Senators As Marriage Counselors

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Concerned Women for America (CWA) has issued a press release praising our U.S. senators for bravely passing the Healthy Marriage Initiative as part of the Ominbus Deficit Reduction Act. The HMI will provide $100 million for marriage-strengthening programs. (First thought, wouldn't cutting the HMI be a dandy way to help reduce the federal deficit?)

CWA's Director of Government Relations, Lanier Swann, gushes, "Marriage is a fundamental element of society; no nation can survive without strong marriages at its foundation. Yet, divorce and living together without marriage are undermining the family."

As a child of divorced parents, I have rather strong negative feelings about divorce and would like to see fewer divorces. However, I'm dubious that our senators are competent marriage counselors. Besides, the CWA claim that "no nation can survive without strong marriages," doesn't seem borne out by the evidence. While the divorce rate was rising from 2.2 per 1000 population in 1960 to 4 per 1,000 today, average per capita incomes grew from $15,000 to $39,000. Perhaps our economy would have performed better with a lower divorce rate, but we seem to be "surviving" quite nicely. By the way, the U.S. divorce rate peaked at 5.3 per 1000 in 1979 and has been falling ever since. Ultimately about 40 percent of marriages end in divorce.

NEXT: When Does This Line Expire?

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  1. Is the per capita income adjusted for inflation?

    Gosh I agree, living with my fiancee has definitely undermined the family, curved our spines, caused test scores to plummet nationwide and brought about the rise of terrorist sleeper cells! At least more unwanted babies are being born, so that can only help.

    Geez. Fucking hausfraus. Get a new hobby.

  2. Yet, divorce and living together without marriage are undermining the family

    I’ve seen this claim and variations of it (ie. “gay marriage is undermining the family”)…

    What I never see is anyone actually explain HOW It undermines the family and it what way is that “undermining” going to hinder the “survival” of our nation.

  3. Well, “survival” as “per capita income” may not be the best measure of a nation…

  4. also, divorces of childless couples are unlikely to undermine the family, so those instances should be taken out of the accounting.

    not that I care any farther than I can spit a rat

  5. living with my fiancee has definitely undermined …

    Do engaged couples that live together really qualify as “underminers” since they are actually planning on getting married? Or are they undermining until you get the marriage certificate at which point they start becoming saviors of society?

  6. I suspect government redistributing a smaller portion of GDP has a greater benefit to the “survival” of a nation, more so than strong marriages. …and, of course, I remain dubious that government can do anything to strengthen marriages.

    I wonder what kind of effect runaway government spending has on the strength of marriages. If we see a big uptick in the annual inflation number, what effect will that have on the strength of marriages? Is there a correlation between the number of foreclosures and the number of divorces?

  7. By the way, the U.S. divorce rate peaked at 5.3 per 1000 in 1979 and has been falling ever since.

    I blame the hippies.

  8. ChicagoTom,

    Technically, we’re still “living in sin.” It’s a blast. 🙂

  9. Technically, we’re still “living in sin.” It’s a blast. 🙂

    I lived with my fiance for over a year until Oct. When we finally did the deed and got married. And it was the best thing we ever did! I agree it is really a blast!

    I was just wondering if that year of ours helped contribute to the demise of this great nation of ours, or if we got an exception because of the engagement 🙂

  10. In antebellum South Carolina, divorce was illegal. Eventually, the state legislature had to make certain changes to the inheritance laws; specifically, they made it illegal for a man to leave all of his money to his mistress and nothing to his widow. I wonder what real-life events inspired that, hmm?

    Not exactly on topic; I just find it a funny story, in light of all of this anti-divorce business.

  11. ChicagoTom,

    I think you were on double-secret probation by the Clucking Witches of America (or whatever the hell they’re called).

    One thing’s for sure… neither of us “THOUGHT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!”

  12. I’m planning on living with my girlfriend starting around the beginning of December next year (she’s still in school…in another state), I can’t wait to start undermining the family then! Does all the sex-acts we engage in also undermine the family? If so, I’ll have to buy more plane tickets.

  13. R. Bailey is the child of divorced parents, but is any one here the parent of a divorced child? Tell me your perspective. Happy Holidays!

