Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Supply-side economist Larry Kudlow: marriage is pro-economic-growth

Here’s a Real Clear Politics editorial from one of the biggest supply-side economics boosters out there.

Excerpt:

The greatest economic challenge of our time is how to restore economic growth. Over the past dozen years, average real growth has slowed to 1.8 percent annually, under both Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses. It’s a bipartisan problem.

And it’s a new one. For the past 50 years or so, the American economy grew at just less than 3.5 percent per year. But we’re now experiencing one of the longest slow-growth periods in the past 100 years. Excluding the Great Depression, I bet it is the longest slow-growth period in a century.

There are any number of fiscal and monetary prescriptions for restoring economic growth. As a Reagan supply sider, I would recommend lower marginal tax rates, lighter regulations, limited government and a sound dollar.

But I want to add this to the list: marriage. I have come to believe that marriage is a key element of a stronger economy.

Like any good economist, he’s got the numbers to back it up, too:

Naomi Schaefer Riley writes that “children of married parents are more likely to graduate high school, less likely to go to jail and more likely to delay sexual activity. And of course, children of unmarried parents are more than five times as likely to live in poverty.”

Economic writer Robert Samuelson notes that single-parent families have exploded, that more than 40 percent of births now go to the unwed, and that the flight from marriage “may have subtracted from happiness.” Citing a study from Isabel Sawhill, he notes that some unwed mothers “will have multiple partners and subject their children ‘to a degree of relationship chaos and instability that is hard to grasp.’”

Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore writes “that marriage with a devoted husband and wife in the home is a far better social program than food stamps, Medicaid, public housing or even all of the combined.” Moore points to a Heritage study showing how welfare households are much more likely to have no one working at all, with social assistance becoming a substitute for work.

A recent report from the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, authored by W. Bradford Wilcox and Robert Lerman, reveals that married men have higher average incomes, seem to be more productive at work and work more and earn more. Wilcox and Lerman write that 51 percent of the 1980-2000 decline in male employment is due to the drop in marriage rates, and is highest among unmarried men. They find that “differing employment rates among married and unmarried men aren’t simply due to education levels or race, either.”

They conclude: “Promoting the importance of marriage, looking for ways to reduce marriage penalties in current means-tested welfare programs and engaging leaders at every level to find ways to strengthen marriage in their communities, are other critical steps to take to restore a culture of marriage.”

I’ll only add this, as I did at the Coolidge Foundation dinner: While restoring economic growth may be the great challenge of our time, this goal will never be realized until we restore marriage.

In short, marriage is pro-growth. We can’t do without it.

In case you missed it, there was a nice new study linking marriage to economic growth. It was put out by the American Enterprise Institute, a fiscally conservative think tank. It’s getting to be that fiscal conservatives are more interested in social conservatism than the reverse. Now if only we could get pro-lifers and pro-natural-marriage people to come towards lower taxes, smaller government, less restrictive regulations and a stronger dollar. How about it, social conservatives? Can you you run your family better when government leaves you more money in your pocket? Fiscal conservatism and social conservatism go together like peanut butter and jelly.

By the way, if you’d like to read a remarkable booklet put out by the Heritage Foundation called “Indivisible”, click here. In it, you’ll find well-known social conservatives advocating for fiscal conservatism, and well-known fiscal conservatives advocating for social conservatism. The essays are short and easy to understand. They don’t try to prove everything, just one little point per essay. You’ll find lots of names you recognize in it, like Jennifer Roback Morse, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan and Jay Richards.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

What factor best predicts whether a romantic relationship will succeed?

Dr. Gottman is an expert on what makes marriages fail or succeed.

A new article on Business Insider explains his research in a nutshell.

Excerpt: (emphasis mine)

Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat.

He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study — one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish.

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner’s ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

“If your partner expresses a need,” explained Julie Gottman, “and you are tired, stressed, or distracted, then the generous spirit comes in when a partner makes a bid, and you still turn toward your partner.”

