? No, of course not.

But can you imagine if the government just said, “Nope, sorry! We’re going to allow the FREE MARKET to dictate the condition of your roads now. So if you care enough about your road, you can pay for that pothole to be fixed*. If you’re out on a remote country road, I guess it’s up to you, Joe Shmoe who lives down that country road, to fix it. If you want it/”need” it badly enough, you’ll find a way to pay for it.”

Of COURSE not. THAT would be ridiculous. I think it is safe to say that all of us believe in the value of the non-potholed-road. That it is a necessity, not a luxury.

*Note: if you live in a desert, you will not understand the importance of the pot-hole-fixing component of road repair (maybe?) In places with crazy temperature fluctuations, the concrete in the road cracks, resulting in big, car-eating potholes.

But it turns out, that is *exactly* what we seem to believe about healthcare. And we seem to have this crazy fear that we are in the process of making a left-hand turn off of Conservative Court, careening down Socialism Street, when we’ve been cruising down Socialism Street for the last 80 years like it’s a lazy Sunday drive.

I mean, really. *I* don’t drive down Joe Schmoe’s rural road EVER. I live in a large, bustling, urban area. But I’m perfectly happy with the fact that my tax dollars go to pay for his road’s maintenance. I don’t have kids yet, either, and I’m fine with the fact that my property taxes fund our public school system.

Likewise, I am perfectly okay with the concept that my tax dollars will go to fund health insurance access for others who are not as fortunate as us. (As a side note, just to let you all know, you are ALL subsidizing DB’s and my health care. Thank you. We totally appreciate it and we are beyond grateful, and also? We love our government-run health care.)

All I am saying is this: If Obama wants to tell the kids of this country that he thinks they should work hard and stay in school, I think that’s awesome. I think that message is awesome coming from anyone, but I think it is particularly valuable coming from someone who really *did* work hard, really *did* achieve a lot, and really *didn’t* have a ton of privileges – white, financial, social, or otherwise – thrown his way.

And if he says something as political as Reagan said, like something about taxes, so help him, God. Then people can rise up in fury and pray fervently that their children did not hear something so blasphemous as, “every family should have access to health care.”

There are so many more important things to fight about. Let’s pick something else. This speech is a non-issue, and I am kind of embarrassed that it is *this* type of thing, and not something *actually* important, that gets Americans all riled up.