How Society Works

How Society Works

The Hidden Economy that Love and Mothers Generate

economics, family, marriage, mothers No comments

In his book Redeeming Economics, John Mueller, of The Ethics and Public Policy Center, formerly  an economic forecaster with many Fortune 500 clients, traces the suppression and the loss of the Fourth Law of Economics – the law of distribution.  This law had been well known to economists of the Middle Ages when the study of economics boomed — along with the boom in the European economy   (Adam Smith tried to reduce the laws  to one, failed, and ended up with two, but suppressed two.) Others since have added back the third.  The fourth has yet to be “rediscovered”, if one does not count Mueller’s work.   The distribution of the income of a firm, a family or an individual goes a very long way in adding to the economy of the firm, family or individual.  One basic example is how much spending vs saving vs charitable giving goes on. Some in the family often forego their share to take care of others (the law of the gift — of redistribution, freely undertaken).  Charitable giving at the right moment can make a huge difference to the life of someone in need; saving to send a child to college or to private school is another form of the gift.  There are myriad.  But going to the family level is the mother at home raising her children is involved in multiple gift-giving all the time and Nobel Laureate Gary Becker says makes a greater contribution to the economy than her husband working out in the marketplace.   That mother has a hidden and powerful effect on the money her husband brings home to the family.  She can make it go much further if she is wise.  The husband who has such a wife is much wealthier than the husband with the same income but a wife not as wise or selfless.  With a little thought you can identify women on both sides of this divide.

How large is that mother’s contribution?  We get some idea from the research of a colleague of mine at Catholic University, Dr. Sophia Aguirre.  Drawing on multiple federal economic surveys she demonstrated that when the mother goes out to work she has to reach pretty high levels of income to replace the lost “amplifying redistribution” effect, as well as making  up for the extra costs involved in going to work (clothes, transportation, increased taxes and  child care to name but a few).  Aguirre’s conclusion: “Yet, we also find that for the most part, the net income is [on average] economically insignificant.  Furthermore, the results suggest that the lower the income and the education of the secondary earner, the higher the probability of the net contribution to the total income of the household to be zero, or possibly negative.”

In other words, the net contribution of most mothers to the family income is not great, unless she is very well educated and can command a significant income ($100,000 +, ten years ago when the study was done).  Though this is disappointing news for many, looked at differently it is fantastic news for most:  The mother at home makes enormous economic contributions to her family and multiplies the income her husband brings home – and that does not even address the huge educational, psychological and social benefits of her presence to her children and their future earnings capacity (which was the basis of Gary Becker’s insight of her contribution to the economy being much greater than her husbands.  That conclusion depends on the time frame used to judge her contribution.  In a world of quarterly reports that contribution is totally missed.)

Now back to John Mueller: At a recent conference when he presented on the major insights of “Redeeming Economics” I asked him how much of the economy is hidden by the law of redistribution (the law of the gift, which among other gifts includes  the mother’s contribution at home).  His public answer: “About 50%”.  That is our GDP is twice as big as we think it is.

Mueller’s analysis and Aguirre’s analysis coming from totally different perspectives end up in pretty much the same place.  Mother virtually doubles the family’s economic benefit!

If one were to include the costs to the economy of increases in crime, addiction, school failure, ill health and mental illness — all resulting from “anti-gifts” — the absence of the gift of marriage to the children — with the depletion from the economy (crime, stealing, robbery, fraud, and all costs that would be avoided were all children raised in married families), this changes the picture yet more.

There is a long research road to hoe before this basic insight will be absorbed by the academy, by economists, by professors and their students, by legislators and those interested in wealth (investors and bankers), but the preliminary evidence is very, very big.

It is amazing how learned we can be yet how ignorant at the same time.  No wonder economics is the “dismal science” when it leaves out 50% of its field, all because it leaves out the gift of love in its most basic form: married family life.

Pat Fagan

Culture and The Success Sequence

family, marriage, society, success sequence No comments

Culture and the child are interdependent. Another significant recent report by Professor Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia makes the case, yet again, in a study for the American Enterprise Institute.  Both the parents and the child benefit if the child is born after the parents get married.

