1950: Just a Baseline!

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Idaho's "family task force" revs up its time machine:

As chairman of the Idaho House of Representatives' Family Task Force, Rep. Steven Thayn and others are considering controversial solutions such as repealing no-fault divorce laws and finding ways to encourage mothers to stay home with their children.

The six-member task force was convened this year by Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney and has been meeting with the lofty goal of finding solutions to what they see as the decline of the Idaho family. Controversially, the group is using the typical family of 1950 as its benchmark, though Thayn says it's simply a baseline and not a suggestion that families were perfect in 1950.  

So true: 34 percent of working age women were employed in 1950, which is 34 percentage points from perfect. 

The task force endorsed a proposal to end no-fault divorce, which allows a couple to divorce without proof of fault.

"Divorce is just terrible," Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, said. "It's one of Satan's best tools to kill America."

The Idahoans interviewed seem kind of appalled, but I'm not sure what a "family task force" is supposed to do other than frame some specific ideal of family that will offend people.

Also, dissolution of contract is one of the antichrist's best weapons? 

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  1. So true: 34 percent of working age women were employed in 1950, which is 34 percentage points from perfect.

    Don’t be rediculous, many of those women were probably still single. Working as a secretary for a big law firm, or as a nurse, is an excellent way to catch a lawyer or doctor.

  2. You don’t have to say anything to encourage moms to stay home. Just cut taxes back to 1950 rates and families will come to realize that they no longer need a second income to support the household. At that point, everyone will make their own arrangements and some mom’s will stay home. Some dad’s too.

  3. So true: 34 percent of working age women were employed in 1950, which is 34 percentage points from perfect.

    — Is that really the perfect life for all working age women? Or even men for that matter? I’m so glad we have someone to inform us of these things. I always knew there was something wrong with my grandmother’s chosen life.

  4. I thought the antichrist’s best weapon was surprise … surprise and fear… fear and surprise … his two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. his *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency

    /catholic
    //not lapsed
    ///just have sense of humor

  5. TWC

    Didn’t we have something like a 92% top marginal rate in 1950. Of course adjusted for inflation it kicked in a lot higher on the pay scale than today’s top rate does doesn’t it?

  6. I have lots of family in Idaho, and I joke that visiting them is like climbing into a time machine (especially when I visit those that live in rural areas). It’s nice that the state government is trying to make my joke a reality.

  7. “Divorce is just terrible,” Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, said. “It’s one of Satan’s best tools to kill America.”

    And I thought Beelzebub was relying on birth control, freethinkers and marijuana to kill America. Maybe I should have renewed my subscription to Lucifer’s Weekly? after all.

  8. Just cut taxes back to 1950 rates and families will come to realize that they no longer need a second income to support the household.

    I’d like to see some math to prove that. Weren’t income taxes considerably higher in the fifties than today? And what about the effect of real wages? Today’s are lower than in the sixties; I couldn’t find any data for the fifties.

  9. Not possible. In 1950 all women were barefoot, pregnant, Stepford or a combinantion of the three.

  10. 34 percent of working age women were employed in 1950, which is 34 percentage points from perfect.

    Actually, you should try to get somebody to agree with that, and then follow up with “In a perfect world, it would be 68% employed, 20% working on advanced degrees, and 12% enjoying earlier retirement after being hugely successful and saving up a ton of money.”

  11. Idaho (particularly southern Idaho) is the most bass-ackwards experiment in social inbreeding in the country. I’m so glad I don’t live there anymore that I can almost put up with the Che Guevara-worshiping little commies in Missoula, Montana.

  12. Of those 34%, how many sold Avon?

  13. True or False: Wedding vows are (or should be) legally binding oral contracts.

    Ive always thought divorce laws should depend in large part on your vows. If you choose to have “until death do us part” as part of yours, then you got to stick to it, assuming the other person has lived up to their vows. No “no fault” divorce for you. If, on the other hand, you add in “until one of us feels like ending it”, then no fault seems reasonable.

    If the state is going to be involved in marriages at all, it should be there to enforce contracts.

  14. Isaac, very true. The top marginal rate in 1950 was 84.3 but it only applied to incomes over 400k in 1950 dollars (roughly 3.2 million today).

    It isn’t the rich guys whose wives work to cover the taxes.

    I have my dad’s W-2 from 1953. His entire income tax burden, including social security was less than 11%. Today, just to pick an example, Mrs TWC’s tax burden is around 35%.

  15. If you choose to have “until death do us part” as part of yours, then you got to stick to it…

    Or you use the 12 guage.

