Government Math

Gail Collins at the New York Times has written a couple of really good columns about the politics of abortion and family planning recently. Earlier this week, in “Behind the Abortion War,” she described the Right’s antipathy to contraception. Today, in “The New Anti-Abortion Math,” she writes about the Right’s refusal to face reality about their opposition to contraception.

Pointing to the government of the state of Texas, Collins writes,

Right now, the state is wrestling with a fiscal megacrisis that goes back to 2006, when the Legislature cut local property taxes and made up for the lost revenue with a new business tax. The new tax produced billions less than expected to the shock and horror of everyone except all the experts who had been predicting that all along.

Governor Perry blames the whole thing on President Obama.

Texas’ problems are of interest to us all because Texas is producing a huge chunk of the nation’s future work force with a system that goes like this:

• Terrible sex education programs and a lack of access to contraceptives leads to a huge number of births to poor women. (About 60 percent of the deliveries in Texas are financed by Medicaid.) Texas also leads the nation in the number of teenage mothers with two or more offspring.

• The Texas baby boom — an 800,000 increase in schoolchildren over the last decade — marches off to underfunded schools. Which are getting more underfunded by the minute, thanks to that little tax error.

And naturally, when times got tough at the State Capitol, one of the first things the cash-strapped Legislature tried to cut was family planning.

This is typical:

The state estimates the pregnancies averted would reduce its Medicaid bill by more than $36 million next year. But when a budget expert told the Texas House Committee on Human Services that the program saved money, he was laced into by Representative Jodie Laubenberg for using “government math.”

The Fetus People have persuaded themselves that there are “studies” that show widespread contraceptive use leads to more unwanted pregnancies. Actual studies show just the opposite, of course.

I also got a kick out of Gov. Perry’s claim that he knows abstinence education works “from personal experience.” I hadn’t heard that one before.

This goes back to my long-standing gripe that media continue to paint anti-abortion activists and pro-reproductive rights activists as equally radical and absolutist. But the major reproductive rights organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood just want to maintain the Roe v. Wade guidelines, whereas the anti-aborts don’t want to just overturn Roe v. Wade; they want to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut.

24 thoughts on “Government Math

  1. Pingback: Pleasant Surprise of the Day : Lawyers, Guns & Money

  2. “Government math”?


    Now I’ve heard it all. As opposed to what, Christian math, which is the One True Math?

    What country is this again? Fuck, what CENTURY is this again?

  3. Yet again, it’s all about adultery. Years ago a reporter went around the country asking men and women their views on abortion. Compiled info revealed that men, generally, are against it because it ‘allows’ women to make decisions, adultery/abortion, without the consent of their husbands. Women, particularly married women, were against it because it ‘allowed’ their husbands to commit adultery without the fear of impregnating another woman. If pregnant, the ‘other’ woman could legally abort the fetus.

    Having been through, quickly and non-stop, Texas it’s understandable that adultery is the only attractive pastime available.

    • Yet again, it’s all about adultery.

      Keep in mind that polls going back to the time just after Roe v. Wade show a consistent majority of people favoring some level of legalization of abortion. The most recent Pew Research findings are pretty typical. You can find poll responses in that same ballpark going back many years. So it’s not really about what Americans are for or against; it’s about one particular interest group wielding disproportionate influence over state and federal government.

      That said, I also recall reading years ago that many people would respond negatively to the question “do you support women getting abortion on demand?” but positively to “do you agree that abortion is a private matter between a woman and her doctor?” It wasn’t abortion that bothered them so much as the idea of women “demanding” things. But if she’s being guided by some (presumably male) medical authority figure, then it’s OK.

      Going back to the polls — in the past couple of years some polls have found a slim majority of Americans self-identifying as “pro life” rather than “pro choice,” and a larger majority of Americans saying that abortion is immoral. The anti-aborts have taken this as a sign that public opinion is turning in their favor. But as in the Pew poll, when people are asked if they think abortion should be legal, a substantial majority thinks it should be legal in all or most cases. This tells me that many people polled are smart enough to separate their personal views about morality from what they think should be criminal.

  4. Government math?
    I think some of these people are on Texas meth.

    This is ideological ignorance. It’s denial of reality. These people are one step above Flat-Earthers – if even that!