“Even millennials from low-income families are more likely to flourish if they married before having children: 71 percent who married before having children made it into the middle or higher end of the income distribution by the time they are age 28–34. By comparison, only 41 percent of millennials from lower-income families who had children first made it into the middle or higher end of the distribution when they reached ages 28–34.”

But seeing that the overall culture and cohesion of the US has significantly decreased, where do young folk go to imbibe the culture that guides them on these paths of human flourishing?  They need to find local mini-cultures, communities where the traditional elements of strong cultures are present and strong: married families, children, worship and prayer, all tied to happiness, neighborliness and mutual support.

And where will they find those local mini-cultures?  My grand-daughter and her mother were at a nearby parish for a soccer game and found the families there to be fun and involved and both hoped that some friendships might be nurtured.  However, they also found those local families to be so engrossed in each other they were not concerned to invite others in.  But behind the “exclusion” was the presence of a strength: local families taking intense care of each other.

In this mini-community, my daughter witnessed what the early Christians were known for: “See how they love one another!”  Local communities like that are needed to help those lost but looking.  It is important that those in such solid communities spot and welcome those who are seeking to join. (By the way, my granddaughter is doing fine: she has plenty of friends and her family is a member of a vibrant parish).

Our culture will be rebuilt one house of worship at a time.  By feeding the universal and fundamental need-to-belong, even financial benefits gradually accrue. The success sequence for millennials (one could say the sexual success sequence) is much the same as it has been for generations.

The Source and Power of Human Capital

family, family structure, human capital, marriage, religion 1 comment

Human Capital drives material and financial capital, across all the economies of the world.  That is why Harvard ranks so high: it “puts the best finishing touches” to the highest human capital it can lay its hands on (young people with high scores – who tend to come from good families) so their graduates can make the most of the future material and financial resources at their disposal.

 

But what is the source of human capital?   In three words: great long-term relationships.

 

The most fundamental of all relationships is that between our parents.  Nothing shapes the person as does his parents’ marriage (or lack of it).  Asian Americans have the most enduring marriages — and the highest achieving children in the US.

 

Some would contend — from the data — that one’s relationship with God is even more powerful and fundamental.

 

But really the question is: “Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?”

 

In the strongest families both relationships are present and the longer they are present the better the result – in all that the sciences measure.

 

The closer these relationships are, the stronger they are.  Close relationships, with God, spouse or children, demand care and nurturance. Ask any husband.  Ask any wife.

 

This is love – not romantic love, but enduring love.

 

The source of human capital is love: love of God and love of one’s closest neighbors: spouse and children.

 

The more generations these relationships have been in place the deeper and stronger the human capital.

 

That is what makes for Harvards, and economies and civilizations.  Love.

 

Thus, Africa is a growing civilization (religious practice is growing fast) while Europe and the US are diminishing civilizations.   The first is growing love more.  The latter are depleting love continuously.

 

Fifty to a hundred years from now the great migrations will be into Africa not out of it.

Rise of the “Nones” is a Disaster for Human Capital and Education Achievement

nones, religion, society 2 comments

The media tends to report the rise of ‘nones’ as if it were a neutral development, a phenomenon far from the case.

According to Pew Research Center (May 2015): ‘ Religious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.”’

Were analogous depletions happening to the financial and economic systems, all sorts of alarm bells would be sounding.

However from what we have learned again and again about the positive benefits of religious worship on adults and children this rise portends (and the adjective is deliberate) massive costs over the coming decades.  Health and longevity will be harmed (even as applied biology gives more benefits), the educational attainment of adults and children will be less than their religious peers, family fracturing will increase, addictions will increase and crime will increase.  These are all the natural consequences of the absence of a necessary human good.  Just as calcium is needed for strong bones religious practice is needed for good citizens.  The monetary costs of extra burdens will be enormous.

George Washington summed up the importance of religion to the new nation with particular eloquence in his Farewell Address:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, ‘Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?’ And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Truer words were never spoken about modern America. And what a source!

