I really picked the wrong line of work, part MCMXII

If I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t be a college professor. There are many professions that pay so much better.

Like right-wing moocher off of religious charities. LaVoy Finicum, one of the mouthy militia that’s taken over Malheur Preserve, is sad because while he’s gallivanting off to pointless, egotistical crusades in remote places, they have taken his foster children away.

“They” being the organizations that pay him to take care of these kids. On top of neglecting his parental responsibilities, his complaint reveals something of his character. Rather than desperately begging to have his loved ones returned to him, which is how I’d have reacted if Child Protective Services had swept my children away, he’s moaning about the loss of income.

Finicum said he is licensed and has a care contract with Catholic Charities Community Services in Arizona. While his license has not been revoked, Finicum said he would no longer receive referrals to care for foster children.

That represents an enormous loss of income for the Finicums. According to a 2010 tax filing, Catholic Charities paid the family $115,343 to foster children in 2009. That year, foster parents were compensated between $22.31 and $37.49 per child, per day, meaning if the Finicums were paid at the maximum rate, they cared for, on average, eight children per day in 2009.

“That was my main source of income,” Finicum said. “My ranch, well, the cows just cover the costs of the ranch. If this means rice and beans for the next few years, so be it. We’re going to stay the course.”

My first thought: wow, he’s bringing in $100K for taking care of kids (a job he seems to be shirking)? My parents had six kids and were living on $10K a year that my dad had to work two jobs to earn. Clearly, the lesson is that while my father was earning a pittance for hard manual labor, my mother should have been getting paid ten times as much for her hard work raising kids.

My second thought: oh, so this ranching nonsense is really just a hobby for people who have worked the angles and are getting paid beaucoup bucks from charitable institutions? Just like the Bundy family is all anti-government while living on government subsidies? Color me unsurprised.

My third thought, after it all sunk in: those poor kids. They were nothing but a paycheck to their foster parents. It is simply cold, callous venality to say “so be it” when children are taken away, and to regard the great cost of that loss being to have to live on rice and beans. It’s positively Dickensian. May they never have another child brought to their home, and may they die lonely and alone at some distant time.

I may make a lot less money than that exploiter, Finicum, but at least I can say I love my kids, and I came from a happy family, and I’m not a paranoid conspiracy theorist loon, so maybe I actually did pick the right line of work.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Assholes like this serve an important social function:’
    They make just about everyone else look good by comparison.

  2. says

    The whole system of fostering kids is extremely creepy and probably has a lot of lot of dirt in the dark corners. Maybe it’s improved but I have a friend (child of the late 80s) who was rotated through 3 foster homes; she was sexually abused in each one of them.

  3. Jackson says

    Another thought I had that wasn’t mentioned when I read that they were taken away from the ranch was that in addition to the income from the Catholic Charities organization, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the foster kids are being used as unpaid labor.

  4. kevinalexander says

    wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the foster kids are being used as unpaid labor.

    I have friends who grew up in foster care. That’s exactly what happened to the boys after school and on weekends for a very profitable business. What happened to the girls….well, you can guess.
    One of the kids finally got up the courage to tell the authorities. No help from Catholic Children’s Aid so they went to the police. The old man up and died from a heart attack from the stress of the investigation so that was that.

  5. qwints says

    Clearly, the lesson is that while my father was earning a pittance for hard manual labor, my mother should have been getting paid ten times as much for her hard work raising kids.


  6. brucej says

    Moreover, Catholic Charities Community Services is a big contractor with the State of Arizona for a variety of services, plus they get money via tax credits that taxpayers can use to reduce their income taxes.


    So not only is he a welfare king rancher, the taxpayers are supporting his other business as well.

    Again, only a small fraction of the beef raised in the United States is from western open range ranches like his.

    We’re spending millions of dollars to essentially keep buggy whip factories in business, if the buggy whip factories were directly responsible for ravaging public lands across the US.

    Cut ’em off, let ’em pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Isn’t that what they’re always telling us?

  7. says

    If they supported families with only half of that money by direct payments and investment into things like free daycare maybe they wouldn’t have to remove so many children.
    Though I wished there was some balance in this. Seems to me like you can lose your kid for the smallest shit in the USA if you’Re a minority parent, while in Germany you get a new chance to fuck up every subsequent baby you manage to produce. Because there must have been something wrong with the previous five children CPS had to remove, not with you…

  8. says

    i foster kids and i get no where that kind of money.
    $500 per month.
    The only way you can make money is to not provide the services that you have signed up to give.
    I foster 2 teenage boys. the phones, sports, car insurance and braces for both of them cost a lot more than that.

