Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Krissmachannaramasolstikwanzawinterfestiveenimas!

Merry Krissmachannaramasolstikwanzawinterfestiveenimas! I was vexed about soemthing last night when I thought about posting, but not so much now. It wasn't a "war on Christmas" thing, I remember that much. I'm actually kind of happy not to wake up completely incapacitated by this cold today.

Jack woke up about his usual time (0430) for a bottle and to cuddle in bed with Mommy and Daddy. But my cough is pretty bad and I didn't want to wake him or keep Red awake on our family day off - therefore, I blog.

Red's family tradition has always been to open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve and then stockings on Christmas Day. Since my family tradition involves driving all over the Twin Cities for two days to four different Christmasses, and she gets very pouty about not doing Christmas her way, we do Christmas her way. (Of course, living in Jacksonville makes it difficult to visit my grandmothers over Christmas).

So we opened gifts. Not a lot of money to spend on each other this year, but I wen't ahead and used the credit card for a Dyson vacuum cleaner that she had told me she wanted. With the way that Red and the two cats shed, Jack picks up a lot of hair when he crawls around on the floor - this vacuum is supposed to be really good at taking care of that problem.

Red was whelmed at the gift. It was a pop fly to center field, definitely nowhere close to a home run. Especially since, right after we opened gifts, we saw a TV commercial mocking Stereotypical Chubby Stupid White Male for buying his wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Dr. Helen would be a better one to delve into that than I am.

It was difficult this year to find something to give her, and she found it difficult to find something to give me as well. I've been gone for six months and we pretty much have everything we want. Isn't that nice? We've got a nice little house, the cutest kid on Earth, and all we really want to do is work on those two things.

My Dad asked me for a Christmas list for us and I couldn't think of anything at all, except for I want to build a stone patio in the back of the house, put a nice grill back there, fix the bathtub faucet and finish moving the rest of my things out of the garage and into the house/down to the curb for the trash collectors (as applicable).

This reminds me of one of the heady conversations that Egon and I had in Scotland while walking around. We ended up talking about taxation and redistribution of wealth. In a sense, I suppose I could be considered wealthy. For immediate purposes (for the time being) my family doesn't need anything. Every paycheck Red and I get, we are able to pay our bills and buy groceries and put gas in the cars. We could cut back in some areas and have more money left over if we chose to do so, but we haven't budgeted it out at this point.

Federal taxes take 12% of my income before I even see it. That's crap, if you ask me, because it's my money, and I earned it. I'd like to decide where it goes. It's also ridiculous that I'm a government employee and the government bothers taxing me at all. Why not just pay me less to begin with and keep the bloody money?

Child support takes 25% of my income, no sliding scale, nothing. Minnsota state law supports that regardless of how ridiculous an amount that is. It is currently just about equal to my mortgage payment. What vexes me most about it is what a stupid kid I was. My reasoning went like this: I've got orders to Japan, and I'm never going to see my daughter. I've got to make sure she's provided for. I know! I'll call the county and have them garnish my wages!

I know, I know. I haven't always been the ferociously independent libertarianistic objectivist you see before you today. At one time, I actually thought the government was here to help. It seemed like a good idea at the time, when I was 21 and had no idea how any of these things worked and failed to see the 18-year impact of what I was doing. I think this is how most of these goofy socialist ideas get into people's heads and once they start to suffer the negative consequences of placing their faith in the state to do everything for them, most people come around to thinking more or less like I do.

The net result is that my ex has three kids, including mine, and is able to do a lot of things that she wouldn't ordinarily be able to do, like get through tough times when her husband gets laid off or is going to school since they are a three-income family. Red and I get by day-to-day, but don't really make any headway on paying bills.

Is it fair? Some would say yes, of course it's fair. The state has imposed fairness upon you because you are forces to provide for your daughter as though she lived with you. Since you have more money and are worse off and she has less money and is better off, all is right in the world.

The state doesn't care whether I see her or not, or fulfill my obligations as a father, only that the wealth is redistributed accordingly. I hope that it's being put to good use, because if I had that money, I could put it in a college fund or something for her. I could also use that money to fly up to Minnesota and see her more than once a year, or fly her down to Florida.

