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The Nationalization of the Family

A very interesting read from Mark Steyn here.  Some choice excerpts to induce a full reading:

Well, because, as Vaidyanathan says, we’ve nationalized the family — which means that these days a right isn’t a real right unless it comes from the state, and for "free." This is why the Mitch Daniels distinction between "fiscal" and "social" issues is so unhelpful. The nationalized family is the key to understanding why the West’s economic "downturn" is not merely cyclical. Like any other nationalized industry, the nationalized family prioritizes more and more perks for its beneficiaries, is unresponsive to market pressure, and revels in declining productivity. Literally: The biggest structural defect in the Western world is its deathbed demography, the upside-down family tree. When 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren (as in Greece), it is a societal challenge under any circumstances. When 42 grandchildren have to pay off the massive debts run up by 100 grandparents, that’s pretty much a guarantee of disaster.

And his concluding remarks (emphasis added):

As Mitch Daniels might say, that’s the economy, stupid. But it’s really the stupidity, economists. Could Mr. Tata’s U.K. workers either rediscover the Protestant work ethic or adopt the Hindu one? I wouldn’t bet on it. From the Daily Telegraph a year or so back: "Physical inactivity should be classed as ‘disease in its own right’, a pair of leading public health experts have proposed."

Why stop there? We’re surely only a pair of public-health experts away from declaring that, if the Western world is crippled by debt, then debt must be a disability. And not merely of the sovereign variety. In Spain, private debt is 227 percent of GDP. The nationalized family doesn’t save. Why should it? The state pays for your retirement, and your kids, and your aged parents, and your health care. What’s to save for?

In the end, in Britain and much of Europe, the nationalized industries of the post-war years got privatized — which is how an Indian tycoon came to own the formerly state-run Jaguar and Land Rover. Privatizing the nationalized family will prove a tougher proposition.

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