Good Response To Polygamy Argument

I rather like John Corvino’s response to the nonsensical “if you support same-sex marriage, then there’s no longer a reason to oppose polygamy” argument:

The trouble with the slippery-slope argument from gay marriage to polygamy is that it’s a nice sound-bite argument that doesn’t lend itself to a nice sound-bite response. “Show us why polygamy is wrong,” our opponents insist, as if that’s easy to do in 20 words or less. (Try it sometime.)

But here’s a little secret: they can’t do it either, because their favorite arguments against same-sex marriage are useless against polygamy. “It changes the very definition of marriage!” (No: marriage historically has been polygamous more often than monogamous.) “The Bible condemns it!” (Really? Ever heard of King Solomon?) “It’s not open to procreation!” (Watch “Big Love” and get back to me.)

If there’s a good argument against polygamy, it’s likely to be a fairly complex public-policy argument having to do with marriage patterns, sexism, economics, and the like. Such arguments are as available to gay-marriage advocates as to gay-marriage opponents. So when gay-rights opponents ask me to explain why polygamy is wrong, I say to them, “You first.”

More.

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93 Responses to Good Response To Polygamy Argument

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  6. 6
    dave munger says:

    They don’t have to explain it, because everyone “knows” polygamy is wrong.

  7. 7
    D says:

    I can’t seem to connect to the article, so I don’t know the full breadth of the arguments made. I will say that there is a sound byte argument against polygamy as it actually exists today. To point, it essentially enslaves girls and women. It does not follow the necessary consenting adult model. On the other hand, I don’t think there is any good argument against an idealistic model whereby 3 or more consenting adults could enter into a marriage.

  8. 8
    Richard Bellamy says:

    The soundbite answer to why polygamy is wrong is actually identical to the soundbite answer to why gay marriage is wrong:

    “It is a good thing to legislate our current views of morality.”

    That’s why “It’s in the Bible” is really a red herring. They’d oppose it even if it was not in the bible (like abortion, with the “Choose Life” slogan, taken from an out-of-context bible passage), if there was a history of it, or if a guy could get another guy pregnant.

    The “slippery slope” only works if you choose the methodology of “We will apply logic to the situation, and apply similar laws to similar situations.” The anti-gay-marriage folks have the advantage of avoiding slippery slopes by the easy step of not requiring logic.

    It sounds somewhat snarky to say it that way, and they don’t really want to think of themselves that way either (kind of like “Intelligent Design”, where they want to think what they are doing is Science, even if it isn’t), but it’s actually a perfectly valid viewpoint (although not one I agree with, of course) to throw logic overboard and say “I want what I want!”

  9. 9
    Kerlyssa says:

    Wouldn’t you have to rewrite the hell outta marriage and divorce laws to make it work? They’re all based around two people after all.

  10. 10
    Blitzgal says:

    My co-worker gave me a very succinct answer as to why the two examples are not equal. Gay people are denied access to the fundamental right already enjoyed by every heterosexual citizen of this county. On the other hand, polygamy grants those same heterosexual citizens an additional privilege on top of that which they already enjoy. In short, gay marriage equalizes a disparity in the civil rights of a particular segment of our society, while polygamy expands a right that is already enjoyed by another segment of society. So when people talk about “special rights,” they need to apply that label to polygamy. Straight people can already get married. There is no disparity to be repaired where polygamy is involved. The idea is his, the phrasing is mine.

  11. 11
    Richard Bellamy says:

    Straight people can already get married. There is no disparity to be repaired where polygamy is involved.

    Gay people can get married, too — to someone of the other sex. Just like straight people can.

    As a married person I am completely barred from getting married (to either a gay or straight person), unless I choose to get a divorce.

    Put another way, If I and a gay man both took the same woman to City Hall and asked for a marriage license, he’d get his, but I wouldn’t. You can frame it either way to get the outcome you want, but that doesn’t make the framing proper.

    Personally, I see no problem going down the slippery slope. (And no, I have no interest in accumulating additional spouses when we get there).

    Gay marriage/polygamy both seem fine if its what everyone wants (I understand that many group marriages are akin to slavery, but those marriages should be prohibited on other grounds — not because they’re polygamous).

  12. 12
    Ben says:

    Well, fresh of a logic class, any slippery slope argument is an informal fallacy of presumption. Talking about polygamy when the discussion is first about gay marriage fails to address the original issue– gay marriage. Just a thought.

  13. 13
    Blitzgal says:

    “Gay people can get married, too … to someone of the other sex. Just like straight people can.”

    Gay individuals are not legally allowed to marry the individual that he or she loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with–unlike heterosexuals, who are afforded this right as citizens of this country. But it should be clear that’s what I meant.

    As alluded to above, legalizing polygamy would alter current laws and standards regarding property, divorce, child custody etc. in a way that gay marriage would not affect one iota. And similarly, polygamy is conducted in a way that is illegal not simply because it is group marriage. The common polygamous practice of “child brides” and incidence of incest is something else to take into consideration. And, finally…why is is it that these group marriages must be one man marrying several women?

    If groups of people want to legally bind themselves together, then let’s seriously discuss that rather than using polygamy as a scare tactic to continue to illegally discriminate against a group of people.

  14. 14
    D says:

    Links finally work. His argument is a sensible one. Consider each case on its own merits and don’t equate one change (gay marriage) to an independent change (polygamy). The “polygamy argument” seems to claim that challenging the gender dynamics of the marriage definition makes that definition more malleable, thus making it easy to challenge the number dynamics of the definition. But as John points out, our definition of marriage has been changed before. And though he doesn’t mention it, the definition of marriage has in the past have also included SSM as well as polygamy.

    In response to 4 & 8: Creating a little extra work for our lawmakers shouldn’t be a concern in discussing the validity of a social change.

  15. 15
    Richard Bellamy says:

    As alluded to above, legalizing polygamy would alter current laws and standards regarding property, divorce, child custody etc. in a way that gay marriage would not affect one iota.

    That presumes that maintaining laws as they are is itself a valid consideration, even if the changed laws would be better. That’s an anti-gay-rights argument right there, and one I don’t agree with. If the competing considerations are (A) “We want to marry Person #3, whom we both love” versus (B) “But if we do, you’ll have to come up with additional regulations involving child custody issues, so never mind”, I think the scale is tipping pretty heavily toward (A).

    Also, gay marriage certain changes many laws involving child custody, property rights, etc. That’s one of the reasons that gay people want the right!

