Good Morning!

The late political satirist P.J. O’Rourke once quipped:

“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.”
Case in point:

1.   Houses Passes Massive Tax Bill that Will Cost Families and Expand Size of IRS  

From the Daily Signal:

On a party-line vote, the House narrowly passed a $737 billion measure Friday to dramatically expand green energy subsidies and health care programs while nearly doubling the size of the Internal Revenue Service.

As Republicans decried the inclusion of about $740 billion in new tax revenues, the bill that Democrats dub the Inflation Reduction Act cleared the House at 5:42 p.m. by a vote of 220-207 along party lines.

The bill allocates $79.6 billion to expanding the IRS to boost revenue to pay for Democrats’ pet programs.

Estimates show that 57.3% of the Treasury Department’s estimated 86,852 new IRS agents—or fewer than 50,000—would be assigned to tax enforcement. That calculation is based on $45.6 billion of the $79.6 billion increase for the IRS being dedicated to enforcement activities.

2.   Groups Rally to ‘Stop the Title IX Take-Over’ – You Too Can Speak Out on This Important Issue 

From the Daily Citizen:

A coalition of protesters rallied in Washington, D.C., to oppose the Department of Education’s (DOE) proposed new regulation that will redefine “sex” in Title IX to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.

The redefinition goes even further, adding “pregnancy or related conditions” to the definition of sex. This is leftist, bureaucratic code for codifying so-called “abortion rights” into the education system.

The rally, “Stop the Title IX Take-Over,” was held August 12. Speakers included Ryan Bomberger, from The Radiance Foundation; Linda Chavez, with the Center for Equal Opportunity; and the American Principles Project’s Jon Schweppe.

you can do something about this.

The DOE is hearing comments on this new Title IX policy until September 12, 2022.

SAVE has provided step-by-step instructions for “How to Submit Your Comment to the Department Of Education.”

Concerned citizens can learn about how to send their own letter to the DOE during the comment period, or they can visit the Defense of Freedom Institute page. There, they can send a short, customizable message about how this DOE regulation would affect free speech, due process, women’s sports, or parent’s rights.

3.   Iowa Asks Court to Lift Order Blocking State’s Heartbeat Abortion Ban 

From the Daily Citizen:

The ground seems to be shifting under our feet almost daily when it comes to abortion policy across the states, much of it in a pro-life direction. One such state experiencing a boost in its effort to save pre-born lives is Iowa, where the state is asking a court to lift its 2019 order blocking a heartbeat abortion ban from taking effect, and the request has a good chance of succeeding.

And there’s more at play in this situation than simply the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, although that ruling definitely plays a part.

It’s also a success story of how engaged voters can change the direction of a state in a conservative, pro-life direction. Here’s what happened.


4.   What is a Woman? 

From the American Conservative

woman, as it turns out, is actually a very difficult thing to define. Contra savvy conservative pundits, the meaning doesn’t just evade gender studies majors at Harvard but also straight white men, middle class women, and backwoods hillbillies. And not simply because such people hesitate to give the crass answer.

What progressives have identified—whether or not they recognize it—is that to be a woman means something more than mere chromosomes, and more than just the color pink. A woman is no less than her biology, certainly; but she is just as certainly more. Some of her differences are physical, but many are social, emotional, and psychological. Discovering them has been the subject of some of the greatest art, poetry, music, and novels of the last two thousand years, and still many verses remain to be teased out.

While conservatives are right to ask what makes a woman, they have failed to provide a complete answer. Even intelligent Christians have left the answer at the feet of such authorities as science textbooks, as though defining male and female were no more important a task than defining a mitochondria, with no more serious implications for men’s souls. When we leave the definition writing to such supposedly disinterested parties, what we get is not a lack of bias, but a lack of any meaningful definition. Especially as doctors discover new ways to diminish the physical differences between men and women, the biological definition is increasingly threatened.

What now? For starters, the Associated Press is issuing new guidance on how to refer to men and women who believe they are of the opposite sex: For the sake of greater clarity, they say, a man dressed like a woman should simply be called a woman, and vice versa. Terms like “biological sex” are extremist wrongthink; “transgender” is only an adjective, never a noun; and it’s just far too clunky to include said adjective unless transgender issues are the focus of the story. To say someone is a woman is just neater than to say he identifies as a woman.

