An institution a-crumble, and other thoughts loosely based on statistics

The recently proposed diminishment of the Social Security System is uppermost in my grooved little mind lately, probably because I am counting on SS to allow me to retire in the spartan comfort I've grown accustomed to.

As such a foolish, gullible, trusting (leader after leader has said SS wouldn't be touched) American, I can't help but notice that the system made money once again last year, but because our anti-thrift president and his Congressional henchmen plundered it once again this year for spending elsewhere, it is supposedly a problem in the making.

The simple truth is that anyone earning less than $100,000 a year who supports the revamping of Social Security the way it currently is proposed - investments tied to the stock market - is the kind of person that believes in Santa Claus, UFOs over Alabama and Mike Holmgren.

This week, however, I'm more interested in some statistics about a beloved institution. These stats came to me indirectly out of Olympia via a recent Seattle Times column. According to the Times, there were 39,518 marriages performed in Washington state in 2002.

In that same period, there were 27,205 divorces.

Like the birth rate falling steadily in this country and our state (except among the poor), the rise of divorce heralds social difficulties troubling enough to explain the stridency of its defense by those traditionalists who feel marriage is their right and theirs alone - no doggone gay ho-mo-sex-yuals need apply.

As more and more Americans fall through the gaping holes in our societal net - only sewn during the time of FDR, and not expanded since the glory days of Ronnie Reagan - the loudest voices raised (present company excepted) usually want to talk about the sanctity of marriage and our "freedom" in Iraq instead of the ongoing economic disenfranchisement of the poor, poorer and poorest.

But I wonder if any good businessmen - our current societal gods along with overpaid professional athletes - would invest in a financial institution as obviously on the slide as marriage.

Sitting around my daughter's home the other week, I picked up a well-known women's magazine that featured (in addition to those old standards "How to Lose Weight While Eating Butter!" and "Make Your Man Love Your Weight Gain!") an article about "trial marriage," an alleged new trend amongst the well-off young.

Seems some of those fine folks in their mid-20s are now marrying just for the experience. Woman after woman (granted, mostly young, East Coast careerist types) talked glibly about learning how to be married during their "trial" marriage.

You need to practice it, just like ice skating or cheerleading.

The hottest new sitcom on television is called "Desperate Housewives." I watched it once so I could tell you all about it.

It's glib, it's ironical, it's absolutely nonsensical. The premise is that these unhappily (but hot, scantily clad) married, upper-middle-class girls just wanna have fun. Affairs, murders - hey, it's all comedy, kids. Except the folks watching it are often the same "mainstream" folks screaming about the sanctity of marriage.

Hypocrisy is the worst sin, in my book.

I don't profess a great moral base.

I won't watch "Desperate Housewives" again simply because it's stupid, it's overly cynical and it takes up valuable time.

I think the overwrought defense of marriage as an institution only suited to heterosexuals is as offbase and wannabe-tyrannical as the idea of turning poor people's only retirement plan, Social Security, into a sort of declining-days stock market cum lottery.

I'm willing to make a deal, though.

If the blatant crooks in suits running this great country into the ground will allow me to collect my SS in a few years (I did earn it), they and their pampered offspring may marry whomever (or whatever) they wish, and divorce at their perilous leisure in preparation for another marital go.[[In-content Ad]]