Since there wasn’t a lot of money for uniforms back at Millville Grade School, the preferred method for identifying team members during the basketball games at recess was the time honored “shirts and skins” designation. It was a pretty simple and recognizable system for determining who was on who’s team, unless my old buddy Stinky Wilmont ended up on the “skins”. Stinky was a good bit older than most on the outdoor basketball court, and by the time he was making his 3rd attempt at the 4th grade, the combination of his age and genetically acquired body hair made it difficult to quickly tell which team Stinky was on, especially on some of those overcast days.
But we always managed to make through the games, and after the “skins” put their shirts back on, it didn’t take long to forget which team you had been on anyway. I don’t know if people still use “shirts and skins” when they choose sides.
I do know there seems to be a lot more “us and them” than there used to be, and whether someone is an “us” or a “them”, emotions and rhetoric can run pretty high on both sides. We saw an example of this recently when the state of Indiana decided to stop giving tax money to the Planned Parenthood organization because it provides abortions.
A lot of the people who support the government decision claim Planned Parenthood is an evil organization because at least one of the services it provides is abortions. Some of the people who support Planned Parenthood claim the government decision is an attack on women. I don’t suppose either group of people is exactly right in its assessment of the situation, but it is such a divisive issue that I doubt the government will ever be able to reach a solution that makes both sides happy.
It makes me wonder if maybe we couldn’t get along a little better if the government just stepped out of the funding issue altogether. That way the people who like Planned Parenthood could send it a couple of dollars a month, or a few dollars a year, or as much as they choose to send as often as they might like. And the people who don’t like Planned Parenthood could send their money to some similar organization that doesn’t offer abortions.
I have no doubt that as long as there is an “us” and a “them”, we will be arguing about whether or not abortion should be legal, when it should or shouldn’t be legal, and why it should or shouldn’t be legal. I also have no doubt that no matter how long we argue about it, there will never be a satisfactory government solution to the problem.
But while we’re doing all of that arguing, if we just wouldn’t force other people to pay for something they really shouldn’t have to pay for, maybe we wouldn’t get under each others’ skin so bad.
Rex Bell is the author of Stinky Shorts, a collection of libertarian parables, as well as the Wayne County Chairman.