  16. True or False: Wedding vows are (or should be) legally binding oral contracts.

    Ive always thought divorce laws should depend in large part on your vows. If you choose to have “until death do us part” as part of yours, then you got to stick to it, assuming the other person has lived up to their vows. No “no fault” divorce for you. If, on the other hand, you add in “until one of us feels like ending it”, then no fault seems reasonable.

    If the state is going to be involved in marriages at all, it should be there to enforce contracts.

    As a practical matter, there is really no such thing as an unbreakable contract. Contract law was not my best class, so feel free to correct/supplement my answer, but generally speaking, there is the idea that it does not make sense to force people to stay in contracts that no longer make business sense (I think it’s called effecient breach). Even if we looked at marriage vows as an enforceable oral contract (unlikely, it would probably breach the statute of frauds), the most a court would order is payment of damages. AFAIK, you can’t get specific performace of purely personal duties like those that exist in a marriage.

  17. I guess I should mention that we owned a home, had two cars, and my mother didn’t have a job. Course it did take her all day Monday to do the wash and all day Tuesday to iron it. Boy Howdy, thank God for modern technology.

    I still say that technology had more to do with the so called liberation of women than anything else. When you cut the hard labor of keeping a household on the path from 75 hours a week to 20, there is an incentive to do other things with your time.

  18. True or False: Wedding vows are (or should be) legally binding oral contracts.

    In most states, you can’t enter into oral contracts with a duration of longer than one year. And that’s pretty much an ancient Anglo-Saxon legal maxim, not a product of the modern bureaucratic state.

    Of course, modern marriage is not actually an oral contract, since the parties are required to sign on the dotted line after taking their vows.

    In any event, courts have long barred personal-service contracts without some kind of “out” provision, as a form of indentured servitude.

    Marriage has contractual elements, but it isn’t a perfect analogy.

  19. BTW, wasn’t Idaho supposed to be an emerging libertarian paradise or something? Probably too many Mormons there for that to happen.

  20. I have my dad’s W-2 from 1953. His entire income tax burden, including social security was less than 11%. Today, just to pick an example, Mrs TWC’s tax burden is around 35%.

    Correct me if I’m wrong:

    As inflation increases, wages are raised in order to compensate for it.

    However, the tax laws don’t take this into account, so as wages rise, more people are essentially pushed into a higher tax bracket than they otherwise would have been in?

  21. Well, if we gotta stay stuck in some idealic past I guess its better that the women are wearing capris pants instead of calico dresses and bonnets.

  22. Sulla, ChrisO,

    Fair enough. Of course, there is no reason a couple couldnt write up their marriage terms – where the damages to be awarded in case of breach of contract are laid out in advance.

    It wouldnt prevent divorce, it would just be a “with fault” divorce in which the side severing the contract pays previously agreed upon damages. If both wanted out without anyone breaching the contract, thats an easy out. Any contract can be ended if both parties agree to it.

    Maybe this explains why I havent been married. 🙂

  23. Satan is trying to kill America and only by stopping divorce can we free ourselves from his clutches.

    Other things Satan kills America with: tobacco, alcohol, mind altering drugs, Mexicans, Muslims, contraception, sex stores, pornography, THE GAYS

    None of these existed in the 1950s. They were brought to America in the 1960s by satanic hippies, communists, and Democrats. We need to rid ourselves of these unAmerican activities and live as God intended us to!

  24. finding ways to encourage mothers to stay home with their children.

    Hey, if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, why don’t you step out and clean the bathroom for a change!

  25. Sulla, ChrisO,

    Fair enough. Of course, there is no reason a couple couldnt write up their marriage terms – where the damages to be awarded in case of breach of contract are laid out in advance.

    It wouldnt prevent divorce, it would just be a “with fault” divorce in which the side severing the contract pays previously agreed upon damages. If both wanted out without anyone breaching the contract, thats an easy out. Any contract can be ended if both parties agree to it.

    Maybe this explains why I havent been married. 🙂

    Sure, you could have a prenuptial agreement that spells all that out. My point is that if marriage were to be strictly treated like a contract, there is no way to force one of the parties to remain in the contractual arrangement. In the absence of a liquidated damages clause, if a court decided that there were no monetary damages in the event of a divorce, then it would essentially be “no fault”.

  26. Divorce is just terrible,” Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, said. “It’s one of Satan’s best tools to kill America.”

    Pressuring people to marry before they’re ready is another good tool.

