Should the state have anything to do with families?
Paula Bennett, the minister for social welfare, has just announced that the government will fund long term reversible contraception for mothers on welfare and their daughters. This led to a cry that this was sexist… what about the men? What about the male beneficiaries (men on the sickness benefit or the dole) who sire multiple children with multiple women? Should they not also be sterilized?
Well, the technically the trouble is the technology and consent. But the bigger problem is that the state is involved in what should be a private matter. As I pointed out at the Hand Mirror
The serious answer to why women is that… to quote the six million dollar (man or women: both were equally cheesy TV series) “We have the technology”.
We have implants. We have effective IUDs and they are not as noxious as the ones we had 20 years ago.
There is no male pill on the horizon for the west. There is vasectomy, but it (like tubal ligation) has a failure rate.
Funding these things would pay for itself… even if universal. (Well, we fund tubal ligations and Depo and vasectomies and the combined OCs and some but not all IUDs already).
So, when this comes out for beneficiaries … meh. However, when it comes to socail workers interfering in a choice a woman and her lover/husband makes about what to do… the government should piss off.
(And that is this Tories analysis. Family matters — which contraception is one of — should be managed inside the family, and not by the state).
Fund the things by cutting DSW head office and let a familes and their GPs decide.
However, the issues that many families face is that keeping the bills paid with kids is incredibly difficult. There is a lot of pressure on men to provide — and (at least in NZ) there are a lot ot subsidies available around housing and training for solo parents.
The problem is that when the state is paying you they want some control. In particular, they do not want to support you through raising more babies. (A husband might, but he generally loves the children and generally wants to provide. Way men are wired. The state does not love you: the state wants to save costs).
Now, being a solo parent generally lowers your income., and children of unmarried mothers in the USA generally have worse achievements in school and later life. What Paula Bennett has done makes pragmatic sense from a technocratic and statist point of view.
But I still consider it to be wrong. Because I do not see a place for the state in marriage.
This comes form my views on the theology of marriage — this is a comment I wrote in reply to C. from Baltimore at TC:
the numbers are not the point. The point is that the state is trying to regulate marriage. Now, the response here depends on your theology (somewhat).
If you consider marriage to be a sacrament (ie Roman Catholic) then the state should not be interfering with what is in effect a covenant with God.
If you do not consider marriage to be a sacrament (ie. God is not needed) but instead a worthy contract or covenant that is not only licit but to be encouraged (The reformed position) then neither the state nor the church control marriage It is contract law.
And you can choose the contract. The Reformed position is (“if you abandon them or are unfaithful you can divorce, but you cannot remarry them, nor will the guilty party get a cent or a child”). You can choose that, and be subject to the presbyters (elders)
Or you can choose a civil marriage, under the current no fault laws, with one spouse (the current laws on marrying more than one apply).
Or you can choose no contracl.
The power position is that the state wants to regulate everything by social welfare and the state laws on marriage. Now, if they become too far from what the church can, with a clear conscience, accept, then we have an issue where our duty is civil disobedience…
But our duty now is to merrily and happily keep the marriages here going, and support those single people in their lives.
If the state is not involved in families, and I consider this is the correct place for the state and the more sustainable position to take, then the state will not pay when things go wrong. Instead, people will have to rely on their extended family and charity.
This need to rely on those you love puts a brake on things. It means that there would be some very hard conversations about adoption — as some families would not be able to keep and feed the next child — and clear consequences to playing the field. For as a male, you cannot assume it is ever safe to have sex: If you do have intercourse with a woman you are leaving yourself open to having to provide for any child of that act.
And biology will win out. No contraception is foolproof. And rewarding irresponsibility… which is what the state at times does to gain control over more of our lives, increases the rate of such behaviour.
Which, in the end, is a road that leads to the state defaulting, the people struggling to survive, and those dependent on the state having to find another source of support. In the end, a man, though imperfect, is more secure.