Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Should government get out of the marriage business?

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dina sent me three articles by Jennifer Roback Morse, post on The Public Discourse. The articles answer the charge from social liberals and libertarians that we should “get the government out of marriage”.

Here’s the first article which talks about how government will still be involved in marriage, even if we get rid of the traditional definition of marriage, because of the need for dispute resolution in private marriage contracts. She uses no-fault divorce as an example showing how it was sold as a way to get government out of the divorce business. But by making divorce easier by making it require no reason, it increased the number of disputes and the need for more government to resolve these disputes.

Here’s the second article which talks about how the government will have to expand to resolve conflicts over decisions about who counts as a parent and who gets parental rights. With traditional marriage, identifying who the parents are is easy. But with private marriage contracts where the parties are not the biological parents, there is a need for the state to step in and assign parental rights.

Here’s the third article which talks about how marriage is necessary in order to defend the needs and rights of the child at a time when they cannot enter into contracts and be parties to legal disputes.

The third article was my favorite, so here is an excerpt from it:

The fact of childhood dependence raises a whole series of questions. How do we get from a position of helpless dependence and complete self-centeredness, to a position of independence and respect for others? Are our views of the child somehow related to the foundations of a free society? And, to ask a question that may sound like heresy to libertarian ears: Do the needs of children place legitimate demands and limitations on the behavior of adults?

I came to the conclusion that a free society needs adults who can control themselves, and who have consciences. A free society needs people who can use their freedom, without bothering other people too much. We need to respect the rights of others, keep our promises, and restrain ourselves from taking advantage of others.

We learn to do these things inside the family, by being in a relationship with our parents. We can see this by looking at attachment- disordered children and failure-to-thrive children from orphanages and foster care. These children have their material needs met, for food, clothing, and medical care. But they are not held, or loved, or looked at. They simply do not develop properly, without mothers and fathers taking personal care of them. Some of them never develop consciences. But a child without a conscience becomes a real problem: this is exactly the type of child who does whatever he can get away with. A free society can’t handle very many people like that, and still function.

In other words I asked, “Do the needs of society place constraints on how we treat children?” But even this analysis still views the child from society’s perspective. It is about time we look at it from the child’s point of view, and ask a different kind of question. What is owed to the child?

Children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. They are entitled to know who they are and where they came from. Therefore children have a legitimate interest in the stability of their parents’ union, since that is ordinarily how kids have relationships with both parents. If Mom and Dad are quarreling, or if they live on opposite sides of the country, the child’s connection with one or both of them is seriously impaired.

But children cannot defend their rights themselves. Nor is it adequate to intervene after the fact, after harm already has been done. Children’s relational and identity rights must be protected proactively.

Marriage is society’s institutional structure for protecting these legitimate rights and interests of children.

I recommend taking a look at all three articles and becoming familiar with the arguments in case you have to explain why marriage matters and why we should not change it. I think it is important to read these articles and to be clear that to be a libertarian doctrine does not protect the right of a child to have a relationship with both his or her parents.  Nor does libertarianism promote the idea that parents ought to stick together for their children.

The purpose of marriage is to make adults make careful commitments, and restrain their desires and feelings, so that children will have a stable environment with their biological parents. We do make exceptions, but we should not celebrate exceptions and we should not subsidize exceptions. It’s not fair to children to have to grow up without a mother or father just so that they adults can make poor, emotional decisions and have fun.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas Sowell: is the political left really concerned about helping minorities?

Economist Thomas Sowell

Economist Thomas Sowell

Do people who talk about race the most actually favor policies to help minorities? Thomas Sowell writes about it in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.

These schools have given thousands of low-income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life. Last year 82% of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed citywide mathematics exams, compared to 30% of the students in the city as a whole.

Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made?

One big reason, of course, is the teachers’ union, one of de Blasio’s biggest supporters.

But it may be more than that. For many of the true believers on the left, their ideology overrides any concern about the actual fate of flesh-and-blood human beings.

Something similar happened on the West Coast last year. The American Indian Model Schools in Oakland have been ranked among the top schools in the nation, based on their students’ test scores.

This is, again, a special achievement for minority students who need all the help they can get.

But, last spring, the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut this school down!

Why? The excuse given was that there had been suspicious financial dealings by the former — repeat, former — head of the institution. If this was the real reason, then all they had to do was indict the former head and let a court decide if he was guilty or innocent.

There was no reason to make anyone else suffer, much less the students. But the education establishment’s decision was to refuse to let the school open last fall. Fortunately a court stopped this hasty shutdown.

