The Right Opinion

The Economics of Life and Marriage

By Ken Blackwell · Dec. 19, 2011

Iowans are strongly pro-life and supportive of traditional marriage. These remain strong “bridge” issues that unite economic conservatives with social conservatives whenever questions like abortion funding or overturning true marriage are put on the ballot. When pollsters find that Iowa’s likely caucus-goers – including large blocks of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Lutherans – are citing the stricken economy as their greatest concern, this does not mean social issues have been forgotten.

First, most of the GOP candidates are already on board for the defense of human life and true marriage. So it makes sense for Iowa voters to tell pollsters and focus group moderators that their primary concern is the economy. This does not mean they don’t care about abortion or attempts to undermine marriage. It just means that after numerous candidate debates, those who advocate “civil unions” as a supposed compromise on the marriage issue have difficulty even making the cut to be on the stage. Iowa’s Caucus-goers voters aren’t buying this obvious ploy.

Second, there need be no conflict between economic and social conservatives. I’m reminded of a story about blueprints for an Iowa convent that had to be approved by the Vatican. The plans came back from Rome with a question: Sunt angeli? Are they angels? The local architects had neglected to put bathrooms in the convent.

We who are pro-life and pro-marriage know that families need jobs. They need a growing economy. But economic conservatives need to recognize that it is stable married families having children that drive economic growth.

Former Wall Streeter David Goldman pointed out in Of Demographics and Depressions (First Things, May 2009) that the economic slump began in the home mortgage industry because we have no more young marrieds with children than we had in 1969. The home mortgage industry has been the driver of America’s post-World War II economic prosperity. Cohabiting couples and single parent families tend to rent, not buy.

Consider these examples of economic and social activity. Harry is a rock star. Or soon will be. Harry sleeps in his girl friend’s basement. He does a little dope. At night he is the lead singer in the band he has formed. He is soft-spoken and respectful of his elders. Harry’s parents shower love on Harry’s daughter by his girl friend. Jim is a young husband in the same city. He and his wife have three children under three. Jim has to work long hours as a lawyer, but he does so willingly. For now, he rents. But he has bought a van. Harry’s daughter is supported by his girl friend’s family and by his own parents. Jim’s three children are provided for by Jim.

Does it matter to America whether the rising generation follows the Jim model or the Harry model? Harry’s girl friend is successfully pursuing a career. She doesn’t do dope. She doesn’t have time. Jim’s wife is raising their expanding family.

Can America afford to subsidize the breakdown in the family? Planned Parenthood thinks we can. They see a smaller America with smaller hopes. Just keep shoveling public monies to them and their family banning activities and all will be well.

President Obama is suing Texas, Indiana, and Kansas to keep the torrent of federal funds flowing to Planned Parenthood. Not even state governments should be able, according to him, to stop subsidizing this abortion advocacy institution. In all the thousands of line items in the bloated federal budget, the one Sacred Cow for Mr. Obama is Title X, the cash cow for Planned “Barrenhood.”

Are we the blind following the blind? Have we so shackled ourselves to the dogmas of population control and no-growth “progressive” taxation and regulation policies that we cannot see the obvious way out? Strong families are the engine that drives strong economies. It’s that simple.

As my colleague, Dr. Henry Potykus, a Senior Fellow at FRC’s Marriage And Religion Research Institute, confirms, human capital is the key to our economic growth. Young marrieds – especially those who worship regularly – plus education generate the greatest amount of human capital.

Iowa has always had a strong base of intact families and a strong education system. If Iowans know this and appreciate it, it’s no small wonder the Iowa’s GOP Caucus-goers are strongly pro-life and pro-marriage. And they know that this administration’s economic policies are not working. Most Americans sense this. Socialism has never worked wherever it has been tried.

Ronald Reagan began his working life in Iowa, as an announcer on WHO radio. Reagan did not beat voters over the head with Scripture. But he did have fun with some devout evangelists of the Gospel of Marx: “Socialism might work in Heaven, but they don’t need it. Socialism would work in Hell, but they’ve already got it.”

