Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Today, the Houston Chronicle published an article titled, "Marrriage Class Law Has Counselor in its Corner", as a follow-up to the recent "accidental" passage of a law that imposes penalties on couples who do not take marriage counseling classes before they wed.
The article is remarkable for two things. First, it shows the depths to which the conservatives have sunk in their attempts to take over the welfare state. Second, it exposes the left as just as eager to pander to religionists as the right!
Consider the desultory way the article introduces its topic, treating prescriptive law the way papers once reported on the weather -- as something man is powerless to change. That isn't terribly surprising coming from a major media outlet, which is to say, from the left.
Nor is it surprising that the paper would also let a supporter of this law get away with holding it out as capitalism. After all, the left -- accidentally sounding correct regarding this law -- feels that this law is bad. It also feels that capitalism is bad, so why not conflate the two?
The marriage bill might be the most obvious example of "nanny state" efforts to affect behavior, which traditionally have been associated with liberal Democrats. Other such laws, passed by the majority-Republican Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, take aim at such "deadly sins" as gluttony and sloth.Yeah. And one could say that the National Socialists in Germany "created demand" for train tickets. What an exciting time that must have been to run a railroad! Once again, the idea of a market arising in response to the government violating the rights of the people it should be protecting may look a little like capitalism, but it is not, in fact, capitalism.
[Tim] Louis and others likely to teach marriage education classes argue that it's proper for government to nudge couples into instruction that could improve their lives and benefit potential children by decreasing the number of single-parent families.
It's also good for business.
"The exciting thing about this bill is it creates demand," said Louis, a senior vice president at Family Services of Greater Houston. "I suspect there will be a lot of interest in people offering this particular type of service where before there was no demand for it." [bold added]
And just in case you thought that this man, being a businessman, was an outlier among the conservatives, and that his desire to have people accept this law as a legitimate part of a free-market economy was confusion on his part, recall this:
The marriage bill might be the most obvious example of "nanny state" efforts to affect behavior, which traditionally have been associated with liberal Democrats. Other such laws, passed by the majority-Republican Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, take aim at such "deadly sins" as gluttony and sloth. [bold added]And get a load of this:
The government has an interest in promoting marriage and discouraging divorce, Louis and his contemporaries say, because broken marriages often lead to poverty and greater reliance on social programs.Got all that? The conservatives are quite happy to accept as time-honored precedent various leftist initiatives when doing so will give them cover to impose their religious dictates on the public. And, in case you were wondering, opposition to large welfare expenditures does not equal support of capitalism, principled opposition to the welfare state, or even a desire to shrink the welfare state.
Michael Smalley, a clinical psychologist at Smalley Marriage and Family Center in The Woodlands, said government has long encouraged healthy behavior in other realms.
He points to "click it or ticket" seat-belt campaigns, "no swimming" signs and anti-smoking efforts. [bold added]
But where things really get interesting is the feeble voice raised in "opposition" to this law -- and from which direction it can be heard:
That kind of talk that makes people like Kathy Miller, director of the Texas Freedom Network, nervous about government's interest in private lives."It really does start to look like a nanny state or a busybody state." Yawn. Is this really the best anyone can do? Where is the moral indignation over rights being trampled underfoot? The alarm at yet another blow against personal freedom?
"The thing that might be overlooked here is Texans want lawmakers to focus on issues like good public schools, good jobs, safe streets," she said. "They don't want the government dictating how they talk to their husbands and wives and how much they exercise. It really does start to look like a nanny state or a busybody state." [bold added]
You get neither because Ms. Miller is a religious leftist. Her organization's web site is currently advertising at the top and center of its main page a talk by the Reverend Jim Wallis, founder of the Sojourners, an organization that, like the religious right, hopes to inject religion into politics. Assuming her distaste for the marriage law is real on some level, she can't work herself up into a lather over the nanny state since she knows, deep down, that that is exactly what she wants, too.
You will note that the reporter said nothing about her organization's objectives, and simply passed Kathy Miller off as "nervous about government's interest in private lives" -- as if the government, thanks to past efforts of the left, having one hand in our back pockets and another trying to cover our mouths somehow had nothing to do with our "private lives" until the religious right came along.
Have journalists become, overwhelmingly, too lazy to unearth a single voice in the wilderness crying for freedom for such articles? Or can they hear only the chirping of crickets? I am very disappointed either way. The political debate is dominated by cries for control over our daily lives, differing only in what way our lives will be controlled, while the Kathy Millers of the world make opposing tyranny look like the activity of an amiable dunce -- something to smile at, but not take so seriously.