Political Hay

Left Funk

Not even the Healthy Marriage Initiative is likely to improve progressives’ "relationship skills."

By 1.10.05

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The editor of the Progressive confesses that he's "stupefied" by President Bush's re-election. "This is a runaway train," he warns, pointing to a future of an even more "imperious" foreign policy, higher take-home pays through even more tax cuts, and a change in Social Security that'll allow people to have some degree of control over their retirement money.

Plus there's the growing threat from the dominionists and other assorted busybodies in the GOP who think we might have to inaugurate a theocracy in order to stop Janet Jackson.

My recent favorite from the anti-sodomy crowd, even better than Sen. Rick Santorum and the sexy goats, came from the office of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in a press release: "It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle," it explained, sounding fairly libertarian, "but that doesn't mean it's right."

True, and not only isn't it right, but it's not easy with them turtles. They seem to withdraw a lot, head and all, especially when you show any interest. In any case, if anyone's so inclined, adult male turtles can generally be identified by their bright red eyes, while the females usually have brown irises. But mating's only once a year, in the spring, usually early in the morning, and generally in swamp mud.

As at the Progressive, the mood at the Democratic Underground is anything but good, as evidenced by the recent question in their online forum: "What is more depressing: Sept. 11, 2001, or Nov. 3, 2004?" In response, a landslide, with 73 percent saying Nov. 3.

Watching Ohio turn red, in short, was worse than watching Mohamed Atta and his gang slaughter thousands of Americans, live on TV, worse than watching the subsequent jumping up and down in the streets from Islamabad to Ramallah.

Unfortunately, the bad news, demographically, for the Underground is that it looks like it's only going to get much worse, long run. Bush carried all the top 19 states in white fertility. Kerry, in contrast, won every one of the 16 states at the bottom of the list, ranked by white productivity, babywise.

As Steve Sailer has figured out, when average white fertility went up by a tenth of a child per woman, Bush's vote share went up by 4.5 points. The most prolific whites are in Utah, the only state Bush carried with more than 70 percent of the vote. In Massachusetts, voting only 37 percent for Bush, white liberals come up short when it comes to replacing themselves.

In other reproduction news, the $1.5 billion in the Bush administration's Healthy Marriage Initiative is designed mainly to buck up the marriage skills of poor heterosexuals. The idea, according to a bulletin from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is to "use married couples as role models in at-risk communities," with special attention to be paid to boosting the "relationship skills" of "non-married expectant fathers."

I'm no poverty expert and I don't know how the billion or so will be handed out, or how they're going to pick the role models. But I'm not the dumbest guy around, and I can talk okay, and I've been married forever, and still I can't see how things are going to get turned around by giving me a federal check to get in my car with my "role model" better half and drive around in the most "at-risk" parts of town searching for a gang of "non-married expectant fathers" who are just dying to hear me explain how they can sharpen up their "relationship skills."

Picture it: a war zone and I'm in my BMW, looking for someone to save in my Polo sweater. "Hi guys, I'm a successful role model from the suburbs and you should forget about all that sex and crack and just get hitched up for life, with the same person, and watch some TV."

These "healthy marriage activities," says the Department of Health and Human Services, will be "funded primarily by eliminating the Illegitimacy Reduction Bonus," the federal program that shoveled millions to the states with the biggest drops in illegitimate births (but not through abortions).

Instead, we're gonna talk?

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About the Author
Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise and an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.