Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ZenTiger Social Suicide

The crucial thing is to change the default setting of our culture which tells people that all lifestyles are equally beneficial to everyone.

The truth is that they are not.


"At the very heart of this report, however, lies the issue of the fractured family which Mr Duncan Smith has correctly identified as the foundation of our social problems.

It is family fragmentation which is fuelling crime, drug and alcohol abuse, educational failure, worklessness, mental and physical ill-health and teenage pregnancy. And at the core of this issue lies the progressive and systematic undermining of marriage.

This is why the State must privilege married people over other types of household. It is not a question of 'moralising', or being beastly to lone parents.

It is simply worse than absurd for the State to subsidise family fragmentation and the billions of pounds of social damage that it causes.

It is also not enough to provide incentives for all two-parent households, since cohabiting partnerships break up more than twice as often as married couples. The rise and rise of cohabitation has been the rocket fuel behind our accelerating disaster of mass fatherlessness.

Already, the usual suspects are cranking out the tired refrain that the State must not penalise needy lone parents. But it has hugely penalised needy married parents for years. A couple with children would have to work 100 hours a week more than a single parent with the same number of children to receive the same amount of disposable income.

While it is certainly true that there are a great many lone mothers who do a wonderful job of raising their children alone, lone parents are undoubtedly among the least able to cope with life.

And unforgivably, loading the financial dice so heavily in favour of lone parenthood has sucked many more people into such misery.

Of course, encouraging marriage is about more than financial incentives. We should also be providing advice networks before and after marriage to challenge couples' impossible expectations of each other, which turns every marital setback into an insurmountable hurdle.

The crucial thing is to change the default setting of our culture which tells people that all lifestyles are equally beneficial to everyone.

The truth is that they are not. Marriage protects not just children but men and women. Fragmented family life does not. It is a misfortune to be avoided."

Related Link: Social Suicide Hat tip: A reader! Thanks.

17 comment(s):

Rick said...

This is why the State must privilege married people over other types of household.

Say what? Why does the state get to farm us? Run that one by me again.

Because state-sponsored communal living styles represent a preeptive strike against possibile crime?

Subtle!

Unknown said...

Totally agree with this artical. The epidemic of child abuse in this country can be almost entirely blamed on the breakdown of the traditional family and the feminist revolution.

There are numerous studies which clearly demonstrate this. For example the latest research from the UK and the US show that when both biological parents are looking after the children they are 33 times less likely to be sexually abused and 40 times less likely to be physically abused.

Unfortunately, Clark, Wilson and their cohorts (as was reported in the paper recently) decided back in the 70's to destroy traditional values. In my view, a lot of innocent blood is on their hands.

Anonymous said...

Ted and Zen, blah blah blah.

Where are your sources, citations?

Come on, surely you can do better than this.

Anonymous said...

Why is that in the social sector research is held up as the most important; nay, the only thing, that should be used as a defining base for policy or social structure?

This might sound an odd question, but people are not something that can be easily controlled in a test tube or act like a signal emanating from outer space.

Much social research has a long history of not just being wrong, but based on bullshit ideas and sometimes subject to fraud.

I'm not saying its not a valid pursuit, but in the social sector it seems to occupy too high a standing in my opinion, which results in the complete disregard of the "sanity of the common people".

ZenTiger said...

Say what Jesuswasasailor? I linked an article in the newspaper that I thought made for an interesting discussion. That is one of the points of blogging, n'est-ce pas?

The link is at the bottom of the post - thus a source!

KG said...

Strewth Jesuswasseasick--you'll be demanding blog posts be peer-reviewed next.

Anonymous said...

A couple with children would have to work 100 hours a week more than a single parent with the same number of children to receive the same amount of disposable income.

I'd love to see a citation for that little gem.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KG said...

well, that's drawing a very long bow.....
I guess someone looking for offence can always find it somewhere.

Lucia Maria said...

The anonymous poster above needs to watch his language. He can repost his comment, minus the c**t word if he likes.

Andrei said...

Time was when society understood that the only real future was in its children.

And so society was geared to nurturing the family so as to have a future.

Now hedonism and me first rules.

Which is no future at all.

ZenTiger said...

Hi Danyl, I thought I'd investigate the benefit rates to see if the author had a point.

It seems in Britain, there are some major differences in benefit rates that could generate a fair degree of disparity between the two circumstances.

However, I got distracted after my first search with something vaguely relevant. I found a research paper that indicates the benefits are considerably skewed against married couples, and points to significant benefits in registering as living apart:

Where no maintenance payments are made 70 of the [98] couples were found to be better-off living apart - on average by £64 per week – even after the additional housing costs were taken into account.

