Bad Dad

Imagine a family where the father corrals all the money that comes into the household and uses it for his own vacations, his own toys and projects. He also puts some aside for emergencies, like seeing a car he really wants, or he suddenly needs to take a trip somewhere. He enjoys taking his friends out to dinner. He gives expensive presents because he wants people bigger than himself to like him, to include him, to invite him to their parties.

Only when (if) his personal needs and wants are met, whatever money is left goes to support of the household: making sure everyone gets enough food; making sure medical care can be paid for; making sure school supplies can be purchased, and that there are funds for field trips and special opportunities, and tuition. But it is a small pie. He tells his wife that frugality is a virtue, and he can’t afford to waste money on frivolous things.

He gives carefully portioned allowances, but later, if he needs more money for his own opportunities, cuts back that allowance. He will sometimes withhold allowances as a punishment or to teach a lesson: The world is a hard place, and the children should be prepared for it. He charges rent for their bedrooms, for rides in the car–Nothing is granted for free, and they must learn fiscal responsibility. If they can’t manage with what they have, that’s their own fault.

If someone in the household has a special need and can justify to him that it is really necessary, he will shell out as little as possible for it. And it may have to be paid back with interest.

If the roof blows off the house, he will hire someone to repair it, but will delay paying them as long as he can.

This is not a happy household. This family will either fade away from neglect, or will get fed up with the father’s financial abuse and rebel against him. There are more of them than of him: They are likely to prevail. They will sell off all his stuff, they will drain all his accounts. Perhaps they will put him down in the basement and feed him scraps for the rest of his life.

This is of course, a metaphor for how authoritarian governments treat their citizens, and how it always turns out in the end.

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