Cycles of Civilization

marriage, Rabbi Sacks, religion No comments

My blog today is the reproduction of part of a speech given by Rabbi Jonathan Saks in July this year.

Jonathan Henry Sacks, winner of the Templeton Prize in 2016, was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991-2013, and as such was a member of the House of Lords. He is now the Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, and the Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London.  I heard him speak at the Humanum Conference at the Vatican in 2014.  Here is an excerpt from his recent New York speech:

 —- We are entering one of the world’s great ages of desecularization and it is the rise of non-Western cultures that will shape the 21st century.

 

The end result is — as Rabbi Soloveitchik and Alasdair MacIntyre and others warned us decades ago — that if you lose religion from the mainstream of society, you will lose the sanctity of marriage.

 

You will lose the bond of community and you will lose the social covenant that says e pluribus unum: we’re all in this together.

 

One thing is clear.

 

Religion is not about to die.

 

The religious have bigger families and stronger communities.

 

They’re going to grow in numbers and confidence in the course of the 21st century.

 

But the secular West is in real trouble.

 

It’s re-enacting a scenario played out many times in the course of history, in Athens and Rome in antiquity, and Renaissance Italy.

 

The same thing happens each time.

 

A culture or civilization at the very height of its affluence and its creativity finds that people are becoming more individualistic. They become more hedonist. They become more skeptical of religious beliefs, and that causes a loss of social cohesion, social energy and social ideals.

 

No one said it better than a great American historian, Will Durant. As a young man he wanted to be a priest but actually became an atheist[1]. So listen to what this atheist says — and it’s unbelievably powerful. After his huge study of the story of civilization, he says:

 

“What happens at a certain point in history is that the intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and, after some hesitation, the moral code allied with it. Literature and philosophy become anti-clerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct deprived of its religious support deteriorates into epicurean chaos and life itself shorn of consoling faith becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together like body and soul in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed, another myth arises and gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort and, after centuries of chaos, builds another civilization.”

 

You can view the whole speech at http://rabbisacks.org/cultural-climate-change/ . This excerpt begins at minute 46.

With an eye to the child – the future of us all.

Pat Fagan

 

[1]Fagan insert:   But in his last days Durant  received the last sacraments of the Catholic Church.:  see New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/1985/12/08/nyregion/new-jersey-opinion-the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-willdurant-truth-seeker.html?mcubz=1

 

Difference Between the Individual and the Person: Proposition

family, individuals, persons, rights of children No comments

The difficulty with sociology is that it mainly deals with individuals and rarely with persons (though Mark Regnerus’ latest book, Cheap Sex, does both).

An individual is one among many.  A person is unique – unique to those who know him and relate with him.  Thus we are unique to our mothers who tend to know us better than anyone else, at least in our early years, and likely always in our fundamental personality.  We are unique to our spouses whether blessed with a good marriage, or not.  Sometimes a special friend knows us best for we have revealed more of ourselves to them than to anyone else.

We know we have individual rights — both universal rights and political rights unique to our citizenship.  Universal rights belong to all.  Individual political rights belong to those on whom they are conferred by the polis, by the community acting as a political entity.  Universal rights cross all borders; political rights are confined within political borders, and even within groups within these borders.

But do we have any personal rights distinct from individual rights?

Strangers I meet on the street are individuals to me and have individual rights I must respect.  But they are not yet persons for me, though they are persons to others.

However they are very much persons to their mothers, in whose womb they grew, whose eyes first looked into theirs and saw their first smile of “happy to be with you”.  Most of them are very much a person to their fathers, in a relationship that might rival that with their mother, if they are blessed.  Then with their siblings if they are blessed with a happy family life. And so the circle of person-ness extends outwards through close relationships.

If I have an enemy – one who wishes me ill – that changes my sense of myself and I am a different person because of that relationship. I know evil in an intimate way.  That makes me a different person.  If I have many enemies that shapes me into yet a more different person.