These are not just isolated local incidents. The Obama administration has cut spending for charter schools in the District of Columbia and its Justice Department has intervened to try to stop the state of Louisiana from expanding its charter schools.

Why such hostility to schools that have succeeded in educating minority students, where so many others have failed?

Some of the opposition to charter schools has been sheer crass politics. The teachers’ unions see charter schools as a threat to their members’ jobs, and politicians respond to the money and the votes that teachers’ unions can provide.

The net result is that public schools are often run as if their main function is to provide jobs to teachers. Whether the children get a decent education is secondary, at best.

In various parts of the country, educators who have succeeded in raising the educational level of minority children to the national average — or above — have faced hostility, harassment or have even been driven out of their schools.

Not all charter schools are successful, of course, but the ones that are completely undermine the excuses for failure in the public school system as a whole. That is why teachers’ unions hate them, as a threat not only to their members’ jobs but a threat to the whole range of frauds and fetishes in the educational system.

The autonomy of charter schools is also a threat to the powers that be, who want to impose their own vision on the schools, regardless of what the parents want.

This story reminds me of another story of people on the left blocking poor minority children from better schools, in order to protect the jobs of underperforming unionized teachers.

The Heritage Foundation explains how the Department of Justice, in a Democrat administration, hurts the poorest minority students.

Excerpt:

On August 22, 2013, the United States Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court to stop Louisiana from issuing school vouchers to low-income children in numerous school districts. DOJ is basing the suit on decades-old desegregation orders that treat Louisiana as if it were the same state it was nearly 40 years ago—something that the United States Supreme Court recently rejected in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. Ironically, DOJ’s action will prevent low-income and minority students from accessing the successful Louisiana school choice program, which empowers children, underserved in their assigned public schools, to attend schools of choice that match their learning needs. Vague, open-ended, and stale court orders should not be used to prevent educational innovation and opportunity.

Vouchers are a way of helping poor, minority students to get a quality education by letting them choose to attend better schools – any school the parents choose. But school choice is a thorn in the side of the public school unions who support the political left, because it allows poor, minority child to escape underperforming schools. Poor, minority students don’t help Democrats to get elected, but public school teachers do. And that’s why the administration sides with them against the children. On the other side of the aisle, it’s the conservatives who push for more school choice, and better education for poor and minority students.

But education policy is only one area where minorities are harmed by leftist policies.  Minimum wage is another obvious choice.

Let’s take a look at the data and see how minorities are affected by leftist policies.

Excerpt:

Battles are brewing in New York, California, Minnesota and the nation’s capital over hiking minimum wages, with Democrats having the votes to ram through hikes in all four cases.

These politicians are claiming the moral high ground, saying it will help the poorest in our communities. Don’t be fooled.

Hiking the minimum wage hurts — not helps — the lowest-paid workers, especially young black men. A 10% hike in the minimum wage causes a 2.5% drop in employment among young white men without a high school diploma and a staggering 6.5% drop among young black men without that degree.

Young black males get clobbered three times as hard because they tend to work in the fast-food and restaurant industries, where any increase in labor costs produces layoffs.

[...]Only 5% of American workers earn the federal minimum, according to the latest government data, compared with 13% in 1979. Minimum wage workers are largely first-time workers. They are learning what all of us learn on our first job: to be prompt, dress appropriately, do what the boss asks and be reliable.

First-time workers face the biggest risk of being priced out of the job market by a minimum wage hike. They aren’t worth much to an employer when they start working. They don’t have the skills.

When the government increases the minimum wage, it’s more expensive to hire first-timers. According to David Neumark and J.M. Salas, University of California economists, and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve Board, “minimum wages tend to reduce employment among teenagers.”

[...]All teens are harmed, but black male teenagers are hit hardest by minimum wage hikes, according to a 2011 study by labor economists David Macpherson and William Evans. Unemployment among young black males is currently 29%, double the rate for young white males.

Macpherson and Evans found the reason is that one out of three young black men without a high school diploma works in the restaurant/fast-food industry, where profit margins are thin. Any labor-cost hikes compel these businesses to cut their workforce.

The truth of the matter is that the real minimum wage is zero. In order to help minority young people find jobs, we should strengthen the institution of marriage, encourage people to get married and stay married, lower taxes on businesses, lower regulations on businesses, and so on. But strangely, the people who talk the most about helping the poor and poor minorities in particular are all opposed to that. The Democrats won’t even build the Keystone XL pipeline or expedite other energy development initiatives to create good paying jobs. So don’t believe that people who talk the most about poverty actually have the right answers about how to solve it. After all, the Obama administration talked a lot about health care, but clearly the people who lost their doctors, lost their health care, or are paying more for less health care, do not now believe that Obamacare was the answer to the health care problem.

