Friday, November 16, 2012

The Age of Stupidity

David Brooks produces another drivel of platitudes to liberal progressives in his piece called "The Age of Possibility." For instance, he writes:
The transformation has been liberating, and it’s leading to some pretty astounding changes. For example, for centuries, most human societies forcefully guided people into two-parent families. Today that sort of family is increasingly seen as just one option among many.
There you have it. The natural pairing into a two-parent household, which has its basis deep in human evolution, was "forced" on people by "most human societies" (I would like to know the exceptions). Well, it sure is liberating that so many women and children are doomed to a life of poverty and increased chances of drug and alcohol abuse because they live in single parent households. Freedom at its best, according to Brooks.

Brooks goes on:
The number of Americans who are living alone has shot up from 9 percent in 1950 to 28 percent today. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans said that children are very important to a successful marriage. Now, only 41 percent of Americans say they believe that. There are now more American houses with dogs than with children.
Wow. That is liberating. All of those baby boomers that will be free of receiving Social Security and Medicare because of a declining pool of workers able and willing to pay for the whole thing. Look at how liberated the Greeks are--they have one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Brooks even gives an example about how people in Singapore have such better lives without children:
Singapore is one of the most interesting cases. Like most Asian societies, it used to be incredibly family-centered. But, as the economy boomed, the marriage rate plummeted. Singapore now has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. “The focus in Singapore is not to enjoy life, but to keep score: in school, in jobs, in income,” one 30-year-old Singaporean demographer told the researchers. “Many see getting attached as an impediment to this.”
He concludes:
This cultural shift is bound to have huge consequences. Globally, countries that remain fertile, like the U.S., will do fine while countries that don’t, like Japan, will decline. Geographically, singles will dominate city life while two-parent families will be out in suburbia. Politically, married people in America are more likely to vote Republican; Mitt Romney easily won among married voters, including married women. Democrats, meanwhile, have done a much better job relating to single people. President Obama crushed Romney among singles, 62 percent to 35 percent.

. . . My view is that the age of possibility is based on a misconception. People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice — commitments to family, God, craft and country. [He's trying to invoke traditional values here, setting up a straw man argument].

The surest way people bind themselves is through the family. As a practical matter, the traditional family is an effective way to induce people to care about others, become active in their communities and devote themselves to the long-term future of their nation and their kind. Therefore, our laws and attitudes should be biased toward family formation and fertility, including child tax credits, generous family leave policies and the like. [There is a slight poke at the straw man--the traditional family is not the best, but only effective].

But the two-parent family is obviously not the only way people bind themselves. We are inevitably entering a world in which more people search for different ways to attach. Before jumping to the conclusion that the world is going to hell, it’s probably a good idea to investigate these emerging commitment devices. [One lemming to another: "You never know until you try it." Let's just say that some cultures have tried alternative family structures and it just does not work in the aggregate. The exception does not prove the rule.]

The problem is not necessarily a changing family structure. It’s people who go through adulthood perpetually trying to keep their options open. [Knock down the straw man. Its commitment that makes a family, even if its just a commitment to raising a step-on dog. Wow, that was insightful].

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