Part Two

Following up on the previous post, I wanted to say something more general about the “people need to get married” cries circulating so much. We’ve heard it from Brooks and McArdle; sociologist Charles Murray has been making the same argument for years. Marriage is the key to success. Married people do better financially. Strong families are what’s needed, not government intervention.
I think that last part is the important one. Conservatives have been arguing for at least 20 years that the key to success is the family: If families are strong, society is strong and gets along fine without Big Government. If families don’t do it right (not getting married, not staying married, etc.) then society falls apart and we need welfare programs. One of the rationales for 1990s welfare reform was that by cutting the federal money flow, it would force women to get married and stay married (instead, ironically, having to get a job convinced many poor women that they could support their kids without a man, and they preferred it that way).
In short, it’s another way of saying that if people need government help, it’s their own fault. They should have had stronger families. They should have raised their kids better and taught them better morals. Brooks has specifically argued that trying to fix the economy is pointless because the real problem is promiscuity and immorality among the poor. Although his insistence on slashing welfare as the greatest challenge of our time doesn’t stop him urging the government to provide welfare payments to poor men to make them more marriageable.
It’s a two-fer: On the one hand, the Marriage Is the Answer crowd gets to dismiss any need for Social Security, WIC or any other federal or state program. Instead, they divert it into social control (everybody must get married! If you don’t get married, you suck!), focused on the working class, which is invariably compatible with their idea of limited government.
I remain unimpressed.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

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