Saturday, 13 October 2007

The multiplication of division

One of the most frequently highlighted plus points about Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul is the fact that he's been married to his wife Carol for about 50 years. They have 5 children and 17 grandchildren.

Why do employers (including voters) assume that a long marriage and stable family life are good traits in a candidate? Simple! They show him (in this case) to be a man of his word. They indicate that he's likely to make careful decisions, and to carefully make those decisions work if at all possible.

So far so good, but how can we replicate that kind of behaviour? Dr. Paul certainly knows. Lead by open example, and use words to explain when necessary. Trustworthiness, as he'd be the first to agree, is the result of accepting and living out internally consistent moral standards in a consistent fashion.

What a pity that here in the UK, talk of the importance of marriage in public life is dominated by calls for some way to subsidise marriage through the tax system Money can't buy loyalty; it can only rent it. This is why Dr. Paul avoids supporting subsidies for married couples (with or without children). The state can't buy personal loyalty between individuals, and shouldn't try to do so – especially when that money must be awarded to families at the expense of the unmarried (whether single or not).

In truth, if the state really wants to strengthen the institution of marriage in society, it need only subtract itself from every aspect of subsidising children, be it conception, contraception, abortion, birth or education. This is the only financial way to reward marriage without violating the earning and property rights of the unmarried.

Subsidising marriage only encourages more of the wrong people to get married (the right ones don't bother about subsidies; they just get married anyway). Perversely, this involves the state in creating more divorces and separations – the multiplication of division in society; and as truly enlightened social policy goals go, that one really doesn't add up.

- Houseman

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