Of course, this is only the next logical step for the secularists whose religious texts include “I think I am a woman, therefore I am.” If feeling intrinsically that you must be a woman makes you a woman, no questions asked, then we should follow through and call you a woman, no qualifications needed. It is perfectly coherent. For the rest of us, meanwhile, it presents a real problem. One can imagine a slate of scenarios in which not knowing the true sex of a person would have serious consequences (such as criminal investigations, to which the transgender community contributes an unfortunate quotient).


5.   The Downsides of Having an Athlete in the Family 

From The Atlantic:

These days, middle-class families run ragged by their kids’ competitive-sports schedules are achingly common across America: Weekends are devoured by tournaments and practice, family dinners replaced by mandatory strength-training sessions, and vacations forever postponed. During my five years of researching and writing about youth sports for my book Take Back the Game, I heard so many variations of these stories, and the burden on burned-out teenagers is clear. Less obvious is the effect of relentless overtraining on the rest of the household. In the ever-earlier scramble to develop their kids’ athletic skills, mothers and fathers frequently find themselves giving up the integrity of the family as a whole.

For parents, the financial costs alone are steep—even when their kids aren’t high-level athletes. According to a 2019 study conducted by the Aspen Institute think tank and Utah State University of 1,032 adults with kids who played sports at the recreational, high-school, or club level, families spend an average of $693 annually for each sport a child plays. Though the high price squeezes many low-income kids out entirely, in households earning less than $50,000, parents still pay an average of $475 annually per child per sport. And raising a highly promising child athlete can require major financial trade-offs. A Harris Poll survey on behalf of TD Ameritrade queried 1,001 adults who had at least one child playing for a club or an “elite competitive” nonschool team and found that 19 percent had taken a second job or worked overtime, or would be willing to, in order to fund their kid’s sports. In this survey, parents also reported spending an average of 12 hours each week on their child’s athletic activities. In my research, I’ve found that the biggest drain on parents’ time comes from attending sports events. One mother told me that she and her husband had eliminated what she called “meaningful family vacations” to afford her three daughters’ soccer and lacrosse expenses.

One of the few academic studies exploring how youth sports affect marriages discovered a significant impact on quality partner communication. Of the seven couples interviewed, all of whom had been married for at least 10 years, some reported that their child’s participation on an elite team had turned family life into an endless discussion about logistics. “Our conversations go something like, ‘What are you doing? Where are you going? When are you going to be here?’ You know, typical kind of coordination-type stuff,” one mother explained. “Sometimes we don’t talk. He’s at the field picking them up at 10:00 p.m. There are some weeks it feels they have practice after school five days a week, and he is either in the car or at the field,” another said about her husband.


6.   How to Help Teens Who Are Anxious and Depressed 

From the Gospel Coalition:

Teenagers are wired for stimulation. The emotional reactions of a teenage brain can feel urgent and overwhelming. With a rise in hyperconnectedness, even rural youth are increasingly exposed to what Schrobsdorff described as “a national thicket of Internet drama.” She wrote, “Being a teenager today is a draining full-time job that includes doing schoolwork, managing a social-media identity and fretting about career, climate change, sexism, racism—you name it.”

Conner says, “Students are giving the deepest parts of themselves—feelings, emotions, passions, desires, dreams—to thousands of people online who cannot offer much, if anything, back. This leaves them confused, tired, and with less to give to their closest relationships.”

It shouldn’t surprise us when kids who are more socially connected gain a greater awareness of the world’s brokenness and feel deeply about it. Brent Bounds, a clinical psychologist who served as director of family ministries at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, says it’s important to create a culture where it’s safe to talk about these emotions when they come. Parents and youth leaders can’t force vulnerability, but we can model it. And we can let kids know that it’s not wrong to feel deeply.

Our goal shouldn’t be to change how they feel but simply to recognize our kids’ emotions and affirm our love. Bounds told me, “Sometimes parents feel that they have to have all the answers to make their child feel safe. But one of the most freeing answers a parent can give their child is, ‘I don’t know. But I love you and I want to support and help you any way I can.’”


7.   I’m Going on a Real Vacation, Forget the Kids  

From the Wall Street Journal:

After a grueling couple of years of extreme family togetherness, more people are taking vacations with their friends. One luxury-tour operator has posted a 50% increase in the number of friend groups traveling together so far in 2022 compared with the same period in 2019, while a resort in Puerto Rico has experienced a 25% rise in friend groups over the same time. Other tour companies and hotels report similar upticks.

