The Ultimate Inequity

Preface: I frequently joke that progressives have developed a habit of turning todays’ satire into tomorrow’s policy.

Conservatives have long known that, no matter what a family’s income level, the best way to stack the odds in a kid’s favor is to:

  • Have the kids in wedlock
  • Stay together
  • Actually raise the kids

Poor families that do this have kids who stand a decent chance of making it out of poverty.  Rich families who don’t often have kids that slide right back down the economic ladder.

You’d think this’d be something that no “progressive” would, or could, mess with.

And you’d be wrong; a couple of (naturally) Ivy League philosophers are pondering the notion that a strong, loving family background is just unfair:

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, [philosopher Adam] Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

Quite a few conservative critics stop with that quote – Swift doesn’t advocate abolishing the family or the role of parents (which isn’t to say he doesn’t support a radical redefinition of “family”, either).

But the “philosophers” (and the ABC reporter who wrote the story, Joe Gelonese) had a choice of angles to take: either “intact, involved families have a positive effect”, or “intact, involved families are unfair”.  And in the world, and with the media culture, we have today, the most depressing thing about this story is that it doesn’t surprise me they took the angle they did.

13 thoughts on “The Ultimate Inequity

  1. Once again, you see the hunger of progressives to destroy any institution that lies between individuals and the State.

  2. Poor old Uncle Adam. Still bitter from being kept in the attic all those years.

  3. I keep searching in vain for some hint that Mr. Swift is channeling his distant cousin Jonathan with this modest proposal.

  4. I liked the bit where he almost comes out against bedtime stories. Frog and Toad are friends isn’t just a good book, it’s horrible social inequity.

  5. May I remind you that progressive goal is to make everyone equally co-dependent on the big nanny state government? To turn everyone into slaves to be lorded over by the pseudo-intellectual Ivy Leage elite?

  6. “All you need do is refrain from smoking, drinking and the use of drugs. Eat only wholesome,low-fat foods, with the emphasis on vegetables, grains and fish. Seek work. Work hard. Show up on time. Do more than is expected. Think of ways to make the job efficient. Don’t complain. Shave, bathe and wear clean clothes. Be cheerful. Don’t gamble. Live within your means. Save. And then, when you have all this in balance, study things of substance. Read to satisfy your curiosity. Don’t father children out of wedlock or bear them as a single mother. Exercise. You will find that you will be promoted – perhaps not knighted, but promoted. Is that doesn’t happen, look quietly for a better position. Find a husband or a wife whom you love and who has the same good habits. Invest. Assume a mortgage if you must. Teach your children the virtues. And then, having become the means of production, you will own your share of the means of production, and if you do those things, all of which are within your power, you will live your own lives.”

    They looked at him as if he were an armadillo that has just spoken to them in Chinese. Not having assimilated a single phrase, they all got up and went to the bus.”
    ― Mark Helprin, “Freddy and Fredericka”

  7. Night Writer, I’ve been re-reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, this time the Norton translation. I see something different every time I read it, this time I noticed that the souls in Hell or Heaven are explicitly where they are because of the choices they freely made. The damned are full of hatred and self-pity, but not regret. They may wish they were never born, but of course they had no choice in that. They don’t want to take back their sins.

  8. Similar to the damned in C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorece,” P.M. Paradise was nearby but they couldn’t accept it because it didn’t fit their notions or mis-directed pride of what it was supposed to be like – and would stay in their purgatory, bemoaning the injustice.

  9. A hard-working, church-going, tax paying, law-abiding intact family needs no bureaucracy. That’s the problem.

  10. Equal is not the same as Better, it’s not even the same as Good. If someone murdered every child in America, they’d be Equal; but that would not be a Good thing for the kids. And it would not be Better for society to have no kids than unequal kids. Swift proceeds from a faulty premise so naturally, he reaches a faulty conclusion.

  11. If only white makes have moral agency, isn’t that just another way to call the ability to make moral choices the “white man’s burden”?

  12. This is not a new right. This is a right to marry that has been pointed out by the SCOTUS fourteen separate times. There is nothing written in the Constitution that you have the right to marry someone of a different race. There is nothing written in the Constitution saying you have the right to go to school with people of different races. There is nothing written in the Constitution saying that you have the right to marry someone of the same sex. But what there is written into the Constitution is the right to equal protection of the law and you don’t have to look very far to find it. It’s capitalized and it’s part of our Constitution. It says that you cannot say to somebody because they are black or white or straight or gay or Catholic or Jewish or Atheist that you don’t get the same right rights as everybody else does. That’s part of our culture and it’s part of our Constitution.

    You don’t look for something in the Constitution that says you don’t discriminate against women, you don’t discriminate against blacks, you don’t discriminate against gays. It’s not a tax code, it’s a set of principles and one of the most basic principles is the principle of equal protection.

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