I may be blessed with many loving relationships.  I may be cursed with many personal enemies.

My relationships do not make me an individual.  I was an individual before I had any personal relationships.

What I am makes me an individual.  Whom I relate with makes me who I am.  The more loving relationships I have the easier it is for me to relate with others and with myself.   The more negative relationships I have the more difficult it is for me to relate with others and with myself. Our relationships amplify or detract from our ability to harness our capacities for good.

Are there any loving relationships to which I have a “right” — relationships which the other person has a duty to provide to me?

I posit there are three.  Everyone has a right to the loving relationship of their mother in the early years of our life. And the same is true of his father.  These two beings (father and mother) brought us into existence and thus conferred all the burdens of existence as well.  And to bear these burdens, to thrive in an ordinary, basic, human way we will need their loves.

But  we also need their love for each other because without that milieu of mutual love we cannot become fully the ordinary person we are constituted to become.  Just as it would be inhuman for my parents to deprive me of the oxygen I need to breath so too it is inhuman to deny me the atmosphere of love I need to become a person capable of relating well and intimately.

And because this is a universal need, a universal situation for every newborn, it is a universal right — a most appropriate “ask”. Universally is it a most appropriate “demand” of every child, a demand of the man and the woman who brought him into existence.

In the end, the very end, the most valuable reality I bring into the next life  is the web of loving relationships I have built; and the greatest concern I will have are the bad relationships I have caused.  I am what I have made of my relationships.  In the end only love endures.  Or hate.

Father’s Sexual Rights and Duties

education, fathers, sexuality 2 comments

Many people who have absolutely nothing to do with the family are deeply involved in the sexual formation of the family’s children.  They seek not to educate them as virtuous, monogamous adults, deeply committed to their future spouses and their future children, but instead, as continuously polymorphous sexual beings at ease with what ordinary folk, for eons, called grave sins. The names and forms of these practices now multiply by the year and are even infused into the kindergarten.

But the child does not belong to anyone in the education system, not even to their most devoted teachers.   The child belongs only to the parents, just as the parents are the only ones who belong fully to the child.    And parents, through their marital relationship and their devotion, are the ones who most shape the child’s sexuality.  When children are given these two ingredients they develop into fine sexual adults.

Given the advanced revolution that is underway in many schools it is more than time for fathers to step up to the plate and claim their rights.  Protecting their sons is a natural first step. Imagine this opening to a conversation down at your local school:

“This is my boy, not yours.  I gave him life.  From my sexual act he came into existence.  From his sexual act my grandchildren are going to come into existence.  One half of the DNA in every cell in his body comes from me, the other half from my wife.  By the most complete, intimate and loving of all sexual acts my wife and I brought him into existence. This domain belongs to no one else.   I, the male who gave him life, am the one to teach him how to be a man so that he in due time with a good woman, his future wife, can bring another child into existence this way.  A quarter of the DNA of those children will be my DNA.  Nobody — and I mean nobody – has the right to come into this territory that is exclusively mine and MY BOY’s.

 

“I am the one to guide him along this path. For this task I was created.  The school had nothing to do with it. It is not your right; it is mine (and my obligation too —not yours). Except for my wife, no one else has any rights in this matter.  No one!

 

“For this my wife and I married. This is our most prized “territory”. This is our life. It definitely is not yours. Stay out! And keep your hands off my boy’s sex and off my daughter’s sex!”

 

“If we want someone’s help I will ask.  But first take care of your children and let us all see how well you are doing in shaping the sexuality of your children.  If I like what you have accomplished you will be a candidate for helping me should I need it. And by the way, that help will be for me — how to teach him.”

 

When fathers start speaking this way to school teachers, principals and boards, the good sexual revolution will have begun.  And, by the way, loads of teachers will love it!

Cheap Sex

Mark Regnerus, sex, social science No comments

Today I am an unabashed salesman.