    Meanwhile, have you ever tried untangling a pension dispute where the employee dies, widowing Wife #3, but the most recent paperwork on file with the employer is a document in which Wife #2 signed away all rights to the pension so that the pension could go to husband’s custodial children from Wife #1? I have. It’s not pretty, there’s no default rule, and at least group marriage would make people think about these issues.

    And similarly, polygamy is conducted in a way that is illegal not simply because it is group marriage. The common polygamous practice of “child brides” and incidence of incest is something else to take into consideration.

    This is akin the the “gay people shouldn’t get married because they have lots of sex partners and get AIDS” argument. Some do, some don’t, and even if 90% did, that doesn’t mean that the rest should lose their rights. A law that permitted polygamy would still be free to prohibit child brides, incest, and all the other bad, coercive practices. Meanwhile, the bad stuff tends to thrive because it’s all illegal, and there’s no “decent” way to go about it.

    And, finally…why is is it that these group marriages must be one man marrying several women?

    Assumedly, a law permitting polygamy would be multi-spouse neutral, but most group marriages would still be multi-wived. Assumedly, new traditions might emerge if they were permitted to.

  16. 16
    Kerlyssa says:

    D

    ‘Would it be possible under our current legal system?’ isn’t a valid argument? Allowing polygamous marriage would entail a major change to existing laws, but discussing this change is irrelevant? Then what IS a valid concern? What are you discussing here, if not ‘Can we institute polygamous amrriage as an option?’?

  17. 17
    D says:

    Abolition, women’s property rights, civil rights all required extensive reworking of our legal system. If it’s the right thing to do, having to change some laws shouldn’t be a hold up. If it’s not the right thing to do, then having to change laws to allow it is a non-issue. Legal inertia as an argument for the status quo just seems ridiculous to me.

  18. 18
    paul says:

    Given the long biblical tradition of polygamy, anyone who tries the slippery-slope argument should be logically barred from asserting the “marriage is unalterable” argument.

    Oh, silly me. What does logic have to do with it?

  19. 19
    Kerlyssa says:

    D: No. Slaves were given the rights of freed persons. Women were given the same property rights as men. There is not a non-binary marriage model in our country to work with. This is not about abolishing a seperate, lesser class for polygamous marriage. This is about creating a social and legal contract for them to begin with- a little more complicated than striking ‘between a man and woman’ or ‘between a man and woman not of different races’ from a piece of paper.

  20. 20
    newbie says:

    One argument (slightly strange, but understandable) that links polygamy to gay marriage is this: in a polygamous marriage, there are necessarily at least 2 people of the same gender bound by matrimony. You know, the whole ‘sister-wife’ thing. When looked at this way, gay marriage could conceivably be a stepping stone to polygamy.

    However, this particular argument breaks down when confronted with that old saw “if gay people get married, people will want to marry their DOGS next!” That’s my personal favorite.

  21. 21
    Blitzgal says:

    “Legal inertia as an argument for the status quo just seems ridiculous to me. ”

    That wasn’t the point of this conversation. The point of the above post and my subsequent reply was to refute the idea that “polygamy” and “gay marriage” are completely equal examples of social behavior, and that arguing for gay marriage means that polygamy has to be okay.

  22. 22
    Blitzgal says:

    …or that “gay marriage” is equal to “marrying a box turtle,” or “screwing a dog,” or any other faulty example currently being trotted out by the Family Values posers.

  23. 23
    Kai says:

    in a polygamous marriage, there are necessarily at least 2 people of the same gender bound by matrimony.

    Well, but are they? If I marry one man and then another, does it require consent of the first? Does it establish any legal relationship between the two men, or are there two separate marriages running concurrently?

    You could have a separate definition of group marriage, where all parties are equally married to each other.

  24. 24
    RonF says:

    Polygamy occurs in the Bible. So does adultery, murder, etc. That doesn’t mean that it was approved of. Lots of people in the Bible didn’t meet the standards the Bible sets, even the heros. There are numerous verses in the Bible that say that marriage should only be monogamous – 1 Corinthians 7:2b is one of many, as is Deuteronomy 17:17a.

    I won’t make an argument that polygamy is anti-reproduction. But I wouldn’t hold up a fictional TV drama as proof of anything.

    As far as the definition of marriage goes, I’m curious as to 1) how you can show that marriage has historically been polygamous than monogamous, and 2) what in any case that has to do with the present day.

  25. 25
    Kerlyssa says:

    Except that the tradition from which sister wives springs from is one in which a man has several wives, not one in which the wives are married to each other as well as to the man. The incest factor would trump the homosexual marriage one in that situation anyway.

    Which would be one of the legal questions of polygamy- would it be a marriage in which all participants were married to each other, or one in which an individual married multiple persons? It’s the latter situation, the historic and modern norm, that would wreak havoc on our legal system.

  26. 26
    RonF says:

    What has always struck me when I’ve seen examples of polygamy in present-day America is how often the women involved get married when quite young, even as the male gets to be my age (50+). Someone’s taking advantage of someone there ….

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    Gay individuals are not legally allowed to marry the individual that he or she loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with”“unlike heterosexuals, who are afforded this right as citizens of this country.

    Hm. A common statement that I see used by proponents of homosexual marriage. Blitzgal, please find me a marriage law anywhere in the country that says one word about love. Straight people in the United States are not granted a right to marry someone they love. People love their parents, siblings, and children, after all. Hell, in some states you can’t even marry your first cousin, I believe. Marriage rights in the U.S. are not granted based on the state or even existence of any emotional bond between the two parties involved. Granting same-sex pairs the right to marry based on their love for each other would be granting them rights that straight people don’t have.

  28. 28
    brynn says:

    A common statement that I see used by proponents of homosexual marriage. Blitzgal, please find me a marriage law anywhere in the country that says one word about love. Straight people in the United States are not granted a right to marry someone they love. People love their parents, siblings, and children, after all. Hell, in some states you can’t even marry your first cousin…Granting same-sex pairs the right to marry based on their love for each other would be granting them rights that straight people don’t have.

    Come on! This seems a deliberate misinterpretation of what Blitzgal said. “Love” may not be written into the marriage code, but it’s everywhere else: books, magazines, movies, music, television, radio, the newspaper, you name it! Straight people definitely possess the right to marry the person they love: that it doesn’t always work out that way proves nothing. Likewise, at this time, queer people cannot marry the person they love except in a very few jurisdictions in the world.

