Faulty Ideas About Marriage,
Pre-K, and Feminism
Political junkies will remember how former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was being groomed to run for president in 2012 before he made his foolish statement that the next president should “call a truce on the so-called social issues.” Americans do not want a leader who is unable or unwilling to articulate and lead on important social issues.
Four years after the Daniels misstep, many have failed to learn that lesson. The New York Times has proclaimed the “libertarian moment” has arrived, by which they seem to mean libertarian ideas about marriage and the family.
We hear people say the libertarian view is to “get the government out of marriage.” But where did that slogan come from? There is simply no basis for that notion in the works of classic libertarian writers.
As a Harvard graduate student, I was present for what could be considered the beginning of libertarian thought in America. It was the first American speech by Friedrich Hayek following the worldwide success of The Road to Serfdom, which had been read by millions of Americans through its publication in the Reader’s Digest.
The thesis of Hayek’s great book is that government efforts to redistribute the benefits and burdens of economic activity inevitably involve a loss of individual freedoms, which could lead to a totalitarian state as happened in Germany and Russia. Now 70 years later, Hayek’s basic idea is part of most Republican stump speeches and forms the basis for Republicans’ adamant opposition to Obamacare.
But nothing in The Road to Serfdom, or in any of Hayek’s later works or those of his fellow Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, questioned the value or necessity of civil marriage in a free society. There is nothing to suggest that regulation of marriage was somehow inconsistent with individual freedom.
Mises’ American disciple, the radical libertarian Murray N. Rothbard, once famously proposed selling off lighthouses to private owners who would then be supported by voluntary contributions from passing ships. Rothbard wanted to privatize nearly everything, but he never suggested privatizing marriage.
Another influential libertarian was the Russian-born novelist Ayn Rand, whose novels depict a titanic struggle between the creative geniuses who need maximum freedom to produce, versus the “looters” and “second-handers” who try to regulate them and share their wealth. Ayn Rand attacked Christianity and other conventional beliefs, but never questioned the value and necessity of civil marriage defined by law.
If nothing in Hayek, Mises, Rothbard or Rand supports the abolition, redefinition, or privatization of marriage, then where did those ideas come from? The answer is that they came from writers on the left — most significantly, from the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and published in 1848.
To be sure, Marx did not originate the notion of undermining the family, which had been introduced by the utopian socialists Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, but he eagerly endorsed and propagated it. After Marx’s death, his partner Friedrich Engels wrote a whole book elaborating on Marx’s anti-family ideas.
A major part of the Communist Manifesto is its unrelenting attack on the so-called “bourgeois family” which Marx believed was responsible for the inequality he despised. If communism was to succeed, he wrote, the bourgeois family had to be done away with.
The bourgeois family is the Marxist term for what modern liberals call the “Ozzie and Harriet” or “nuclear” family. It means a husband and wife who are legally married to each other, using the husband’s name, with the husband as provider and authority figure, and the wife as nurturing homemaker, and with both parents raising and educating their own children within the household.
Marx hated the bourgeois family, not only because it provided the means of transmission and accumulation of private property, but also because the family controlled the formation and education of children. Marx wanted to break the family so that children could be raised and educated communally, free from patriarchal ties and religious beliefs.
With all that history which should be familiar to every educated American, it’s incredible that we’re now seeing the worst of Marxist ideas, the deconstruction of the family, presented in the name of libertarianism.
Besides marriage, Marx’s ideas on education have influenced too many education reformers on the right, including, unfortunately, the Bush family’s obsession with remaking public education. George H.W. Bush wanted to be the “education president,” George W. Bush wanted to “leave no child behind,” and now Jeb Bush wants to impose the Common Core.
As conservatives seek new leadership for 2016 and beyond, let’s insist on candidates who recognize that marriage and the nuclear family are the essential foundation of a free and prosperous society.
Dead-End Road Called Pre-K
After President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address called for a new federal entitlement for taxpayer-funded free preschool or pre-K for all 4-year-olds, we thought his idea would be quickly discredited, not only by its enormous cost, but even more importantly by the overwhelming weight of research proving the lack of any long-term benefit from such programs.
Now we are dismayed to learn from Politico that a dozen Republican-governed states are expanding state-based pre-K programs or are planning to do so next year. And in Washington, some Republicans are offering bipartisan support to a pre-K bill drafted by two of the Congress’s biggest liberals, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), both of whom are retiring at the end of this year.
Why are these Republicans willing to accept Obama’s claim that pre-K “works” by producing big benefits in a child’s later life? In fact, the science tells us that pre-K provides, at best, a small temporary benefit that cannot be measured beyond the third grade.
And those small temporary benefits were found only among low-income or at-risk children. There is no science that even pretends to show that middle-class kids benefit from attending preschool instead of being cared for by their mothers at home.