  27. *applauds Bingo*

    You have it pretty much exact. I couldn’t tell the difference between that post and my family reunion 🙂


  28. As inflation increases, wages are raised in order to compensate for it.

    However, the tax laws don’t take this into account, so as wages rise, more people are essentially pushed into a higher tax bracket than they otherwise would have been in?

    Yep, pretty much, Of course, you could tie the tax brackets to inflation, but where’s the fun for the government in that?

  29. Actually, they did write something that I can agree with.

    The task force endorsed a proposal to end no-fault divorce, which allows a couple to divorce without proof of fault.

    Now, can someone fill in all of those pro-marriage freaks folks, including the homosexual ones, that no-fault is just an additional out and not the end of all of the other methods?

  30. no fault really sucks in nj: requiring 18 months of separation before granting the divorce. you’re better off accusing each other of crimes.

  31. Guy,

    Why do agree that the government should dictate the terms of a contract between two individuals? What are you, some kind of collectivist?

  32. When a guy named “Dick Harwood” starts talking about “Satan’s best tools”, I’m generally giggling too much to pay much attention to whatever else he has to say.

  33. Now, can someone fill in all of those pro-marriage freaks folks, including the homosexual ones, that no-fault is just an additional out and not the end of all of the other methods?

    Excellent point – I am not aware of the laws of most of the states, but Virginia, which I am most familiar with, does not have a true no-fault option. It does have a six months (no minor kids – parties agree )/ one year (all others) separation divorce, which ends up being the “no-fault.” Like it or not, divorce has become a part of american culture, and cosmetic changes to the law would only have the effect of allowing creative lawyers to make money finding ways to get their clients divorced.

  34. “””True or False: Wedding vows are (or should be) legally binding oral contracts.

    Taking an oath to up hold the constitution isn’t a binding contract, why should a wedding vow be one?

  35. Well, if we gotta stay stuck in some idealic past I guess its better that the women are wearing capris pants instead of calico dresses and bonnets.

    Mike, I’d pick mini-skirts and the bra-less look for an idyllic past era to be stuck in…..

  36. Hardwood, Dick is Satan’s best tool.

  37. After thinking about it for a little while, I realized that Virginia’s separation divorce is “no-fault” just not as quick as some other states “irreconcible differences.” However, given that fault is not as relevent these days in alimony and property settlement determinations, if no-fault divorces were no longer allowed, I predict we we see a rash of “abandonment”, “cruelty” and “adultery” divorces.

  38. Idaho (particularly southern Idaho) is the most bass-ackwards experiment in social inbreeding in the country.

    Ever been to the Eastern Shore of Virgina?

  39. Les,

    Why do agree that the government should dictate the terms of a contract between two individuals? What are you, some kind of collectivist?

    Where do you get from anything that I have ever said that the government should dictate contract terms between individuals?

    Enforce terms of contracts agreed to by individuals, yes I am all for that. Enforce wills and powers of attorney? Yep, I am right there.

    However, if you ever got that I agree with the current state of “marriage” and its caprecious assigning of property at the whim of the legeslature and judiciary, then you have ignored any words that I have typed on the subject in favour of your wild imagination.

  40. I still say that technology had more to do with the so called liberation of women than anything else. When you cut the hard labor of keeping a household on the path from 75 hours a week to 20, there is an incentive to do other things with your time.

    I’ve actually heard it said that women’s lib was a plot by the IRS to get women out of the home, where the weren’t paying taxes, to the workplace where they would be. There’s your conspiracy theory for today….

  41. However, if you ever got that I agree with the current state of “marriage” and its caprecious assigning of property at the whim of the legeslature and judiciary, then you have ignored any words that I have typed on the subject in favour of your wild imagination.

    I admit it’s hard to compete with my imagination, Guy. So, explain why you agree that the government should “end no fault divorce,” and why that doesn’t equal the government dictating the terms of contracts between two individuals. Please be clear (I actually suspect you know more about this stuff than I do), so that my imagination has no gaps to fill in.

  42. So let me see if I’m understanding this: if I get married in Idaho, and then I realize after awhile that my husband, while a wonderful man, simply isn’t right for me, the good lawmakers of Idaho want to make it impossible for us to divorce under the circumstance of “there’s nothing really wrong with my spouse; we’re just not right for each other.”

    Therefore, our only choices will be to stay together even though we’re both miserable that way, or one of us will have to start goading the other into nastiness, so that we can then run to the court and say “NOW let me divorce my spouse, because he/she’s being mean to me.”

    This, in turn, is expected to strengthen the family unit. How, exactly?