  9. says

    FYI, if its anything like here in WA, they do get free daycare that is paid directly by the Agency.
    The kids also get free breakfast and lunch at school.
    They also get vouchers for clothes on top of the daily amount.
    So these people were really milking the system for their own profit.

  10. zibble says

    The Catholics refuse to let gay people adopt kids, but they’ll give 8 children to this asshole and pay them for it.

    How does the RCC keep finding so many new ways to be repulsive?

  11. says

    I’m not sure if we may be talking past each other. I was talking about giving benefits to the families of origin so they can properly take care of their kids.


    The Catholics refuse to let gay people adopt kids, but they’ll give 8 children to this asshole and pay them for it.

    Yep. There’s no actual way to adequately care for 8 children with just two people, especially if you also run a fucking farm

  12. blf says

    If I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t be a college professor.

    Oh, it’s easy: Just explain to the zebrafishes they need to start evolving. Not just the usual stuff (eyestalks with lasers, impervious scales, a deep dislike of peas, et al.), but a set of quite flexible abilities. For instance, a trivial way of programming in the next mutation (e.g., a USB port), communication with alien monoliths, multi-atmosphere breathing (Oxygen, Methane, …) whilst still having full multi-fluid “aquatic” abilities (Water, …), and soft and cuddly like Tribbles (being born pregnant and not liking Klingons optional).

    Then you’ll be perfectly setup to get money from people wanting certain mutations, money from people not wanting those mutations, and so on. Employ some of your mutated zebrafiends to take care of the business and legal sides, whilst the Trophy Wife and you do whatever. Whereever. Whenever.

  13. raven says

    How does the RCC keep finding so many new ways to be repulsive?

    As it says in the magic book, “With god, all things are possible.”
    Or as Hitchens said, Religion poisons everything.

  14. Rich Woods says

    @zibble #14:

    How does the RCC keep finding so many new ways to be repulsive?


  15. Felix says

    Giliell has it so right, above. In Germany, for taking in a foster child, you get about twice what an adult unemployed person receives to get by. Many poor parents (or would-be parents) decide against (more) children because it’s unaffordable. If they ask for better financial support (for the children at least), they typically get told they were only looking to profit from having kids. A kid’s foster family receives twice the money for the kid that a poor family gets for theirs. Once again, we’re giving more to peope who need it less.

  16. waydude says

    My heart sank when I read this. I was taken from my family by cps when I was 10 (for good reaons), but I ended up in foster homes for a while. I was clearly just there as a labor source. I worked for months on a turkey farm wondering if I was ever going to go back to school again. Fortunately I was adopted by some very nice people eventually. Fuck this guy. The telling point was ‘that was my main source of income…’. Oh children, I am sorry.

  17. says

    Hmmm, I wonder if Finicum needs to be worried that it’s come out he’s Catholic(presumably)? I suspect the fringers he’s involved with are more likely that most Americans to be openly anti-Catholic.

  18. says

    Two things.

    One, we need to overhaul the foster system to ensure that “families” like the Coopers are never, ever selected to foster again.

    Two, we need to provide a better safety net for poor people so that families can stay intact.

    Three, we need to stop giving abusive parents a million and one chances to get their kid(s) back — one substantiated instance of abuse should result in immediate removal of the child and termination of parental rights. This may seem harsh, but the child’s right to safety and security is far more important than any “parental right” you might care to propose.

  19. says

    Finicum is mormon. In the morridor (mormon corridor), it is not uncommon for mormons to be particularly adept at making maximum use of state and federal handouts. Fundamentalist mormons even have a phrase for it: bleeding the beast, which equals taking money from government.

    In other economic news related to the Bundy takeover of the wildlife refuge, James Surowiecki wrote a piece for The New Yorker called “Bundynomics.” Enlightening.

  20. Tualha says

    My first thought: wow, he’s bringing in $100K for taking care of kids (a job he seems to be shirking)? My parents had six kids and were living on $10K a year that my dad had to work two jobs to earn.

    Not to undercut your point, but is this adjusted for inflation? Finicum was getting $100k in 2015 dollars. Not sure how old you are, but $10k in 1960 dollars comes to about $80k in 2015 dollars. Not as much of a disparity as it seems.

