Blogs > Liberty and Power > Families, Welfare, and Shrinkage

Mar 4, 2004 4:59 pm


Families, Welfare, and Shrinkage



Steve Horwitz's thoughtful post interjects much good sense into the family debate.

He is right that many of the current trends in family development would exist in a libertarian society and perhaps be accelerated. Increased wealth and diminished regulations, for example, would open up many new options for working families in areas of schooling, day care, etc. Much of this"shrinking of many of functions families perform" in the last century has been worthwhile and liberating.

My point was to lament the negative byproducts of the state's involvement in this"shrinkage" (somehow I keep thinking of a Seinfeld episode). I think Steve would share many of these concerns. I fear that increased state provision of social welfare, such as day care, will also undermine the family as a source of"emotional satisfaction," one of Steve's hallmarks of the modern family.

Once the state takes over through"free" provision, it also detracts from the family's role (or, for that matter, the role of each individual in it) as a promoter of such values that help to define"emotional satisfaction" such as responsibility, vigilance, and foresight. Sweden is the most glaring example of how a welfare state has speeded the disappearance (not evolution) of the family unit (traditional, modern, or otherwise). I am pessimistic that despite the positive examples of family adaptability mentioned by Steve that we too are headed in this direction.

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