  29. 29
    Richard Bellamy says:

    That wasn’t the point of this conversation. The point of the above post and my subsequent reply was to refute the idea that “polygamy” and “gay marriage” are completely equal examples of social behavior, and that arguing for gay marriage means that polygamy has to be okay.

    Certainly not “Completely Equal”, but comparable enough to question what your conception of marriage is that includes one, but excludes the other. My conception of marriage does not include considerations that value administrative convenience, or the fact that some of its practitioners are bad people.

    It is certainly POSSIBLE to come up with distinctions, but the question is whether those distinctions are central enough to your view of marriage to be worthy of drawing the line.

    Back in the 1970s/1980s, when the ERA was being debated, the Rightwingers would argue against it on the grounds that it would lead to gay marriage. Liberals Then did all of the intellectual work for Conservatives Now, stating that the ERA and gay marriage were different, and supporting one didn’t mean you had to support the other, blah blah blah. But of course gender equity and sexual orientation equity are linked, and any differences don’t warrant granting one while withholding the other.

    It is a common theme of Progressives to focus on “The Next Step” of Progress and throw everyone else under the bus.

    In 20 or 30 years, when Gay Marriage is more the norm (if not universal), organized Polyamorists will be fighting for Group Marriage rights, and the Right Wingers won’t have to think on their own again to come up with arguments against it — they’ll just have to Google threads like this one.

  30. 30
    azbballfan says:

    Just having gone through a painful divorce in order to escape a tortuous marriage, my initial reaction was:

    “Let ‘em all get married, so they can experience the same torture as the rest of us.”

    I admit to being guilty of gleefully anticipating the first stories of some horrible gay divorces. Be careful what you wish for.

    That being said, it does seem a bit more unfair to allow polygamy. The misery is easier to take in groups.

    “Why does divorce cost so much? Because it’s worth every penny.”

  31. 31
    NovaTheCat says:

    Widespread polygamy would naturally lead to large numbers of unmarriagable young men, mostly from the underclass. These men without the civilizing influence of women and marriage would drift into crime, violence and unrest, as we have seen in inner cities where women do not marry their “baby daddies”. One solution past societies have used for this is to use these men as cannon fodder or as slaves. This senario is not consistant with a civil democratic society. Often, as polygamous countries modernize, the numbers of polygamous marriages decreases and eventually polygamy is no longer practiced.
    Besides this arguement, there is the real issue of exploitation and degradation of women, taking of child brides (child sex abuse), physical, psychological abuse, and imprisonment, as seen in some offshoot sects of Mormonism.

    This is why polygamy is wrong.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-sect12may12,0,3267921.story?coll=la-home-headlines

  32. 32
    Kerlyssa says:

    Nice. Instead of addressing the points, berate the poster for doing the Right’s job for them 30 years from now.

  33. 33
    Richard Bellamy says:

    Widespread polygamy would naturally lead to large numbers of unmarriagable young men, mostly from the underclass. These men without the civilizing influence of women and marriage would drift into crime, violence and unrest,

    Again, be careful whether you actually want to back up the arguments you are making, or whether they are just arguments that you are making to support a distinction that you want to make in order to make gay marriage seem more palatable.

    Far from “doing the Right’s job for them 30 years from now,” you’re doing it today, where identical arguments are being made against the “Culture of Death” (i.e., abortion), where gender selection abortions are leading to millions of “extra” unmarriageable men.

    http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=627

    Is unmarriageable men a solid argument for abortion restrictions? If not, then maybe it’s not a good argument against polygamy either.

  34. 34
    azbballfan says:

    These men without the civilizing influence of women and marriage would drift into crime, violence and unrest, as we have seen in inner cities where women do not marry their “baby daddies”.

    Am I the only person who feels offended by this? Is this the result of mixing a little strawfeminism with patriarchal norms?

  35. 35
    brynn says:

    These men without the civilizing influence of women and marriage would drift into crime, violence and unrest, as we have seen in inner cities where women do not marry their “baby daddies”.

    Yep, bothered me, too. It’s a simplistic, sexist (blame moms, not dads or society), classist and racist (“inner city” is code for “poor, black”) premise.

    In societies, such as those in Scandinavia, where single mothers and their children are provided with generous support–daycare, housing, healthcare, and decent education–there is absolutely no correlation between unmarried mothers and “crime, violence and unrest.” This strongly suggests that, contrary to popular right-wing opinion in the US, unmarried mothers are not responsible for society’s steady decline. Rather, government tax and spending policies that have led to the de-funding and willful destruction of federal, state and local social support services, public education, housing for the poor, etc. are. Along with substituting the “war on poverty” with the (fascist-leaning) “war on drugs.”

    In any argument, it’s critical to distinguish between correlation and causation.

  36. 36
    brynn says:

    Let me rephrase my last sentence: Along with replacing the “war on poverty” with the (fascist-leaning) “war on drugs.”

    Just woke up over here on the other side of the world and am not at my sharpest… ;)

  37. 37
    D says:

    Kerlyssa: My understanding of history seems to be rather different than yours. Slaves were not simply given full rights of freepersons, women were not simply given full rights as men. These were long drawn out changes that involved several large scale changes to laws, requiring the civil rights movement and rise of feminism. But, even if legalization of polygamy did require a complete restructuring of our legal system that would take years, would you say it wasn’t worth it if legalizing polygamy was the right thing to do? If you say yes, then we have rather different values. I think the discussion should be about if polygamy is right, not about the legal changes necessary to institute it if it is found to be right.

    Blitz: You touched upon the idea that an argument against polygamy would be the legal changes necessary, which is why I tagged your post as well. I agree with the rest of your post.

    To reply to some other comments: When discussing polygamy it is important to understand it would include both 1 man and 2+ women, 1 woman and 2+ men arrangements, as well as, I believe, any potential mix of genders and sexualities. I would say that all parties involved would have to consent to the arrangement; otherwise it would be no different than adultery. Of course, based upon what I just said, it would be necessary to legalize gay marriage first, which should be done anyways because it’s the correct thing to do. And as is the larger point of the discussion, that does not have any bearing on whether legalizing polygamy would be the right thing to do.

    I’m not sure where this conversation should be going. It seems to be diverging from why SSM is a separate issue from polygamy and becoming a discussion on whether polygamy should or should not be legalized.