  43. Drat!~

    My quest to kill America is again foiled. Fuck it. I’ll get back to work on France. That shit is shooting fish in a barrel.

  44. This, in turn, is expected to strengthen the family unit. How, exactly?

    It’s not about you and your spouse, Jennifer, it’s FOR THE CHILDREN!

    Of course, my life got a lot better after my parents divorced, but I’m a unique case.

  45. So, explain why you agree that the government should “end no fault divorce,” and why that doesn’t equal the government dictating the terms of contracts between two individuals.

    How about telling me what the hell you are talking about first? That quote does not belong to me. Nothing I said supports it either. I am the “government should not be involved in ‘marriage’ guy” around here.

  46. “Divorce is just terrible,” Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, said. “It’s one of Satan’s best tools to kill America.”

    With that quote, and from Idaha, I’m guessing he’s LDS. Not just LDS, but Peter Priesthood LDS.

  47. Jennifer,

    If you don’t fall for that ‘marriage’ joke to begin with then 99% of your problem is solved.

  48. Y’know, I’ve always found the arrogance of these folks mind-boggling. Our marriage is a contract between my wife and myself and we decided when it started, what the rules are, and if it ever ends. Nobody has a right to force two people to stay together if they don’t want to, for whatever reason. “Society” can just bugger off and mind its own business.

  49. Ah, I see the problem Les.

    You see, I quoted the article and made a comment about a portion of the quote. That portion being what no-fault divorce is. See, the last sentence of MY comment is this:
    Now, can someone fill in all of those pro-marriage freaks folks, including the homosexual ones, that no-fault is just an additional out and not the end of all of the other methods?

    If you look carefully at my wording (others, perhaps, do not need to exercise as much care) . . . oh, forget it, I am not bright enough to explain quoting and context to some people.

  50. Hey J sub D, my teen years became a whole lot better after my parents divorced, also.

    Why anyone thinks it’s better for children to be raised in an environment where their parents hate each other and fight all the time totally eludes me. This teaches the kids, what, how to hate and fight?

  51. Gotcha, Guy. Misunderstandings all around. See you at the next Iraq thread!

  52. Hey J sub D, my teen years became a whole lot better after my parents divorced, also.

    What, you didn’t miss the icy silences, punctuated by snide comments and hostile bickering? I guess there are two of us then. Who’d a thunk it?

  53. Do any of the Bible-thumping idiots who attack working mothers realize that most of the women aren’t exactly doing it by choice?

  54. Do any of the Bible-thumping idiots who attack working mothers realize that most of the women aren’t exactly doing it by choice?
    I think a lot of them do and that is why they prefer a stepfordesque time when husbands make enough money so that the wives don’t have to work. I disagree with that position, but it’s not far to call them all idiots.

  55. I think a lot of them do and that is why they prefer a stepfordesque time when husbands make enough money so that the wives don’t have to work. I disagree with that position, but it’s not far to call them all idiots.

    Well, some would point out that many fundies actually supported economic policies that arguably forced women into the workplace because a certain (middle-class) standard of living could no longer be maintained with just the husband as the breadwinner. But who ever said such people were consistent?

  56. Let’s see if I get this straight: Because some Idaho politician uses religious rhetoric and praises traditional families, therefore his concerns about no-fault divorce are illegitimate.

    Are there any consequences to divorce laws allowing one party, for any reason, not only to terminate a marriage but to clean out the unwilling partner financially? Apparently, so, according to this article:

    http://tinyurl.com/2cm5hv

  57. I still say that technology had more to do with the so called
    liberation of women than anything else.

    Absolutely. Men too, for that matter.

  58. Are there any consequences to divorce laws allowing one party, for any reason, not only to terminate a marriage but to clean out the unwilling partner financially?

    You’re combining two separate issues: what grounds can be for dissolution of a marriage is a different matter from how joint assets should be distributed afterwards. If you’re not happy with the latter, mucking with the former won’t solve your problem.

    Besides, if you’re that afraid of being cleaned out by your future ex-wife, do you really think that having the government force her to stay married to you is going to help?

  59. Jennifer,

    The divorce-law “reformers” joined the two issues – making divorce available on any grounds was inseparably joined to splitting up the money and property without regard to fault.

    The “no-fault” movement necessarily supports both of these “reforms.” By definition, “no-fault” means that dividing up the money is done without regard to who is to blame for the breakup of the marriage. If the party who was more to blame got less money, then it would be fault-based.

    The article I linked argued that fewer men are getting married and starting families because of their fears of the consequences of no-fault.