If you’re looking for a good recent study on the minimum wage and minority youth, take a look at this study from the Employment Policies Institute. More studies here in a previous post on this blog.

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

Stephen Baskerville: five myths about no-fault divorce

From the Catholic News Agency.

Introduction:

Almost four decades after the “no-fault” divorce revolution began in California, misconceptions abound. Even the many books about divorce, including myriad self-help manuals, are full of inaccurate and misleading information. No public debate preceded the introduction of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s, and no debate has taken place since.

Yet divorce-on-demand is exacting a devastating toll on our children, our social order, our economy, and even our constitutional rights. A recent study estimates the financial cost of divorce to taxpayers at $112 billion annually. Recent demands to legitimize same-sex marriage almost certainly follow from the divorce revolution, since gay activists readily acknowledge that they only desire to marry under the loosened terms that have resulted from the new divorce laws. Divorce also contributes to a dangerous increase in the power of the state over private life.

Here are the five myths about no-fault divorce:

  • No-fault divorce permitted divorce by mutual consent, thus making divorce less acrimonious
  • We cannot force people to remain married and should not try
  • No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children
  • When couples cannot agree or cooperate about matters like how the children should be raised, a judge must decide according to “the best interest of the child”
  • Divorce must be made easy because of domestic violence

And the details about number three:

Myth 3: No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children.

Fact: This does happen (wives more often than children), but it is greatly exaggerated. The vast majority of no-fault divorces — especially those involving children — are filed by wives. In fact, as Judy Parejko, author of Stolen Vows, has shown, the no-fault revolution was engineered largely by feminist lawyers, with the cooperation of the bar associations, as part of the sexual revolution. Overwhelmingly, it has served to separate large numbers of children from their fathers. Sometimes the genders are reversed, so that fathers take children from mothers. But either way, the main effect of no-fault is to make children weapons and pawns to gain power through the courts, not the “abandonment” of them by either parent.

Al Mohler wrote about the history of no-fault divorce a while back, and I think it’s worth reviewing why we have this lousy law.

The story behind America’s love affair with no-fault divorce is a sad and instructive tale. As Baskerville documents, no-fault divorce laws emerged in the United States during the 1970s and quickly spread across the nation. Even though only nine states had no-fault divorce laws in 1977, by 1995, every state had legalized no-fault divorce.

Behind all this is an ideological revolution driven by feminism and facilitated by this society’s embrace of autonomous individualism. Baskerville argues that divorce “became the most devastating weapon in the arsenal of feminism, because it creates millions of gender battles on the most personal level.” As far back as 1947, the National Association of Women Lawyers [NAWL] was pushing for what we now know as no-fault divorce. More recently, NAWL claims credit for the divorce revolution, describing it as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.”

The feminists and NAWL were not working alone, of course. Baskerville explains that the American Bar Association “persuaded the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws [NCCUSL] to produce the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act.” Eventually, this led to a revolution in law and convulsions in society at large. This legal revolution effectively drove a stake into the heart of marriage itself, with inevitable consequences. In effect, no-fault divorce has become the catalyst for one of the most destructive cultural shifts in human history. Now, no-fault divorce is championed by many governments in the name of human rights, and America’s divorce revolution is spreading around the world under the banner of “liberation.”

And note that Democrats oppose any effort to reform laws that make it easy to break up marriages:

A basic dishonesty on the question of divorce pervades our political culture. Baskerville cites Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as referring to divorce as a couple’s “private decision.” Granholm’s comments came as she vetoed a bill intended to reform divorce law in her state. The danger and dishonesty of referring to divorce as a couple’s “private decision” is evident in the fact that this supposedly private decision imposes a reality, not only on the couple, but also on children and the larger society. Indeed, the “private decision” is really not made by a couple at all–but only by any spouse demanding a divorce.

So, no-fault was pushed by two groups: feminists and trial lawyers.

There’s a lot of talk these days about gay marriage and how it undermines marital norms and normalizes raising children without either their biological father or biological mother. But before there was gay marriage, there was no-fault divorce, which deprives children of their biological father. There is no provision for no-fault divorce in the Bible, so it seems to me that Christians should be against frivolous divorce just like we are against same-sex marriage.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Psychologist claims father is an unfit parent for refusing to yield to son’s demands for fast food

Psychologist Marilyn Schiller

Psychologist Marilyn Schiller

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Saying no to a toddler’s demands for a McDonald’s meal got a father branded an inept parent, he says in a lawsuit claiming a psychologist urged a judge to curtail his parental visits over the dinner debacle.

