Oooo! Me me me! I know! I know! Expansion of our military? The full cost of water that’s not yet safe to drink? A massive wall that will not address the problem invented to justify the wall in the first place? A voucher program that is likely to be worse for poor kids than public schools would be, all while placing transportation (and consequently work/economic) burdens on the shoulders of those same single moms you’re so worried about? I give up, then.
Wait. PBS? Are you serious? That’s what it’s outrageous for single mothers to subsidize?
I’ve resisted taking the single mom bait for as long as I can, and that hasn’t been easy. Trump’s tax plan dings single parents (usually mothers), eliminating head-of-household status without an offsetting deduction elsewhere. Maybe this is an oversight, or maybe it’s more of the moralizing that often accompanies single motherhood. (Maybe we’d still see this penalty if there were more single fathers, who are regularly praised while their female counterparts get scolded, but I suspect we’d instead see new and clever tax credits to help these everyday heroes.) I find the moralizing outrageous and the financial changes scary, but I find them less outrageous and scary than other things the administration has “promised” to do. (I think “threatened” is more appropriate, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to.) So I’ve resisted taking the bait.
But then Mick Mulvaney had to go and suggest that the true outrage is to continue asking coal miners and single moms to pay for things like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Man. That’s some tasty bait.
Never mind the glaring absurdity of a budget that cuts programs whose sole purpose is to help the very people Mr. Mulvaney claims to be protecting. (I mean, don’t actually never mind it. Definitely mind it.) But right now, that’s not my point. Right now, my point is this: there is no reason to think coal miners do not appreciate and produce art. There is no reason to think that single moms don’t appreciate This American Life. There is no reason to think that single moms object to the empathy and respect Mr. Rogers teaches through playful educational programming. There is no reason to think that coal miners don’t care about human cultures and connections.
Single moms and coal miners aren’t some sad, pitiable individuals who have neither the capacity for nor the interest in personal and social enrichment. They are people with rich and meaningful lives, with a diverse range of values and concerns, as well as dreams for themselves, their children, and the world around them.
Single moms aren’t all the same; neither are coal miners. So I have no idea if the values and dreams of “single moms and coal miners” include the NEA, NEH, or CPB. But if Mr. Mulvaney thinks it’s reasonable to behave as though we’re just talking about single moms and coal miners here – not lovers of art, literature, philosophy, theology, and history, not fans of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! or Morning Edition or Dinosaur Train or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – then I’d love to have lunch with him and introduce him to some friends of mine.
What do you say, Mick? Meet me in Berea?