Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reading the News

Dear Big Shots, Pay your damned taxes. It's NOT that hard! Just keep all your pay stubs (or make a copy of the check if you need to), and put it all in an envelop. Then when you talk to your accountant, remember to mention that the company has NOT paid your social security if they haven't! And don't conveniently forget that you've had free use of a car, or done some consulting. If you're using an accountant, then s/he's not doing a good job: hire the person who audited things in your vetting process! And if you're not using an accountant (hard to believe with these folks), then get one of those tax programs; it WILL ask you if you've got consulting income or income that isn't otherwise declared (and on my program, it specifically mentions use of a car).

Dang, how do you forget enough income to owe $128,000. in back taxes? Let's imagine an unimaginable 50% tax rate: how do you forget that you earned $250,000+? I think I'd notice, you know?

And Daschle is going to be the secretary that watches over our national health issues?

I had a good deal of respect for Daschle as a legislator. He seemed like a smart guy with political opinions I agreed with, mostly. But seriously, how do you forget that much income?

The other big news I've pondered this week has to do with the woman who gave birth to octuplets. That's amazing.* And troubling for me, since I think over-population is a serious problem for our planet. And then there are the jokes about clown cars and litters,** which do make me chuckle.

Next it came out that she already had six kids.

And that's where things got interesting for me, and not so much about this woman and her offspring, but really about people's reactions (including mine).

Me, for example, my immediate internal reaction was "WTF! Who would be stupid enough not to have an elective reduction? Idiot!"

And then people started saying that the pregnancy was probably the result of fertility treatment of some sort (either drugs to make her ovulate a bunch or implantation, or whatever), and I thought, "holy cow, what sort of idiot does that when she already has six kids. And what sort of doctor enables it? (One who is making money, duh!)"

Which is to say, that I had the reaction a lot of other folks had, basically. Some went further and said that "it shouldn't be allowed."

And that got me thinking and being just a little self-critical, because I'm seriously pro-choice. I think a woman who is pregnant must be trusted to decide what's best for her. But, of course, here I was thinking sort of the opposite, because she made a choice I find pretty darned stupid. And my trust sort of went out the window there for a bit. I still think she's made a bad choice, by the way. But I wouldn't put her in jail or fine her for it.

And then there are the folks on the other side of things, the folks who think "yay babies" whenever news reports about multiple births get out. They seemed to realize more quickly than I that multiple births of more than 2 or 3 offspring involve fertility treatments, and so usually they cheer, "yay, a woman who wanted kids and couldn't have any now has many! Fertility treatments rock! Yay Babies!"

And often enough, these same folks are anti-choice in some flavor. But they have no problem with manipulating "life" when it comes to giving fertility drugs or implanting embryos? (Of course, some folks are both anti-choice and against fertility treatments of varying sorts. It's complex!)

And when the anti-choice/pro-fertility folks saw the folks like me saying "WTF," some of them were very critical and wondered, "How could we be so hypocritical as to criticize a woman for wanting babies? How dare we? Of COURSE she couldn't do a selective reduction! She couldn't kill her babies! Babies, yay!"

Then it came out that she already has six kids, and suddenly those same people are mostly taking one of two reactions.

The first is "how come 'these people' get to have undeserved babies when I want a baby and I can't have one and I DESERVE a baby? Life is unfair!"

And the second is the classic, "she's not married!*** She already has kids! How dare she drop a litter and expect ME to pay taxes to support the brats? It shouldn't be allowed!"

Now, imagine for a moment how much stronger those reactions would be if she were Black.

One last thought on this issue: how does an unmarried woman with six kids afford fertility treatment? I've had friends do different treatments, and it's EXPENSIVE! They usually have two incomes, and they still have to pinch pennies to pay for the treatments.

*I've exaggerated responses somewhat for my own amusement. Because as long as I don't have to change the diapers, a momentary amusement is all I'm going to get out of this whole thing. I hope. That and a blip in taxes, but a blip that doesn't even count as a blip compared to bailing out whatever industry is next, or to what Tom Daschle forgot to pay. And you know, I think we should support the children we have better than we do, anyway--better educational opportunities, better health care, and so forth--so I'm going to keep paying my taxes, keep sending money to the local food bank and Planned Parenthood.

**One of my undergrad TAs, now a famous prof in his/her field, had an opinion piece published quite widely about the issue. It's amusing, because every so often, I see this person's name somewhere, and I remember what a great TA s/he was.