In that moment, the easy response may be to turn away from your partner and focus on your iPad or your book or the television, to mumble “Uh huh” and move on with your life, but neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your relationship. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored.

The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.

“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”

The whole article is worth reading. It’s very practical, I think. It’s always good to read things like this and then analyze how you are acting. That’s why it’s important to read articles like this and read books on marriage – to always hold your actions accountable to people who understand what makes a relationship work. It’s worth it to put in the time to understand these things, because relationships matter.

My Dad always used to have this habit of going after people when he was in the right, but it’s a relationship destroyer to just let loose even if you are right. To build a relationship, you have to be doing constructive things with that other person even when they have done you wrong. You can’t always be making withdrawals, there have to be deposits, too. Otherwise the relationship dies.

The Five Love Languages is a useful book for knowing how to love someone else. Even in the middle of a fight, it’s good to speak encouraging words, good to give gifts, good to touch, good to serve, good to spend time together. It takes work to be intentional about doing things that convey love to that other person – even when there are conflicts in the background.

 

Filed under: Commentary, , ,

Midterm election: more American women choosing not to depend on government

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, age 29

From National Review.

Excerpt:

A funny thing happened in the “war on women” — Mia Love and Joni Ernst won, Wendy Davis and Sandra Fluke lost. The representative who will be the youngest woman ever to have served in Congress, Elise Stefanik, is a Republican who won a formerly Democratic seat — not in Oklahoma or Texas but in New York. Senator-elect Ernst is a 21-year veteran of the Army Reserve and National Guard who served overseas during the Iraq war; Representative-elect Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants who came to the United States fleeing the Tonton Macoutes, is a former city councilman and mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah.

The difference could not be more dramatic: The Democrats’ vision of an American woman’s life was best expressed in the Obama campaign’s insipid “Julia” cartoons, in which a faceless, featureless woman at every crossroads in her life turns to the federal government, as personified by Barack Obama, for succor and support. From negotiating a salary to managing her pregnancy, Julia cannot do anything for herself — at every turn, she is reminded that she enjoys political patronage “under President Obama,” in the campaign’s psychosexually fraught and insistently reiterated phrase. So much for the Democrats. And the Republican women of 2014? They helped fight wars and made new lives for themselves on foreign shores. They were women who ran for office on policy platforms, not on their uteruses.

[...]Do women aspire to a life like Julia’s, or to one more like that of Lieutenant Colonel Joni Ernst? Would you rather be a sanctimonious sack of woe, like Wendy Davis, or a happy warrior, like Mia Love? Would you rather vote for a party that speaks to you as a citizen, family member, entrepreneur, taxpayer, etc. — or one that insists you owe it not only your vote but your obedience simply because you have a certain configuration of chromosomes or a certain surname?

It is one of life’s little ironies that it is the feminists and the party of so-called women’s issues who in the 21st century still have not quite figured out that women are individuals, and that there is more to them than the sum of their parts.

If there is any issue that the left thinks is important for women, it’s the issue of abortion. You might expect that candidates who made a big deal of being pro-life would have lost in the mid-term elections. But Joni Ernst, Elise Stefanik and Mia Love are all pro-life. It looks like the War on Women rhetoric backfired. Maybe all it takes is for the GOP to put up more women candidates who have real, interesting lives. Maybe women would rather have an awesome life, an awesome marriage, and awesome kids instead of having abortions and being dependent on government. What if women voters were more attracted to the idea of achieving things on their own and forming relationships with real people?

Republican women are awesome.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds marriage amendments in four states

GOOD NEWS! Ryan T. Anderson writes about it in The Daily Signal. (H/T WGB)

Excerpt:

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overruled lower court decisions that had struck down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The 6th Circuit Court ruled that constitutional amendments passed by popular vote in Michigan (2.7 million votes), Kentucky (1.2 million), Ohio (3.3 million) and Tennessee (1.4 million) do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Citizens remain free to define marriage as a male-female institution.