Additionally, had I thought to try to reconcile with my ex ten years ago and be friendly toward each other, we could've worked together to decide how much she needed and I may have ended up having a more amiable relationship and I may have ended up communicating better with her and my daughter and maybe, just maybe, things wouldn't be as screwed up as they are now. (Mind you, I am not going into full details here, Internet.)

Of course, I don't ultimately blame the state for my problems - that, again, is giving them too much power. My problems are entirely of my own making. What I'm getting at here, is why do we trust in the almighty government to decide who is too wealthy and who is too poor? What incentive does my ex have to improve her quality of life before my daughter turns 18 and the child support stops coming in? None. She's living, at least partially, a life of dependency. Come June 2015, she will have to quit cold turkey.

From my own point of view, the child support obligation is review every two years and generally increases significantly each time, right around this time of year. Suddenly, this delicate balance that Red and I have with getting our bills paid is upset and we have to figure out how to meet all our obligations with $400 less per month.

Is any of that fair? No law is going make people less poor, nothing will make poor people any richer except for poor people doing it themselves. I think state-imposed fairness does more harm than good. All I really care about is my daughter, and I personally think that she is the one who gets the short end of the stick no matter how you look at it.

On a side note, I found this great article on socialized medicine which makes a similar point. Some of you know I have similar feelings on charity, i.e. that charity keeps people destitute because of their dependence upon it.

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Blogger Crazy Politico bloody well said...

Merry Christmas friend. Hope that the bruises heal from giving Red the Dyson. No matter how much the wife wants a new vacuum, she NEVER wants it for Christmas :)

BTW, I have a talk show host acquaintence up this way who had the same problem you and Red do, he and his wife have everything, so they don't do gift for each other anymore. Sounds weird, but he had dozens of callers to his show saying how they'd started doing the same thing. I know it wouldn't work for me, but it might for you.

25 December, 2006 19:00  
Blogger Corie bloody well said...

Hey, I'd love a Dyson...even for Christmas. :) They're very nice, especially if you have pets...and I couldn't help but think about that same commercial too, lol. I hope Red liked it.

My family hasn't exchanged gifts for the last two years for Christmas and I love it. It completely takes away the stress that this holiday usually brings and we are able to just enjoy our families and focus more on what Christmas truly means for us. We do however buy gifts for the little kiddos in the family.

I agree a lot with you when it comes to socialism (I'm certainly NO fan of it) but I guess I have a hard time thinking of child support as a form of socialism/charity. I know quite a few parents that do rely on their child support checks to actually help take care of their child (and don't see it as extra money to do as they please). Health insurance, co-pays, day care, and clothing and feeding a child can all be extremely expensive. And once the child has grown, a lot of those expenses end when the child support ends, so they don't really feel like they're loosing kind of evens itself out. Also, maybe I don't see it the same way because my state is very different from yours as to how they calculate what a parent pays. They take into account both parents household income before deciding what should be payed. I think the way they do it here is pretty fair. Minnesota's law is crazy!

26 December, 2006 13:20  
Blogger Gyrobo bloody well said...

I'm... too late to wish you a Merry Christmas, but I'm just in time to wish you a happy President's Day weekend.

Just in the nick of time.

27 December, 2006 22:55  
Blogger Robosquirrel bloody well said...

Thanks Gyrobo!

Corie, court-ordered, state-mandated, child support is pure socialism. When the state controls the distribution of goods, services and especially wealth - deciding which citizens deserve more or less - that is socialism.

Is my daughter better off? Yeah, sure, she probably is, in the short run. So's my ex, though the money's not for her. I never said I was against providing for my daughter, but I kick myself almost daily for asking the state to decide for me what she needs.

29 December, 2006 06:49  
Blogger BostonMaggie bloody well said...

Staying friendly with an "ex" is soooo worth it if you can. I realize not everyone can do this. My "ex" and I are super friendly and it paid off in so many ways, especially money. When he had a tough time (big ticket car repair), he could talk to me and we worked something out. When something back happened to me (furnace dies), he threw me what extra he could. The bonus was that because we talked there was no needless resentment (what's she using my money for? why can't he give me more, he has a new car?)
When he and his wife had their second child, I stopped the child support. It wasn't easy, but it was the right thing to do. The government was never involved in our negotiations and I am very happy about that.

01 January, 2007 14:59  

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