  38. 38
    Josh Jasper says:

    Unlike monogamous same sex marriages, the paperwork and court work involved with a polygamous divorce with children from multiple partners would be spectacular.

    That’s not an argument saying it should be banned for that reason, but it would require a totaly different legal framework than monogamous marriage. I don’t thnk there’s any way around that.

    Personally, I’m more in favor of creating a set of contracts outside of the standard marriage contract that would allow for multiple adulsts in the same household to deal with things in case of a divorce/split, but I see no reason to grant full-on marrige to polyamorous households. It’s too complicated.

  39. 39
    Elena says:

    I think polygamy probably dissapears on it’s own once women are educated and have a little power. It’s just not in a woman’s best interest to share her family wealth with other women and their children. What’s in it for her? Tthe man presumably gets to have a little sexual variety in a religiously accepted way, even if he then also has to support more people. Or maybe he sees it as getting more servants. But what’s in it for a woman that she couldn’t get more of with a monogamous marriage?

  40. 40
    Kerlyssa says:

    Are you talking about polyamory or polygamy? Because, like I said, marriage is a legal contract. Thus discussing the legalities of it makes every bit of sense. Discussing whether or not it is moral for three or more people to love each other is a related issue, but not exactly the same. You can’t say ‘polyamory is correct, therefore polygamy is correct’ because marriage involves parental, financial and guardianship issues which are drastically changed by the addition of a third person.

    It is not an apt comparison to compare to the suffrage and civil rights movements, where rights were fought for to move towards equality with an already existing privileged class, as I have not seen a proposal yet for a marriage system in which polygamy would be equal to a two person marriage- the very nature of a three person arrangement precludes it. It either infringes upon a person’s rights in ways that don’t occur in a two person marriage, or it grants additional rights to a eprson. Not equality.

    You say you want me to state whether or not legalizing polygamy is correct. I respond you need to tell me what law you’re proposing. You say the proposed law is irrelevant to whether or not the proposed law should be passed. Impasse.

  41. 41
    Elena says:

    Another problem with plural marriages, economically speaking, is inheritance issues. Does a person’s patrimony include wealth from bio parents, or the non-bio parents as well?

  42. 42
    D says:

    Kerlyssa: We seem to be on completely different pages. The point I’ve been trying to make is simply that if society decides something (in this case that something would be polygamy, however exactly you wish to define it) should be legal, then the drudgery of formalizing that into written law should not be a deterrent from doing so. My own ideas of what should or should not constitute polygamy notwithstanding.

  43. 43
    Josh Jasper says:

    Elena, polygamoy may well dissapear, but my spose happens to enjoy having a long term girlfriend, and I’m not particularly threatened by that. I wasn’t threatend by her boyfriend, even though he made a great deal more money than I do.

    You seem to be figuring that that’s a reason why a woman would want a man in the first place. I find that abandoning the economic disparities makes for more or a reason to consider an open relationship on an equal footing.

  44. 44
    Robert says:

    But what’s in it for a woman that she couldn’t get more of with a monogamous marriage?

    Access to a higher-status male than she could ordinarily reproduce with, access to better economic resources than she could ordinarily get ahold of, a higher standard of living and comfort, and a stabler family environment for protecting her children. (“Even if I die, my children will still have mothers.”)

    Under harsh conditions and where male economic contributions have primacy, polygamy probably makes good racial sense – optimize the reproduction of the men who are having the most success under the existing conditions. Under ordinary or benevolent conditions the huge negative consequences of this form of social organization far outweigh that benefit, IMHO.

  45. 45
    Brandon Berg says:

    Brynn:
    What is the basis for your claim that in Scandinavia, “there is absolutely no correlation between unmarried mothers and ‘crime, violence and unrest.’” I assume you mean by that that children who live with only their mothers are no more likely than children who live with both parents are no more likely to engage in violent crime?

    Also, what is the basis for your claim regarding the “de-funding and willful destruction of federal, state and local social support services, public education, housing for the poor, etc.?”

    Suffice it to say that I have a healthy dose of skepticism regarding both claims, especially the latter.

    Even supposing for the sake of argument that the ill effects of raising a child in a single-parent home could be mitigated entirely by forcibly redistributing sufficient quantities of wealth, this hardly means that single mothers are blameless. There’s still a very real cost to providing these subsidies, and society is ultimately much better off when children are born into stable, two-parent families that don’t need these subsidies.

    It takes a very strange notion of responsibility to blame those who don’t do enough (in your opinion) to fix the problem before you blame those who cause it.

    Robert:
    Regarding that “even if I die” thing, I wonder how well a woman could expect her husband’s other wives to take care of her children in the event of her death. From an evolutionary perspective, it doesn’t seem like something into which you’d want to put a whole lot of effort, but then, neither does adoption in general, so who knows? It’d be interesting to see how this has traditionally worked out in polygynous societies.

  46. 46
    Josh Jasper says:

    Under harsh conditions and where male economic contributions have primacy, polygamy probably makes good racial sense – optimize the reproduction of the men who are having the most success under the existing conditions.

    Eugenicize much, Robert?

  47. 47
    Robert says:

    Eugenicize much, Robert?

    Let’s leave that argument to our grandchildren to conduct.

  48. 48
    RonF says:

    “In societies, such as those in Scandinavia, where single mothers and their children are provided with generous support”“daycare, housing, healthcare, and decent education”“there is absolutely no correlation between unmarried mothers and “crime, violence and unrest.””

    So the answer to dealing with the situation of people making the irresponsible choice of having children without the resources to pay for them is to take money from people that have made responsible choices?

    I think it’s very unwise public policy to reward or enable bad choices. It’s not the job of the State to fund raising children.

  49. 49
    RonF says:

    I don’t think so, brynn. Blitzgal said:

    Gay individuals are not legally allowed to marry the individual that he or she loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with”“unlike heterosexuals, who are afforded this right as citizens of this country. But it should be clear that’s what I meant.

    If this doesn’t mean that straights are afforded the right to marry someone they love based on that love, then what’s the point? If the legal right to marry someone is based on certain legal criteria that have nothing to do with love (which it is), then what does the fact that people are free to take love into account when making a personal marriage decisions form a logical arguement for changing those criteria?

  50. 50
    brynn says:

    Brandon, your question is valid. I read the data at UC Berkeley in the late 1980′s and cannot cite the source. In the future, I’ll qualify such statements with, “in my opinion.”