    These people are 21st Century Puritans.
    The only women who can have sex are the married ones. – and only to their husbands
    They can’t enjoy sex, only the husband can.
    And if they get pregnant, they have no option but “Forced Labor.”
    Stay barefoot and pregnant, Baby. And keep the bisquits in the oven, and your buns in the bed.
    And Jezebel’s must be punished!!!

    Almost 40 years ago, the great Allan Sherman (of “Hello Mother, Hello Father,” song fame) wrote the book “The Rape of the A.P.E.” APE was the acronym for “American Puritan Ethic.” I bought it when I was just starting out in High School, and I thought it was hysterical. It made me feel as if the era of American Puritanism was on the wane. But then, lo and behold, Reagan reached out to these throwbacks, and, since Roe V. Wade, they have had a cause that makes them feel as if they stand for something important – LIFE! But as we all know, the only “life” they care about is in the womb. When you’re out, “Good fuckin’ luck to ya! ‘Cause we ain’t gonna help you none. Go to church, and pray.”

    And lastly, being against both abortion AND contraception, they guarantee that when those unwanted, unloved, and undereducated children grow up, they become angry, ignorant Conservative adults who can’t tell fantasy from reality, or a lie from the truth, just like their parents, Ma & Pa Meddle (in everyone else’s business).
    This is a self-perpetuating mechanism to make sure that Conservatism never dies. That there’s always a new generation of soulless damaged people, thinking they know better, ready to carry the mantle for the march back to the Pre-Enlightenment Era.
    A perpetual motion machine of ignorance, fear, hatred, resentment, and anger.

  5. And these are usually the same people who insist Big Gummint is too intrusive. Guess it’s OK if Big Gummint is “doing the Lord’s Work” (translation: forcing one’s religion on everyone else).

  6. maha, referring to “…some (presumably male)…” I can’t help remembering that years ago when women were still dying during childbirth, if the woman was a Catholic and if the emergency came down to who dies, the mother or the newborn, the father, in following church teaching, would spare the child and let his wife die. Apparently, the wife had no say in the matter.

    Which brings me to, besides adultery, legal abortion is also a threat to male dominance.

  7. All the ingenious ways people devise to deny reality – “Government Math” really does sound like something out of the Moron Crescent. Right next to “Liberal Media”.

  8. Felicity,
    My father, born in the Ukraine, when I was a teenager asked me the same question about the wife and the child, and whose life I would save?
    My answer was the child, since my wife had already had a life.
    And then my father asked me, in what I consider Ukrainian Prairie wisdom, who would take care of the child while I worked? Who would take care of any other children I had. Who would cook? Who would mend garments? Who would wash clothes? Who would take care of the children if they got sick since I had to work? So, in Ukraine, if you didn’t have that child, at least you’d still have a wife to take care of you and anyone else.

    On a lighter note, my Ukrainian Grandmothers 3rd husband, Anton Phillipovich (the first died in a gulag, the second of a heart attack when I was a little boy) , when he met my college girlfriend, a very smart, beautiful and slight actress who was a HS gymnast, he said to me in Ukrainian, “Very pretty! But, can she pull a plow?”
    And I realized that his priorities and mine were worlds apart.
    I wanted a smart and pretty woman with whom I could could have fun and great conversation. He was telling me, ‘Hey, if something happens and the horse or mule dies, you schmuck, who’s going to pull the plow, since you can’t both pull it and be behind it?’
    I looked at my stocky Grandmother, and realized that this girl would have nothing on her when it came to plow-pulling.
    It made me glad that I was living in America.

  9. That there’s always a new generation of soulless damaged people, thinking they know better, ready to carry the mantle for the march back to the Pre-Enlightenment Era.

    There’s a song that expresses that same sentiment…

    Crank it up, and throw away the volume dial!

  10. I don’t know, Swami, I think it needed more images from The Crusades.
    Those couple of hundred just aren’t enough. 😉

    And where we all of the dead Muslims? Needs more dead Muslims!

  11. Rachel Maddow has done great reporting on all the bills in the red states about abortion. It seems to me they want the left to react by bringing a suit they can forward to the Supreme Court to end Roe-vs-Wade thinking they have the votes.

  12. I am about as liberal as it comes. I am also a Christian. I’d like to remind everyone commenting in the Progressive blogosphere that being Christian does not equal being Conservative and that being a Christian does not equal being an ignorant, narrow-minded bigot. I get so damn sick of seeing that. Want to lose all the Catholics for whom abortion is not the Great Issue, want to lose any Mainline Protestant, want to prevent making inroads on young Evangelicals who think being good stewards of Creation means fighting Global Warming, then just keep up with the “they’re stupid because they believe in God and I am soooooo start because I don’t” crap.

