Crunching the Numbers, Being the Grownup
Facing reality is not fun, at least in the short term. Being the Grownup, that is, the one who has to tell the kids that what they want to do is going to get them into trouble, is also no fun. At times, the Grownup or the Reality Facer comes off as “mean” or ungenerous, sometimes even immoral. Yet reality must be faced, and the warnings of grownups must be heeded, or the trouble that will come of it will outweigh the joy of any pleasant fantasy or youthful indiscretion.
That is the case with the dispute over whether or not the state should provide the funds for prenatal care for illegal aliens. I was visiting with some young friends of mine, great folks, none finer. We agree on most issues politically, but on this one they were of the strong opinion that the government should provide even non-emergency prenatal care for all persons, legal or not. When I pointed out that only nine states had such a program even for their own citizens, they answered that all should. When I asked what exactly should be provided they had a specific answer- maybe not vitamins, but monthly checkups including blood tests and weekly checkups in the last month or so. The cost per checkup, a friend who was a nurse noted, is about $125-$150 a checkup.
I felt like a coldhearted skinflint for disagreeing. I mean these are children we are talking about here. Why not just say, “The government should provide free health care for all?” It makes one sound so charitable, so generous. Since they felt everyone should have access to taxpayer funds for prenatal care, I asked them if that meant that
What was wrong with me? Why did I insist on missing out on all of the fun of considering myself a generous person by simply agreeing that the government of the
I decided to do what Realists and Grownups do before making such decisions, and that is count the costs before I signed up. The cost of the program in