Child Sacrifice

Well, the tax scam just became law, and I’m left thinking of the Canaanite god, Moloch. This creature was shaped like a man with bull’s horns, and it demanded child sacrifice. To curry his favor, his followers ritually burned their children to death. They beat drums to drown out their screams. Yeah, happy holidays to you.

As far as we can tell, this cult was real; the Moloch sacrifices persist in ancient literature, and some scholars tie him to Cronus. (Honestly, I wonder if there’s some attachment to the minotaur, on account of the bull head, child-killing thing.) At any rate, it happens that the Bible is extremely harsh on the Moloch cult. If you sacrificed your kid to Moloch, you were supposed to die. The Ammonites were a neighboring tribe that worshipped an incarnation of Moloch, and because of this—and maybe some other things—God basically commanded a genocide against these guys. (Disquieting, yes. But actually, the massacre doesn’t really happen, because despite all the biblical tales of conquest, the Ammonites keep coming back chapter after chapter. And this makes me think the genocide command was maybe a figurative description of God’s hatred, in part, of child sacrifice. ie. I never want you kill your children for me; no really, wipe out that practice entirely.) So.

Why am I saying this? Trump’s tax law. It is true that under this law, the tax credit for each child is doubled. Also, if you want to send your kid to a private—say, Christian—school, or even a home school, you’ll get subsidies for that. But by capping state and local tax deductions at $10,000 per household, there is a very real possibility that local taxes that protect public schools will become horridly unpopular. (Mostly because the deduction cap will make them cost more.) In addition to addling K-12, this unpopularity will likely reach into the public university system where, to compensate, tuition will probably rise. And mind you, this deduction cap affects government-funded initiatives across the board. So if your high school is in trouble, so is, say, your state-run home for disabled adults, to speak nothing of free health clinics. (Hmm…) Now in addition to all this, let’s consider the killing of the health-insurance mandate, which experts say will cause premium rates to soar. Furthermore, the CBO estimates that thanks to this plan, 13 million people will go without health insurance. And as a cherry on top of all that, the cuts will raise our deficit by $1.5 trillion. How does the GOP plan to tackle some of this deficit? Here’s Paul Ryan, earlier in December: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit … Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.” Health care entitlements. For… CEOs maybe? Well, business just enjoyed the largest tax cut in history. And the super rich now have a 35 percent tax rate instead of 39.6. So maybe not. So are the entitled those who can’t afford insurance? Like maybe single, working mothers? Or those on a fixed income? Or maybe our children, who, in any event, will have to bear the bloated deficit? Oh yeah. The children. That’s where we started. Congress has already shown their hand here, by ignoring the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which starts to run out of money on Jan. 21. Twenty-five states will lose CHIP funding by then, resulting in a healthcare lapse for 1.9 million kids. For those of us keeping score, both parts of Congress will be in session on January 3-5, 8-11, 16-19, and 29-31. So they have eleven days to stop the lapse from happening. If Congress does not renew CHIP by the time all the money runs out, one in eight children will go without health insurance.

I’ve written such a long post that comparatively few people will read, because 1) I’m procrastinating on the last part of my book, 2) because I’m trying to get my head around the tax bamboozle, and 3) because I’m looking for ways to talk to our countrymen who have shut out so much reality in the name of fake news. Scripture has more authority for them than the press, or the universities, or really the public in general. (This might be another reason why they’re taking from the public schools to run their own.) So, with some fear and trembling, I suggest we use scripture too. In fact, I think all of us liberals should strap on the Bible, and become experts at it, and overcome our very-well justified reluctance to use scripture as a tool for argument. Our opponents might listen to us then. And if we don’t start listening to one another, my God we are looking at a civil war. So to the religious Republicans, I say this: If one of them sacrifices our children for his prosperity, then God will turn “against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people*.” They’ll have committed a crime that should be blotted from the earth. It’s all in the reading. According to their own scriptures, the Republican Christians have used this tax plan to resort to demonism.

*You could say, “Hang on. That whore bit sounds as if what God is really peeved about is the idolatry.” And there’s something to that, the way that homosexuality was seen as a crime of idolatry. But God hates child sacrifice. See that little business with Isaac. See Micah. You can probably see other scripture too. My Bible well goes only so deep.

(Originally published December 22, 2017)


“Trump’s budget calls for a drastic rollback of programs for the poor and disabled along with a robust hike for the military and border security. The plan, which won’t become law without Congress’ approval, is laced with $3.6 trillion in cuts to domestic agencies, food stamps, Medicaid, highway funding, crop insurance and medical research, among others.”

In my mid-twenties, I worked as a caregiver in a group home for adults who had developmental disabilities. I knew of a resident, named Sally, who slumped in her wheelchair all day, because she’d lost the core control to keep her head up. I asked why we didn’t provide a chair that allowed her to recline, and the manager said that they we didn’t have the funds, but that we were trying to raise the money as fast as we could. I don’t know if Sally ever got her chair. 

Our care agency—which has a good reputation—paid most of its workers $7.50/hour. (This was when $5.15 was minimum wage.) People could earn $11/hour, but that money was available only for those who would stay overnight in a house with three sexually-aggressive men. My colleagues and I provided the most personal care imaginable, every day, including holidays, while trying to ameliorate the residents’ awareness that many of the people in their lives were actually paid to be their companions.

The work could be rewarding; it’s good to bring light to somebody’s life. During my tenure, I met the best parts of myself. But I also met the worst. I was able to change jobs before I burned out, but my older, less-educated colleagues did not have that latitude. And when somebody is stuck in a job that makes exacting demands while meting little compensation, that person can start to resent the job—to reject the fact that they earn less than a living wage to keep three or four others alive. And some of these employees become so weak that they develop a behavior that moves from indifference, to negligence, to abuse. 

This, then, is a post about not just the welfare of the people who work in group homes, but also—and most important—the people who live in them. The WHO estimates that adults with developmental disabilities are four times more likely to become victims of abuse than their non-disabled peers. Part of this abuse stems from the fact that predators prey on the vulnerable. And the truth is that there are few people more vulnerable than those who can’t move or speak well. But another factor is the wholesale depletion that goes on in the group homes as they try to address so many needs with so few resources. There is never a time when abuse is excusable, but as a reaction, it becomes more available to some, when they face the grinding demands of the impossible.

By further decimating funds for the care of our most vulnerable, Trump’s budget will threaten the country from the inside. He will divert so much to defending against invasion from the outside, that he’ll make us like Sparta, who lionized a boy who so focused on stealing a fox that he let it claw out his innards rather than return it to his enemy.

(Originally posted May 24, 2017)