These Republican governors seem to think they can defeat the Democrats by adopting one of Obama’s favorite programs, pre-K, which he has urged for years without success. Despite the high profile of these Republican pre-K salesmen, we still haven’t seen any evidence that pre-K benefits children or accomplishes any of the goals it promises. Like the classic TV ad, where’s the beef?
They don’t call it daycare anymore, and of course they don’t call it baby-sitting, which it really is. The new gimmick label is pre-K, meaning before kindergarten.
Pre-K advocates like to cite as models for success the so-called Perry Preschool Project and the Abecedarian Project. Those two projects took place a half century ago and used highly trained teachers under optimum conditions.
One project treated only 58 3- and 4-year-old children, and the other only 57. The Perry favorable results have never been replicated despite many subsequent attempts, so that study is not scientifically credible.
The proclaimed purpose of pre-K is to close the gap between kids from high-income and low-income households. There is no evidence that pre-K can accomplish that.
The liberals like to say that pre-K “investments” (that’s the liberals’ synonym for taxes) save money later on. All studies show that Head Start and all the early interventions do not achieve what they promise, and they “fade out” at least by the third grade.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Head Start Impact Study tracked 3- and 4-year-olds from entering Head Start through kindergarten and first grade, then to the end of the third grade. The conclusion was that Head Start had little to no effect on cognitive, social-emotional or health outcomes of participating children.
The principal goals of the billions of federal tax dollars poured into public schools during the George W. Bush Administration were to raise U.S. scores on international tests and to close the gap between high-income and low-income students. All that spending was a failure on both counts. The only thing pre-K accomplished was to provide daycare services for single moms, the majority of whom voted for Obama.
Head Start was based on the assumption that government schools could compensate children for the disadvantage of being poor. It’s time to face up to the fact that the children are poor mainly because they don’t live in a nuclear family with their own father and mother.
The problem we should address is the decline in marriage. There is no substitute for the enormous advantage to children who grow up in a home with their own mother and father.
A better formula for helping kids to achieve in school would be to stop giving out financial handouts that operate as incentives to women to have babies without marriage and will therefore turn to Big Brother Government for financial support. Pre-K is another anti-marriage incentive.
The liberal Brookings Institution admitted that the supposed benefits of pre-K programs often don’t last even until the end of kindergarten. Brookings’s lead research analyst commented, “I see these findings as devastating for advocates of the expansion of state pre-K programs.”
It doesn’t matter whether pre-K money is run by Democrats or Republicans. We shouldn’t “invest” any more taxpayers’ money in pie-in-the-sky projects that make adults feel sanctimonious but do no long-term help for the kids, and enable their moms to join the majority of single mothers who voted for Obama.
One of the best things we can do for pre-kindergarten children is to make sure we don’t hang trillions of dollars of debt around their necks.
Feminists Get Obama to Sue Pennsylvania
A slightly lower pass rate for women on a physical fitness test has prompted the Obama administration to sue the Pennsylvania State Police. This lawsuit is obviously demanded by the feminists, since their ideology is that, if women cannot do as well as men on a fitness test for a job, that must be caused by discrimination and use of the test must stop.
The Pennsylvania police fitness test resulted in 94 percent of the men passing and 71 percent of females passing. The feminists want Pennsylvania to ignore the fact that the job of a state trooper can require real physical strength and endurance beyond the capabilities of many women and difficult and dangerous physical challenges, such as having to pull a victim out of a car that is on fire.
Last year, a Pennsylvania state trooper helped catch a suspect escaping in a tractor trailer by hanging onto the truck cabin’s grab bar with one hand while it continued to drive down the highway. The suspect then crashed the truck and had to be pursued on foot as he fled into the woods, and it’s obvious that a man’s physical skills were very useful.
Feminists cannot admit that men might be more suitable for certain jobs than some women, and vice-versa with respect to jobs more suitable for women. The fact that a few more men passed the Pennsylvania police fitness test than women did is simply unacceptable to feminist ideology.
The big majority of applicants — both men and women — were able to prove adequate fitness, but the Obama Administration sued Pennsylvania for not passing women at the same rate as men. The lawsuit misuses Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was never meant to impose employment quotas, to demand that Pennsylvania fork over back pay with interest to women who did not pass the fitness test, and this lawsuit also insists that Pennsylvania stop using these tests in the future.
Pennsylvania police commissioner Frank Noonan responded forcefully by saying, “We will not be bullied into changing or lowering our standards by the Department of Justice or anyone else.” He also noted that reducing the fitness standards would insult the many women and men who passed the test and now work on the police force.
One woman who recently passed the fitness test observed that “it’s totally insulting that anybody is claiming that it’s too hard for women.” She felt that the “the standards are set very low” and she feels “they should be higher.”
Commissioner Noonan pointed out that the public would also be harmed by relaxing or eliminating the fitness test. Moreover, a woman who is placed on the job as a state trooper despite being unfit may be putting her own life at risk, if a suspect overpowered her due to her lack of strength or quickness.