  21. qwints says

    Three, we need to stop giving abusive parents a million and one chances to get their kid(s) back — one substantiated instance of abuse should result in immediate removal of the child and termination of parental rights. This may seem harsh, but the child’s right to safety and security is far more important than any “parental right” you might care to propose.

    For certain definitions of abuse, I agree. But then you have stories like this

  22. says


    That link makes me a sad kitty. Since when do we take someone’s kids away because they’re taking medications as prescribed? (Also, looking at the case, it’s not clear that Kansas had any right to intervene, as the family had moved to Colorado.)

    I was talking about actual child abuse. The kind of stuff illustrated so handily on the Wheel of Power and Control.

  23. unclefrogy says

    while I would agree that children should be removed from abusive homes I am not so sure that they are always better off in the poorly managed and run foster care system judging from what I read. It like the related education system is under budgeted and understaffed for the need.
    There are many regulatory bodies that are in a similar position It is not likely to change any time soon how ever, given the state of politics.
    uncle frogy

  24. qwints says

    WMDKitty, I hear you. I’ve just seen too many instances where what counts as “abuse” is very different, especially for poor parents of color.

  25. says

    qwints — And I’ve seen too many instances of abusers being given chance after chance after chance with not a thought to what it’s doing to the child. After all, these agencies are supposed to protect children, right?

  26. serena says

    I had a baby in Arizona that was swept into the foster system by CPS (citing, no joke, “bonding issues” – there were no criminal charges at all) and it was all such a nightmare. I wanted my son (and myself) out of their crazy system so badly but was unable to participate in all their wacky programs they wanted me to pay for* and take a bus 50 miles downtown for twice a week and all this counseling that never once addressed my depression but the fact that I was a woman who didn’t use a planner baffled them (?!) so I finally proposed that if I leave the family entirely (I was married to his father, ffs!) would they give the boy back to his father (at one point thru this whole ordeal, they complained that my use of ‘the boy’ showed that I was incapable of bonding with him) and sure enough they said yes. I signed away parental rights, hopped a bus to another state to get away from it all, and the last I heard from his father over a FB message was that he’s remarried, had 2 more kids, and the boy is as far as I know none-the-wiser. Shrug. Either way, I wanted him the everloving fuck OUT of the foster care system. Fuck that.

    tl;dr Fuck the foster care system, especially in Arizona

    *They also wanted to charge me for the privilege of having my son in foster care but I was and am indigent because society doesn’t like to pay me more than $8 bucks an hour for anything so I literally have nothing to give and now they have to give me SNAP and ACCCHS (Medicaid, basically) because I finally know my rights better a decade later. But that’s an unrelated rant and please forgive me for this rant in general.

  27. Knight in Sour Armor says

    Perhaps they’ll be better off… meanwhile it’s causing (deserved) pain and suffering for these assholes that should’ve never been assigned the care of other human beings in the first place.

  28. Rey Fox says

    He took in “troubled” teens, which I immediately read as “unpaid ranch hands held captive in a remote area in the name of Jebus”.

  29. amandajane5 says

    My dad’s Catholic (and has the seven brothers to prove it) and grew up on a farm, doing the farm work…because that’s what they did for their jobs as kids. I dunno, everything sounds like a total crapfest to me, but he and his brothers will get laughing about the bb gun fights they’d have in the barn and my grandmother never knew! Like they were all clever or something. My poor grandmother had at least eleven pregnancies, and I bless the doctor who told my grandfather that she needed her uterus out at 42, heaven knows she’d have kept having more and more dangerous pregnancies and miscarriages.

  30. amandajane5 says

    And my point was, *that* is the only way you can still have a farm. Keep the wife pumping out kids to work. Sucks for all involved, except the patriarch who can sit around and look down upon his progeny/serfs.

  31. microraptor says

    Rey Fox @36:

    I rather hope that their mistreatment was limited to “unpaid ranch hands.”

  32. says

    I am sincerely sorry for what you went through. That’s exactly the kind of overreach I was talking about. Because WTF?