  60. Mad Max–

    The article you linked makes some decent points, but they’re completely lost in the over-the-top rhetoric the article writer uses, not counting the non-sequitur of the “this is why the gays want to be able to marry!” at the end.

    No-Fault divorce is kind of pointless…. when they didn’t have it for the longest time in Pennsylvania, but any decent lawyer knew 1000 ways around that fact to have the equivalent of a no-fault. But it’s silly to have to go through that legal wrangling, especially when there are legitimate situations where a one-sided non-fault divorce needs to occur (abuse cases as one example).

  61. Andrew,

    A divorce based on abuse sounds fault-based to me.

  62. “not counting the non-sequitur of the ‘this is why the gays want to be able to marry!’ at the end.”

    I’ve certainly heard the argument, “why fuss so much about gay marriage when divorce poses a much greater threat to marriage,” etc. And the old “you heterosexuals want to be able to rewrite the traditional definition of marriage – look at the divorce laws! – so why can’t gays do the same thing?”

    For one example, look at this link, which I found just now by Goodling “gay marriage,” “divorce” and “hypocrisy”:

    http://tinyurl.com/2jwv6v

    “I’m trying to think through how a typical evangelical Christian might view the issue of gay rights/gay marriage. Usually the thought process is through the lens of “family values” and cultural norms; that is, gay marriage will undermine the institution of marriage and it therefore bad for families and our society.

    “Unfortunately, this line of thinking belies the underlying hypocrisy. If conservatives and evangelical Christians are so concerned about family values and promoting the institution of marriage, then why aren’t no-fault divorce laws at the forefront? It doesn’t take a genius to understand how destructive no-fault divorce has been to families (children in particular), the institution of marriage, and ‘family values’ in general. As a result, this uproar over gay marriage and gay rights rings hollow.

    “I’m not sure that heterosexual evangelical Christians have any ground to stand on regarding gay marriage if they aren’t first addressing a far more common issue even in their own communities.”

  63. Do any of the Bible-thumping idiots who attack working mothers realize that most of the women aren’t exactly doing it by choice?

    Nonsense. What evidence do you have of this?

  64. I hate to be the one to break the news, but when one party no longer wants to remain married, the friggin marriage is over.

    Do rational people really doubt that?

  65. Oh and let’s be clear – that isn’t a defense of “Bible-thumping idiots” it’s a defense of women who choose to work as well as have kids.

  66. Do rational people really doubt that?

    No. But then you don’t have to look even that deeply to know that someone who says “It’s one of Satan’s best tools to kill America” is not exactly a paragon of rational thinking.

  67. I guess it would be considered naive and quaint to ask what in what way is any of this hand-wringing over “the family” and keeping women barefoot and pregnant… er I mean at home with the kids, a legitimate government function.

    I know, I know, that was silly. We all know by now that anything you can get a majority of the people (or legislators) to support is, ipso facto, a legitimate government function.

  68. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how destructive no-fault divorce has been to families (children in particular), the institution of marriage, and ‘family values’ in general.

    Mad Max, I realize you’re quoting another there, but you seem to support that line of argument. My experience as a teenager was that divorce was not destructive at all. Rather it was liberating in that I could go home, be myself, and not walk around on eggshells constantly. The B/S line that divorce is harmful to the children is false when compared to the alternative, children remaining in an environment of argumentative resentment. My folks were not evil or abusive, but when my father moved out, my life immeasurably improved. I did better in school and my social life improved. I was no longer afraid to let friends visit me at home. I’m not even close to being alone in my experience.

  69. “I’m not sure that heterosexual evangelical Christians have any ground to stand on regarding gay marriage if they aren’t first addressing a far more common issue even in their own communities.”

    The writer has nailed it. There is not one fundamentalist or evangelical Christian denomination today that does not tolerate divorce and does not number many divorced people – and remarried divorced people, at that – among its membership. Divorce has become absolutely acceptable among Christians and it is, without doubt, far more destructive to families than Adam and Steve’s relationship could ever be.

    I’ve often thought that the reason the fundies are so fixated on gay marriage and gayness in general is because they have conflated two trends in American culture in the last 30 years or so – gay rights and the general acceptance of the “gay lifestyle” on the one hand, and the pervasiveness of sex, sexual content, sexuality, sexual activity, the sexualization of teenagers – you know what I’m trying to say, I just can’t think of how to word it! – the overall “sex sex sex” of modern American culture. Not porn per se – just the Bratz, and the thongs, and the “Are you Hot” and the “that’s so hot” and the Paris and the models and the constant Are you getting enough sex? Too much sex? Bad sex? Wierd sex? What? You’re Not Having Sex???? Look, here’s Janet’s Jackson’s nipple! and so on.

