Sometimes kids ask questions that suggest insight and perspective beyond their years. Just a few days ago, our six year old asked me about politics. We were driving around town, and I was listening to NPR. They were reporting on a speech that President Obama had given earlier that day. That spawned a conversation about politics, term limits, and elections. Here’s a part of that conversation.
Him: Dad, Barack Obama is our president now, right? Who was our president before him?
Me: Yeah. Before Barack Obama, George W. Bush was our president.
Why didn’t we vote for Barack Obama?
(I’m a little surprised at this question because I don’t remember mentioning this last fall. And if we did, it would have been only because he asked. It wouldn’t have been emphasized.)
Well, I didn’t vote for him because I don’t like some of his ideas about what he wants to do.
(Wow, good question.) Well, for one, I think he wants to spend too much money.
Why don’t you like that?
(Hmm. How to explain this….) Ok, see this road we’re driving on? Who do you think built this road?
Do you think the workers built this road for free? How do you think they were paid?
Where did the money come from?
The government gave them the money?
Yeah, pretty much. And where did the government get the money?
Well, sort of. Let’s say that’s right. Where do you think the President gets the money?
Hmm. I don’t know.
Well, the President gets that money from me and other people that make money. I have to give the government some of the money I make — that money is called tax. Some of the money is spent on important stuff. Some of it is spent on other stuff. (I’ll spare you my explanation of taxes, but it involved explaining “take home” pay versus gross pay. I explained that in my estimation, I’m going to end up paying more in various taxes with the policies under this administration.)
Oh, so the other guy that ran for president . . . he didn’t want to make you pay taxes?
No, he wanted my money, too. He probably didn’t want to take as much as Barack Obama. Maybe.
So, what other ideas does Barack Obama have that you don’t like?
(It’s kind of tough to talk to a 6-year old about personal liberty, the role & limits on government, the appropriate level of government intervention in a capitalist economy & society, etc. I managed to skirt those questions for another day.)
Eventually, our conversation wandered into economics, supply & demand, and the elasticity of demand. I thought this was really getting interesting. But I’ll save that for next time…..