    Were I able to cite titles and authors, however, I doubt it would end our debate. Your statement,

    It takes a very strange notion of responsibility to blame those who don’t do enough (in your opinion) to fix the problem before you blame those who cause it.

    indicates a readiness to blame single-mothers for much which, in my opinion, is out of their control.

    Or are you saying that factors such as racism, gender-based wage disparities, expensive or non-existent daycare, lack of affordable housing, an historic global transformation in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and employment, meteoric increases in American healthcare costs concurrent with no affordable health insurance, failing public schools, and the so-called “war on drugs” which treats a health problem as a crime all have nothing to do with rates of crime in America? Do you believe the fact that many parents, including married parents, are compelled by falling real wages and rising costs to work more than 40 hours/week, often leaving young children to fend on their own, has no effect on families?

    Are single-mothers to blame for these and other social ills?

    More importantly, though, crime rates have been falling steadily at least since 1991 in the US, though incarceration rates have not, giving America the dubious distinction of being “number one” in the world for prisoners per capita. And this at a time when a major rallying point for conservatives has been the decline in the family, blamed most often on single-mothers and lgbt folk.

    Just what responsibility does society at large share in the raising of the next generation? Judging from neoconservative rhetoric and policies, I’d say they believe the answer is none. In my opinion, that’s not only immoral but foolish.

  51. 51
    brynn says:

    RonF,

    I wish I could believe you’re being sarcastic, making a sly statement on the sad state of marriages in the US. Unfortunately, however, I believe you’re willfully misreading the statement.

    How’s this? In the US, love-based marriages are a subset of legal heterosexual marriages.

    With the exception of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, legal gay marriages do not even constitute a set, love-based or otherwise, in 49 states of the union.

    That’s the clear intent of the statement.

    The fact that loveless marriages exist–or even predominate in America–is irrelevant.

  52. 52
    brynn says:

    It’s not the job of the State to fund raising children.

    You substantiated my point, even as I was writing it.

    The selfishness and short-sightedness of your statement stuns me. Our children are our future. Without succeeding generations, human culture vanishes. To say that “the State” has no role in raising children is akin to saying the state has no role in nurturing or influencing the future.

    Do you believe in the abolition of the state? To be replaced by what? If not, what is the reason to band together with other humans?

  53. 53
    Robert says:

    To say that “the State” has no role in raising children is akin to saying the state has no role in nurturing or influencing the future.

    I would basically agree with that. Why would you want the state – an instrument to control and legitimize lethal force – to determine the future?

    People – society – should determine the future, through the vector sum of our individual actions and preferences. The state is merely one of the tools we use to make our lives more comfortable, safer, etc. It’s not in charge.

    Accordingly, the state’s role in raising children is similarly constrained. Recall the principle of ownership – what I pay for, I own. If the state is paying for children…

    I prefer a vision where the state is subordinate to the society, not the other way around.

  54. 54
    brynn says:

    what I pay for, I own.

    Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?

    Reminds me of a time I was hitchhiking in Israel, many years ago. An older American couple was stranded in a roadside turn-out, their rental car with a flat. Several Israeli solders and other hitchhikers, myself included, helped them change the tire. The spirit was upbeat, cheerful, lots of smiles and laughter despite the limited verbal communication due to lack of shared language.

    At the end, just before they got into the car and departed, the American guy took out his wallet and offered each of us money. No one took any; his gesture shattered the good mood and camaraderie. Then the couple got into the car and drove off, without offering any of us a ride.

    My embarrassment at being American that day is nothing compared to what I feel now, due largely to people in the US government who seem to share the attitude expressed in your post.

  55. 55
    Robert says:

    The US government?

    Try the US population.

    Boulder and Berkeley aside, you’re not likely to find much demographic depth among people who don’t think that paying for something means you own it. And you won’t find too many people who think that the state ought to be the engine of progress, either.

    Thank God.

  56. 56
    brynn says:

    The US government?

    Try the US population.

    Funny, I thought the US government was the people. As in, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…” And look at that, it even mentions justice, general welfare and our posterity.

  57. 57
    Robert says:

    Funny, I thought the US government was the people.

    Other way around.

  58. 58
    Ampersand says:

    Funny, I thought the US government was the people.

    Other way around.

    The people thought the US goverment was funny?

  59. 59
    Robert says:

    The people thought the US goverment was funny?

    Heck, just tune into C-SPAN. It’s a laugh riot.

  60. 60
    brynn says:

    Heck, just tune into C-SPAN. It’s a laugh riot.

    Perhaps that’s something we can all agree upon.

  61. 61
    B says:

    Brandon,

    Actually, all children in Sweden have the right to subsidised kindergarten care. All parents, single or not, wealthy or not, are also given a monthly stipend to help support each child from date of birth until their eighteenth birthday. Parents with children as well as young people are also usually eligible for housing stipends.

    As far as I know about thirty percent of children here have married parents. Still we have found no correlation whatsoever between crime, violence et.c. and single parents and their children.

    The correlation is with poverty and unemployment and crime, illness and so on. Our high taxes and social welfare helps prevent this and is actually a very cheap way to get a flourishing society.

  62. 62
    RonF says:

    No, I don’t think I’m misreading anything. It seems to me that an argument is being presented that because heterosexual couples who love each other can marry, but same sex couples can’t, this consititutes illegal discrimination against same sex couples. But marriage is legally defined as the union of heterosexual couples (with the odd exception of Massachusetts, where only 7 or 9 people got to vote on it) and emotion has no legal standing. So talking about who loves who is irrelevant from a legal discussion.

  63. 63
    RonF says:

    Funny, I thought the US government was the people. As in, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…” And look at that, it even mentions justice, general welfare and our posterity.

    Let’s finish the quote:

    … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    The people of the U.S. thus decreed that the Constitution should be the fundamental law on which the governance of the country would be established. The people are not the government. The people are OVER the government. They established it. In an age when other governments were established under the authority of a soverign who claimed that his or her authority stemmed from a grant from God, that he or she was the government, and that the people were subject to them, this was a radical concept.

    And that central concept – that the government was subject to the people, not the other way around – was what would “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”

    What the State funds, the State owns. Ask anyone who runs an organization that takes State money about how much the State thereby gains control. If the State funds raising children, the State gains control of how those children are raised. This is not a good thing. What the State subsidizes the State also encourages. When it comes to subsidizing single parenting vs. not subsidizing couples’ parenting, this is definitely not a good thing.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that people who are single parents should not be helped. It just means that I’m not clear that the State is the best way of doing it.

