"It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will." ~ Adam Smith
Free Market Marriage
Though my sons are only two and five years old, I'm already engaged in internal debate of how to advise them on the important matter of marriage. Fred Reed's column warning about American women injects important discussion into the debate. After all, while a good marriage will be one of life's greatest joys, a bad one can ruin you emotionally, economically and even physically for years, if not your entire life. Unfortunately, the experiences of my male peers in the Washington , D.C. area aren't a great sell for marriage.
The trend today is fewer American men marry. The divorce rate is also declining, but only half as fast. These trends are cyclical. Marriage rates increased in the 70's and 80's after declining in the 60's. Divorce rates surged during WW II and declined shortly thereafter. The trend bespeaks today's market: for American men, marriage is an increasingly lousy deal. Twenty-five years from now, hopefully my sons will find a more satisfactory product.
Since state mandated mating is not yet a part of our regulated lives, we can see the beauty of the free market in action. From economics, Say's Law stipulates that 'supply creates its own demand.' In other words, no matter how badly women want to be married, the mere act of wanting husbands will not generate a supply of them. Instead, women must bring something to the table--they must supply something to men that men want. Creating this supply will form demand in men and make them clamor to become husbands. However, this something must offset the risk of divorce--a calamity where a man's economic and familial independence can be TOTALLY taken from him in one of the state's courts. As indicated by their increasing penetration of the market, the Mexican and Asian women of Fred's column are supplying this something. To the contrary, the American women's demands to 'grow up and do more housework' don't strike me as a smart defense of their market share.
For selective American men, the most serious threat to their newfound source of wives is the contamination of these 'old world' women with American women's attitudes. For example, after two engagements with American women ended in heart wrenching break-ups for one Indian-American friend, he tried letting his family arrange for a bride in the mother country. Unfortunately, the inroads made by rising living standards and satellite television threw into that arranged relationship some of the problems he had gone to India to avoid.
Personally, the debate leaves me torn. The Christian part of being a married Christian libertarian compels me to steer my sons into a committed monogamous relationship with a single woman. On the other hand, I see the wreckage of bad marriages all around me in the lives of male friends and relatives. But one relative whose life has been torn apart by an ex-wife who took his sons 3,000 miles away to California made a telling point: in a Christian marriage, as the Apostle Paul instructed in his first Epistle to Timothy, a wife is to obey a husband who, in turn, is to subordinate his life to Christ. But nowadays, they've dropped the word OBEY from the marriage vows. My relative will consider marriage again where the woman can get the obey part right.