  14. I was just wondering if that year of ours helped contribute to the demise of this great nation of ours, or if we got an exception because of the engagement 🙂

    I suppose that depends upon who you asked.

    I’ve never understood what people mean by “the family” when doing the “undermining the family” routine. Isn’t “family” more of an abstract idea anyway? Or does it have to be a Man+Woman+2.5 kids+dog+volvo=family formula, with any variations deemed unacceptable?

    Actually, I know what they mean. They mean “I don’t like how you’re living but I can’t prove an actual harm, so instead I’ll accuse you of a fictional harm that the self-righteous can nod along with.”

  15. Has anyone plugged in the life expectancy numbers to this and measured the average _duration_ that marriages survive? That might actually be an interesting number that someone could make some real suggestions from.

  16. “Yet, divorce and living together without marriage are undermining the family.”

    i think a miserable and/or abusive marriage held together for no other reason than an opposition to divorce sufficiently undermines the family all on its own.

  17. Ultimately about 40 percent of marriages end in divorce.

    And the other 60 percent end in death! We have to do something!

  18. My child is divorced from reality. I’m just divorced. I never had a relationship with reality so no harm done.

    While I was a married breeder, I was constantly running off the single cohabitating couples that were attempting to dig holes under my house thereby undermining our foundations. They really tore up the yard.

  19. i think a miserable and/or abusive marriage held together for no other reason than an opposition to divorce sufficiently undermines the family all on its own.

    What downstater said. While Ron Bailey said he’d like to see fewer divorces, I don’t necessarily believe that fewer divorces equals more happiness and less “undermining of the family”. I have witnessed a marraige that stays together because “divorce would be the worst thing”, and let me tell you, it is not pretty. Sometimes divorce is definately a good idea. As someone whose parents fit this description, there have been many a time where I wish they had divorced, and sometimes I still feel that way.

  20. I am lobbying for the “Don’t Get Married in the First Pace” initiative. If the governemnt gives me $50,000 I promise not to get married, as that would almost certainly lead to a nasty divorce and a single mom raising one or more of my offspring, thereby further undermining America.

    I plan to spend the money on whisky, strippers, and the occassional “special massage”.

  21. I have witnessed a marraige that stays together because “divorce would be the worst thing”, and let me tell you, it is not pretty.

    I recently heard one of the worst examples of this I’ve ever encountered in real life. Man and woman with 2 teen daughters, married around 15 years. The man was not only abusive verbally and psychologically (as in the woman was not allowed to visit her friends without him present) but also GAVE HER HIV. But he “didn’t believe in divorce”.

    Kicker of all of it is the man was just recently killed in a car wreck. And no one is sure whether they should cry or celebrate.

  22. As a child of divorced parents, I have rather strong negative feelings about divorce and would like to see fewer divorces.

    Sorry to hear that. As a child of divorced parents, I have rather strong positive feelings about divorce. I would hate of have grown up in a household where two people resented each other but felt compelled to stay together. Divorce is icky. A bad marriage can be even ickier.

  23. As the child of a divorced couple it is my observation that:
    a)divorce sucks
    b)it is a hell of a lot better than having your folks whip out shotguns at each other.

    Seriously, what constitutes a “family”? I have an uncle who has been living with his “girlfriend” for 15 years. The only downfall to this is without a will she is not entitled to anything if he dies, but that is thier decision.

    If two guys, a girl and a hermaphrodite want to join together in a union and form a “family” of four then the government should not encourage, nor prevent that from happening. The only place a “marriage” should occur is in a church and it should only have bearing on your mortal soul, not your bank account or your eligibility for a prison term. So long as all participants in the union are of a consentual age and mindset then it should be good to go.

    I would much rather have had 2 moms and 3dads for my “family” growing up with everybody happy than one mom, one dad separated by 7000 miles because neither one was happy.

  24. I recently proposed to my girlfriend after we had been living together for a year. My parents didn’t think much of it but let me do it anyway. She was 27 at the time and feared telling her folks. When she finally did they were disappointed in them. My parents then pushed for a year for me to propose which I finally did. This made my family incredibly happy and made them feel more at ease with me living with her. I also felt that maybe her parents would buck up and see that I was serious. Unfortunately for the both of us the prospect of marriage was even worse for her parents as I don’t have a normal job and want to move out of state to further my career which will eventaully bring me a lot of money. However since I won’t be going into the field of law, accounting, or medicine I am undermining the family by getting married without having anormal job.