    I can sort of sympathize with them on that, in a way that I could not sympathize with them before I had a daughter who, for her sixth birthday this year, got a Bratz doll and knew immediately upon opening it that it would be returned, cos Mama don’t allow Bratz in da house – but gay people have nothing to do with it and, indeed, the gay people I know who are raising kids are sick of the sexualization of American culture just like the fundies are.

    Oh hell. I’m so far off the topic I can’t even see the road anymore. Sorry.

  70. If it matters, I view marriage as two seperate things.

    1. A religious ceremony, the Catholics call it one of the sacraments. The 1st amendment applies here. Government, butt out!

    2. A contract to share assets and responsibilities. A court divides assets equitably and ensures that both parties meet their responsibilities (debt and supporting minor children). IMHO, this is a proper function of government.

    When you need to prove fault to get a divorce, well … Let the perjury begin!

  71. Oh hell. I’m so far off the topic I can’t even see the road anymore. Sorry.

    But it WAS a well written, enjoyable, heartfelt rant. I forgive ya.

  72. Nonsense. What evidence do you have of this?

    I stated my evidence in an earlier post. The reason why more women started entering the workforce in the 1970’s and 1980’s was out of economic necessity. How is that “nonsense?”

  73. Religious wackos say the cutest things. Is this moron aware that his party will most likely nominate a presidential candidate that has a standing order for top of the line divorces from Satan’s Snap On truck.

  74. The reason why more women started entering the workforce in the 1970’s and 1980’s was out of economic necessity. How is that “nonsense?”

    Well, to start, calling it “economic necessity” doesn’t distinguish it at all. Hell, you could say it’s out of “economic necessity” that I have to work – am I being forced to work then? And if so, who isn’t? It’s a fact of life that one has to find some means of supporting oneself. It is hardly evidence of being “forced” that someone is seen to do it through work rather than through marriage or family.

    Second, simply asserting that women entered the workforce because of economic necessity doesn’t make it so. I can just as easily (and probably more accurately) assert that women entered the workforce when changing social attitudes and norms began allowing more women the choice of a career, either by entering the workforce directly, or through going to college, instead of being expected to get married and start a family right away. That theory happens to have the benefit of being bolstered by the fact that the percentage of women on campus has been steadily increasing since the ’60’s and today women make up a majority of students on many college campuses which would have been absolutely unheard of in previous generations. If they’re being “forced” to work to survive, how is it so many have time to take a 4+ year detour from productivity to secure an education first? One explanation above is consistent with that fact, one isn’t.

  75. The reason why more women started entering the workforce in the 1970’s and 1980’s was out of economic necessity. How is that “nonsense?”

    Uh, because it’s largely false. There is no significant upward blip in women’s (married or not) labor force participation rates in that period. You do see a growth in the number of women with very young children entering the labor force, but that is much more likely the result of the higher wages they can command in the market raising the opportunity cost of staying home (as well as the increased efficiency of household production requiring less labor time and their higher wages enabling them to afford daycare).

    The growth from the late 60s onward is steady. Read it and weep: http://myslu.stlawu.edu/~shorwitz/LFPrates.jpg

    The argument that married women entered employment out of some sort of financial necessity is indeed mostly nonsense.

  76. J sub D,

    I’m glad that you weren’t part of the general trend of children being harmed as a *result* of divorce.

    In their decades-long in-depth study of American families, *The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce,* http://tinyurl.com/ywhmmr, the authors found that divorce was harmful to children. As indicated by the title, the authors were actually surprised by this result, because they went into their study with the standard modern “divorce helps kids” mentality.

  77. And the children of divorce whom I know don’t seem to think of it as a liberating experience, so anecdotes can go both ways.

  78. We’d even be better off adopting sulla’s suggestion (above) of making marriage like a commercial agreement. If one party to a commercial agreement gets tired of the agreement, he can terminate it, but he has to pay damages for the breach. With marriage, on the other hand, the breaching spouse (is (s)he has fewer assets than the other spouse) can end up forcing the other party to cough up more money.

    Imagine commercial contracts being treated like marriage.

    JOHN: Bob, it’s over. I met a supplier with bigger inventory.

    BOB: But we have a contract! You’re supposed to buy your supplies from me over the next few years! I reconfigured my factory to meet your needs, and I turned down other offers because I’d signed the contract with you! I demand compensation for your breach of contract!

