Lottery Expenditures And My Impending Career Change
Now it’s the middle of 2009 and the state’s facing a budget deficit of $8 billion over the next two years. One proposed solution is – wait for it – an increase in state income tax rates(!). The idea, of course, is to use all that extra revenue to solve the state’s financial problems and leave it on firmer fiscal ground.
Hmm. Why does that sound so familiar? Maybe because I’m thinking of those news stories you see about guys who win umpty-squat million dollars in the lottery and then file for bankruptcy three years later. It’s not a spending problem; they just didn’t have enough money.
Too bad. But I’m not worried, because my own finances will soon improve now that I’ve decided to make a career change: I’m going to get pregnant, quit my job and have the kid.
“What the hell are you talking about?” you might say when you hear this. “I thought you said you didn’t want to be a mother.” Yes, granted, I’ve said such things in the past. But that was before I realized how in today’s economy, “unwed welfare mama” is actually a more lucrative (and more financially secure) career path than “print journalist.”
Free rent and utilities. Free food. Free health insurance that, while not great, is no worse than the policy for which I currently pay through the nose. Free clothes, since the thrift stores where I now pay cash will give me clothing vouchers instead. I’d even get a miniscule stipend that is still more than you’d have left over after paying for rent, utilities, food, clothing and health insurance on a typical journalist’s salary.
Of course, if I have a baby it will keep me up all night with its incessant crying. But that’s okay; I’m already a night owl and it’s not as though I’d have a job to go to in the morning.
The main problem is that I’d have to be unnaturally cheerful and optimistic around the kid, because it’s psychologically unhealthy for toddlers to be around cynical sarcastic pessimist types and no matter how bratty a four-year-old is, when she says “I hate you! I wish you were dead,” you really, really can’t reply “Some day I will be, and you will be too.”
So I’d want to do psychologically healthy things like take them to children’s museums, except I wouldn’t be able to afford that because I’d be on welfare. I’d enjoy reading to them, but if I read them my beloved old childhood books they might die.
Seriously. At least that’s what the government says: since my well-worn volumes about Paddington and Ramona and the Phantom Tollbooth were all printed before 1982, they’re presumed to be contaminated with lead. I could not legally sell or "distribute" those books on safety grounds, so would I dare read them to my own kid? If they're printed with lead and my kid licks the ink off she’ll get lead poisoning and grow up to be all stupid-like, thus reinforcing the statistics about how low-income children do in school.
How embarrassing that would be, for me. So never mind. I won’t be switching my career train onto the Mommy Track after all, not until my childhood books become safe again.