Get the Government’s Hands Off My Foster Kid Subsidies

Here’s a disturbing update from the Oregon militant standoff. Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the most colorful militants, says that Arizona child protective services has removed four foster children, apparently all boys, from his care because of his involvement in the standoff.

There’s no direct evidence offered to show that the removals are tied to the standoff, though the timing – all coinciding with the standoff – makes it a reasonable surmise. And there’s zero evidence to back up Finicum’s claim that the federal government pressured state authorities to remove the children. Indeed, he doesn’t claim to have any evidence, just his suspicion, which for him seems to equal evidence.

Two points got my attention about this story.

First, having one parent away from the home for a significant period of time committing a number of high profile federal crimes would seem like at least a plausible reason to remove the children. This doesn’t seem to occur to Finicum.

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The second point comes further down in the article. From a mix of tabulations by Oregon Public Broadcasting and Finicum’s own account, Finicum and his wife apparently get almost all or all of their income from being foster parents. His ranch in Chino Valley, Arizona is break even at best and appears to generate no income.

Now, foster parents, especially those who care for troubled children, are truly doing God’s work. And they are entitled to compensation, both for the work involved in being a parent and for the substantial out of pocket expenses involved in raising children. But it seems at least ironic and perhaps more than ironic that this paragon of getting the government off our backs and radical, near-absolute individualism supports himself and his wife off state subsidies. I’ve also always thought that there are at least possible adverse incentives created when foster parents get all their income from being foster parents. (That said, placing foster children is, I know, incredibly challenging work. And not knowing enough about the practice, I certainly don’t begrudge state authorities placing children with parents who seem, after careful scrutiny, able to provide a caring home environment – even if it’s their sole or near sole source of income.)

It’s certainly possible that Finicum and his wife provide a great experience and place of emotional support for these boys. That’s what he says and maybe he’s right. But participation in anti-government extremist activity and various federal crimes seems to merit at least a close look at whether this is a healthy environment for these children, especially if they are taking in as many as 8 or 10 at a time and it’s their only source of income.

Regardless, Finicum’s claim that this is another example of the government persecution of him – removing foster children, who come with state subsidies which are his only source of income, because he has abandoned them to go commit crimes against the federal government in another state – just illustrates painfully and comically what a nonsense bubble these jokers live in.

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