  64. 64
    brynn says:

    …marriage is legally defined as the union of heterosexual couples…and emotion has no legal standing. So talking about who loves who is irrelevant from a legal discussion.

    I agree.

    …heterosexual couples who love each other can marry, but same sex couples can’t, this consititutes [sic] illegal discrimination against same sex couples.

    Agree again.

    So, why are we arguing?

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  66. 65
    brynn says:

    The people of the U.S. thus decreed that the Constitution should be the fundamental law on which the governance of the country would be established. The people are not the government. The people are OVER the government. They established it. In an age when other governments were established under the authority of a soverign [sic] who claimed that his or her authority stemmed from a grant from God, that he or she was the government, and that the people were subject to them, this was a radical concept.

    I stand corrected.

    I don’t believe your clarification goes to the heart of our disagreement, however. I do believe the American government, composed of duly elected representatives, should be an “engine of progress.” And I would say, judging from the idealistic words of the preamble, the framers of the Constitution believed likewise. Moreover, establishing justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense, general welfare, and the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity are concrete objectives that require the means to achieve them. Means such as courts, police, a militia and, in my opinion, public schools, transportation and communications networks, hospitals, and so forth.

    As for “not subsidizing couples’ parenting,” I’ve never advocated that.

    And finally, back to the principle of ownership. “If the State funds raising children, the State gains control of how those children are raised. This is not a good thing.” On the contrary, I believe the existence or absence of publicly subsidized housing, daycare, education, healthcare and other benefits make no difference in how much control the state exercises or doesn’t exercise over our children. It is the nature of the institutions that determine the control or relative freedom. The state could install surveillance on every family within its borders without funding an iota of social services and exercise tremendous control over children. Likewise, it could establish an independent, well-funded system to educate children while exercising minimal control, such as over immunizations, curriculum, etc. Institutions may constitute a means of repressive control, but that is not inherent in their existence.

    Is it the issue of curriculum that offends? Then chose private school. Or home-school your children. A well-funded public educational system does not preclude other options for those who chose to opt out.

  67. 66
    bradana says:

    The problem with marriage is that we have taken a social/religious construct and imbued it with legal status. Because that legal status is not applied equally it is prejudiced. Not only does this deny legal and financial benefits to gays, it denies those benefits to anyone else who does not choose to or is not in a position to marry someone of the opposite sex.

    On the other hand, I, as a straight woman, and my best friend, a gay man, can get married and can partake of a series of legal benefits that we would otherwise be denied. Those benefits come from both the public sector (tax, property and inheritance rights) and private (employer benefits). All of this is legal. So is Britney Spears’ 55 hour quickie Vegas wedding. However my friend cannot marry his boyfriend of 5 years because they are both men.

    Marriage in the sense that we understand it today is a contract between a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation. We have allowed that definition to become a class of citizenship, and to some it takes on a special power that they do not want tarnished. And they assume that this is the optimal state, if not of life, at least for raising children.

    Being married is not a guarantee that parents will always be able to support their children. Our government subsidizes parenting all the time in the form of public education, earned income tax credit, exemptions for dependents, and any number of public works. We also subsidize marriages in the hopes that they will promote children. But we don’t take away the benefits if a marriage does not produce children, and we don’t deny the opportunity to post-menopausal or infertile couples.

    Just gays and anyone else who doesn’t want get married.

    P.S. it occurs to me that I didn’t state my alternative. We can redefine the contract as something like “next of kin” or civil union or whatever. Something neutral that says “this is the person who I share my financial/legal benefits with.” Although, if our government provided for the health and welfare of citizens, then all we’d be talking about is property and inheritance rights.

  68. 67
    RonF says:

    Reread the context of my comment. What I’m saying is that comparing the marriage rights of heterosexual couples who love each other to the marriage rights of homosexual couples who love each other is irrelevant, since marriage rights are not based on whether or not the couples love each other.

  69. 68
    RonF says:

    “in order to form a more perfect union, … and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”, the Constitution was established. However, that doesn’t mean that it was to be the primary means of doing this. There are many other ways and means to work towards these ends. The Constitution is only one of them, meant to only affect certain specific issues – those of our form of government. And the main principle there was to make the government’s power to affect our lives as limited as possible, leaving the main responsibility for the objectives named in that Preamble, and for things such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the people, not the State.

  70. 69
    Robert says:

    Exactly what Ron said.

    Note that we ordain the Constitution – not the state.

    The state is a tool. The Constitution is an end.

  71. 70
    brynn says:

    And the main principle there was to make the government’s power to affect our lives as limited as possible, leaving the main responsibility for the objectives named in that Preamble, and for things such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the people, not the State.

    Exactly what Ron said.

    In your opinions.

    My opinion differs.

    I believe our respective opinions reside roughly at the two opposing poles of political opinion on these issues in the US at this time. I think we’ll simply have to agree to disagree.

  72. 71
    Brandon Berg says:

    Brynn:
    What I am saying is that having children when you are young, single, and lacking in marketable skills makes it >dramatically more likely that you will live in poverty. In the vast majority of cases, poverty can be avoided simply by not having children until you can afford them. I trust we can agree on that much.

    Maybe coming from a young, single-parent family is an independent factor in criminality, and maybe it isn’t. Let’s suppose that the effect can be explained entirely by poverty. The fact remains that when women choose to have children they can’t afford, this contributes to crime by causing poverty.

    Assuming again that coming from a single-parent family is significant only as a proxy for poverty, there are two ways to mitigate this. One is to take lots of money from taxpayers to give to poor families. This has a few drawbacks:

    1. It’s expensive.
    2. It encourages people to have children they can’t afford.
    3. If it’s means-tested, it discourages work.

    The other option is to discourage people from having children they can’t afford. Putting aside for a moment questions of feasibility, can we at least agree that, all else being equal, people choosing not to have children until they can afford them is a much better state of affairs than one in which taxpayers have to subsidize childbearing?

  73. 72
    Brandon Berg says:

    B:
    Still we have found no correlation whatsoever between crime, violence et.c. and single parents and their children.

    But how do you know this? I’ve heard people on the other side claim that coming from a single-parent home is the single most important factor, swamping things like race and socioeconomic status. Why should I believe you and not them?

    Brynn:
    A well-funded public educational system does not preclude other options for those who chose to opt out.

