Reason Writers Around Town: Kerry Howley on Republicans and Women

Over at Talking Points Memo, Senior Editor Kerry Howley explains what Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam get wrong about women in their new book Grand New Party.

Read all about it here.

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  • ||

    The undeniable fact is that things do work better in the aggregate when people get married before they have kids. There is nothing wrong with promoting that.

    I think there is a big libertarian case to be made for parents, men or women, being able to stay at home and care for their small children. What is government subsidized day care but an institution regulated by the government? I don't see anything particularly libertarian about sending all of our children to be raised in an institution shortly after birth. The biggest bulwark we have against totalitarianism is the family. Look at any totalitarian state, be it the Hitler Youth or the Young Pioneers and one of the first things on the agenda is to take the raising of children away from the family and give it to the state.

    Indeed, most first generation feminists were also Marxists. Their motivation for wanting to have the state raise children was not only to free women from the burden of being with their own children, it was also to increase the state power over the individual and bring about a Marxist society.

  • ||

    Yeah, families are good and all that, but I agreed with the premise of Kerry's article that trying to socially engineer two-parent families through government incentives is a generally bad idea.

  • Ashley||

    The biggest bulwark we have against totalitarianism is the family.

    As your own examples show, it's really not. It's the biggest and most easily tapped fuel source for the totalitarian government as well as the biggest blockage preventing activism and radicalism in parents of good conscience. The other parents will be all too willing to let the state have the burden.

  • ||

    Full Disclosure: I was raised in a two-parent home. Working class. In the 'burbs.

  • Naga Sadow||

    But Art-P.O.G., it's for the children!

  • ||

    "As your own examples show, it's really not. It's the biggest and most easily tapped fuel source for the totalitarian government as well as the biggest blockage preventing activism and radicalism in parents of good conscience. The other parents will be all too willing to let the state have the burden."

    If that were true then totalitarian governments would be all for families. They never are. First on the agenda is to break down the family and replace it with the state.

  • ||

    F*cking jerkoff paternalistic big government CINO neocons.

  • Cool Cal||

    I think that the interesting thing about our time, post-feminist if you will, is that a woman (a family member of mine) who is decidedly liberal, and virulently feminist can reconcile the cohabitation of beliefs in unfettered female liberty and the duty in selfless procreation. Due to the aforementioned enabling of the working mother, the collectivist impulses of far left feminists no longer need be relegated to the realm of politics, and can be insinuated into more disturbingly personal areas. I've heard more than a fair share from the most liberal of feminists lecture me on the selfishness of not breeding, always conflating it with an insidious venality (and deservedly so, but no more insidious than the lust for spawn) that is oh so typically ... male. Ah, the more things change ...

  • Episiarch||

    John, who gives a shit? The government shouldn't be incentivizing anything. Many people think that welfare destroyed poor families. That was government interference too.

  • ||

    John, who gives a shit? The government shouldn't be incentivizing anything. Many people think that welfare destroyed poor families. That was government interference too.

    QFT.
    Social engineering is noble and godly when we engage in it. When the other side does, it's unacceptable government interference with free citizen's decisions.

  • LarryA||

    The undeniable fact is that things do work better in the aggregate when people get married before they have kids. There is nothing wrong with promoting that.

    The folks Kerry is talking about disagree. They promote the idea that you aren't a good citizen unless you are in a one man legally married to one woman with 2.6 kids and one dog family dominated by the husband and run according to their interpretation of the Ten Commandments. One size fits all.

    IMHO the only people necessary to protect a marriage are the folks in it.

  • ||

    "John, who gives a shit? The government shouldn't be incentivizing anything. Many people think that welfare destroyed poor families. That was government interference too."


    You don't have to incentivize it. You just tax everyone the same and the natural disencentives will work on their own. If everyone pays the same rate of taxes and doesn't get more benefits to make up for their mistakes, they will bear the full effects of their actions. That should keep people from wanting to get pregnent when they are young, single and can't afford it.

  • ||

    I think people should raise their own damn kids. I am not paying for it period. No government funded daycare. No special tax breaks nothing. But at the same time, when we do that, we also shouldn't punish people with children either or reward then for having them out of wedlock.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Ah, I remember this Newt Gingrich quote from 1993*: "We don't want to replace social engineering of the left with social engineering of the right."

    *It may be a paraphrase; that was a long time ago.

  • Dagny T.||

    That should keep people from wanting to get pregnent when they are young, single and can't afford it.

    But even if it doesn't, that doesn't authorize gov't to take any action.