  25. not your bank account or your eligibility for a prison term.

    they can’t charge a husband and wife for the same crime!

    what?
    *sigh*
    i’ve got the worst fucking attorneys.

  26. You would think that those in favor of “strong marriages” would also like divorce, since an increase in divorces increases the number of opportunities for strong marriages. Hell, if I keep getting divorced I could have 4, 5, maybe 6 strong marriages in my lifetime. The sky’s the limit!

  27. Because marriage has done so well since the Feds started taking a strong interest in the late 19th/early 20th century…

  28. George: for your long years in the joint, you can borrow the blow-up noam chomsky doll as well as the leather-bound copy of “Heather Has Two Mommies” (complete with the sweaty pillow fight scene on page 69).

    Just send the kids to public school so THEY GET FUCKING SOCIALIZED

    ——————
    hello mr. muslim
    merry fucking christmas
    put down that book the koran
    and share some holiday wishes

    in case you hadn’t noticed
    it’s jesus’s birthday
    so get off yer heathin muslim ass
    and fucking celebrate

    — Mr. Mackey

  29. The HMI will provide $100 million for marriage-strengthening programs.

    Further proof that there is nothing remotely “libertarian” about social conservatives…

  30. Do you folks think that the high 1970s divorce rate represented pent-up bad marriages that for cultural anti-divorce pressure stayed together until the dam broke in the 70s? If that were the case, then the average number of divorces for people married 5 or 10 years might have been the same then, with the difference being made up by those in their 40s and 50s breaking up then.

  31. As a controls engineer, I work directly with HMI (human machine interface).

    heh

  32. I’m the child of divorced partents and have strong feelings about divorce-positive ones. Not for everyone, mind you, but my parents’ divorce was, on the whole, a very good thing. Not that there was any nasty stuff going on-no beatings or drinking or any of that. It was just much better not to have to live with two people who no longer really liked each other.

  33. “What I never see is anyone actually explain HOW It undermines the family and it what way is that “undermining” going to hinder the “survival” of our nation.”

    Oh that’s no lie. WHOSE families? Which specific families are going to splinter and die because of a gay couple or a cohabiting couple? If you ask me, plenty of married people are doing just fine messing up their own families without blaming anyone else.

  34. And a family is 2 or more people who love and are devoted to each other. It’s really that simple.

  35. Jeff and I make a point of undermining at least three traditional families per week. We do it in lieu of foreplay.

  36. “By the way, the U.S. divorce rate peaked at 5.3 per 1000 in 1979 and has been falling ever since.”

    Probably because the rate of marriage has fallen too. People don’t hurry to get married, and many couples break up after living together for a while without being married.

  37. “The healthy marriage initiative will provide financial resources for educational and skill-based programs that will teach couples how to make their marriage work.”

    In my day we had exactly this kind of an “educational and skill-based program.”

    It was called high school.

  38. “People don’t hurry to get married, and many couples break up after living together for a while without being married.”

    Jacob, you are absolutely right. People are finally starting to figure out that the number one leading cause of divorce is marriage.

  39. I was the product of divorced parents and I have mixed emotions about it. In my case, the divorce worked out pretty poorly in that my immigrant father packed it up and moved back to the old country. So I would say that divorce didn’t work out real well for me and my siblings.

    But I’ve seen the other side. My Catholic best friends parents have been “living together” for years but living very seperate lives. They hate each other, but stay together for whatever reasons. It was dysfunctional to me, but worked for them.

    Bottom line — different strokes for different folks! Whatever works for everyone individually.

    My opinion of “divorce” as a concept though is that it isn’t the divorce that’s the problem….its the morons in the relationship that are the problem. It isn’t divorce that causes someone to act like a douche-bag, divorce is merely a symptom of douche-baggery!

  40. Mo: I’ve got you beat. I’ll not get married for free and save the government a bundle.

    This calls into question what a marriage actually is. Note that the lady from Concerned Busybodies for America specifically singled out “living together without marriage” as a threat to the family. She acts as though a person isn’t really truly married until they ask for, and receive, the approval of the State.

