Can you smell what Paul Simon's cooking?

*sigh* Blogging is such a strange thing. Sometimes I suffer from total writer's block, and other times, ideas rush to me so swiftly I can scarcely keep my head above the rushing tide.
There were a lot of other things I wanted to write about, but this thought came to me and I couldn't push it aside. Roll up your sleeves, guys; we're going in.

I'm not sure what made me think of this guy I grew up with, but he and his current circumstances popped into my head (while I was drying my hair this morning) and led to an interesting question. We'll call this guy "Al". I grew up with Al. He's a bit younger than me, so I don't know him particularly well, but I know him well enough. We were never best friends or anything, but we were always over at each other's houses, playing with each other's siblings, that sort of thing. One of those background kids that you know but don't know. Al's a nice guy. Good kid all around, really. I like him.

Al grew up, as all neighborhood kids do. He fell in love, and got married (at a rather young age in my opinion, but that's not the point here). For the life of me, I can't remember Al's wife's real name, so I'll just cross my fingers and hope it's not Betty, because that's what I'm calling her here. (Hooray for old songs!)

Al and Betty are, by all reports, a happily married couple. A good old blue-collar couple, neither went to college, and they both work as baristas at a coffee joint. I think Al may also be a youth minister at a church, but I'm not sure if he gets paid for that. If he does, it's apparently not enough money for him to give up working as a barista.

So, it's my understanding that Al and Betty are very poor. There's no shame in that.

My problem is that they're breeding like rabbits.

Al and Betty are Catholic, and don't believe in birth control. If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, please consult Monty Python's classic anthem, "Every Sperm is Sacred". *snicker*

Okay, silliness aside, I'm not arguing that Al and Betty don't have a right to their religious beliefs. Of course they do. I'm questioning whether or not I should have to subsidize those beliefs.

You see, at last count, Al and Betty have been married for about 2 and a half years, and have at least 3, and perhaps 4 children. They don't show signs of stopping. But let's be realistic here. They both work as baristas at a coffee shop. Where are they getting the money to support themselves and these kids? My guess? Government programs. Programs, I might add, that you and I pay for.

Now, I'm all for government programs, and I certainly don't believe children should be made to suffer as a result of parental irresponsibility or poverty. But if Al and Betty know they can't pay rent or buy groceries, how can they conscience getting pregnant? If they expect "God will provide", I might point out that it is in fact the American taxpayer that is providing in their particular case.

Here's another example. This one fits more closely with what I believe these government programs are for.

Sally went to college. She spent a few years being an idiot, and then got her act together. Except suddenly, she ended up pregnant. (Once again, the Catholic method rears its ugly head.) But, like I said, she'd gotten her act together by then. She married Dan, the father, had the baby, and has spent the last two years working hard both in and out of the home. Sally and Dan don't have a lot of money, either. They want to have more kids - but not until they get themselves in a more stable financial position. To this end Dan finished college, the family moved so he could start his full-time job, and Sally also got a job at day care, so she can make money and take care of their child at the same time.

During and after her pregnancy, Sally used some government programs, like WIC. That's what those programs are there for. What Sally did NOT do was become a serial baby-factory.

The problem is this. Betty and Al have a religious belief. Because of this religious belief, they choose not to use birth control, ever. That's their business. It becomes my business when Betty and Al can't support their burgeoning family and turn to public monies for help. Naturally, their religious beliefs are protected, and Joe Taxpayer has no right to demand or even ask Betty and Al to use conventional contraceptive methods. So, in effect, Joe Taxpayer, who (for the sake of argument) doesn't share Betty and Al's religious beliefs, still ends up paying for those beliefs. Without wanting to, Joe is subsidizing Betty and Al's religious choice.

It's kind of a sticky wicket, isn't it? Seperation of Church and State versus Religious Freedom versus Personal Responsibility versus Public Responsibility.... Clearly, the only way to settle this one is....A WWF SMACKDOWN!!! (Hey, this is Texas, after all...)