Government brushes holey molars for holy rollers
With the Federal Budget adjusted this week in an attempt to drag us back into the black, it’s time to go through government spending with a fine-toothed comb and pull back wherever we can. I’d like to help with this process if I can.
Wading through the bits of the 2011-2012 Budget that actually say actual things in actual English (that is, the bits that don’t say things like “continuing benefits to the bottom-line beyond the forward estimates”, which I assume means “um”) I was struck by some comparative numbers.
One of the numbers was $222 million, which has been earmarked to extend the National School Chaplaincy Program.
One of the other numbers was $53 million, put aside to improve access to public dental services, particularly for those with low incomes. In a (perhaps simplistic) summation, in financial terms the government is around four times more likely to give you access to divinity than dentistry. It will be easier to learn about Noah’s Ark than dental plaque.
Everyone who thinks chewing is important at some time needs dental attention, whether they want it or not. There is one legitimate place to get dental care: at the dentist.
Not everyone needs, or in fact wants, a school to be one of the buildings in which religious instruction and guidance is available. There are many different places to get churched, and school just doesn’t need to be one of them.
To my knowledge, there are no dental groups or associations putting pressure on the government. Politicians do not generally seem concerned about whether or not they get the oral hygiene vote. The same cannot be said of religious groups and their voting practices.
Clearly the only reasonable and sensible solution is to combine the budget for these two services to give more people easier access to dental care. Surely even the most hardcore atheist wouldn’t mind a spot of bible-bashing in the dentist chair if it meant a discount tartar-scrape and rinse.
At the risk of dictating policy, here are my suggestions for the combined dentistry/chaplaincy service. The tentative program title is “Holy Molars!”, but I’m open to suggestion and discussion on that point.
- Convince the kiddies that if they don’t brush their teeth properly, they’re off to Hell. In fact, add an eleventh Commandment, along the lines of “Thou shalt floss regularly and avoid fizzy drinks”.
- For the Catholics, whenever they open their mouths to receive the Host, pop in that mirror-on-a-stick and scraping thing that dentists use.
- For the more contemporary Evangelical Christians, let them know that answering the dentist’s questions while you have metal apparatus in your mouth sounds exactly the same as speaking in tongues.
- Kill two birds with one stone by blessing that weird pink water that’s used for rinsing, and re-plumb the church font to get rid of the spitty residue.
- Change a few lyrics here and there. Nobody will really notice if the odd word is slightly amended to encourage attention to toothy matters. Anyway, “In the name of the Molar, the Incisor, and the Holy Tooth” has a really nice ring to it.
- Correct flossing technique is spookily similar to making tiny little signs of the cross between each tooth. That can’t be a coincidence. Imagine how thoroughly blessed someone would be once they’d made the sign of the cross in their mouth more than… wait, counting… twenty-eight times! It could be renamed ‘blossing’.
- Adjust your classic Bible stories a smidge. Remove the stigma attached to the humble and dentally-friendly apple. The original-sin-wielding serpent in the Garden of Eden would be much more menacing if he was offering up donuts and fruit roll-ups. Perhaps Noah rejected any animals with plaque and halitosis from the Ark. Those naughty unicorns!
Alternatively, of course, we could save a few bucks by just keeping education and religion separate as far as government schools are concerned.
But no. That’s just silly.
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