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Can We Realize The Destruction Of Families Has Unintended Consequences?

In the Providence Journal this week, Wendy P. Warcholik and J. Scott Moody write, “This growing number of children in Rhode Island without a solid familial foundation should give us all pause. This is not a problem that is going to just go away, and we must find ways to help these children before tragedy strikes, perhaps in your own neighborhood.”


A Core Problem in Need of Reckoning

An op-ed in today’s Providence Journal by Wendy Warcholik and Scott Moody explores a point that has been mentioned frequently on this site:

We, as a society, don’t discuss this nearly enough, but we’ve embarked on a major experiment that has disproportionately impacted our children. No scientist would have authorized such an experiment because of its clear ethical implications on a vulnerable population, yet American society has pursued it with abandon.

That experiment is the elevation of adult desires over the needs of children, which manifests itself in divorce, cohabitation, and out-of-wedlock births. These actions destroy a child’s sense of self and leaves them to fend for themselves before they are ready.

This trend contributes to myriad problems in our society, arguably including school shootings, opioid abuse, and suicide, among a vast array.

A recent article from the Catholic News Agency (CNA) presents the theme on the national scale:

One in two: that is the current number of children in the U.S. who are being raised by both their married biological parents throughout their childhood.

“This figure is based on the proportion of 17-and-18-year-old high school students who were reported to be living with both their married birth mothers and biological fathers in 2016,” noted a report issued by the Institute for Family Studies.

This family structure is associated with better outcomes for children, and the fact that it skews along racial and economic lines suggests that rigid inequality will continue to increase, no matter how many government programs or corporate pressure campaigns we pursue.

Sooner or later, we’re going to have to address the underlying causes of our problems, even if it means challenging the free-love ethos of the Me Generation.  The later we let that reckoning be, the harder it will be to fix and the more people we’ll allow to suffer.


The 1984 Version of #LoveWins

It’s difficult to believe that this isn’t fake, but Rod Dreher tends to be reliable, so there you go:



Yeah, yeah, there are something like 30,000 public high schools in the United States, each open for something like 36 weeks of the year, so a single flier in Atlanta, Georgia, can’t be taken as representative, even if this isn’t a joke or a prank.  But my how this jibes with the sense of progressives’ definition for “tolerance,” reminding me of my parody song, “Shout Down the Hate.”

If it is a joke, by the way, it’s awfully elaborate, involving (apparently) the school’s parent, teacher, and student association, which writes on its Facebook page:

Instead of demonizing and demoralizing students for their desire to protect themselves and bring some sanity to the wild west of America’s gun laws, how about harnessing that incredible energy? Grady High School in Atlanta is doing it.

Yup.  “Harnessing that incredible energy,” because (as the flier says) “individually we are different; together we are Grady!”  (Is that anything like being Negan?)


The Prioritization of Free Birth Control

This story is utterly unremarkable, in this case reported by Jacqueline Tempera of the Providence Journal:

Two female lawmakers stressed the importance of protecting women’s access to birth control on a state level in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Katherine Kazarian, D-East Providence, and Sen. Dawn Euer, D-Jamestown, introduced matching bills this session that would protect a woman’s access to birth control in Rhode Island, regardless of any changes at the federal level….

A key provision in the ACA allows women to access birth control pills, as well as long-term options such as intrauterine devices, known as IUDs, or other implants, for a $0 co-pay.

In the past, I’ve mainly let this sort of rhetoric go with a simple question about why lawmakers want to forbid people from buying less-expensive insurance that only includes coverage for things that they need.  That’s really what’s going on, here.  Kazarian and Euer want men to pay for women’s birth control.  (Note: The legislation explicitly leaves out coverage of male condoms and sterilization for men.)  They want older women to pay for younger women’s birth control.  They want people who aren’t having sex to pay for the birth control of people who are.  They want Catholics and others who don’t use birth control because of their religious beliefs to have to pay for the very same products being used by other people.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of what the elevation of this particular type of health care fundamentally means.  Every now and then, I’ll come across a request from some Rhode Island family asking people to donate to help them stay afloat while dealing with the sudden onset of a child’s life-threatening disease.  Throughout Rhode Island, parents with children who have genetic diseases have no choice but to find some way to afford the copays for life-preserving treatments that will never become unnecessary, unless some miraculous cure is found.  And of course, neither of these challenges goes away when the children become adults.

Perhaps Kazarian and Euer would insist that they’d support socialized health care that claims to make all medicine “free.”  Put the wisdom of that proposal aside.  What they’re pursuing right now is to make sure that women don’t have to pay for products that let them have sex while minimizing the chance of pregnancy.  That’s their priority, and it tells us a whole lot about what they believe.


Encouraging Bad Behavior by Curing a Consequence

Sometimes the legislation flowing through the Rhode Island General Assembly each year takes the form of series, with tweaks and additions to particular areas of law building on each other.  One such series involves opioid abuse and overdose, with a subset for increasing (even mandating) the availability of emergency drugs to save people from overdoses.  Unfortunately, Robert VerBruggen reports for National Review that this trend may have an undesired outcome:

Are Anti-Overdose Drugs Backfiring?

Yes, says an incredibly depressing new study. It suggests that opioid abuse rises when overdose-reversing drugs are easily accessible.

This could happen through two different mechanisms: “(1) saving the lives of active drug users, who survive to continue abusing opioids, and (2) reducing the risk of death per use, thereby making riskier opioid use more appealing.” (1) isn’t a bad thing, even though we would obviously prefer that addicts quit after nearly dying. But (2) is a serious problem, as it could mean that overdose-reversing drugs don’t actually save lives on balance.

Obviously, this finding (if further study validates it) doesn’t prove that we shouldn’t strive to save lives, but it should lead us to be humble as we attempt to use government to fix society’s problems.  I mean, think of the choices that pile on each other:  We decide that we’re going to use government to make anti-overdose drugs more readily available, and that increases drug abuse.  This can get very expensive for other people very quickly, whether through taxes or health insurance premiums.  Those resources necessarily have to come from elsewhere.

Perhaps to mitigate the financial and human cost, somebody will propose that anybody whose life is thus saved must be committed to a facility for recovery.  Now, suddenly, we’re saving lives only to institutionalize people who may relapse once they’re let out, and when they do, they’ll have incentive to take their drugs in a more concealed environment.  What then?  Further erode their privacy?  Or create safe places in which they can do their drugs, thus increasing the ease of drug usage?

Frankly, I’m not sure where I land on this series of questions, but it wouldn’t be irrational or inhumane to go back to the start of it and suggest keeping government out altogether.  At least that would focus our attention on the social arena in which the solution to the problem ultimately lies.


A Warning Sign for Politically Righteous

Yesterday, the Providence Journal published my warning to Rhode Island if the local political bubble becomes too thick:

With a little more experience of the world and some internet searches, one can reason out the steps that lead a society to such a place. A 1937 poster titled “The Subversive Jew” caricatures a Jewish man insinuating himself behind a good German, to “subjugate” him “for the goals of Jewry.” A 1943 pamphlet, “The Jew as World Parasite,” warns that Jews’ “internal force of faith favors racial relatives and generates bitter hardness and passionate hatred against everything foreign.” Amazingly, the 20th century’s archetypes of racial animus, the Nazis, went after Jews for racial intolerance!

How could anybody have believed that stuff? Well, some people will believe just about anything, and even less gullible people will find it easy to believe self-serving things. More importantly, if enough people in a community think that everybody else believes something, they’ll find themselves behaving as if it’s true. Most people just wanted to get along in life, and it isn’t worth becoming a target by associating with people everybody’s supposed to hate.

It’s easy to hate the last generation’s villains, because we’ve been socialized to do so.  The problem is that evil doesn’t have a race or a demographic group and is happy to change its costume to bring out our worst tendencies and divide us.


The One Percent… and All the Rest

Clearly, Michael Morse had his tongue in his cheek while writing his recent op-ed thanking the one percent — by which he meant humanity’s innovators:

I like nothing more than to envision myself the great survivor — a person for the ages, one who leads, invents and survives. Truth be told, without the 1 percent who actually do invent, I would be living in a dilapidated lean-to, or worse, I would be skinny as a rail because I have never hunted or killed anything on purpose, don’t know an edible mushroom from a magic one, and probably would be relegated to eating bugs and pine needles. As for leading, my guess is I would lead myself to ruin as soon as I figured out how to ferment wild grapes and berries.

As Morse cleverly implies (and one can’t help but think it’s intentional), the luxury of modern life isn’t only made possible by those few innovators.  Somebody has had to make the products and provide the services that create our luxury, and somebody else has had to provide the products and services that they needed.  And of course, somebody has had to pull together the corporate and (yes) government structures to enable the work, and others have had to provide the investments and take the risks to make it all a reality.

Society is a cooperative endeavor, for which we all ought to be perpetually in mutual gratitude.  How different things would be if we would carry that attitude in defiance of those who dice us into identity and interest groups in order to play us against each other for their own reward of wealth and power.


Different Villains for Different Ideologies

Marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher recently sent around this clip from a GOP primary debate in the race for Pennsylvania governor:

Sure, it’s interesting that one candidate has chosen the co-ed bathroom issue (hot-buttoned as an objective of transgender ideology) as a nail to hammer on the conservative side, but something in the back and forth emphasizes a point that I haven’t seen made anywhere.

Scott Wagner — who, I take it, is the more-establishment, moderate candidate — tries to frame the issue as a matter of discrimination.  That is, he wants to protect an identity group from the bigotry of school administrators and other ordinary people with whom we come into contact every day.  The villains of this narrative, in other words, are just people who might disagree on a cultural matter.  Their bigotry is assumed, and the law is constructed to restrain them.

The more-conservative challenger, Paul Mango, frames the issue as one of protecting all children broadly from people who actually want to hurt them.  That is, the villains of his narrative are the disturbed creeps who drift into our lives now and then and cause lifelong harm when they enter our lives.

Implicit in the advocacy of adherents to identity politics is that people are broadly bad.  They (the politicians) are smarter and more compassionate than everybody else.  A law must be passed because nobody lower than the politicians in the hierarchy can be trusted to make decisions that adequately balance the multiple interests of their communities.

To claim that power, progressives have spent decades sliming ordinary folks.  In that mainstream presentation, anybody who seems upright and friendly must be suspect.

We on the other side let progressives get away too often with this sort of insinuation.