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July 12, 2004

So there was a master plan all along

First of all, I'm going to agree, wholeheartedly, with Timothy Noah who said last week in Slate that the New York Times should keep Barbara Ehrenreich as a permanent replacement for the currently on-leave Thomas Friedman. Every piece she's turned out in that role has been notches above the other NYT columnists.

Yesterday's contribution on the subject of marriage (encouraging it for poor women, banning it for gay people) was no different. Ms. Ehrenreich is smart, funny, and very effective at making her point. But then again, maybe she's right that the larger plan at work here is to encourage gay men to marry poor women and raise them out of poverty AND bad taste.

A particular favorite bit:

Left to themselves, most women end up marrying men of the same social class as their own, meaning in the case of poverty-stricken women blue-collar men. But that demographic group has seen a tragic decline in earnings in the last couple of decades. So I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal. Seeking clarity, I called the administration's top marriage maven, Wade Horn at Health and Human Services. H.H.S. is not "promoting" marriage, he told me, just providing "marriage education" for interested couples of limited means. The poor aren't being singled out for any insidious reason, he insisted; this is just a service they might otherwise lack. It could have been Pilates training or courses in orchid cultivation, was the implication, but for now it's marriage education.

Posted by paulette at July 12, 2004 12:40 PM | TrackBack
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I'm leaving to get a cup of coffee.

Posted by: slavin on July 12, 2004 03:01 PM
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