    JOHN: Contract schmontract. We have a no-fault contract termination law. I can breach the contract and don’t have to pay you anything. And, oh yes, the law also requires *you* to compensate *me.* And if you fail to pay me on time, I can have you put in prison.

  79. Stubby,

    Well said.

    Divorce has become absolutely acceptable among Christians and it is, without doubt, far more destructive to families than Adam and Steve’s relationship could ever be.

    My kids want to go to church. Because their friends go to this huge, hip, trendy, modern church where nobody preaches too hard and there is always a rock concert, field trip, bar-b-q, movie night, or other really fun thing to do. Single parents are welcome. Actually, the congregation is quite inclusive and gays are welcome except I imagine they keep quiet about last night. This church has money, too. Because there are quite literally thousands of members, all of whom are middle and upper middle income families plunked right here in suburbia.

  80. Well, I forgot the point, which was, modern day popular protestant churches are pretty laid back and they don’t put the arm on you for having a few beers, or being divorced, or seeing an R movie, or for much of anything that used to be consider sin by evangelicals.

  81. Mad Max, as someone who worked in family law for a while, let me tell you, it would be a nightmare for the legal system to have to sort out who was at “fault” for every divorce. It’s almost always a he-said/she-said situation. Each one claims the other is intolerable. Can you imagine the extra backlog it would cause to have to generate PROOF of something like that? She says he never helps out around the house and cheats on her, he says she can’t cook and that she cheats on him…and on and on and on. Even a fairly clear-cut case like physical abuse could be a nightmare for the victim to have to prove. A lot of victims don’t go to the police and thus have no paper trail to “prove” the abuse. Personally, I’d rather just take their word for it.

    Besides, what if there is no big “crime”, so to speak, and both of them just really get on each other’s nerves. It’s not really either’s fault, then, so why require them to make stuff up to add to an already very difficult situation?

    A lot of us in the family law business thought it should be harder to get married and easier to get divorced. Once people get to the point where they’ve decided they want to divorce, it’s torture for both parties when it drags on and on because of mandatory waiting periods, etc.

    As a final note, it is also very damaging to children to know (and trust me, they always find out) that one parent or the other has been declared the one “at fault.” Whether mom or dad cheated is not a fact that should involve the child AT ALL–the parties should not be talking to the kid about how so-and-so cheated on them, misspent money, etc. It’s majorly harmful to the parent-child relationship on both sides. They end up resenting the “at-fault” parent for messing up and ALSO, a lot of times, the “no-fault” parent for speaking ill of their other parent. It’s bad news all around.

  82. I’m also for making it harder to marry and easier to divorce. Having watched the dysfunctionality in my own family (between grandparents) because they decided to carry on their family feuding through their offspring–heck, there are definitely some cases where divorce is really the best way out.

    And for those who want to go back to Ye Traditional Times–well, the really traditional way of getting rid of your spouse (if male) was to simply wait until your wife died during childbirth. Pretty prevalent.

  83. waitasec,

    I presume you’re aware that divorced parents can, and do, bad-mouth each other in front of the children whether or not there’s a judicial declaration of fault.

    As far as kids being traumatized by being aware of the horrible things said in court papers: what if the kids get to read some of the choicer passages in the papers filed by their parents’ lawyers? Those legal papers aren’t all sweetness and light, as you know.

    Divorce by mutual consent, and the fact that married couples in the bad old days were “forced to lie” in order to get a divorce, aren’t the issues I was addressing. I was talking about *unilateral* no-fault divorce. If the divorce is uncontested, and the terms have been worked out in advance, then lengthy evidentiary hearings won’t be a problem.

    If one party claims fault and the other party denies it, of course the court should insist on some sort of, you know, proof. Most court cases don’t go to trial, but if they do, then of course there need to be hearings where the one making the accusations should have to prove them.

    Grounds for fault-based divorce tend to include stuff like adultery and intolerable cruelty, not sharing of the household chores.

    Of course a divorce case is “torture” on the parties and the kids. I don’t recall denying *that.*

  84. If someone goes to court seeking to take someone else’s children and a good portion of his/her wealth, of course there should be some kind of fault alleged – why should someone undergo the punishment of losing children and wealth if he/she has admittedly done nothing wrong?

  85. grumpy,

    “And for those who want to go back to Ye Traditional Times well, the really traditional way of getting rid of your spouse (if male) was to simply wait until your wife died during childbirth.””

    I think there was a time when the divorce problem did not suck to the same extent, or in the same way, as it does now. But it wasn’t any kind of Golden Age, if that’s what you’re driving at. Other times had their problems and we have ours.