    It doesn’t preclude other options in any absolute sense, but it does make private school less affordable due to the tax burden necessary to fund government schools. It also increases the marginal cost of private school over public school as compared to what it would be if public schools were financed partly or fully by tuition (private tution minus nothing is greater than private tuition minus something).

  74. 73
    RonF says:

    brynn, the idea that a government’s rights and powers should be limited to explicit statements of what it is are allowed is central to the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the whole thing is carefully structured so that the three branches of government are named, their powers spelled out, and an ability for each one to check the other is written in.

    But even then, the paramountcy of the rights of the individual was still thought to be insufficiently recognized. To that end, the Bill of Rights was added; to make sure that the Federal government’s powers were explicitly limited and that those of the State governments and individuals were to be paramount. Note especially the statements of the 9th and 10th amendments, whose intents are to be sure that the rights and powers of the Federal government were limited to those explicitly spelled out, and that all others were reserved to the States and the people.

    In the United States of America, the primary responsibility for guaranteeing an individual’s welfare is the individual, not the government. If the population decides to delegate to the government with certain functions that will further individual welfare (armies, roads, etc.), then fine. But delegating authority for certain functions to the government doesn’t relieve the individuals from their responsibility for themselves. We do not live in a Socialist state, we live in a Federal republic. The government is subordinate to the people; that means – that must mean – that the people are responsible for their own welfare, their own lives and liberty, and for obtaining the means to make them secure.

  75. 74
    brynn says:

    RonR and Brandon Berg,

    Once again, I agree with much of your interpretations of the Constitution. It’s when you start interpreting the interpretation, such as this:

    In the United States of America, the primary responsibility for guaranteeing an individual’s welfare is the individual, not the government. If the population decides to delegate to the government with certain functions that will further individual welfare (armies, roads, etc.), then fine. But delegating authority for certain functions to the government doesn’t relieve the individuals from their responsibility for themselves. We do not live in a Socialist state,

    that we part ways. Your interpretation of the founders’ intent, the rights and responsibilities of individuals, government’s role in taxes and spending on social programs, the military, roads, etc., and other issues we’ve gotten into here are informed by your political beliefs, just as mine are. We’ve reached an impasse where we’re arguing semantics. I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine because we’re operating from fundamentally opposing basic assumptions and beliefs.

    In a way, it comes down to faith. For example, you can have faith in the marketplace, a government small enough to “drown it in the bathtub,” unfettered corporate power, and so forth. Or you can have faith that government, with proper oversight, can play a beneficial and much-needed role in education, social welfare, health insurance, housing, etc.

    I’ve taken this as far as I want at this point.

  76. 75
    RonF says:

    government small enough to “drown it in the bathtub,”

    Never heard that phrase. Where’s it come from? Or did you come up with it yourself.

    unfettered corporate power

    Are you making the presumption that people who think that government should be limited also belief in “unfettered corporat power”? Don’t be so quick to presume stereotypes if you don’t want people to presume them about you. Unless you can quote a post about me that shows I support such.

    Or you can have faith that government, with proper oversight, can play a beneficial and much-needed role in education, social welfare, health insurance, housing, etc.

    No human agency deserves my faith. Strike that, and I can agree with the rest of the sentence. But that doesn’t mean that said beneficial role still shouldn’t be limited. And then there’s the question of “proper oversight”; good in theory, but it has been quite difficult in practice to achieve.

  77. 76
    brynn says:

    Don’t be so quick to presume stereotypes if you don’t want people to presume them about you. Unless you can quote a post about me that shows I support such.

    Apologies, I was using “you” in the sense of “one,” such as “one can believe.” I thought the “For example,” would make that clear.

    The bathtub quote is from Grover Norquist, an architect of Neocon economic theory.

  78. 77
    RonF says:

    Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification.

    “Faith” is generally defined as “belief in the absence of evidence” – at least, scientific or material evidence. Unfortunately, at least here in Illinois, there’s plenty of evidence about the quality of oversight common in governmental affairs. It’s expressed in the parade of office holders and their minions entering the gates of the state’s correctional institutions; most recently including the immediate past governor of Illinois, who if sentenced to the maximum for his offenses is unlikely to finish his days outside of prison.

    I suppose it’s possible to properly oversee the government to the extent that it can be trusted to play a dominant role in various social functions, but I have yet to see it actually happen in practice. A study of history will show that no one who has ever lived in Illinois from it’s formation ever has either, and I doubt (admittedly from my perspective, which may differ from yours) that any of my descendents ever will, either.

  79. 78
    Robert says:

    I suppose it’s possible to properly oversee the government to the extent that it can be trusted to play a dominant role in various social functions, but I have yet to see it actually happen in practice.

    Sweden manages to be relatively non-corrupt despite an everywhere-government (“erection to resurrection”). There are some interesting speculations about how; one factor is certainly the culture of transparency they have going on. Everything the government does is scrutinized with interest. (PJ O’Rourke has an amusing tale of seeing a sewage main being laid in Stockholm, complete with dozens of kiosks showing the budget figures, architectural drawings, engineering schematics, etc. of the project, each of which had its own little cluster of amiable Swedes reading it.)

  80. 79
    brynn says:

    I suppose it’s possible to properly oversee the government to the extent that it can be trusted to play a dominant role in various social functions, but I have yet to see it actually happen in practice.

    I agree, the current federal government is a poor example. (Don’t know enough about Illinois state politics, I’m afraid.)

    We’ve gone from the Pentagon’s $436 hammer in the 1980′s, to today’s $150,000/year private security contractor in Iraq (vs. $19,980/year for a US Army corporal). My understanding of the rationale for privatisation was that competition would lead to lower costs and greater efficiency. Real life examples seem to contradict this. Likewise, neither the present US government nor the private sector seem particularly adept nor trustworthy at oversight.

    I favor Robert’s example: transparency and an involved citizenry.

  81. 80
    nobody.really says:

    A study of history will show that no one who has ever lived in Illinois from its formation ever has [enjoyed uncorrupted governance], and I doubt (admittedly from my perspective, which may differ from yours) that any of my descendents ever will, either.

    I hope to be buried in Chicago; I wanna stay politically active.

  82. 81
    Brandon Berg says:

    Brynn:

    Don’t confuse contracting out government work with privatization—the two are radically different. Contracting does nothing to address the broken incentive structures faced by government agents, so it’s still vulnerable to cronyism and inadequate quality control. The failures of government contracting tell us nothing whatsoever about the merits of true privatization, which means cutting government out of the picture altogether.