It was Reagan who most successfully united social, economic, and defense conservatives. That winning coalition needs to be assembled once again.


Army Officer (Ret) said:

Since 2000, about 19,000 Iowan couples got married every year.In the same time period, about 9500 Iowan couples got divorced every year. That's roughly 50% - the VAST majority initiated by women; very often for trivial reasons (in the absence of one-sided infidelity or serious one-sided abuse by the husband).Needless to say, Iowa has no-fault divorce.But there's more. More than 35% of children born in Iowa are born to women who are not married. Add in women who got married while pregnant or married women who gave birth to a child sired by a man other than her husband and number of unwed pregnancies among Iowan women probably exceeds 40%.Whatever else you want to say about Iowa, "Iowans are strongly ... supportive of traditional marriage" is simply not even close to being a true statement.When they do away with no-fault divorce and the 50% divorce rate it creates, and the percentage of unwed pregnancies drops below 10%, then I'll believe that Iowans are "strongly supportive of traditional marriage."Right now, in 2011, Iowans most certainly do NOT strongly support traditional marriage.Unfortunately, Iowa's statistics are pretty normal for ALL the states.The Democrats are amateurs at killing our civilization - we're doing it to ourselves wholesale.

Monday, December 19, 2011 at 12:52 AM

Terry Lee Moser said:

Strong families? What planet are you living on. Traditional families and family values have continued to decline since the post WWII boom. The divorce rate is 50% or more and more couples are choosing not to get married than married. Mexican immigrants have the strongest family structure and Black Americans the weakest.

Monday, December 19, 2011 at 1:01 PM

XCpt in the ether said:

Is the transition to a less traditional family the natural course of events in the development of a society?As people get more opportunity to lead a singular lifestyle through advanced education should we expect the traditional family model to remain as viable for society compared to when women, in particular, had fewer options available to them on how they would be able to support themselves.Several changes in our society have lead to a situation where either through need or personal ambition or ability women are no longer considering being a "house wife" as the goal for their existence. Traditional couples of the man working and the woman staying home to raise the kids have been replaced by both parents working, having fewer children or none at all, and finding themselves not as reliant on each other to survive in modern society. As a working couple they spend more time with their co-workers than they do each other and the tendency to drift apart grows stronger as the bonds of marriage grow weaker due to a lack of dependency on each other to make their lives successful.Traditional family values has a nice ring to it but the concepts associated with one have been replaced by a more singular focus on the individual as the individual has become able to sustain themselves. The "family" as most people refer to it is more of a relic of a time when a man and a woman needed each other to manage a life and a household. Unless we intend to reverse advances in equality for women we should stop trying to wish for a family structure that isn't likely to exist at this point in our society.If you ask your daughter what she wants to be when she grows up how many say "I want to stay at home and raise children!" How many parents encourage their daughters to become housewives? How do we view any woman that doesn't go beyond high school to a higher education and instead gets married and starts having children - as the core of family values or as someone that didn't have any ambition to lead a larger life?

Monday, December 19, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Army Officer (Ret) said:

XCpt has some good insight, but I'm going to bring up a few salient points about "equality" that affected how we got to where we are.It's quite late, and this may sound a little "rant-y", but I promise I'm not writing this because I'm bitter, or because I got hosed over by women - neither of those things is true.First, women and men have never been equal and never will be. Traditional society recognized those differences and compensated for them in a "broad-brush" sort of way. Modern society pretends women got the short end of the stick and seeks to redress that by giving them the advantages of being men and none of the disadvantages, while retaining the advantages of being women and discarding the disadvantages. For example, women earn the same as men for the same work (in most large cities they actually earn a bit MORE than men for the same work). Women make up the majority of college students and college graduates. Education, especially primary education, is so feminized that boys have fallen far behind their female classmates, never to catch up.Feminism was an attempt to break the largely-mythical "glass ceiling" while studiously avoiding looking at the largely-ignored "glass floor." 96% of workplace deaths are men. 99.99% of military casualties are men (they made a tiny dent in that in the last decade). The homeless populations and prison populations are overwhelmingly male. (Partly because women are often lightly punished - or not punished at all - for crimes that would result in a man going to prison for decades.)But feminist writers only looked UP. The vast numbers of men who were not CEO's were invisible to them. This is called the "Apex Fallacy." The Apex Fallacy is when women looked around and said, "CEO's tend to be male, therefore there must be a huge advantage to being male." They would have been more accurate to say, "Homeless people tend to be male, there must be a huge DISadvantage to being male." There are a LOT more men at the bottom than at the top, after all. The current state of the American family is partly the result of an entire society falling for the Apex Fallacy. Meanwhile...- Women do not register for the draft, while it is a crime for a man not to - with severe consequences.- Women initiate 70% of divorces, usually for reasons our grandparents would have considered trivial. Oh, and she gets the house, the kids, and a big chunk of his income to boot, although she is usually the one who broke the contract.- Despite roughly equal percentages of initiating domestic violence many states automatically arrest the man if the police are called to the house.- If a couple willingly has sex when they're both drunk, he may be charged with rape, although both were equally able (or unable) to give informed consent. If he is in college he will almost certainly be expelled while she gets special consideration - even though both admittedly did the EXACT SAME THING. Even if not convicted, his name will be permanently and publicly smeared and hers will be kept secret.- If an adult male has sex with a willing underage girl it is considered statutory rape and he goes to prison. If an adult female has sex with a willing underage boy and gets pregnant, he can be ordered to pay child support to his rapist (actually happened in California to a 13-year-old boy).The fact is that females are naturally hypergamous, and as society bends over backwards to give young women the rights of men with the responsibilities of children, women will make gains vis-a-vis men - gains that are, simply, gifts from an indulgent society that fell for the Apex Fallacy.But since females are hypergamous, as they climb the ladder there are fewer and fewer men they consider "in their league." Thus they bemoan the "lack of good men."There is no such lack - the 20-something male slacker playing with his X-box is the natural counterpart to the 20-something female liberal arts graduate punching a clock while she waits for "Mr. Right" - she just doesn't know it because she STILL wants to "marry up" financially, and STILL sizes men up by their earning potential. So the marriage rate drops as many a young woman abandons traditional life choices and spends her best years partying and/or climbing the corporate ladder, only to find herself at 30-35 with vastly diminished fertility, wondering why she can't find a "good man" to provide her with what she eschewed 10 years earlier - a stable family in which to be a wife and mother.Throw in a 50% + divorce rate, total reproductive FREEDOM for women and total reproductive RESPONSIBILITY for men, and the fact that a guy has a 50/50 shot at losing his marriage, his children, his home, his income, and possibly his freedom if she alleges some sort of abuse, and for a lot of guys marriage to a feminized woman is like playing Russian Roulette with three rounds in the cylinder.If that's what "equality" brought us, we're better off without it. (But of course it was never really about equality.)Why is this pertinent? Because modern industrial society is an artificial construct that survives through the generations only because children are raised by husbands and wives in nuclear (patriarchal) families, AND IN NO OTHER WAY. (No matriarchal society has managed to get out of grass huts, much less send a man to the moon.) The fact is that if young women choose to be party girls or career women, young "slacker" men will refrain from "growing up" until their female age-peers grow up themselves and decide to become wives. So now families simply do not form (or form after the woman is past her peak fertility), and the birthrate among the kind of families that will successfully pass on the civilization falls below replacement level. If that continues due to "equality" or anything else, our society WILL die within a couple of generations.It is a mathematical certainty.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Mike Schuerger Sr. said:

Army Officer (Ret) -Sorry to say, Sir, but I think you are falling for one of the biggest scams going on the use of invalid marriage statistics. That half of those who married in a given year get divorced means that half don't - and they add to the previous years of "don't" couples. I've been married once, but for 29 years so far. 2 other of my siblings have been married once and are still married more than 25 years, while one other has been married twice and divorced once, after a number of years being married to an immature lunatic (IMO, he tried.) Look at what that does to the picture of marriage - 4 people, 5 marriages, close to 100 total years married with 1 divorce. A friend of mine has been married and divorced 4 times over the years. He is way over-represented and most of my family is under-represented in the stats you are using. IMO if you want to get a valid picture of the state of marriage, don't use that "50% of marriages end in divorce" nonsense.That said, I agree that "no-fault" divorce is a bad thing. Partly becasue it increases the notion when people marry that, "we can always get a divorce if it doesn't work out." But more than that, the current notion that shacking-up and "trying it out first" is a great driver in the illegitimacy statistics you mention and a false notion as well. Those who "try it out first" are MORE likely to get divorced than those who have not lived together first. That meme needs killing (as an excuse to shackup.)Further, that we fail at something we value does not mean that we don't value it. I think I CAN "believe that Iowans are 'strongly supportive of traditional marriage.'" while acknowledging that in Iowa and across the country many fail at the attempt for a wide variety of reasons.(Thank you for your years of service, Sir.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Army Officer (Ret) said:

Mike, thanks for the response, but my numbers still add up. Even your own sample contains nine marriages and five divorces - more than 50%. Granted, divorce is not universally common across all demographic groups, but in a large group such as "People in Iowa," a consistent rate of about 19,000 marriages and 9500 divorces, year after year after year, IS indicative of a long-term divorce rate of about 50%: it is not nonsense.Your second paragraph is spot-on. No objections at all.While it is possible to support something you fail at, I will disagree with your third paragraph in this case, though. Iowa is one a handful of states with Gay Marriage, has an out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate above 40%, and averages more than 9000 divorces a year. If Iowans AS A GROUP strongly supported traditional marriage in the manner the author suggests those things would not be true.(Thank you for your years of paying my salary with your taxes, Sir.);-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

rippedchef in sc said:

I think everybody here is missing one important point-I think Iowans may "poll" as extremely supportive of traditional marriage-their words are simply not backed up by their actions-kinda like saying we have 85% of our country that believes in God-with 20% actually atending a church regularly,8% active in ministry and 2% tithe..................

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 4:30 PM

RyDaddy in Wisconsin said:

Army Officer and Terry, I hate that 50% divorce statistic because it conveys a lie.According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%Its only by the weighted average that the 50% comes from. 9% might not seem like a big deal, but considering there are about 2,077,000 marriages per year in the USA, that 9% represents 186,930 families not broken up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Army Officer (Ret) said:

Once again I must protest. The 50% figure is neither nonsense or a lie: it may not convey every nuance of the situation, but it is not misleading - it is simply true. That fact that some marriages last two weeks before breaking up and some last 50 years, or that some people divorce more than once, is utterly irrelevant to the fact that half of all marriages end in a courtroom rather than a funeral parlor. I'm sorry, RyDaddy, those 186,930 families actually ARE being broken up - your formula just doesn't include them in the count because they are not first marriages.Nobody is suggesting that half of all marriages end each year, or that one cannot improve one's odds by risk-mitigation. I merely said that the actual year-in-and-year-out conduct of Iowans demonstrates that they are not the "strong supporters of traditional marriage" that Ken Blackwell claims they are, and that part of my reason for saying so is that half of Iowa's marriages end in courtrooms (as does the statistical abstract of the State of Iowa) - and I stand by that statement.I'm not against marriage: I've been happily married for nearly 25 years. I AM against no-fault divorce, presumptive mother-custody, all forms of alimony to the initiator of the divorce unless overwhelming one-sided fault can be unambiguously established, abortion-on-demand as a means of birth control, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and subsidizing single motherhood with tax dollars.Apparently all those "strong supporters of traditional marriage" in Iowa disagree with me about most of that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Army Officer (Ret) said:

Edit:The sentence that reads,"Apparently ALL those "strong supporters of traditional marriage" in Iowa disagree with me about most of that" (emphasis added),should say,Apparently MANY OF those "strong supporters of traditional marriage" in Iowa disagree with me about most of that" (emphasis added).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM