Bush buys your love and kills your grandparents...
(c) David Volk 2003

"Prove your love,
Gotta prove your love."
--Taylor Dane, from the song of the same name.

Coming Soon to a mailbox near you: $400.

Isn't that nice?

Of course, this should not be seen as an effort to buy your vote, nor is it a bald-faced effort to appeal to families to the exclusion of singles who earn less and tend to vote Democratic. No, it's just something Resident George W. Bush is doing out of the goodness of his heart. The fact that a presidential election is about a year away is merely a coincidence.

No, Bush just likes families, is all.

Which is why he isn't mentioning that earlier this year he tried to kill your grandparents.

And your parents if they happen to be over age 70.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but what other possible explanation is there for a recently-rejected EPA policy that valued the lives of senior citizens as being worth 37 percent less than that of working adults?

Yep, you read that right.

It seems that the self-described "environmental (p)resident" and his underlings at the EPA decided to review air pollution standards just to make sure they were fair and accurate based on current assumptions. I mean it wasn't as if they were trying to pay off their supporters and build a case that the standards were so stringent that they might be saving lives at a cost of big business or anything like that.

Not finding anything particularly wrong with the assumptions, Bush's people decided to play with the numbers and do a little bit of cost benefit analysis. And there's nothing wrong with that because a little cost-benefit analysis never hurt anyone, except maybe Corvair owners. Until now, that is.  

That's because air pollution standards are based on the impact differing levels of pollution will have on human lives. In this case, the EPA was trying to find out how many people might get sick or die if pollution standards were lowered. To make it easy for math illiterates like me to understand, the agency breaks it down into dollars with each life being given a monetary value. If this were a fair world, Mike Tyson's life would be worth about 50 cents (and based on his bankruptcy filing it probably is), Martha Stewart's would be a blue light special for just $2 during the next two hours only and humor writer Dave Barry's would be worth several million dollars. Luckily for you, me, unemployed members of the band Men Without Hats (now known as Men Without Jobs), and the entire Jackson family (including Tito), all our lives are worth the same amount regardless of how much we make.

That amount is $3.7 million.

Unless that person happened to be over 70. Then the value of life was cut to $2.3 million.

Hell, why stop there? Why not prop them up on a table at Nordstrom Rack or Philene's basement and see what you can get for 'em?

When you stop to think about it, the move makes perfect sense. After all, it's not as if seniors are actually contributing any thing to the economy. Most of them aren't working (except for those who had to come out of retirement when their savings were lost in the recession that occurred when Bush took office) or doing anything important, they're just sitting around, taking up space, traveling, spending our inheritances and enjoying their leisure time by READING.

This whole reading thing and the fact that many seniors are actually educated is proving to be a bit of a problem for the Bush administration. People who still have regular jobs and are trying to keep their families fed and their heads above water just don't have time to do more than give newspapers a passing glance. They have even less time to read about the administration's latest outrage or protest it before it passes into law.

Bush's attempt to discount seniors lives would have thrown off calculations and made polluting appear to be less harmful or, at least, more profitable. The result would have been a relaxing of clean air regulations and an increase in smog, which would have made it more difficult for seniors with impaired respiratory systems to breathe. And people who can't breathe, die.

And when there are fewer people old enough to remember the past, it is not only easy to try to repeat the ill-fated mistakes of the past, it's also easy to pull the wool over the eyes of people who have never heard of the outrages before. It's kind of like "Logan's Run" all over again (complete with an aging Farrah Fawcett).

Senior citizens do read, however. And they have time to organize. Which is why they were all over the proposal like white on rice and forced Bush to drop his attempt at Arthur Anderson style accounting to justify lowered pollution standards.

Of course, Bush had one other option to pursue if he wanted to follow this policy. He could always have reduced the value of the lives of children because they don't do that much, either.

But that wouldn't have been very family friendly, would it?

And it sure would have made it difficult to attract the much sought after soccer mom vote.

--From a man who's growing older but not up...

David  G. Volk