Unfit Father

Published on July 20th, 2017 | by Richard Black

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Baby Teeth, Inflation and the Fall of Western Civilization

My daughter lost her fifth tooth a few nights ago and after paying homage to the Tooth Fairy we placed the…remains with the other four. Other than “remains” I’m not sure what to call a child’s lost teeth and I’m not going to be reaching for a Thesaurus anytime too soon. In a day and age where everything has a name I’m pretty comfortable not knowing whatever it is that children’s teeth are called once they’ve left their gums.

I’ve got enough problems and this one isn’t worth solving. There’s another, far more important, issue at stake (aside from finding a bunch of baby teeth I’ve forgotten about in the back of my dresser drawer and then shitting myself silly once I find them.)

I’ve done a little research since Darcy lost her first tooth and it looks like the the cost of them is outstripping the pace of inflation by a pretty hefty rate. I’m fairly certain that I got two quarters the first time I lost a tooth back in 1980 and that was a special occasion. Given inflation of 3% compounded annually over 37 years that comes to about $1.49 in 2017 which doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s the principal of the matter.

On average I’m paying more than three times the rate my parents had to pay for a tooth. Her first one though cost $20.  I wasn’t happy about it but given the debit/credit card society we live in I only had an Andrew Jackson in my wallet and, in the fervor of the moment, I said “why not?”.  What harm could there be in paying almost thirteen times the already exorbitant cost of a child’s tooth?

The answer, it turns out, had more dire implications than I ever thought possible.

I’m sure my parents had the same thought. They just wanted to do what was right by their children. Instead of coins I’m pretty sure my mother got a thumbtack for losing her first tooth. My old man probably got a concerned stare and a comment about how he wasn’t eating enough citrus. After living through a miserable childhood my parents probably just wanted to give their children, my sister and I, a little money in exchange for our teeth instead of thumbtacks and lemons.

Little did they know that they were contributing to a problem that may ruin the financial underpinnings of our very way of life. If the cost of teeth increases continues to increase at this pace there’s a good chance that hard working Americans like myself may not be able to afford to “buy” their children’s teeth.

There are already families in other countries like China or South Korea churning out children and teeth at a higher rate than here in the good old US. Their economies are booming but I’ll bet dollars to donuts or won to …wontons…that those Asian Tooth Fairies aren’t paying a premium for their kid’s teeth.

It’s a sad state of affairs. There may be a time in our near future where our sons and daughters won’t be able to afford to indulge in the myth of an American Tooth Fairy simply because they can’t afford one.

At some point middle class families like yours and mine will have to take out loans to pay for their children’s teeth. Second and third mortgages will become commonplace. Personal loan institutions will have a short but vibrant boom until the bottom falls out. At that point it’s just a hop skip and a jump until the housing market collapses, our economy takes a nosedive and we enter the next Great Depression.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost. And to think that the collapse of Western Civilization could have been avoided if only our parents showed a little restraint when their peers gave their children fifty cents for a tooth some thirty years ago.

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