    • Charlie — as a religious person myself, I am sympathetic to what you say. In fact, the commenting rules advise to not insult religion per se, just specific stupid things that people do in the name of religion, and I’m sorry if I haven’t been holding people to that.

  13. Charlie,
    I hope it wasn’t my comments didn’t lead you to believe that I don’t respect people of religion. I do. I’m not a believer. But I try not to knock people who are. I wish I understood how people can be faithful. I wish I understood faith itself. But, it’s not in me, and I wish it was.
    My problem is with the “Religious Right.” It’s they, like the Muslim Fundamentalists like The Taliban and Al Qaeda, who want to take the world back to something resembling The Middle Ages.
    People should believe in whatever they want to believe. As long as it’s respectful of other beliefs, doesn’t denigrate women, and doesn’t advocate violence against others.

  14. Bravo, Charlie. There are too many blogs/bloggers out there who would rake you over the coals were you to post what you did here on maha’s blog. Speech is free in this country, or so it says, but some time exercising it can invite vitriol which will make one think twice about doing so.

    Of course the rub is that the vitriol slingers are merely exhibiting their own bigotry.

  15. Charlie ….Maranatha,brother! The problem is not whether or not one believes in God, the problem is imposing one’s belief in God (as revealed in the scriptures) on all men without respect for an individual’s freedom to find God as they conceive him/her/it for themselves. I in contrast am sick and tired of being judged by Christians as a double minded man, unstable in all my ways, and given over to a reprobate mind because I don’t interpret God the way many others do. Rather than snap at unbelievers for their assault on your faith you should count it all blessing…. and treasure the cross that you bear. I think the logic is that the more you are buffeted by Satan the closer you are to God.

  16. Going back to abortion: During my late teens and twenties, I found some hypocrites regarding abortion. I had several friends who were dating married men and got pregnant by them. The men took them to the abortion clinic, paid for it, and insisted on it. Some other men, oftentimes single, demanded a woman they impregnated to get the abortion because they did not want to be a father. When the woman decided not to get the abortion, the father of the baby (married or single) told the mother so long and get along best you can without me. Yet, we never hear these stories. We never hear about the irresponsible men. We always hear about the evil woman who is going to abort the baby for crazy reasons. Yet, all scenarios seem to involve the men dominating the women being the only responsible way. No woman can think for herself. The choice should be the woman’s choice. And, she should be respected after making a very difficult decision despite whether people agree with it or not.

  17. Yeah, getting back to the abortion issue…Florida just passed the forced ultrasound and badgering law to throw up more obstacles for women to decide their own health needs. What I wonder about is with the economy here in Florida in such bad shape, and the unemployment rate maybe second highest in the nation..How can the legislators devote time trying to impede Roe v. Wade when there is so much need to restore the economy and get the jobless back to work.

    Arizona also is in a mess financially and yet they found the time and effort to pass a birthers bill. It makes me see all repugs as pandering low life’s.

  18. I think the abortion issue would become moot if we were to punish and prosecute deadbeat fathers, no man should be able to walk away from his responsibility, no man should have the luxury of impregnating multiple partners without financial obligations once you start hitting these pricks in the pocketbook they will take the necessary precautions, considering the burden on society caused by fatherless households it would seem only prudent to correct this injustice in Michigan they can only incarcerate deadbeat fathers for 90 days and bang their out making new kids, I think longer jail sentences coupled with aggressive and consistent collection of child support would absolutely mitigate this problem a reduce the number of abortions considerably.

  19. Swami – Way back when, I was an agnostic and all my agnostic friends treated me as an equal. Then I became a Catholic and the same friends treated me (the same person, by the way) not only as if I had just contracted a fatal, highly contagious disease, but bombarded me with ridicule, endless why, how come, what’s-wrong-with-you questions – none of which I ever answered.

    That’s the key. Don’t get sucked into the theist’s ‘hook’ or the non-theist’s ‘hook.’ Short of I-don’t-know, a blank stare evokes some very interesting one-sided dialogue.

  20. If only Governor Perry’s parents had had the foresight to practice abstinence…yeah, I know it’s a cheap shot. It’s expensive enough for the likes of Governor Goodhair.

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