With the r/Politics page being dedicated to US politics, it’s no surprise one of the election runners pops up on the top scoring link.  Mitt Romney’s been causing a stir again, as reported in a news story on the Huffington Post site.  The remark, originally made in January, was rediscovered and aired yesterday by MSNBC.  He’s reported as saying that mothers should be allowed the dignity of work (here defined in opposition to raising children) and that women dependent on the Temporary Assistance for needy Families (TANF) benefit should be required to work in order to qualify for federal support.

What the message seems to imply, either consciously or not, is that for those families qualifying for TANF, raising children is not considered work, whereas for those in an independent economic situation… it is.  The latter being a view apparently held by Ann Romney herself.

This effort to increase the amount of hours worked by women in order to qualify for the benefit has been described by some as ‘heartless’ (watch the video clip here) but Romney supports increased federal assistance for child care to allow women this ‘dignity’.

Clearly Republican in nature, this article generated 1708 comments at the time of reading.  The responses included a mixture of support and criticism for Romney’s stance, (noticeably the latter) mainly in response to the implicit message outlined above as to the value of childcare in the home.  There were also a small amount of thoughtful comments assessing Democrat and Republican policy.

The article generated many heated and emotional responses, including people recounting personal experience in their comments, and expressing their different interpretations of Romney’s opinion and its consequences for ordinary Americans, predominantly in a negative vein.

The second highest scoring link upvoted on Reddit is another news article, from Salon, telling us that teen pregnancies in the US have fallen to a record low.  The gist of the article is scorning complaints on the part of the right wing group Concerned Women for America (CWA) that the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), who published the report, did not place enough stress on abstinence from sex as a reason for this fall, instead focussing on use of contraception as the main cause.  Although the CDC did in fact recognise abstinence as a possible factor, a spokeswoman for CWA complained that the effectiveness of abstinence education is not mentioned, whereas she stresses its success.

This article is very left-leaning in content and response.  It seems to have been set up as an opportunity to have a grumble at conservative Pro-life and abstinence policies.  The comments reflect this, with the majority of the 1355 responses criticising the idea of abstinence, the religious ideals behind it and the pressure put specifically on teenagers not to have sex.  Aside from this, a number of the comments are light-hearted jokes, mostly in response to the (slightly unfortunate) titling of the link as ‘Teen births are down’.

Coming in third place today is a self post from a redditor publicising a petition to the White House to double NASA’s annual budget. Interesting to note it being upvoted to third (at the time of reading) when the content is so simple and arguably uncontroversial, especially compared with the above links.

Although only receiving a fraction of the comments of top scoring 1 and 2, with 481 comments, there is a lot of interaction and engagement with this link, maybe explaining its popularity.  While some comments simply support or oppose the idea of doubling NASA’s budget from 0.5 to 1% (see the full petition here) other dialogues are opened up asking questions about the process of getting a petition into government, and some delve deeper into the democratic process itself.  Still others discuss the future of NASA and its importance for the human race, for example when considering colonization of other planets in the future. A lot of interesting responses here!