***It occurs to me that the "she's not married" thing is also one of the ways people discriminate against lesbians who want to use something other than straight p-in-v sex to get pregnant.


  1. In Big Eastern State, when I lived there, the government picked up the tab for fertility treatments; they did this for a couple living on public assistance, so I'm assuming they would have done so for a single woman as well. It was part of being nondiscriminatory, although they didn't pick up the tab for the working poor.

  2. P. S. I didn't mean racially discriminatory: it was something to do with discriminating among insurance claims, although race may have entered into it. In the article I read, the couple was white, early 30s-ish, married, and on public assistance, and they mentioned that they were happy that Big Eastern State had been funding their fertility treatments for the past year or so.

  3. I can't believe these tax-dodgers, either. Really, they make me ill.

    As for the other news item - I seriously wonder what kind of doctor implants 8 embryos at a time. It isn't safe for the mother or the potential babies. Also, people I thought that people who have go through this have to go to counseling/screening sessions as part of the package. It seems like that couldn't have happened here. From what I've read, it sounds like she is mentally ill, which is really sad.

    I'm finding people's reactions interesting, too. I made the semi-mistake of letting myself get sucked into reading some message boards at online news sites. In addition to what you've mentioned, I've also seen some pretty racist statements from people making assumptions based on the woman's last name. Very unpleasant and scary stuff!

  4. On the tax thing, it's actually not quite as much as it looks because when you are three years late the interest and penalties are way huge. But still, if he does his own taxes (right) TurboTax would certainly help him...

    I notice that the docs involved in the fertility case are being investigated, because no one should have implanted 8 embryos. She obviously has good insurance, if all the births are the result of fertility treatments.

  5. From what I hear, it's more likely that she took fertility drugs to induce ovulation, then inseminated herself, either the natural way :) or with frozen sperm, than that she did traditional IVF (mostly because doctors won't implant 8 embryos with IVF, but if you've over-reacted to the fertility drugs that induce ovulation, it's possible that 8 eggs could be fertilized during traditional sex.)

    Anyway, that also answers the question of how she afforded it. With IVF the most expensive parts are the retrieval of eggs and transfer, because they are actually operations, in hospital, requiring a medical team and often anaesthesia. The drugs are the second most expensive part, but for IVF you need around 3 or 4 different drugs. If you instead do IUI (taking a drug to induce ovulation, then having sex), you only need one drug.

    So IUI costs a few hundred dollars instead of tens of thousands.

    Usually you would be monitored closely to see if you over-reacted, and the cycle would be "cancelled" if you develop more than two or three eggs on IUI. But in IUI "cancelled" just means the doctor tells you not to have sex. They can't police it. If she was desperate or stupid, she might have gone ahead after advice not to, and got pregnant that way.

    Like you, Bardiac, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. But I wish those 14 kids nothing but the best!

  6. I seriously have no problem with single women having babies -- however many they want. What I do have a problem with is having that many babies at one time with no one to help you. (Partner, grandparent, other parent... anything/anyone!) The kids are the ones who are going to suffer, and that's just not fair to them. I hope some of the six elder kids are old enough to change diapers. They're going to be busy, busy, busy. But it's also not fair to slap the elder siblings with that responsibility either. They're just kids for the love of God.

    I read that the woman had all eight embryos put in because they were left over from earlier fertility treatments and she didn't want to "abort" them (or terminate them... or whatever you do with an embryo that is hanging out in a test tube). While that's an admiral choice, It may have been a good idea to have ... I don't know... four at a time? What's the half-life of a frozen embryo? In the article I read, the mother of the woman had been taking care of the other six kids, and she's so pissed about the additional eight that she's said she's "done" with her daughter and is not raising any more of her grandkids. I hope she changes her mind. The octuplets are going to need SOMEONE responsible in their lives.

  7. I still find it hard to believe she would have found a doctor to agree to put 8 back in. Frozen embryos can last forever, as far as science can tell so far: certainly for many more years. She could have donated them to someone else...

    Alternatively, if she knew she would not be able to get rid of extra embryos, she could have got the doctor to fertilise fewer eggs when she first did the IVF.

    I just can't believe they would (a) defrost more than a couple at a time, (b) put back in more than a couple at a time, or (c) that they defrosted all eight and that all eight either kept growing*, or that they had eight and implanted them before waiting to SEE if they'd keep developing.

    * My understanding of this may be skewed by my personal defrost success rate, which = 0%. I have heard most people manage higher than that, though :)

    PS: Amusingly my captcha for this was "litter"