    Also, I doubt very much that Grover Norquist is the architect of any economic theory. He may have contributed to designing some set of policy goals, but I don’t think he’s made any original contributions to economic thought.

  83. 82
    Robert says:

    Grover Norquist is a political strategist (and a somewhat discredited one, these days – nobody I know listens to him anymore). I suppose that wanting to shrink the federal government (to the point at which it can be “drowned in a bathtub”) could be construed as an “economic theory”, but not by me.

  84. 83
    brynn says:

    Wikopedia: After earning an MBA from Harvard, “Norquist became executive director of both the National Taxpayers Union and the national College Republicans organization, holding both positions until 1983. He was an economist and chief speech writer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from 1983 to 1984.
    Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, and has headed the organization ever since….Norquist is one of the so-called “Gang of Five” identified in Nina Easton’s 2000 book by that name, which gives a history of leaders of the modern conservative movement. He has been described as “a thumb-in-the-eye radical rightist” (The Nation), and “Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a soupçon of Madame Defarge” (P.J. O’Rourke). Norquist’s page on the web site of Americans for Tax Reform includes a laudatory quote about him from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.” and so on…

    He may not have conceived the ideas, but he has done much to advance them. Perhaps strategist is more appropriate?

    As for privatise: Dictionary.com: pri·va·tize:”To change (an industry or business, for example) from governmental or public ownership or control to private enterprise…” I don’t believe cutting government out of the picture ALTOGETHER is obligatory. Contracting jobs, such as laundry, food prep, digging latrines, and driving support convoys, which were formerly performed by government employees (soldiers) to private companies, to be performed by non-government employees, may not constitute the purest form of privatization, but I believe it is privatization nonetheless.

  85. 84
    Tuomas says:

    On corruption, here’s a link for y’all:

    It seems that Big Government does not necessarily equal corrupt govenment, as all Nordic countries rate especially well.

  86. 85
    Brandon Berg says:

    Brynn:
    Strategist is fine. My point is that the economic theory that tells us why we should make government small enough to drown in a bathtub preceded Norquist. This isn’t just something that one person cooked up.

    Regarding privatization, you can call government contracting “privatization” if it makes you feel better. But you cannot then draw from this the conclusion that the private sector works no better than government. The problem with contracting is that government, not consumers, is still ultimately calling the shots, which means that contracting can’t provide many of the benefits of true privatization.

    Tuomas:
    This is just perception of corruption. I wonder how much of this has to do with actual corruption, and how much is simply ideology.

  87. 86
    Tuomas says:

    This is just perception of corruption. I wonder how much of this has to do with actual corruption, and how much is simply ideology.

    Well, you can use that argument always, now can you? I don’t see the ideology there — it does not claim anything about Big Government either way (I would say that it makes sense that big, bureaucratic government is more likely to be corrupt. I personally think that cultural factors and involved and educated citizenry are causes for Nordic high scores, and perhaps the fact that these countries which did best are small pseudo-socialist countries. France didn’t do particularly well, for example. ).

    “That’s just ideology” works equally well both ways. I wonder how much of your wonderment is genuine wonder and how much is simpy ideology.

  88. 87
    Brandon Berg says:

    No, you can’t always use that argument. For example, you wouldn’t be able to use it if they had used some objective measure of corruption, rather than just asking people about their perceptions.

    In the US, mistrusting the government is an integral part of our culture. In Scandinavia, it seems to be the opposite. That this may have accounted for some of the difference in perceptions of corruption seems like a fairly reasonable hypothesis. Or it could be that their government really is more trustworthy.

    I’m perfectly open to the proposition that government can be big without being “corrupt” in the usual sense of the word. I’ve long maintained that the damage politicians do under the cover of night is insignificant compared to the damage done by the things they brag about in their campaign speeches.

  89. 88
    Tuomas says:

    No, you can’t always use that argument. For example, you wouldn’t be able to use it if they had used some objective measure of corruption, rather than just asking people about their perceptions.

    Certainly it would be better, if such objective measurement would exist. I still fail to see how their methodology (asking business people and experts) proves an agenda, unless, of course, they select people who would provide a desired result.

    But then again, I fail to see what agenda does finding Iceland noncorrupt and Chad corrupt really advance.

    In the US, mistrusting the government is an integral part of our culture. In Scandinavia, it seems to be the opposite. That this may have accounted for some of the difference in perceptions of corruption seems like a fairly reasonable hypothesis. Or it could be that their government really is more trustworthy.

    Dunno if Scandinavians trust the government really that much (as much as Americans mistrust it) — it might be that since there is no truism of government=untrustworthy that people actually expect and demand more of it.

    It also seems to be reasonable to hypothize, as I have done, that the fact that these are rather small and rather culturally homogenous countries that there is usually greater consensus* about issues, and various interest groups are usually reduced to various Labor Unions and their employee counterparts.

    Cultural homogenuity could explain much of the perceptions, at least, a conservative southern gun-owner won’t be happy in the U.S with a liberal democrat as a head of state, and vice versa for a Boston liberal (and both will scream at the top of their lungs about the current intrusive government if it pushes laws that do not agree with certain stereotypical political positions that they would hold, about gun control or abortion, for example). Whereas the difference between someone from Helsinki and a farmer from Eastern Finland wouldn’t be as pronounced, and the interests wouldn’t be so opposite.

    One difference is the State/Federal Government thing, for one, and the issue on how much independence States should have.

    I have a point hidden in all that — it is that since America is so diverse it wouldn’t work with a big and intrusive government, and since Iceland is so small and homogenous, it can have it (with keeping government in check). Russia (formerly USSR), for example, “would” fail spectacularly if they tried to have big, intrusive government.

    * I’m not sure if this is good thing. The major political parties have so ridiculously similar platforms that a cynic would think that there are no viable alternatives. Certainly American politics seems much more polarized.

  90. 89
    Tuomas says:

    Russia (formerly USSR), for example, “would” fail spectacularly if they tried to have big, intrusive government.

    And by implementing Marxist economics in full (the failure).

  91. 90
    Brandon Berg says:

    I wasn’t saying that the people who took the surveys had an agenda; I meant that the responses might have been skewed by pro- or anti-government ideology.

  92. 91
    Tuomas says:

    I wasn’t saying that the people who took the surveys had an agenda; I meant that the responses might have been skewed by pro- or anti-government ideology.

    Okay. Then, I actually agree (sorry for the misunderstanding).

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