The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Over the years, I have written about the class warfare fantasy ideology that is a mainstream meme among those on the Left. But those on the Right are not immune to their own illogical (some would say, irrational) ideologies. This week, one of the Right’s favorites was in full bloom as New York state passed legislation to legalize gay marriage. Within seconds, most Republican presidential candidates, many right-leaning senators, and the vast majority of conservative commentators robotically stated: “marriage is defined as a union between and man and a woman,” as if somehow, that justifies direct blatant discrimination again a particular class of people.

Most of these same conservatives then go on to suggest that gay marriage is a “threat” to the institution of heterosexual marriage. How exactly? Does gay marriage somehow abridge the rights of heterosexual couples to be married? Does it cause marriages to end in divorce? There is never any answer to how the “threat" manifests itself, but otherwise logical people state it anyway.

Mona Charen considers a real “threat” that both liberals and conservatives prefer not to address because discussion of it is politically incorrect:
The statistics are familiar. In 1970, 85.2 percent of children under 18 lived in a two-parent family. In 2005, it was 68.3 percent and dropping. Forty percent of births in America are to unwed parents. Broken down by ethnic group, the figures are 30 percent among whites, 50 percent for Hispanics and 70 percent for blacks.

Single mothers (and occasionally fathers) find it much more difficult to be the kind of autonomous, self-supporting individuals that our system of government was designed for. Single parents turn to the government for assistance in dozens of ways. Pearlstein [author of the book, From Family Collapse to America's Decline] cites economist Benjamin Scafidi, who has offered a rough calculation of how much family breakdown costs American taxpayers annually. Scafidi considered TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), Food Stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid, S-Chip, child welfare services, justice system costs, WIC, LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), Head Start, school breakfast and lunch programs, and foregone tax receipts. The annual bill to taxpayers: $112 billion.

But Scafidi was being conservative, Pearlstein argues. He didn't include the Earned Income Tax Credit, the costs to schools that accrue from additional discipline problems, the special education costs that increase in lock step with chaotic family environments, and the added burdens on Medicare and Medicaid that result from more unmarried older Americans. Scafidi explains that "high rates of divorce and failure to marry mean that many more Americans enter late middle age (and beyond) without a spouse to help them manage chronic illnesses, or to help care for them if they become disabled."

The flight from marriage is transforming the complexion of American society -- increasing inequality and decreasing self-sufficiency.

So the next time you hear a conservative talk about marriage definitions and threats, recognize that cultural definitions, like all things, evolve over time and that threats are real only when they can be demonstrated with tangible evidence, not shrill counter-factual proclamations. The conservative fantasy about same sex marriage is abject nonsense.