    In the end, apart from the Oregon terrorist (yes, I think being an actual terrorist should terminate your parental rights and any foster contracts), it’s a difficult issue with no perfect solution.
    The most important thing remains supporting the families of origin so abuse and neglect don’t happen. Because even if CPS and the foster system work as they are supposed to, the kid will be traumatized*. And the abuse and neglect have already happened.
    If a kid is put into foster care the question of money remains. You can’t make being a foster parent a privilege for the rich (who are often uninterested in half broken foster kids anyway), so you make sure expenses are reasonably covered AND people are compensated for their work. I know some people who consider being a foster parent their actual job and that’s OK. Providing a loving home for two or three traumatised kids is fucking work. So one partner is a stay at home parent while the other one has a normal job.
    Unfortunately, the possibility to make an income by fostering, especially if you don’t use the money allocated for the kids on them also attracts the wrong kind of people.
    I don’t have a good solution. Limits on the number of kids in a family (if you want to foster) would be a first step, I guess. Don’t know, no more than 3 kids under 3, 5 kids under 16 or so…

    *My cousin is a foster parent. The little girl had to be removed from her family, which meant that in a first step she landed in emergency foster care, which in Germany are families who will take in a kid on very short notice and where the kid stays for a few days while authorities figure out what to do. If they decide that the kid needs to be removed permanently, the kid is relocated to an intermediate foster home while the legal things are worked out and a permanent foster family is found. Then the kid meets their new parents. If you’re not traumatised before that, you will be afterwards. The little girl is sweet as a button (she was just about two years when they got her) and would immediately smile and be the nicest kid in the world if you met her for the first time. And then she would have nightmares because she was afraid that you were the next person to take care of her and that she’d have to leave her new family again.

  33. chrislawson says

    According to usinflation.com, $10K per annum in 1970 was worth $61,169 in 2015. So, yeah, working 2 jobs for $61K compared to $100K for feeding a handful of kids while probably putting them to work sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

  34. L. Minnik says

    Have read about so many great improvements that could be done in the CPS system, but I havn’t heard of any way to make them happen except for raising awareness. If anyone has any ideas as to how that could be done, I’d certainly listen.

  35. carlie says

    serena, I’m so sorry.

    The money thing gets parents in a lot of ways. I’m sorry to say I didn’t know it, but I just found out that when parents are required to have court-supervised visits with their kids, they have to pay $30-50 per visit. If they can’t pay, they can’t see their kids. So the system even makes it hard for parents to keep any kind of contact while they’re separated, even when it’s supposedly “allowed”.

    Yes, parents deserve second chances. Being in a foster system for a while and then reunited with their parent is often a lot better than being stuck in the foster system forever. I would never want to live in a society where the first time I’m deemed “unfit” by a court system that I lose my child forever. Talk to any “good parent” you know, and they probably have at least one story of that time when something happened that kids get taken away for all the time, but they were lucky and it all turned out ok.

  36. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Others have already addressed the repulsiveness of Finicum’s fostering of children, so I wanted to point out another detail: since he claims they are his primary source of income, which he likely gets the money from the state, he’s basically admitting he’s one of the dreaded “welfare queens” his type always go on about parasitizing society; also, he is so steeped in entitlement he expected to be able to spontaneously ditch his job for an indefinite amount of time and still have it waiting for him when he decided to come back.

  37. says

    I’m all ok with piling on Finicum, but can we please stop the idea that raising kids (if done properly) is not work? It’s sexist, it’s something that directly leads to low payment in professions that deal with children, it’s fucking NOT TRUE

  38. bassmike says

    The fostering system is, sadly, open to abuse. I had a work colleague who fostered out of the desire to actually help children who needed it. He fostered a troubled youngster and gave him a safe environment. Unfortunately another colleague learned how much money you received for fostering and decided that it would be an easy way to get cash. He started fostering and treated the child very badly. One incident being to buy an ice cream for his natural child and go to great pains to tell the foster child he wasn’t getting one because he wasn’t his child. He thought that simply giving the child a place to live would mean that the child would be forever grateful and obedient. No child that has spent time in the foster system is going to be like that.

  39. serena says

    Thanks for the sympathies folks, I meant not to tug hearts but to lash out at AZ CPS in any way I can and this is totally the wrong place for it; hopefully at least I could help illustrate the wild hit-and-miss results institutions like CPS and the foster care system produce. It’s not easy arguing against such a thing as Child Protective Services, as I am certainly not ideologically opposed to the concept in any way. But boy does it get abused by stuck-up fascists.

  40. bassmike says

    Giliell you’re not wrong! He was a racist sexist bigot. I think the icing on this particularly unpleasant cake was when the agency that oversaw the fostering had queries about his fostering ability and had a meeting with the other fostering colleague to check on things. That meeting was at a pub and the bigot followed them and sat a few tables away during the whole discussion. Completely unethical, but that’s the kind of person he was.