    Properly speaking, marriage can be regarded as either a contract or a sacrament. In the first place, a legal contract is whatever the two parties agree to. In the second, no church I ever heard of wants the state to define its sacraments.

    Two people living together have an oral contract (insert dirty joke about “oral contract” here; insert dirty joke about “inserting jokes” here). Presumably they have made an agreement that governs their living arrangement, finances, and so on. How is that contract less valid than that mandated by the state?

    Incidentally under Islamic law as practiced in Iran, “temporary marriages” are legal. A person may marry someone for a short period of time for the purposes of legitimizing a bastard child or establishing custody or inheritance rights. It is, inevitably, sometimes used as a legal comver for prostitution, which the authorities accept as a side-effect of an otherwise useful institution.

    If only the Concerned Women for America were so enlightened!

  41. . It is, inevitably, sometimes used as a legal comver for prostitution,…

    Does that mean that an Islamic hooker may lay claim to a portion of my goat herd?

  42. I think the CYA (Sorry, CWA) has a point. Congress could:

    • Rewrite the welfare laws so getting married isn’t a disaster.
    • End the war on drugs so we don’t have so many mommies and daddies in prison.
    • Rescind all laws against bedroom toys.
    • Provide a grant to a Christian organization to make a series of movies for the Family Channel showing explicit sex the way God meant for it to be done.

    Or does it have to be a Man+Woman+2.5 kids+dog+volvo=family formula

    Not quite. Man+Woman+2.5 kids+dog+Volvo who go to church every Sunday=family formula

    In the second, no church I ever heard of wants the state to define its sacraments.

    But that’s exactly what the churches are buying into when they call for “marriage=man+woman” laws.

  43. The reason Mr. Bailey has negative feelings about divorce is that the breakup of a family can shred a child’s immortal soul, and often does. I wish people who wisecrack about ‘undermined foundations’ would acknowledge this without cynicism. Hashed spirits are more difficult to tabulate than income, but they deserve consideration in measuring survival.

  44. Does anybody have any idea what this $100 million is being spent on? Maybe that $100 million would help more families by going back to some kind of social welfare program, instead of funding… what, exactly… churches?

  45. This money was going to get spent one way or another; it was part of the allocated funds for the welfare reauthorization that was included in the budget bill. Is wasn’t that they just pulled this money out of nowhere. It was either spent it on HMI or spend it on more perverse-incentiving handouts. If the money has to get spent, at least its being spent on a worthless program that will do no harm.

  46. My parents are divorced and both sets of my grandparents were divorced. As a child that meant I got a huge number of birthday presents, whiched rocked. Of course, I had to write more “thank you” letters, which sort of sucked. I was extremely relieved when my parents finally got divorced, because they were fighting like cats ‘n dogs, while now they get along great.

    Frankly, I’ve never figured out what gives anyone the right to tell someone else to get married or stay married. If you’re not in the relationship it ain’t none of your damned business. Which goes double for politicians.

  47. Since Bailey has decided to bring (non real dollar!?!?) income into this, maybe we should compare the income levels to children of divorce to children of intact marriages to see what divorce is doing to our material well-being as a society. That would be a more controlled experiment, if you will.

    Really, tho, Crid has a point. You can’t measure this stuf in $$$.

  48. Number 6,
    You dare defy my happy one-person family? I am shocked and appalled and offended and shocked.

  49. Dave W.: They are too purchasing parity real dollars–read the damned link.

  50. I think that the point here is that this $100,000,000 is being spent unconstitutionally, and it would be spend unconstitutionally whether it was used for a federal marriage initiative or to order copies of *Heather Has Two Mommies.*

    Marriage is almost exclusively the responsibility of the states.

  51. Bonar Law: You’re almost right. Marriage is the responsibility of the individual.

    Larry A: you grasped my point precisely. Real Christian libertarians acknowledge that marriages are valid in the church in which they are performed, not the state in which they are performed. The hardcases at LewRockwell.com, who seem to be mostly Catholics, took this view during the gay marriage dustup last year. What’s needed, they argued, is to get the government out of the marriage business entirely. Every state-sanctioned “marriage” is, in fact, a civil union and the state has no compelling interest in denying gays access to the impartial machinery of the civil courts. But “marriage,” as they define it, is a religious ceremony centered on non-state institutions and each church is free to make its own determination as to which marriages are binding in the eyes of God.

