by Joanne Beckman
Many people are very worried about the national economy, and rightly so. The dramatic increase in spending during the Pelosi Congress has raised U.S. debt levels to unprecedented levels. The recovery is slow, jobs are a major concern for millions of families, and we still need a federal budget! Some voters believe that all other concerns should take a back seat to economic policies at this time. Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, famously called for a ‘Truce’ on social issues until the Republicans could undo Democratic economic mayhem.
While some Republicans view our economic problems as more important than anything else, trying to separate “economic” issues from “social” issues is an artificial and unwise approach to our current problems. Many problems have overlapping causes and effects. Many so-called “social” issues are, in fact, the results of bad public (even economic) policies of the past, which have contributed to the growth and extension of government. It is therefore unwise to postpone facing such issues, especially when they have a demonstrably large impact on the economy.
The health of the modern American family is central to many economic and social issues facing our country and our state. The welfare state is primarily populated with unmarried mothers and their children. Girls from single parent families have higher rates of teen pregnancy; boys are at higher risk for violence, criminal activity, juvenile delinquency, and gang activity when raised without a father present. Fatherless boys constitute a huge fraction of the prison population. The Institute for American Values estimated the cost to taxpayers of out-of-wedlock childbearing and otherwise fractured households to be on the order of $112 billion per year in state, federal, and local taxes. Clearly, with these numbers, fiscal conservatives cannot ignore social or family issues. (We have borrowed freely from an analysis of family breakdown, “Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise A Village”, well worth reading.
Americans simply cannot afford to ignore the health of the family! The father-mother family is the most basic socio-economic unit of society across time and place. A strong marriage culture and family preservation are fundamental to the preservation of liberty. If you cripple the family, its basic functions are replaced by the state, giving those focused on creating a more powerful state even stronger incentives to disrupt the traditional family structure. Those of us wishing to limit the power of the state must combat those efforts.
Happily, our NC Republican leaders have prioritized issues and set a timetable for their execution; they are doing an admirable job following through since taking control of the legislature. Having passed a balanced budget, redistricting is the next big item. In the early Fall, a special session will be held on ballot measures, including proposed amendments to the NC Constitution. One of those amendments concerns the legal definition of marriage as “one man and one woman for life”, which is controversial, but which also has proven economic effects that voters, especially Republican voters, should understand. If you, your friends, or family think marriage should be sidelined as a “non-economic” or “social” issue that can wait, think again. NC is the only state in the South which has not passed a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, and we are a targeted state for 2012. Republicans didn’t choose the battle or the timing on this issue, our opponents did. Fiscal conservatives, libertarian Republicans, and social conservatives all have a stake in this battle. We must act, and it cannot wait. More specific information and rationales for the NC marriage amendment can be found on the website of the NC Family Policy Council. To keep up-to-date on the progress of the NC marriage amendment and related issues, sign up for weekly newsletters.
Let’s all stay well informed about our Republican Party’s platform and principles, including those supporting the family, and help our state leadership address the urgent priorities, because only together can we preserve and create the kind of society we need, now and for the future.