November 1, 1998
News truths about relationships good news for social
By TED MORTON
Many of the disagreements that fuel contemporary politics
are not about economic issues, but about the so-called "social issues."
Social issues embrace a broad spectrum of policies tax
credits for child care, gay rights issues, parental choice in education, pornography,
marriage and divorce law, capital punishment, abortion and most recently, the VLT
For social conservatives, the common thread through these diverse
policies is the protection of family and the ethic of responsibility.
For social liberals, the main issue is usually individual liberty
framed as "freedom of choice."
Academics usually weigh in on the liberal side of these
controversies, but this is changing. There is a new body of social science research
that recognizes the importance of family in government policy. The key concepts in
this new field of research are "civil society" and "social capital."
Civil society is the network of voluntary associations that fill the
gap between individual citizens and the state. These associations are voluntary, and
have a wide variety of purposes social, economic, religious, recreational,
political, and educational.
Civil society produces the social connectedness and trust that
allows individuals to cooperate for mutual benefit.
Civil society is important because it produces "social
capital." Social capital is a new expression for an old concept civic
virtue. At a minimum, it means law-abiding behaviour respecting the rights of
others. More expansively, it denotes public spiritedness. Social capital
focuses attention on the institutions that generate "the habits of the heart";
that transform the "I" into the "we."
The most important source of social capital is the family.
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam is the leading exponent of
this new school. Putnam's research claims that societies in which civil society is
strong enjoy better schools, faster economic development, lower crime and more effective
government. Putnam goes on to argue that American democracy is threatened by the
weakening of civil society and declining social capital.
Putnam's work is complemented by Princeton sociologist Sara
McLanahan's research on the effects of family breakdown on children. McLanahan's
research shows that children who grow up with only one biological parent are worse off, on
average, than children who are raised in a household with both of their biological
McLanahan's studies found that children from single-parent families
are twice as likely to drop out of school; twice as likely to have a child before the age
of 20; and twice as likely to be unemployed in their late teens and early twenties.
This trend holds regardless of family income, educational
background, race or whether the resident parent remarries.
There are also higher correlations with drug and alcohol
abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and criminal behaviour.
What children from single-parent families lose, according to
McLanahan, are parental guidance and attention, as well as equal access to community
resources. She describes this as a deficit of social capital --
"an asset that is created and maintained by relationships of commitment and
trust." Social capital, McLanahan concludes, can be just as important as
financial capital in promoting children's future success.
While Putnam and McLanahan are Americans, the importance of
preserving social capital and the natural two-parent family is beginning to
find its way into Canadian public policy debate.
John Richards is a former NDP MP and current professor at Simon
In his 1998 book, Retooling the Welfare State, Richards repeats the
social advantages of two-parent families; the superiority of parental care to commercial
daycare for young children; and the dangers of tax
policies that subsidize and thus encourage divorce.
Richards findings and recommendations mirror those made by Professor
Mark Genuis, Director of the Calgary-based National Foundation for Family Research and
Education. More surprisingly, even the usually liberal editor of the Globe and Mail,
William Thorsell, publicly endorsed most of Richard's policy
These new truths and really, they are old truths are
good news for social conservatives.
After years of producing research that helped to weaken civil
society, social scientists are finally recognizing the social and economic value of the
traditional family and the moral infrastructure that it helps to sustain.
Morton is a political science professor at the U of C and Reform 'senator-in-waiting'.
Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com.
Copyright © 1998, Canoe Limited Partnership.
My note: VLTs Video Lottery Terminals
promoted and run by the Alberta Government are all-pervasive in Alberta bars and
lounges. They have proven to be an irresistible lure to compulsive gamblers and are
contributing to the destruction of Alberta's families. Families' finances are being
destroyed, people pushed into bankruptcies, and increasingly we see an escalation in
embezzlement crimes. Addicted gamblers, apparently primarily women, are dipping into
company and organizational coffers to cover their personal debts that they ran up as a
result of their losses incurred at the VLTs. If any of these women are caught with
their hands in the till, no punishment is meted out to them. I have yet to see a
story in the papers that reports that any such woman was sentenced to jail, even though
the embezzled sums often run in excess of $100 thousand. Restitution is seldom
made to the full extent of the embezzled sums and most often amounts to an insignificant
fraction of the money stolen.
It is not a trivial problem. The total revenues
collected by the Alberta Government through its VLT gambling operation are in excess of $2
billion/year (Alberta's population is just over 3 million). Most of that money is
used to cover the costs of the gambling operation. About $600 million/year remain in
the hands of the government, of which a little more than $200 million/year is handed back
to some communities, usually with great fanfare and some of it to battered women's shelters to show how
benevolent our government is. --WHS
THE PLANNED DESTRUCTION OF THE FAMILY
- How is Mortality Affected by Money, Marriage and Stress?
By Jonathan Gardner, Watson Wyatt, LLP, and Andrew Oswaldi,
Department of Economics, Warwick University, March 2004
Marriage is found to be associated with substantially lower rates
of mortality, for both men and women. Married men are predicted to
be some -7.2 percent less likely to die over the period [1993 to
2000] than unmarried men. For women, the effect is smaller.
Women married in 1991 are approximately -4.1 percent less likely to
die over the period 1993 to 2000 than otherwise similar unmarried
Full Story (PDF file, 136kB)
From Marxism to Feminism:
The planned destruction of the American family
Statement of Bill Wood
FC-8 Hearing on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse July 17, 2003
TESTIMONY FOR THE [US] WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
The planned destruction of the family was part of the communist agenda from its inception by Karl Marx and Frederic Engels. It became
government policy in the USSR in about 1917. It was so successful in the USSR that it
threatened to destroy society in the USSR. Curiously, while in the 1940s the USSR
took steps to repair the damages its family-hostile policies had caused, American
communists imported the Soviet agenda for the planned destruction of the family into the
USA. It has been and continues to be promoted by left-leaning liberals in the West
Is the government a better
"parent" ? The horrors of the non-home
The destruction of our families Impact on our children
"care" of children, the cause of most criminality
A Modern Man's
Guide to Day Care
Should Mom go back to work? Should you? What kind of childhood will your
kid get? Its the decision that makes most men want to run for cover.
State exercises the education monopoly:
The protectors of women time and again
praise to 'Wessi' (Westie) women the wonderfully complete world of the 'Ossi' (Eastie)
women, ever since the end of the GDR, whose all-encompassing children-crèche system
secured full-time earning potential and thereby the personal freedom of mothers.
What a full-day program for the children of fully-employed
looks like has been thoroughly experienced by the mothers of the former GDR. Marlene,
herself a crèche-child and subsequently an educator for child-educatoresses from Potsdam,
told it to me.
Germany devours its children
Families today: Exploited and burned out