  52. “Bonar Law: You’re almost right. Marriage is the responsibility of the individual.”

    I was describing the apportionment of responsibility between state and federal govts under the U. S. Constitution (while acknowledging that Congress doesn’t see it quite that way — they’re more into making laws about everything, and the states get “free” money, so they’re less likely to complain).

    “The hardcases at LewRockwell.com, who seem to be mostly Catholics, took this view during the gay marriage dustup last year. What’s needed, they argued, is to get the government out of the marriage business entirely. Every state-sanctioned ‘marriage’ is, in fact, a civil union and the state has no compelling interest in denying gays access to the impartial machinery of the civil courts. But ‘marriage,’ as they define it, is a religious ceremony centered on non-state institutions and each church is free to make its own determination as to which marriages are binding in the eyes of God.”

    This might be fine and dandy in a Libertarian utopia where the government confines itself to a few basic functions like defense, prosecuting violent criminals and thieves, and adjudicating contract disputes. Maybe then marriage could get “deregulated” safely (although there would still be the issue of witnesses claiming “spousal privilege” so they won’t have to testify in criminal cases).

    In the present set-up, however, deregulation of marriage may not have libertarian results. There’s a discussion worth having: Deregulate marriage *before* arriving at the Libertarian utopia, or afterwards?

  53. The assumuption that divorce is something that arose out of the Swinging 60’s is another myth. I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People decades ago. The book was written in the 1920’s and I remember the shock I felt upon reading this sentence ….is it any wonder that one third of all marriages are shattered on the rocks of Reno? Even then, 1/3 of marriages ended in divorce and, dude, it was a lot harder to get divorced in those days. I also think I already said this before.

  54. TWC,

    I don’t know if your comment was directed at mine, but I throw that “I blame the hippies” around often, mostly in jest. I “blame” ’em for everything someone else might blame on a “communist plot”, etc. It’s supposed to be kinda funny–I know, feeble attempt.

    …Interesting point, yours, though.

  55. BonarLaw,
    The Supreme Court decision of Reynolds vs. US (1878) where the SCOTUS found that the US Government had the right to deny the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints the choice of polygamy on the grounds that it was not a religious matter but a civil/economic matter. Of course, reading through the judgement it was obvious that it was not decided based free choice of man but of the “correctness” of the civil government to intervene in that choice.

    To quote:
    “In our opinion, the statute immediately under consideration is within the legislative power of Congress. It is constitutional and valid as prescribing a rule of action for all those residing in the Territories, and in places over which the United States have exclusive control. This being so, the only question which remains is, whether those who make polygamy a part of their religion are excepted from the operation of the statute. If they are, then those who do not make polygamy a part of their religious belief may be found guilty and punished, while those who do, must be acquitted and go free. This would be introducing a new element into criminal law. Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice? Or if a wife religiously believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her dead husband, would it be beyond the power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice? “

  56. Do U.S. Senators actually think that passing the HMI will actually work? It seems that a lot of Senators got some campaign money thanks to the HMI.

  57. Do U.S. Senators actually think that passing the HMI will actually work? It seems that a lot of Senators got some campaign money thanks to the HMI.

  58. “Do you folks think that the high 1970s divorce rate represented pent-up bad marriages that for cultural anti-divorce pressure stayed together until the dam broke in the 70s?”

    Well the damm broke in the 60’s actually.

    “If that were the case, then the average number of divorces for people married 5 or 10 years might have been the same then, with the difference being made up by those in their 40s and 50s breaking up then.”

    There might have been some of that. The flip side is that people are getting married later. Contrary to popular perception, the later people get married, the more likely they are to stay together.

    Me, I think that a lot of marriages pre 1960 were marriages in name only.

    As for the HMI act, is nothing more than a way to funnel your $$$ to fundi organizations. Same as the faith *spit* based intiatives.

  59. I’ve been living with my guy for eight years now. We have no kids. We aren’t married because, dammit, we don’t HAVE to be.

    Bottom line:

    How much are they going to pay my fellow and me to get married?
    How much are they going to pay us to stay married (assume a monthly stipend)?

    Bring your offers to the table, bureaucrats; it’s time to do some heavy negotiating.

  60. Good point, Speedwell! My man and I (approaching our five-year anniversary of Living In Sin) would probably get married if the payoff were high enough. It has to be enough cash to offset the tax penalties, the cost of getting to Vegas and hiring an Elvis impersonator to marry us, and a huge chunk of cash to help me overcome my psychological block–namely, I really, really hate the words “husband” and “wife.” I don’t know why–“husband” just sounds so Midwestern, somehow. “This here is mah huuuuuuuusband.”

    And “wife” sounds much more soccermomish that “girlfriend.”

  61. They are too purchasing parity real dollars–read the damned link

    Ok, read it. Your post talks about income. The link talks about per capita GDP. These things seem different to me. Are they really the same somehow? Or did Mr. Bailey’s post mischaracterize what was really at the “15,000 to 39,000” link?

  62. The percent of marriages ending in divorce goes up with the life expectancy.

    As the punch line goes, “We wanted to stay together until the kids died.”

  63. Well, between 1967 and 2005, life expectancy in the US went up by 7 years. I know a sleeping ghost who has been wanting me to research that for a coupla weeks now.

    However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this 7 year gain for divorce opportunities is more than offset by ppl marrying later. I also wonder how much of the 7 year gain is geriatric gain. Somehow I doubt that seniors pump the divorce stats that much.

  64. The other thing all of these nimrods who think that the federal government need take a more active role in marriage fail to consider is that if the Feds lay claim to a Constitutional right to interfere with marriage, they sure the hell will start getting more involved in interfering with divorce as well.

    By the way, what a coincidence that so many on H+R come from divorced homes. Coincidence? I think not!

  65. I never knew there were so many “official” definitions as family… I love how GWBs staff is officially a “family” (see 3b).

    1 : a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : HOUSEHOLD

    2 a : a group of persons of common ancestry : CLAN b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : RACE

    3 a : a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : FELLOWSHIP b : the staff of a high official (as the President)

    4 : a group of things related by common characteristics: as a : a closely related series of elements or chemical compounds b : a group of soils that have similar profiles and include one or more series c : a group of related languages descended from a single ancestral language

    5 a : the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their own or adopted children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family b : spouse and children

    6 a : a group of related plants or animals forming a category ranking above a genus and below an order and usually comprising several to many genera b in livestock breeding (1) : the descendants or line of a particular individual especially of some outstanding female (2) : an identifiable strain within a breed

    7 : a set of curves or surfaces whose equations differ only in parameters

    8 : a unit of a crime syndicate (as the Mafia) operating within a geographical area

  66. –“husband” just sounds so Midwestern, somehow. “This here is mah huuuuuuuusband.”

    “mah” for “my”?

    If anything, a Midwesterner would make the vowel sound in “my” somewhat sharper. And drawling out the “u” in “husband”? I think not.

    And “this here”? Please.

    Lemme tell ya da real way dat a Midwesterner wood say dat:

    Wife: “Hey, dis is my husband.”
    Husband: “Pleased to meetchya!”

  67. They’re fundementally at odds with modern society. The high rate of divorce is one of the things that allow people to get married later in life, well that and living in sin. But later life marriage seems a strong social trend, due to people spending increasing time on education etc.. Oh, they may even be right on early life marriage being better for human nature – just the entire contempary mindset is an interesting windmill to choose to battle – especially when they seldom cop to the implications.

  68. Thoreau–

    As I explained on the other thread, my Midwestern relatives were rural Hoosier farmers. And I mean farmers–cows and everything.

    Believe me, it’s “Mah huuuuuuuuuusband, Ah reckon.” And the “u” in “husband” is pronounced the same way as the “uh!” noise you’d make if someone punched you in the stomach and shoved all the air out of your lungs. Only much longer.

  69. From what I read of the house version of the bill, this isn’t new funding per se, but a shift in welfare spending away from existing programs that Christian Republicans felt were wasteful and into marriage classes instead.

  70. In other words, the money is to go to church premarital counseling programs rather than to families themselves.

  71. In other words, the money is to go to church premarital counseling programs rather than to families themselves.

    Brilliant! After all, if a family is having something like, say, financial problems, or the family is breaking apart because the spouses are always working and never get to see each other, then those families will REALLY be helped by the government giving money to a church.

  72. Also, the government really, really needs to get involved with things like telling husbands-to-be to remember to put the toilet seat down. That’s what makes America strong.

  73. “From what I read of the house version of the bill, this isn’t new funding per se, but a shift in welfare spending away from existing programs that Christian Republicans felt were wasteful and into marriage classes instead.”

    Just once … just ONCE! I’d like to see someone in government take money away from wasteful programs and GIVE IT BACK TO THE PEOPLE IT WAS CONFISCATED FROM! But man, once they get their hands on that money, the best they can do is transfer it from one wasteful program and into another.

  74. I’ve found it odd that decades of kvetching over the “welfare state” and “social engineering” the right is more than willing to do exactly what they accused “big government liberals” of doing, just as long as it involves a church. Conservatives whined about Bill Clinton’s “midnight basketball” program, why is this marriage counseling crap any different?

    The only difference I see between “welfare” and “faith based initiatives” is who is handing out the checks to the riff-raff; bible beaters instead of social workers.

  75. hear hear, Akira!

  76. Truthfully, late marriage is mostly the byproduct of a highly industrialized society. As such, it is largely a “big city” custom, whereas in more rural parts of America early marriage is still much more prevalent.

    Remember that in an agrarian society children turn out to be actual assets eventually. In a society that literally wants for very little comparitively, has a lot of free time and that has ways of preventing babies (both birth control and abortion) the marriage age will naturally be pushed back. This is neither good nor bad.

    The cultural values of a highly industrialized, even globalized, society are simply going to be different. Religious conservatives are right that modern society has significantly changed our values, but they mistake correlation for causation. You could get rid of all the sexy tv etc. you want to, but that’s not going to change the fact that modern society is now foundationally different than the world they prefer.

  77. ITA about “wife”, Jen. “Husband” makes me think of handsome Rob Petrie somehow, but to me “wife” connotes a woman with flabby arms, Bermuda shorts, and short-yet-poofy hair. Peggy Hill, IOW.

  78. I’m reminded of the scene in Logan’s Run where after escaping the city Logan and Jessica come upon a graveyard and two headstones which read “Beloved Husband” and “Beloved Wife”. After a simple explanation of the terms by the old man (the only person over 30 they’d ever seen), Logan and Jessica take to calling themselves by those monikers. No priests, no politicians, just a desire to love each other.

    The difference in connotation not only between their world and ours, but also between various people within our own world is astounding. Even traditionally nebulous and personal words such as ‘love’ and ‘freedom’ don’t seem to have the same range of connotation as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.

  79. Jennifer, “Brilliant! After all, if a family is having something like, say, financial problems, or the family is breaking apart because the spouses are always working and never get to see each other, then those families will REALLY be helped by the government giving money to a church.”

    Careful, Jennifer, you’re coming awfully close to suggesting that the problems poor people face might not be entirely the result of their inferior character.

    I liked the news stories about white people in Mississippi bragging about “We didn’t sit around and wait for nobody to help us. We cleaned up our own selves.” And there they were, with their chain saws, large domestic pickup trucks, winches, and heavy equipment pulling fallen trees out of the street.

    I bet people living in Ward Nine wish they had the character to own a chainsaw, pickup truck, and piece of construction equipment.

    Lazy bastards.

  80. “I bet people living in Ward Nine wish they had the character to own a chainsaw, pickup truck, and piece of construction equipment.”

    Joe,

    Why exactly don’t people living in the ninth ward own chainsaws, and pickups, and such?

  81. Careful, Jennifer, you’re coming awfully close to suggesting that the problems poor people face might not be entirely the result of their inferior character.

    Joe, you keep forgetting that I’m the most left-wing poster here, after you and M1EK. Some poor people got that way because they deserve it, but if you could find anywhere that I posted every poor person got that way due to personal inferiority I’d be very interested in reading it.

    (Unless you were trying to snark on others, rather than me, in which case forget I said anything.)

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