David E. Schorr says psychologist Marilyn Schiller pronounced him incapable of caring for his nearly 5-year-old son after he offered a choice — dinner anywhere but McDonald’s, or no dinner at all — and let the boy choose the latter. He then took his irate son home to the boy’s mother’s house early from their Oct 30 dinner date, according to a defamation suit Schorr filed Tuesday.

[...]“Normally not a very strict father who rarely refuses his child McDonald’s,” Schorr put his foot down Oct. 30 “because his son had been eating too much junk food,” the suit said. Schorr himself didn’t immediately return a call Friday.

He quickly regretted his stance when his son threw a tantrum, but he felt that giving in would reward bad behavior, so he offered the elsewhere-or-nowhere “final offer,” as his court papers put it.

“The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the ‘no dinner’ option,” the suit says. And the father promptly carted the boy back to Bari Schorr’s building, still trying to entice the child into changing his mind as they waited in the lobby for her to get home from work, according to the suit.

Schiller told a judge the fast food flap “raises concerns about the viability” of the father’s weekend visits with his son and asked a judge to eliminate or limit them, his lawsuit says.

The NY Post reports that the brat’s mother immediately took him to McDonald’s.

Excerpt:

Adding insult to injury, he said: “My wife immediately took him to McDonalds.”

[...]But the son apparently tattled on his dad and his wife flipped out and called the shrink, according to the suit.

Schorr claims that Dr. Schiller only interviewed the child and his mother and never asked for his side of the story before telling the court she was gravely concerned about Schorr’s parenting.

Bari Yunis Schorr sued her husband for a divorce in 2011, just four years after they married in a lavish ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

Now does this situation happen a lot? I mean a situation where a mother goes to the feminist authoritities (psychologists/social workers/lawyers/teachers/judges) in order to overrule the father’s parenting authority?

Another case from Canada

Here is a story from Canada that shows why we need to be careful about enacting compassionate, non-judgmental, feminized social policies.The more you reduce the male role and male authority in the family, the fewer men will want to take on the responsibilities of being a Dad. We need to be careful not to replace husbands and fathers with big government social programs and intrusive, anti-male courts.

Excerpt:

A Gatineau father lost an appeal Monday after a lower court ruled last June that he had issued a too severe punishment against his 12-year-old daughter.

The case involves a divorced man who says that in 2008 he caught the girl, over whom he had custody, surfing websites he had forbidden and posting “inappropriate pictures of herself” online. The girl’s father told her as a consequence that she would not be allowed to go on her class’ graduation trip to Quebec City, even though her mother had already given permission for her to do so.

The girl then contacted a legal-aid lawyer who was involved in the parents’ custody battle, who convinced the court to order that the girl be allowed to go on the trip with her class.  The father appealed the decision on principle, although his daughter went on the trip in the meantime.

The appeals court reportedly warned in its ruling that the case should not be seen as an open invitation for children to take legal action against their parents when grounded.

The girl now lives with her mother.

You may think that this would be overturned on appeal, but the father LOST his appeal, too.

So, what the daughter, wife, prosecuting attorney and judge (all feminists?) are all telling this Dad that he can donate sperm, pay bills, and pay taxes for feminist social programs, but that he cannot PARENT his own children. He cannot have any moral authority to guide the child into becoming a man. That job is for child care workers, single mothers and public school teachers. Men need to butt out of parenting – except they can pay for all these experts through taxes, of course.

Questions:

  • Does anyone care what men want from marriage and parenting, or should we just be ordered around like little boys?
  • Do we really think that state coercion is going to make men be more involved with their marriages and children?

I think that marriage should allow men to express themselves as fathers, just as much as women can express themselves as mothers. Parenting should be an equally shared responsibility, and the father should have at least as much parental authority as the mother.

Compassion vs standards

Here is a pretty good article by Jewish scholar Dennis Prager that argues against compassion and for moral standards. He tells a story of a team losing a baseball game 24-7, when the scoreboard is reset to 0-0 DURING THE GAME. He then asks what beliefs would motivate this action.

As is happening throughout America, compassion trumped all other values.

Truth was the first value compassion trashed. In the name of compassion, the adults in charge decided to lie. The score was not 0-0; it was 24-7.

Wisdom was the second value compassion obliterated. It is unwise to the point of imbecilic to believe that the losing boys were in any way helped by changing the score. On the contrary, they learned lessons that will hamper their ability to mature.

He lists the lessons that the winning and losing boys learned from this compassionate act, and how they will act in the future. Then he continues his list.

Building character was the third value trumped by compassion. People build character far more through handling defeat than through winning. The human being grows up only when forced to deal with disappointment. We remain children until the day we take full responsibility for our lives.

…The fourth value that compassion denied here was fairness. It is remarkable how often compassion-based liberals speak of “fairness” in formulating social policy given how unfair so many of their policies are. It was entirely unfair to the winning team to have their score expunged, all their work denied. But for the compassion-first crowd, the winning team is like “the rich” who earn “too much” and should therefore be penalized with a higher tax rate; the winning team scored “too many” runs to be allowed to keep them all.

The standards that are undermined by compassion can be moral standards or standards of rationality. The former is under attack from moral relativism, and the latter is under attach from postmodernism. But I guess parents don’t really care enough to teach their children about these ideas, and when the children grow up, they vote for the policies that follow from moral relativism and postmodernism: policies of the secular left.

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Women earned more doctoral and Master’s degrees than men in 2012

Women now earning majority of graduate degrees

Women now earning majority of graduate degrees

From the American Enterprise Institute Ideas blog.

Excerpt:

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released its annual report recently on U.S. graduate school enrollment and degrees for 2012, and here are some of the more interesting findings in this year’s report:

1. For the fourth year in a row, women in 2012 earned a majority of doctoral degrees. Of the 67,220 doctoral degrees awarded in 2012 at U.S. universities, women earned 34,761 of those degrees and 52.2% of the total, compared to 31,830 degrees awarded to men who earned 47.8% of the total (see top chart above).

[...]2. By field of study, women earning doctoral degrees in 2012 outnumbered men in 7 of the 11 graduate fields tracked by the CGS (see top chart above)

[...]3. The middle chart above shows the gender breakdown for master’s degrees awarded in 2012, and the gender disparity in favor of females is significant – women earned just under 60% of all master’s degrees in 2012, which would also mean that women earned 146.9 master’s degrees last year for every 100 degrees earned by men.

[...]Women represent 58.5% of all graduate students in the U.S., meaning that there are now 141 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men.

Click here for the charts.

The author of the post, Dr. Mark Perry, concludes this:

MP: Here’s my prediction – the facts that: a) men are underrepresented in graduate school enrollment overall (100 men were enrolled in 2012 for every 141 women), b) men received fewer master’s (40.5% of the total) and doctoral degrees (47.8% of the total) than women in 2012, and c) men were underrepresented in 7 out of 11 graduate fields of study at both the master’s and doctoral levels last year will get no attention at all from the media, universities and anybody in the higher education industry.

Additionally, there will be no calls for government studies, or increased government funding to address the significant gender disparities in graduate schools, and nobody will refer to the gender graduate school enrollment and degree gaps favoring women as a problem or a “crisis.”  Further, neither President Obama nor Congress will address the gender graduate enrollment and degree gaps by invoking the Title IX gender-equity law, like they have threatened to do for the gender gap in some college math and science programs. And there won’t be any executive orders to address the huge gender disparity in graduate schools by creating a White House Council on Boys and Men like the executive order issued by President Obama in 2009 to create the “White House Council on Women and Girls.”  Finally, despite their stated commitment to “gender equity,” the hundreds of university women’s centers around the country are unlikely to show any concern about the significant gender inequities in graduate school enrollment and degrees, and universities will not be allocating funding to set up men’s centers or create graduate scholarships for men.

Bottom Line: If there is any attention about gender differences in the CGS annual report, it will likely be about the fact that women are a minority in 4 of the 11 fields of graduate study including engineering and computer science (a gender gap which some consider to be a “national crisis”), with calls for greater awareness of female under-representation in STEM graduate fields of study and careers (except for the STEM field of biology, where women areover-represented).  But don’t expect any concern about the fact that men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education.  The concern about gender imbalances will remain extremely selective, and will only focus on cases when women, not men, are underrepresented and in the minority.

Men outnumber women in business, computer science, engineering and physical sciences.

I echo Dr. Perry’s point, and want to add this. In traditional Christianity, men are responsible for providing for their families. One of the ways that we men prepare for this is by getting advanced degrees in STEM-related fields, since these fields are the hardest and also pay the best. So with that in mind, what does it mean for men who want to prepare for this provider role that there is this obvious discrimination against men in graduate schools and doctoral programs? Is anyone going to do anything to change policies and incentives to favor men, like they did when women were under-represented? Of course not. The only thing that will be done is to ignorantly urge men to “man up”, while ignoring the real problems, e.g. – a lack of male teachers, schools that are not geared to male learning styles, and so on.

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