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Uncle Sam wants you to get married

February 28, 2002|BY TIM ROWLAND

A hundred million dollars seems to be the going price for a government program these days. Last week I mentioned that government wants to spend $100 million to establish a national ID card, and now I notice that a Bush Administration official wants to spend $100 million to encourage poor people to get married.

Just think, $100 million to coerce people into weddings. That's a lot of shotguns.

I'll tell you, for just $1 million I would be willing to tie the knot, and I wouldn't be terribly particular about who - oops, I'm not allowed to write that kind of slop anymore. What I meant to say was that as a matter of public policy, government intervention into the bonds (I always thought that an appropriate word) of matrimony raises some serious issues.

If I wanted the government to run some kind of dating game, I've have voted for Bob Eubanks.

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But according to The New York Times, welfare official Wade Horn wants "...the federal government to promote and encourage marriage more aggressively among low-income people."

Oh, I knew it. It's those low-income people again. Walking around all unmarried and everything. Jerks. When are they going to learn to take control of their own lives by letting rich politicians take control of it for them?

And honestly, how does one go about "promoting" marriage, put up a bunch of billboards? "Matrimony: It's What's For Supper."

Maybe they could give away pencils with little wedding cake erasers on them. You know, kids love that kind of stuff. Have a costumed spokesman who can go into the schools: Betty Bride and Gary Groom. "Hi kiddies! Remember our jingle; Only losers are single."

I am sorely tempted to call this a waste of money. I've been single for the past 15 years and they're going to spend $100 million to tell me I was wrong? Of course, next we are probably going to need to spend another $100 million to teach anti-depression skills to all those people who can't find mates after the government has informed them it's the only way to live.

Horn goes on to say the money would pay for experiments that would revolve around giving people the "skills and knowledge" to have a healthy marriage.

Beautiful. We're spending $100 million to teach guys not to leave the toilet seat up.

This is all having an eerie, Orwellian effect on me. It's like you get to 18, and the government stamps a national identification code on your forehead, arranges a marriage for you whether you like it or not and you march through your pre-programmed life, not making any waves or in any way questioning the authority of all those in office who obviously know what's best for us.

I suppose married people are more orderly and easier to control, which is what people in power always want to encourage. But it seems to me that the problem isn't that people aren't getting married, it's that they aren't staying married.

The government can hitch all the couples it wants, but that doesn't mean that two months down the road he won't be fishtailing out the driveway in a spray of gravel because she won't stop nagging him about his bad habits.

Marriage is great and it's especially important if there are kids, but two people either get along or they don't and all the hundreds of millions in the entire budget ain't gonna change that.

I thought it curious. The Times piece was some 1,500 words long and quoted a whole slew of experts and social commentators on the topic of marriage. You know how many times the word "Love" was used?

Zero.

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