For the 98 couples analysed the average cost to the Treasury in additional tax credits and benefits (net of increased council tax payments) arising from a couple’s decision to live apart is £135 per week (£7,022 a year)

So here we have a paper that finds a considerable difference in the treatment of married couples versus those apart. The paper looked at a few employment and children combos.

What the paper doesn't do for me is note the rate of benefit abatement as the couple's pay rates increase versus no-income solo mothers, but it is not too far fetched to take the amount of £135 mentioned above, divided by the national minimum wage of £5.35 to get 25 hours BEFORE tax and BEFORE benefit abatement.

On these figures, I suspect it would be easy to find a scenario of 30 or 40 hours a week of work required to barely move ahead of a solo unemployed Mum, and then there will be certain circumstances that skew this even further.

I'll keep looking, but these results alone are interesting (as is the paper's point.)

Care's Research Paper on Tax Credits

Anonymous said...

So...does someone want to tell me that single parents have it easy or something?
COmpletely agree with the need to stop undermining marriage. but the parents who are already the sole carers of a child should not be 'penalised' because they are already ont he fringes of society.
You have obviously never experienced hell on earth my dear.

ZenTiger said...

Single parents do not have it easy. That was made clear even in the report above.

If you completely agree with the need to stop undermining marriage and traditional families, what does that translate to in actual deed?

Rather than look on this as penalizing single parents, why not consider an incentive for families to stay as families? We know the outcome of a breakup does heaps of damage to the children, and as you say, it becomes hell on earth. The financial and social cost of supporting single parent families is very high - this is obvious just looking at Care's research paper above for UK (not sure how this plays in NZ) but there's still the soft costs and indirect costs to argue, so, why not an incentive to families that could help reduce at least the financial stress? And why not see it as an incentive rather than penalizing solo parents?

Anonymous said...

Couples with children don't just break up for no reason, Zen. Here are a few of the more obvious reasons why this happens:

Infidelity.
They are being abused by their spouse.
They are no longer in love.

If a husband is abusing his wife its already incredibly difficult for her to leave him. Generally he will be the only source of income. He winds up with all the money, she gets the kids and all the financial responsibility. Do you really think it's wise to make it even harder for her to leave him?

It seems just as injust to force couples who no longer love each other and in many cases despise each other to stay together for the rest of their lives just to satisfy your ideological whims?

You're always ranting against social engineering and the nanny state, can't you see that this is both of these crimes writ large?

Personally I'm not convinced that the financial cost of single parent families is that large. I've had friends on the DPB - they got about $200 dollars a week and like most people recieving that benefit they were on it for less than two years. Small change (approx $25,000) and they didn't have to live with a guy who hit them. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

ZenTiger said...

Who is forcing couples to stay together? If you are suggesting that a tax break for families is going to increase the wife-beating cases, then it seems you are in agreement that the Nanny State is indeed funding and encouraging solo parenting.

I agree with your first statement (if it wasn't obvious) that couples will break up for many reasons, and a tax break is unlikely to prevent the more serious issues - but it needn't be the cause of breakup.

I also agree in general that the less the state has to do with people's lives the better. It seems however, we are stuck with a socialist, nanny state, social engineering style country. The bulk of the people here couldn't get their heads around less interference, but they might look at the damage they are doing and be convinced some positive reinforcement on society's foundation values might be worth a go. It is in that context I am making a counter-case to the status quo.

Danyl said...

If you are suggesting that a tax break for families is going to increase the wife-beating cases, then it seems you are in agreement that the Nanny State is indeed funding and encouraging solo parenting.

I'm suggesting that couples break up because they're miserable for a wide variety of reasons, and that if you make it more difficult for them to break up you're only going to compound the misery in the world.

It seems you want to return to some mythical time when families were stronger and divorce didn't happen because of stronger values, or religious convictions or whatever. This is a very naive view of the past: families stayed together because it was basically impossible for women to live independently of men unless they were very wealthy. I maintain that your proposals will have two broad effects:

(a)Almost every student in the country would get married to one of their friends. We saw this to some degree with Nationals student loan policies in the 90's. Personally I doubt having an entire generation engaging in sham marriages is going to do much for family values.

(b)Real marriages will return to the old 'wife is the property of the husband' mentality. Currently if you treat your wife badly she'll leave you and take the kids. But if the government is 'privileging' married couples and she can't afford to survive on her own then you can treat her as badly as you like - she's stuck with you until the kids are old enough to leave.

I can't see either of these outcomes doing much for 'the family' or traditional values.

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