Saturday, July 28, 2007

S.B. 351: stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood

I received in the mail today a survey from Fidelis about the propriety of PP receiving public funds for promoting abortion. Despite charging an average of $300 per abortion, taking private donations, and offering annuities to their supporters, someone apparently thinks PP needs more than a quarter of a billion dollars a year in order to defray the costs of the "sex education" (such as their site that provides at least as much information on--let's not equivocate--how to have more sex and try to constrain the hazards of heightened promiscuity, as it does to provide basic anatomical and epidemiological information).

Well, the survey's short, at seven questions. I just want to raise a couple points the survey brought up, or I thought were worth discussing just a little more explicitly.

PP apparently claims that the $272 million they get from the feds doesn't go to abortion, but rather goes to the aformentioned "education," contraceptives (read: free condoms for walk-ins), and 'other family planning purposes,' whatever they might be. It strikes me as a basic economic truth that if you give someone money to do something, they will be able to spend more money they already have on other things. I'm not going to sift through the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices and see how well they fit the $272 million implementation of Title X of the Public Health Services Act vis-a-vis PP, but morally, I don't think we can pretend that helping PP a little doesn't help it overall, even if they sent a wish list to the government and let Washington buy all the materials and such itself.

Precedents in other industries aside, I don't see any sense in divorcing the commission of abortion from the advocacy of it. Oh, they don't just promote abortion? Well, their medical clinics aren't only used to perform them, either, although anecdotal evidence doesn't suggest they like doing sonograms. Oh well.

PP isn't just the Pueblo, Colorado of sex; they're its Wal*Mart, and so their "education" isn't so much a public service as it is advertising...hmm; maybe a better comparison would be the Dairy Board or American Cattlemen's Association, or those informercials on late-night TV that provide only enough information about their subject matter to get people to buy the wares they really want to peddle. As such, I see no reason why it would be appropriate for the federal government to step in. Who else gets the government to pay their advertising? The military--not really a parallel situation. Everyone else is expected to be more or less self-sufficient and autonomous, except PP, which apparently provides some sort of medical service that is so important nobody else wants to do it.

Is it even appropriate for PP to target minors with this information? On the one hand, while parents have the right to instruct their children as they see fit, sometimes they don't teach the bare minimum, don't even teach them the truth, let alone the whole truth; the same is true for general education, which is why we have public schools and require all students to attend them or have their parents provide evidence of other, equivalent arrangements. On the other hand, like I said before, PP doesn't just educate; they like to run way across the line into advocacy and roll around there a while. Now, do legal minors with strange feelings need support and information they can't get at home? Sometimes, yes; however, there's a big difference between helping someone who's homosexual or observes a discrepancy between their anatomical and mental genders to understand what's going on and to come to terms with it, and to say "Hey, whatever you want to do is fine, go for it!" to legal minors in the first place.

"Do what you want" isn't parenting, or a substitute for it; indulgence is contrary to what parenthood needs to teach; PP should hardly be claiming to fill a parenting (let alone information) gap if they're confounding the function of forming healthy adults this way.

According to their 2002-2003 annual report, then-president Gloria Feldt was reimbursed to the tune of $379,788, all things factored in; further, seven other big cheeses pulled down more than $180,000. One of the questions in the survey was "Do you believe that, for an organization that receives taxpayer funding, this level of compensation is __too high __about right __undecided (?)"

I couldn't resist; I wrote in the margin "Not to mention, an organization that solicits private donations!" I understand that large organizations, even nominally volunteer ones, sometimes need full-time people managing things at the highest levels, and that it's not always expedient to have those positions filled by people who can afford to give away 40 hours a week, so they may need to put someone on a payroll.

Now, civilians get paid by the government all the time, not just as employees but through federal grants. I do think, though, that it's a serious misdirection of priorities for an outfit claiming to be desperately trying to help people have educated sex and no children. Maybe more of that $1.5+ million going to the top brass should be directed to, I don't know, hiring more doctors, or giving away better condoms, or hiring better animators for their cartoons or IT people for their web site; if their cause is so great, how hard could it be to find a crackerjack CEO-type who needs a job but is willing to make a contribution in the form of a modest salary?

I know if I found out that a group I gave money to, whether or not they got grants from elsewhere (private or public), I'd sure be feeling like my money was wasted if I found out the head honchoes were making six figures. No wonder you're in such need for a perpetual bailout; if money's getting blown on executives at a place that sells itself as a nonprofit service organization, how many other cuts has their financial philosophy made that they're bleeding from? Getting a quarter billion from the government and then throwing so much at just a handful of administrators says to me "Our cause is really important! We need federal assistance in addition to our revenue! Oh, but $272 million is enough to get the job done, so we'll give a lot to the pencil pushers at the top; oh, we'll still take donations too." Do they need help, or not, and if so, how much do they really think they need?

So they want to know if I'm willing, if I think it's even proper, to support an organization that not only does something immoral, but wants me to believe that it offers other services I shouldn't object to, and does so very badly? No thanks.

I don't know if an agency that performs evil efficiently is worse or better than one that does so inefficiently but also manages to retard good in the process, but I'd really want to have nothing to do with either.

No comments: