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The Death of the Family
Delusion and parochialism about marriage.

Flags fly at the Supreme Court during oral arguments, March 27, 2013.

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Mark Steyn


Underneath all this apparent “fairness” is a lot of unfairness. Entire new categories of crime have arisen in the wake of familial collapse, like the legions of adolescent daughters abused by Mom’s latest live-in boyfriend. Millions of children are now raised in transient households that make not just economic opportunity but even elementary character-formation all but impossible. In the absence of an agreed moral language to address this brave new world, Americans retreat to comforting euphemisms like “blended families,” notwithstanding that the familial Cuisinart seems to atomize at least as often as it blends.

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Meanwhile, social mobility declines: Doctors who once married their nurses now marry their fellow doctors; lawyers who once married their secretaries now contract with fellow super-lawyers, like dynastic unions in medieval Europe. Underneath the self-insulating elite, millions of Americans are downwardly mobile: The family farmers and mill workers, the pioneers who hacked their way into the wilderness and built a township, could afford marriage and children; indeed, it was an economic benefit. For their descendants doing minimum-wage service jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology, functioning families are a tougher act, and children an economic burden. The gays looked at contemporary marriage and called the traditionalists’ bluff.

Modern Family works well on TV, less so in the rusting double-wides of decrepit mill towns where, very quickly, the accumulated social capital of two centuries is drained, and too much is too wrecked. In Europe, where dependency, decadence, and demographic decline are extinguishing some of the oldest nations on earth, a successor population is already in place in the restive Muslim housing projects. With their vibrant multicultural attitudes to feminism and homosexuality, there might even be a great sitcom in it: Pre-Modern Family — and, ultimately, post-Modern.

“Fiscal conservatives” recoil from this kind of talk like homophobes at a bathhouse: The sooner some judge somewhere takes gay marriage off the table the sooner the right can go back to talking about debt and Obamacare without being dismissed as uptight theocratic bigots. But it doesn’t work like that. Most of the social liberalism comes with quite a price tag. The most reliable constituency for Big Government is single women, for whom the state is a girl’s best friend, the sugar daddy whose checks never bounce. A society in which a majority of births are out of wedlock cannot be other than a Big Government welfare society. Ruining a nation’s finances is one thing; debauching its human capital is far harder to fix.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn



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