I’ve been seeing lately – mainly out of the Pence campaign – references to the keys to economic success: graduate from high school, work full time or go to college, and get married before having children.
He says that “strong families will mean a strong economy.” I think he has that backward. I think a strong economy contributes to strong families. For example, where a family can survive on one parent’s income, that family is going to be stronger than the one where both parents are working themselves ragged just trying to pay the bills with precious little time, let alone energy, to spend with each other or the children.
Personal relationships are going to be thin or toxic when your family only gets to see you at the end of the day, having given the best of yourself to the rest of the world, trying to earn enough to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. This doesn’t contribute to strong families.
This is just another round in the economy-as-morality play mentality. If you’re poor, it’s because you’re immoral, and if you’re rich, it’s because you deserve it. I think it’s popular because it requires that the comfortable expend no more effort than it takes to raise a hand to point a finger at the less fortunate.
Vi Simpson called out Pence on this business about not having kids until you get married; given that he has not been a notable champion of making sure women have tools for family planning. Don’t have sex if you’re single seems to be the beginning and the end of that discussion.
What, do you suppose, would be Rep. Pence’s reaction if the data show that right-to-work depresses wages and makes it more difficult for a family to afford to have one parent stay home with the kids? Or maybe failing to implement Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges increases insurance expenses and forces parents to work longer hours to pay for insurance? Probably he’d see such adversity as a wonderful opportunity for the parents to build character and demonstrate their moral fiber.
As to whether strong economies make strong families or vice versa, I expect there is a feedback loop involved; but I think you get started by getting more money into the hands of people who have to let family duties slide in order to pay for basic necessities.