[FoRK] New Benefits of Marriage Study Actually Hints at the Horrors of Middle Age

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Jan 22 10:03:44 PST 2015

On 1/22/15 8:38 AM, Tom Higgins wrote:
> So maybe I am not the best person to be  commenting on marriage having been
> thru one from beginning to end...but...
> Legislating social machinations ...two words... Gaius Octavius ...and
> begin.....
> -tom(Livia Did It)higgins

Yes, legislating social machinations would be bad.  Glad we don't do that.  Oh, wait, in some key ways we do:

> our research identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status 
> is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.

Not to mention laws regulating sex, only recently overruled by SCOTUS so that many millions of Americans are no longer committing 
technically illegal acts.  (For instance, oral sex was illegal in many states.)  If you believe that state and local laws have any 
validity once overruled, it still is.  A number of states have refused to change their laws even though they have been ruled 

On 1/22/15 7:00 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> Maya Dusenbery must be an alias.
> Whatever agency that spends money on encouraging or discouraging marriage through that federal marriage promotion program should 
> be defunded and cut immediately as completely outside the scope of what government should be spending taxpayer dollars on.

> take a hard look at a federal program pushed by a host of top GOPers during the Bush-era and reauthorized in late 2010, as the 
> Republican deficit craze took hold. Originally championed by Republican lawmakers including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, former 
> Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and current Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a federal initiative to promote marriage 
> <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/09/do-taxpayers-need-marriage-workshops> as a cure for poverty dumped hundreds of 
> millions of dollars into programs that either had no impact or a negative effect on the relationships of the couples who took 
> part, according to recent research by the Department of Health and Human Services <http://www.hhs.gov/> (HHS).
> Launched during the Bush administration at the behest of evangelical Christian activists and with the aid of congressional 
> Republicans, the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/01/richer-or-poorer> was designed 
> to help low-income couples put a little sizzle in their marriages and urge poor unmarried parents to tie the knot, in the hopes 
> that marriage would enhance their finances and get them off the federal dole. Starting in 2006, millions of dollars were hastily 
> distributed to grantees to further this poverty reduction strategy. The money went to such enterprises as "Laugh Your Way 
> America," <http://www.laughyourway.com/> a program run by a non-Spanish speaking Wisconsin minister who used federal dollars to 
> offer "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" seminars to Latinos. It funded Rabbi Stephen Baars, a British rabbi who'd been giving 
> his trademarked "Bliss" marriage seminars <http://www.getbliss.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1&Itemid=2> to 
> upper-middle-class Jews in Montgomery County, Maryland, for years. With the help of the federal government, he brought his program 
> to inner-city DC for the benefit of African American single moms.
> The marriage money was diverted from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (formerly known as welfare), and much of 
> it went to religious groups that went to work trying to combat the divorce rate in their communities by sponsoring date nights and 
> romance workshops. In some cities, the local grantees used their federal funds to recruit professional athletes to make public 
> service announcements touting the benefits of marriage. Women's groups were especially critical of the marriage initiative, 
> largely because it was the baby of Wade Horn <http://www.publiceye.org/pushedtothealtar/index.html>, a controversial figure who 
> Bush installed at HHS as the head of the Administration for Children and Families and the administration's official "marriage czar."

> Second, she wants the government to tell her boss that she can take more sick days to take care of her family?  It's called unpaid 
> leave.  After you use up all your sick days, that's what you do. The idea that the government would tell her boss that they have 
> to pay her to do her parental duty too is crazy.  That just tells me she was unprepared for parenthood.  We truly do live in an 
> entitlement society.

This is not so simple.  Children need to be raised and both parents should be able to get educated, have a career, and work 
productively.  To some extent, having to struggle for a certain segment isn't terrible, but it is probably not optimal either.  For 
other segments, the struggle leads to various disasters.  Anything that consistently leads to poorly raised and educated children is 
bad.  Anything that significantly produces life-long limits on half the population is bad.  It doesn't take full government 
management to fix this.  Perhaps it doesn't take any government participation at all.  I would likely only consider some minor 
tweaks that might have a major impact.  Perhaps solving liability and responsibility issues with cooperative parenting arrangements 
or something along those lines.  The entitlements we have for people who more or less fail out of the perfect career & family track 
do tend to discourage further coupling up.  I see this all the time: A couple has children, then splits up.  If they are less than 
upper middle class, and especially if the children have any problems, eventually this may lead to some disability, welfare, or 
similar.  Once this becomes a thing, and goes on for a while, it becomes less and less likely that that parent will do more than 
date.  The responsibility gap that someone would have to close is large, leading to endless instability.

The conservatives were right in seeing this as an insidious dynamic, but they seem mostly off track in their approach to solving 
it.  By only concentrating on keeping people from divorcing and those on the edge to commit, they seem to be assuming that those 
already divorced and in or heading to bad situations are a lost cause.

A really great book I'm reading right now (Firestar - Michael Flynn) has this dynamic in play at a certain point:
Pods of 4 single parents work together so that one parent raises all of the children while the others train, work, and pay part of 
their salary to the first.
Simply supporting something like this so it is a respectable thing, can get off the ground, and be successful for a while would be a 
huge win.  At some point, it would be a cultural motif and probably happen without any support.  Maybe this would just need creative 
use of power of attorney, or probably a slight legislative tweak to allow parent-like power in such a situation better than current 
power of attorney.  Perhaps private organizations would provide backing for a few areas to get it off the ground.

I can't seem to google it, but there was a segment I saw recently about almost-communal living in Sweden.  An apartment complex like 
group vote residents in, had group dinners with rotating cooking responsibility, co-parenting, etc.  Hard to get right, and all 
kinds of ways of failing, but not bad to try.  Some extended families operate this way to various degrees, sometimes to an extreme.  
It's not an option for most now, but intentionally constructing such an arrangement is not necessarily the same as socialism or 
communism, especially if not imposed by the government.

Different arrangements are optimal for different people at different times.

> Greg


> On 1/20/2015 8:05 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> Teaming up is important.  I always wonder why so many are single.
>> Perhaps we need some social construct between "roommate" and "mate".
>> http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/new-benefits-marriage-study-actually-hints-horrors-middle-age-98353/
>> New Benefits of Marriage Study Actually Hints at the Horrors of Middle Age
>> By Maya Dusenbery • January 16, 2015 • 12:00 PM
>> Doomed? (Photo: nathancongleton/Flickr

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