    Can’t I say a certain problem has been getting worse without wanting to restore every “tradition”?

    Libertarians would probably agree that the problem of cops busting down doors and shooting people while looking for drugs has grown worse since the nineteenth century. Does that mean that Libertarians want to bring back hoop-skirts and deny women the right to vote? Please!

  86. This is interesting, in that on the morning this thread started there was a story on NPR about how things had changed in Bhutan since the King started allowing his subjects to have the trappings of modernity like TV and imported Western music and culture.

    Much of the time was taken up by a prominent (apparently, I, naturally, had never heard of him) Bhutanese writer decrying the abandonment of their traditional values and attributing all manner of social ills (family breakup, crime etc) to this great loss.

    Oddly enough, the usual NPR-listening type is held spellbound by the great wisdom of these great advocates for traditional values in other cultures but has absolutely no trouble at all dismissing these Idaho types as backward hicks.

  87. I was traveling, so this is way late, but for what it’s worth, I wasn’t really suggesting that we apply commercial law to marriage, just pointing out that contracts are always breakable and marriages aren’t really contracts anyway. I’m generally of the opinion that the government has no business in the marital sphere. My broad opinion is that there should be some defined pool of benefits associated with being a family unit such as a common sense mix of tax benefits, legal priveledges such as right to visit in the hospital, intestate inheritance, access to health insurance, etc. People should be given wide latitude to decide what constitues their “family unit,” e.g., one man one woman, two men, three men, three men and four women. Inasmuch as this is a quick post on a nearly defunct thread, I don’t feel the need to go into more detail, but those are the broad outlines.

  88. I like Sulla’s approach to getting the government out of the marriage business. People like me – i.e., practicing adherents of one religion or another – can handle the sacremental aspects of their marriage.

    Something was mentioned at church last night that made me think about this: a friend was talking about his brother in law, a Methodist minister in West Texas. And one fall the minister was going through his closet, pulling out the lightweight summer suits to get them cleaned and put away for the season, and in going through his pockets he discovered the marriage license for a couple he had married earlier that year. He had not filed the license – oops. What to do? Confess to the couple, and submit the license to the county, or keep quiet and submit the license to the county? He chose the latter (smart guy). Was the couple “married?” Of course they were – by the tenets of our (i.e., Christian) faith they were. In the eyes of the state – no. Would it matter to them? Of course it would. Should it matter? Probably not.

    One last, gratuitous Boomer-bashing point – cos I can’t resist Boomer bashing – it was the Boommers, in the 60s and 70s, who decided that divorce did not harm kids and that kids could not be happy if their parents were not happy – hence the “unexpected” aspect of the divorce legacy study. Anybody who has kids, or who knows kids, should know those two points are not true – it is simply not factual. I am not denying that sometimes divorce is the only option, or that sometimes divorce is actually better for everyone – because sometimes it is. But to say that it does not harm kids, it does not make them sad, screw with their sense of comfort and stability, permanently alter their sense of self, is stupid. And to say that kids can’t be happy if mom and dad are miserable is to have no understanding of the child psyche at all. Just another example of the perpetually adolescent generation deciding what color they want their particular sky to be.

    Gratuitous ad hominem attack over. And I’m not going to try to defend it because of course I can’t. It’s just the way I feel, man – and feelings are never wrong!

  89. stubby

    The Boomers were not the ones making policy in the 60s and 70s. Our parents, the greatest generation, were firmly in control of the actual reins of power.

    I suspect that it was that generation, many of whom were “repenting” their wartime “marriages in haste”, that gave us no fault divorce. They pretty much decided that now that the kids were grown it was time to end the misery.

    We boomers seem to get blamed for simply having accepted things that were firmly in place long before we had any control over what happened in the world (see also Social Security*).

    *A program that our Greatest Generation parents benefited from far more than any of us ever will. Even though the overall cost will be higher.

  90. Oddly enough, the usual NPR-listening type is held spellbound by the great wisdom of these great advocates for traditional values in other cultures but has absolutely no trouble at all dismissing these Idaho types as backward hicks.

    QFT.

  91. Isaac:

    Your point about SS is well taken. We’ll have to disagree about who is responsible for the rise of no fault divorce (which gained popularity in the 70s) and who benefited from it because I can’t go looking for supporting evidence right now and when I have the time, I won’t remember. All I know is, I see a lot of 75s and overs who stayed married, but not so many mid50s to late 60s (apply arbitrary age ranges and extrapolating from purely anecdotal evidence).

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