This post is a transcript of the “6 Minutes With Brad Hirschfield” podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
“How much for the women?” Those were the words uttered in a creepy voice by John Belushi in The Blues Brothers. As he and his brother sat in a fancy Chicago restaurant, he turned to the patrons and said to the man who seems to be the head of the family, “How much for the women?” It was meant to be creepy, and it was.
Unfortunately, that creepy joke from The Blues Brothers now has an answer. At least, it does in the minds of President Trump and all the other people who are suddenly defending the candidacy of Roy Moore on the basis of it being a necessary vote to move a specific tax plan ahead. How much for the women? How much for your daughter, for your wife, for your girlfriend, for your mother? How much for the women?
Well, we have an answer. It seems to be about $882.35 per woman. You see, $882.35 is the number you get when you divide $150 billion by 170 million.
Why am I doing big math like that? It’s pretty simple. Those who favor President Trump’s new tax plan claim that it will save $1.5 trillion over a 10 year period. I have no interest in debating that right now. Whether it’s true or not, that’s their claim. If we take one year’s worth of that supposed savings, we get $150 billion. We’re taking one year because this is all happening in real time.
This year, as Roy Moore stands to become the next senator from Alabama, a move supported by the president and others precisely because it will help them advance this tax plan, we get $150 billion of savings, supposedly. Divide that number by the number of women and girls in this country, approximately 170 million… women and girls being the primary, not exclusive, but primary victims, of the sexual harassment cases, and I think all of the victims in the ones swirling around the political sphere right now. We get the number $882.35. When you divide $150 billion by 170 million you get $882.35.
We have a tragic, sick, perverse answer to what was meant to be a joke. How much for the women? How much would you sell your mom, your wife, your girlfriend, your daughter… any woman who you actually care about for? Forget love, just turn it into a commodity.
We now have political leaders who, unlike John Belushi, don’t see answering that question as a purposely provocative, altogether offensive joke, but as a way to make public policy. How much for the women? $882.35.
The real question is: What does anyone who understands how profoundly offensive this is do now? This is no longer about a particular policy. This is no longer about a particular tax plan. This is now about putting a price on the heads of real people. This is about reducing human beings to a particular financial value. This is about objectification at levels that may not have been seen in this country since the Emancipation Proclamation.
How much for the women? What are the rest of us going to do to return some sanity to a conversation that understands that, while yes, we are always making financial decisions about people’s lives, this is a level of perversity that’s unprecedented, at least in a very long time, and about which we will all be called to answer if we don’t figure out how to respond accordingly?
How much for the women? I guess we’re going to find out as a nation exactly what our answer is.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.