Monday, December 31, 2012

Marriage is threatened by economics, not by gays, according to conservative columnist

A column by Jennifer Rubin, originally in the Washington Post but widely republished (such as here) makes the point that social conservatives who are concerned about the decline of marriage ought to work on the economics of marriage.

Instead, they wasted their time and their own “social capital” on the idea that gay marriage “dilutes” the social prestige of traditional marriage and makes traditional marriage less exciting and passionate for couples, a bizarre argument that still might have a grain of reality.

She talks about the “marriage penalty” and the enormous loss of disposable income to couples raising families.  And she talks about working women (the Betty Friedan scenario) and the need to postpone having children for career and education, leading to older parents.  The New Republic recently addressed this issue (Internation issues blog, Dec. 21).  And she notes that the “Obama economy” of extended family household and gay marriage may indeed start to reverse the trend of people living alone and becoming (as Jonathan Rauch wrote in the 1990s) “accidents waiting to happen”.

As someone on CNN said Saturday, “once I had kids, I didn’t go to movies much”.

Yet marriage, and having kids, involves taking risks that to some people seem counter to a “personal responsibility” society known to libertarianism (and to South Park).

People accomplish a lot on their own these days.  But sustainability concerns in the future could change that irrevocably. 

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