The First Ten Amendments

Recently, while Mom and I were watching TV, we heard some whining from the kitchen table. This is not unusual. Neither the whining or the TV watching. Mom and I watch TV all the time. In fact, I find it somewhat unsettling when I find out other people don’t watch TV. I mean, how does that even happen?

For example, if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…who?

The A-Team. The freaking A-Team. That’s who hire.

But if you never watched TV, you’ll end up hiring the B Team. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is like hiring Zito and Switek to take over for Crockett and Tubbs.

Anyway, back to the whining. Because that is what really got to me. Anytime at least two of the girls occupy chairs at the table, whining is a common occurrence. A general lack of consideration for each other? Typical. Nastiness? Routine. So we didn’t pay much attention until the tears, crying and snorting started. Turns out Bails was doing some homework, didn’t understand it and Rye evidently thought telling her to “zip it” was an effective helping strategy.

Finally, I couldn’t take it and walked over to the table, sat down next to Bails and asked if I could help. I was stunned to look at the worksheet on the table. It was titled “The First 10 Amendments.” Naturally I had assumed she was working on some type of math homework. I mean only math can induce the high levels of frustration and helplessness which cause crying and snorting. And it was that snorting that happens when they are crying, and their nose is running, and they kinda lose their breath so it sounds like a snort/cough/hack. Or the sound a millennial makes when a Gen Xer ridicules grunge.

Anyway, I look down and think “The Bill of Rights? How could this frustrate anybody except the Obama White House? Everybody likes the Bill of Rights.”

The front side was one of those match-up exercises where they had to draw a line from the amendment to the correct description. For example: Amendment 1 is matched up with Freedom of Speech and Religion. Amendment 2 is matched up with the Right to Possess Arms. You get the idea. Well I assume you get the idea. The results on the last presidential election clearly indicates some of you don’t.

On the back side is an invisible treasure map. Kidding. The back side contains ten hypothetical situations which pertain to a certain amendment in the Bill of Rights. Here’s an example:

“Elias wrote a nice lengthy article for the Daily News describing the changes students would like to see at Roosevelt Middle School. The principal tried to stop Elias’s article from being published in the local newspaper but she was unsuccessful.”

After I finished reading this example, I naturally thought this was a good time to explain the IRS scandal and how the Obama administration uses the power of the federal government to eliminate any group from articulating an argument opposed to the President’s agenda. Just like the principal at Roosevelt Middle School tried to do to Elias. As is usually the case, my additional information did not clarify things for Bails.

“What is the IRS?”

“Remember when I told you about taxes? Well, the IRS is the agency that collects all our taxes. They know all kinds of things about us. Where we live, how much money we have, what we do with our money, what we care about. Lots of stuff. Then once a year…”

“Wait, so these people know all that stuff?”

“Yes.”

“Do we know this stuff about them?”

“Well, no.”

“Dad, I don’t even like people knowing my middle name. Its nobody’s business. If they know my middle name they can find me and kidnap me. And now you are saying that some people know all kinds of private stuff about us. I don’t like that AT ALL.”

Only you know how you would react to this information presented to you by your 5th grade daughter. Maybe you’d refocus the discussion on the question at hand. Maybe you’d go into a more detailed explanation of the IRS and the federal income tax…if you did do this I’m sure you’d include all the ridicule due Woodrow Wilson and his status as the worst president in American history. Or maybe you’d do what I did.

magnumI smiled. Widely and broadly. Her reaction is so awesome, its hard to fathom. Like the rumored cross-over show between Quantum Leap and Magnum, PI with Sam Beckett leaping into Thomas Magnum. Yeah, that almost happened. For real. I know. Try going to sleep thinking about that!

But instead of adding that to conversation I said, “You’re dang right Bails. I don’t like people knowing stuff either that isn’t any of their business and I especially don’t like it when the president says those people are allowed to snoop around in your business and make threats against you so you’ll stop saying things that president don’t like.”

“But what does that have to do with my homework.”

“Because its all about the 1st Amendment. Just like Elias’ principal shouldn’t be allowed to censor his article because the principal doesn’t like it (to be completely honest I’m really not sure I agree with this example but that’s beside the point) the president doesn’t have the right to stop me from saying or doing things by threatening me with legal action from the IRS.”

“So the IRS knows all this private stuff about us and we have to pay them taxes? Dad, I don’t like taxes. Especially those taxes you were talking about that we have to pay because we have a house.”

“Property taxes?”

“Yeah, those are dumb. Why do we have to pay them just because we have a house?”

“Well they go to pay for things like schools, police, fire even the garbage guys. The police protect us, the fire department puts out fires and the garbage guys pick up our garbage. I don’t really see a problem with paying them for that kind of stuff. But they also pay for schools and teachers. You go to school and that costs money.”

“Well when I’m a grown up and I don’t have any kids, I’m not paying property taxes. I don’t have kids, so I shouldn’t have to pay those taxes for schools. That’s like paying for nothing.”

Wide broad smiles. Bailey’s natural opposition to paying taxes, especially ones for which she perceives no benefit, was heartwarming. Gratifying. Freaking awesome. She’s only in 5th grade and she’s already mad about taxes. Imagine what she’ll be like when she’s 40!? I don’t remember her teaching that. Sure she’s heard Mom and I discuss various topics, and she’s heard me talk about my distaste for elitist narcissist a-holes who like to lecture me about the public good while defining what the public good is.

But this is just who she is. And I ain’t coaching that outta her.

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