    I think Kerry's making another, also important point aside from the obvious moral & philosophical problems with privileging/rewarding some lifestyles at the expense of others: these types of social engineering programs serve to dehumanize women by talking about them like they're not in the room, and 'naturalizing' certain life choices, effectively turning the women who don't want children into something 'unnatural' to be ignored/disciplined.

    I'm certainly no Feministing devotee, but I think it's important to note the broader possible consequences of coercive policy. (In case the fact that coercion is wrong is insufficient. Which usually seems to be the case when attempting to convince collectivists.)

  • ||

    How about we give incentives to _everyone_ by not charging so much income tax? And pay for those tax cuts by not spending so much?

    All it takes is 51% to vote themselves a bus ticket to Big Rock Candy Mountain...

  • ||

    As long as we have a progressive tax system there should still be child and married filling jointly tax breaks. A family of 5 making 50k should not pay the same rate as a single person making 50k, under the theroy of a progressive tax. Before everyone jumps my shit I am not saying that the progressive tax is good. I am just saying if you have it you should take into account the relative income of familys on a quasi-per capita basis. Bring on the flat tax with no standard deduction and then there is no need to screw around with this.

  • ||

    Bring on the flat tax with no standard deduction and then there is no need to screw around with this.

    Heck, I'd even say bring on the flat tax with single deductions that provide for families... Say $20k for singles, $30k for married, $5k for each child to the head of household, with the option for marrieds to file separately or jointly. No AMT, but no other deductions. No more using tax policy in lieu of actual legislation that needs to be argued about and voted on. And _all_ income is taxed at that rate, whether it be income from wages, investments, dividends, savings interest, etc, earned abroad or at home. As long as you're a US citizen, you pay US taxes and report your earnings like any other citizen.

  • Max Power||

    Howley never deals with but rather flatly denies the fundamental assumption of R&R's book - that there is no "neutral" to place the shift stick of family policy, no choice-abundant field. Howley's use of "punishing" and "forcing" is just so much rhetoric. Family law and policy, as well as norms and rules governing ancillary entitlements, already force trade-offs and constrain the choices of men and women. Consider Welsh's article on default paternity judgments, or the end of coverture. And what of the rights of children? R & R suggest we simply realign these choice horizons. Howley imagines an alternative world where absent specific governmental involvement in family planning, we all get to express our idealized family formation preferences. This is not our world.

  • ||

    Social engineering is taking place each day in school. If you are readily handing your kids over for compliance training, then read some Gatto and watch Charlotte Iserbyt at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWGsj5NgZ5Y

  • jtuf||

    Different women have different preferences regarding family formation and, indeed, whether they'd like a family at all. Make deviance from gender norms more difficult to attain, and you limit the lived freedom of everyone who doesn't already conform to your vision.

    Well said, Kerry Howley.

  • ||

    Max Power seems to be saying that the government is going to impliment some type of family policy no matter what, so we should "realign choice horizons" to reach the preferred outcome of "x".

    It's the same kind of argument the "libertarian" anti-immigrationists make.
    "Freedom is nice and all. But we've got government benefits the illegals are just dying to get their hands on. We'll never eliminate those benefits. So let's build a fucking wall."

  • ||

    Marriage does seem to be a good thing for many people, but there seems to be this weird idea amongst those who like the idea of marriage promotion that irresponsible people will suddenly become responsible when they put a ring on their finger.

    All the positive statistics regarding marriage mean is that the kind of people who are likely to stay in marriages and make them work are also the kind of people that tend to make good parents. A rather insubstantial point.

  • ||

    Ok, I'm just going to go ahead and Godwin-ize things by pointing out that the Nazis enacted policies to make life much easier for Frauleins who decided to start pumping out babies for the glory of the state, and restricted the options of those who didn't want to become baby factories. I haven't read the work in question, but it sounds quite chilling based on Kerry's description.

  • ||

    A single person making $50K should absolutely pay the same tax rate as a head of household who makes $50K and has three children and a dependent spouse. Our current tax system is incredibly unfair to single people, who are taxed at far higher rates than those with spouses and children. It also is perverse in that it produces an inverse correlation between the amount of tax paid and the services consumed. In my ideal libertarian world, taxes paid would have a direct relation to services consumed, such as public education. In the least the tax code ought to be neutral in this regard. As it stands the people who use the most services pay the least, and of course then they want more services.

  • ||

    "It's the same kind of argument the "libertarian" anti-immigrationists make."

    I've never met a libertarian anti-immigrationist.

    I've met plenty, like you, who conflate being against ILLEGAL immigration with being against immigration.

    I am all for immigration.

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