More than 4,600 workers are in the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) today after many of them presumably passed this fitness test. But the Obama lawsuit is demanding that the test must no longer be used because there might have been 45 additional women on the workforce if this test had not been implemented.
If 94% of men can pass the physical fitness test to be a state trooper, I would say the test is too easy. Suppose you needed the help of the state police: would you want your distress call to be answered by a man who was only as fit as 94% of his fellow men?
Surely the state police should be more selective than that, but the PSP apparently decided to make its test even easier. Since 2009, an incredible 98% of men passed the test each year — but the women’s pass rate edged up only from 71% to 72%, making the male-female gap slightly wider than before.
Therein lies the paradox of diversity: making the test easier does not reduce the gap between groups. No one has yet devised a physical fitness test on which women as a group perform as well — or even 80% as well — as men. The only way to eliminate that gap is to eliminate testing altogether.
The administration official who initiated this lawsuit accusing Pennsylvania of discrimination, Jocelyn Samuels, has the title of “Acting” Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, which means she wields the awesome power of that office without having been confirmed by the Senate. An unconfirmed, perhaps unconfirmable, bureaucrat should not be allowed to disrupt such an important state agency, based on such a flimsy pretext and outrageous theory, but that’s where we are in the waning days of the Obama administration.
Layoffs Prove the Deceit of Amnesty
The shocking announcement that Microsoft is cutting 18,000 jobs is still sinking in. Most of those employees do not have a realistic chance of obtaining as good a job as the one they are losing.
In the United States, the number of engineering jobs has been sharply declining. In 2002 the number of electrical engineering jobs in the United States was 385,000, but despite increased demand for technology, the job total dropped to only 300,000 last year.
And that number is not even for American workers, because thousands of these jobs are soaked up by the H-1B visa racket, whereby companies like Microsoft can import and pay foreign workers less than it costs to hire an American. High-tech companies have thousands of foreign employees working on H-1B visas, who are almost like indentured servants to the company because they lose their right to be in our country if they leave their job.
Microsoft’s massive layoff makes downright ridiculous the op-ed recently published by Bill Gates and his billionaire pals, Warren Buffett and Sheldon Adelson.
The real shortage is in good jobs, but these visas flood the labor market and hold wages down, when wages should be climbing for American workers. Fewer Americans have a job today than just six years ago, even though the potential workforce has expanded during that time. One reason is the overuse of foreign labor by large companies.
Microsoft is highly profitable, breaking its own records for revenue and profits as recently as last year, with an effective tax rate of less than 20 percent. One of its directors has agreed to pay $2 billion for a basketball team, and Bill Gates is often listed as the wealthiest man in the world.
In 2007, at a U.S. Senate committee hearing, Gates asked for permission to import “an infinite number” of foreign workers. “I don’t think there should be any limit,” he continued, but at any rate the cap should be “dramatically increased.”
In 2008, before the Science and Technology Committee of the U.S. House, Gates claimed he had jobs “going begging” that no American could be found to do, so he had no choice but to import workers from India. When Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) suggested he might consider raising the pay for those jobs, Gates impatiently dismissed that option, saying, “No, it’s not an issue of raising wages. These jobs are very, very high paying jobs.”
Economics 101 teaches that wages are a function of supply and demand. When the supply of labor is increased, such as by expanding immigration, then wages can and do decrease, despite increased productivity.
Recently a reporter caught up with the laid-off semiconductor engineer whose wife publicly challenged President Obama in January 2012, “Why does the government continue to issue and extend H-1B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?” Darin Wedel eventually found a job in the health care industry, earning $40,000-a-year less than before.
President Obama is still deceiving the American public about the economy, bragging that 288,000 jobs were created last month. As Mort Zuckerman explained in the Wall Street Journal, “Most people will have the impression that the 288,000 jobs created last month were full-time. Not so.” They were part-time jobs, which pay lower wages than the full-time jobs that have disappeared.
There are several reasons for this, such as employers’ desire to avoid the Obamacare mandate to provide health insurance to anyone working 30 or more hours a week. Another is women’s willingness to accept lower pay in exchange for a flexible schedule with fewer hours per day, per week, and per year.
But now many breadwinners, including men, have been forced to take these jobs. Of men aged 25 to 54, one in six does not work; fifty years ago, only one in 20 was not working.
When we first brought the transformation of the American economy into a part-time worker society in 2010, many scoffed and suggested that when the ‘recovery’ really gets going the temp jobs will all be morphed into high-paying full-time jobs. Instead, Zuckerman writes, “more than 24 million Americans remain jobless, working part-time involuntarily or having left the workforce.”
Zuckerman hits us with the depressing conclusion:
Faith in the American dream is eroding fast. The feeling is that the rules aren’t fair and the system has been rigged in favor of business and against the average person.
One Senator who always speaks up for Americans, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said, “I don’t think you can make the argument that we have a labor shortage.” The answer should be: close the border; absolutely no amnesty masquerading as “immigration reform.”