Mike Bloomberg, Matchmaker

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Heather Mac Donald is down on Mayor Bloomberg's pay-for-personal-responsibility plan, which would pay the poor to make what the city deems to be constructive decisions. And anyway, she has a better idea—a large-scale educational campaign encouraging the poor to make what Heather Mac Donald deems to be constructive decisions:

There is a far more effective action the mayor could take to reduce poverty in New York, one that would require violating the second-most dangerous poverty-industry taboo: promoting marriage…

The most powerful social change that would cut poverty would be to increase the marriage rate among minorities. Rather than hitting up the private sector for bribes for the poor (the mayor's proposed cash awards for good behavior will be privately funded), Bloomberg should call on private industry and ad councils to start a massive educational campaign about marriage. This would tell young girls that the most valuable gift they can give their children is a father. It would tell young boys that siring children that they have no intention of raising is cowardly and unmanly.

There are good reasons for a taboo on bureaucrats pushing marriage (even through the private sector); it has virtually nothing to do with the task of governing, it's deeply invasive, and any situation in which Mike Bloomberg gets to define manly cannot end well. Alas, as Ezra Klein points out, there is no such taboo on the right or left, and hasn't been for a long time. (If there is a taboo, someone please tell the folks at the federally funded Healthy Marriage Initiative, mavericks that they are.)

In any case, it's always amusing to see pundits skeptical of quixotic anti-poverty campaigns become suddenly enamored of… quixotic anti-poverty campaigns. Propaganda becomes magically effective in the service of socially conservative ends, and lefty campaigns are trotted out as proof that a few well-placed billboards will set society on the straight and narrow. Mac Donald's shred of proof that marriage promotion will work? The suggestion that some New Yorkers stopped smoking after the city's anti-smoking campaign. In other words, we should expect lifetime marriage commitments from a city of quitters.

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  1. In other words, we should expect lifetime marriage commitments from a city of quitters.

    I think you made up the whole story just for that punchline.

    Very funny.

  2. Another (not libertarian) but still better idea than Bloomberg’s would be simply to pay women to accept contraceptive implants.

    Methinks Ms. Mac Donald might not approve, however. Go figure.

  3. Is she a divorce lawyer? Are divorce lawyers in need of work in New York?

  4. Encourage them to get married? What about not getting married until you can afford it? How about this piece of quixotic anti-poverty advice: get a damn job.

  5. “it’s deeply invasive, and any situation in which Mike Bloomberg gets to define manly cannot end well”

    yeah, basically.

    guliani was the asshole guido douchefuck you always wanted to flush in a toilet; bloomberg is a walking green sweater of fuckface.

  6. Another (not libertarian) but still better idea than Bloomberg’s would be simply to pay women to accept contraceptive implants.

    Bloomberg’s plans are as silly as other PC, guilt-driven welfare plans, and Mac Donald is correct in stating that marriage reduces ‘poverty’ (scare quotes because almost no people officially labelled ‘poor’ are actually poor), but a better idea would be to permanently sterilize people as a condition of accepting their first handout: their choice. Which is more choice than taxpayers get.

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2006-08-03td.html
    “Rather than face up to the disapproval of their parents (or, more likely, parent), and that of the rest of society, teenage mothers prefer to claim that their pregnancies were accidental.

    As the report makes clear, and as I have found from clinical experience, the girls regarded pregnancy and the resultant baby as an answer to existential problems. The young women came from broken, violent, chaotic, and loveless homes; they hated school because it seemed pointless; their only employment prospects were in the lowest-paid and most monotonous jobs.

    A baby, then, answered all their prayers.”

  7. “A baby, then, answered all their prayers.”

    Everybody wants somebody to control…

  8. I agree this sounds like a dumb plan, but our leaders will try anything rather than simply acknowledge that the American system produces poor people and we don’t really care enough to change it.

  9. So, tell me, Dan, how exactly do “we” go about changing “it”?

    Do we have to get “it” done by next Tuesday or can we take a few years?

    And what exactly have you personally done about “it” lately?

  10. I think Dan T said something reasonable and correct.

    I know of few people who know of hardworking people who are really suffering financially.

    And when a tragedy hits such a family there is a lot community (non governmental) support in the form of donations, bake sales, etc.

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