Some vacationers, including Ms. Gehrke, are taking longed-for breaks from spouses and kids to bond with friends. Many people are meeting with far-flung buddies from around the country that they haven’t seen since pre-Covid times.

“It’s going to be a break where we can connect deeper in person and just celebrate all the things we’ve gotten through over the last couple of years,” says Ms. Gehrke.

Backroads, which operates biking and hiking trips, says the number of trips it originally planned as regular group tours this year that turned into private trips for friends traveling together is 67% higher compared with the same period in 2019.


8.     Vasectomies Among the Young and Child-Free May Be Rising 


Middle-aged, married fathers make up the bulk of those who have gotten vasectomies, with less than two percent of unmarried men relying on vasectomy for contraception, according to one analysis of data between 2002 and 2015 by the Department of Health and Human Services.

That might be starting to change. In interviews with The New York Times, 10 urologists across the United States said they have seen a notable uptick in bookings for the procedure this summer — especially among younger, child-free men, whose resolve to not reproduce appears to have sharpened in the face of a precarious economy, worsening climate change, and a more restrictive family planning landscape. The weekend after the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google reported that searches for “vasectomy” and “are vasectomies reversible?” surged.

It is still unclear whether the increased interest in vasectomies is a blip — or the beginning of a long-term trend that could foster greater acceptance of the procedure.


9.   If Your Co-Workers Are ‘Quiet Quitting,’ – Here’s What That Means 

From the Wall Street Journal: 

Not taking your job too seriously has a new name: quiet quitting.

The phrase is generating millions of views on TikTok as some young professionals reject the idea of going above and beyond in their careers, labeling their lesser enthusiasm a form of “quitting.” It isn’t about getting off the company payroll, these employees say. In fact, the idea is to stay on it—but focus your time on the things you do outside of the office.

The videos range from sincere ruminations on work-life balance to snarky jokes. Some set firm boundaries against overtime in favor of family. Others advocate coasting from 9-to-5, doing just enough to get by. Many want to untether their careers from their identities.

Of course, every generation enters the workforce and quickly realizes that having a job isn’t all fun and games. Navigating contemptible bosses and the petty indignities that have always been inflicted on the ranks of working stiffs has never been easy. And many people who say, when they’re young, that they don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder end up changing their minds.

The difference now is that this group has TikTok and hashtags to emote. And these 20-somethings joined the working world during the Covid-19 pandemic, with all of its dislocating effects, including blurred boundaries between work and life. Many workers say they feel they have power to push back in the current strong labor market. Recent data from Gallup shows employee engagement is declining.

10.  America Needs Another Mister Rogers 

From the Daily Citizen: 

Fred Rogers, the congenial, gentle and thoughtful children’s television host, has been gone for nearly twenty years. But once upon a time, beginning in the mid 1950s until his death in 2003, he was the soothing voice in a sweater – helping the next generation navigate their feelings, fears and even their frustrations.

“Mister Rogers” ascent coincided with a rapidly changing culture. His simply produced show with its modest sets and low production values was actually quite profound and groundbreaking, especially in the early years. “The Neighborhood” addressed topics as diverse as divorce, children with special needs – and even race relations.

Back in 1975, Fred Rogers said his goal was “to help children as much as I can to cope with what may come in life.”

But if Fred was needed back then – and he was – his type is needed all the more today.

Fred Rogers spoke softly and slowly. His actions and activities were positive and uplifting. He never appeared to be in a rush and was always interested in what a child was thinking, dreaming, or doing. He tried to see things from a young person’s point of view. And he recognized, celebrated, and protected the innocence of children’s minds.

The blatant and unapologetic attack on children’s minds is what many of us find so maddening and upsetting. Sometimes it’s subtle, like a passing scene in a commercial or show – and other times it’s more obvious. And there are plenty of times when you have no warning that it’s coming your son or daughter’s way.

We desperately need people like Fred Rogers to model the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Our children are watching.

Organizations like Focus on the Family are committed to creating healthy, encouraging, educational and entertaining children’s programming. As just one example, for the past three-plus decades, our award-winning Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) radio program has been helping to fill children’s minds with biblically sound and uplifting thoughts.

Fred Rogers never talked about the AIO gang on his program, but I can say with great confidence he would have enjoyed their company and their values – and vice versa.

Here’s to a beautiful day in your neighborhood.