Today’s decision helpfully explained why these laws are constitutional, why it is reasonable for citizens to support such laws, and why arguments for court-imposed redefinition of marriage do not succeed. It also sets the stage for marriage to return to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a beautiful decision. It does NOT tell the people in the states what marriage is or is not. It simply says that the people in the states have to decide – NOT a handful of judges.

Look:

As the 6th Circuit decision helpfully notes, at issue in these cases is “whether to allow the democratic processes begun in the States to continue in the four States of the Sixth Circuit or to end them now by requiring all States in the Circuit” to redefine marriage. The court ruled that the democratic process should continue:

Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us—just two of us in truth—to make such a vital policy call for the 32 million citizens who live within the four states of the Sixth Circuit.

[...]A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the states.

Look what Ryan writes at the end:

Today’s decision pointed out that in our system of government, a change to marriage, if it should come, should occur “through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

Indeed, “When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers.”

[...]Ultimately, the 6th Circuit ruled that it would not usurp the authority of the American people to discuss, debate and make marriage policy. The ruling argued that change could come in one of two ways: through a judicial usurpation of politics or through the political process. And the court rightly refused to take the former course. It would leave to the people the question of whether to take the latter.

The court argued that it “is dangerous and demeaning to the citizenry to assume that we, and only we, can fairly understand the arguments for and against gay marriage.” No, judges alone should not have this discussion—all Americans should.

We are so often bombarded with the arrogance of judges imposing laws on us from the bench, that it is amazing when we actually hear a judge doing what judges are supposed to do – interpret the laws passed by the representatives of the people. When you hear Republicans like George W. Bush talk about “strict constructionist” judges, these are the judges he means – interpreters of the law. When you hear the Democrats like Barack Obama talk about “the Constitution is a living document”, they mean that judges make the law – not the people. We need to elect a President who believes that judges are not superior to the people’s representatives.

I recommend printing out and reading the entire article. It’s very good. It assesses the reasons for a state to define marriage, explains the concept of federalism, and assesses common objections to natural marriage. It’s good for us to know how these arguments are used so we can talk about it.

You can also read the press release from Liberty Counsel, the law firm that argued the case for marriage.

UPDATE: More on the decision from Ed Whelan of National Review.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

New study: picking a spouse who is conscientious is linked to career success

This article from the leftist Washington Post explains what young men should be looking for if they want to do well in the workplace.

Excerpt:

A new paper published recently in the journal Psychological Science found a link between an individual’s career improvement and the conscientiousness of his or her spouse.

The research examined the careers and personalities of more than 4,500 married people, using a common personality test known as the Big Five. The test measures people on five different traits: extraversion (how outgoing and sociable a person is), agreeableness (how honest and sympathetic someone is, versus suspicious and unfriendly), conscientiousness (how well someone can plan and be productive, rather than be disorganized and impulsive), neuroticism (how anxiety-prone someone is) and openness (how naturally curious and open to change a person is).

The researchers found that only one of the five traits — conscientiousness — could be linked to a partner’s career success, as measured by job satisfaction, income and promotions. “Even though your spouse doesn’t come to work with you day in and day out, their personality contributes to your job success,” says Joshua Jackson, an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

[...][W]hen it came to the effect of a spouse‘s personality traits on a person’s career, only high scores on conscientiousness had any impact, whether positive or negative. Jackson suggests two main reasons for this: One, he says, is that people often emulate their spouses’ behavior, meaning a husband’s or wife’s industriousness and organizational skills might rub off on the other.

The second reason is that when a person’s spouse is organized, efficient and hard working, they’re probably tackling the bulk of the household chores, freeing their husband or wife up to focus more on his or her job. “You’re not as stressed about certain chores or duties that need to be done while you’re at work,” Jackson says.

Now if the person you want to marry doesn’t already have this skill, or hasn’t exercised it so far in life, then that getting him or her to put it in practice should be part of the courting process – at least if you intend to be effective yourself. Don’t be looking for someone fun who makes you feel good – look for someone organized and disciplined who can get things done and deliver results.

Filed under: News, , ,

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