Mark Regnerus, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, has a new book called Cheap Sex which is a ‘must’ for readers of this blog.  It is by far the best book on the intimate relationships between the sexes (from dating to marriage).  Quoting from inside the cover jacket Cheap Sex takes readers on an extended tour inside the American mating market and highlights key patterns that characterize young adults’ experience today, including the timing of first-time sex in relationships, overlapping partners, frustrating returns on their relational investments and a failure to link future goals, like marriage, with how they navigate their current relationships.  Drawing upon several surveys, in-person interviews with one hundred men and women, and the assertions of scholars ranging from evolutionary psychologists to gender theorists, what emerges is a story about social change, technological breakthroughs, and unintended consequences.  Men and women have not fundamentally changed but their unions have.  No longer playing a supporting role in relationships, sex has emerged as a central priority in relationship development and continuation. But unravel the layers and it is obvious that the emergence of “industrial sex” is far more a reflection of men’s interests than women’s.”

For a more in-depth overview of the contents see George Mason Law School Professor Helen Alvare’s review.

The four endorsements on the back of the jacket are from world renowned social scientists. Roy Baumeister, social psychologist, now at the University of Queensland and one of the world’s leading social psychologists says: “This book is utterly fascinating, sometimes disturbing, occasionally provocative, brilliantly thoughtful and always informative ….”  Brad Wilcox, renowned sociologist at the University of Virginia advises “Everyone concerned about the plight of young men in America should wrestle with the arguments in this important book.”  Linda Waite at the University of Chicago, for decades the leading family sociologist in the US, states:  “Regnerus has a breezy, likeable way of telling this fascinating and engaging story.  A great read.” And Anthony Giddens of the London School of Economics, a fellow at Kings College, Cambridge and one of the most cited social scientists alive states:  “A magisterial study of the changing sexual landscape today…. This book will become a standard work of reference in the field.”

Can one get higher praise from the world’s top scholars in one’s profession?  And keep in mind what Linda Waite said: “breezy, likeable, fascinating, engaging … a great read.” You are guaranteed a good an intellectual feast, easily digested.

This book will make a great gift for your pastor, many of the teachers in your children’s’ high school, your physician, and of course, your children who are old enough and many of your friends and family.  If you don’t give it to them make sure they get it.  And make sure your county library carries many copies of it.

But first: get it for yourself and study it.

With an eye to the many love-deprived children of the future,

 

Pat Fagan

“Post-Truth” and “Dis-easing” Facts

Census data, education, media, social science No comments

Who are the greatest natural law teachers in America?  They are ‘the whole population of America’. Their behavior and choices teach natural law in an extraordinarily clear way and they record their lessons in the US federal survey system. Simple forms of demographic snapshots of the American population teach a lot about natural law fundamentals.

One of the clearest collection of these behaviors, choices and correlates can be found in our Mapping America series but also in the work of a number of other centers such as Bowling Green University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research,  The Austin Institute and The Institute for Family Studies.

But the vast majority of the teachers of social science (university professors and their related journalists) are overwhelmingly dis-eased (ill at ease) folk when it comes to the most fundamental aspects of natural law and they suppress the data.  Though their profession is based on seeking truth from observable facts, most social science professors do not like the truths that emerge, most especially that religious worship is very good for man and society.  By and large they themselves do not worship nor practice any religion.

My grandfather, a small-farm farmer in the midlands of Ireland had a saying:  “Those educated blackguards are the worst blackguards.” In America, we might say they teach post-truth – “an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. ”

Why call these post-truth social teachers ‘blackguards’? They violate their own intellects, their own sacred things (science), and they cheat their customers (their students).  They suppress free speech on campus and in academic journals, and have violated academic freedom in hiring practices.  All this as they march to the fore on all the “hate group” issues of the moment.

My grandfather would ask “Why would any parent pay for that?”

However even in our “post-truth” era the American people will continue to teach uncomfortable truths and we will have their teachings recorded in every US federal survey completed.  The data are there for the ages, before, during and post ‘post-truth’.  The mission of the social sciences will survive this self-inflicted trauma.  It is buried in the data.

PS: ‘Post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionaries’ “word of the year selection” for 2016.

Preparing for the Rebuilding of America (and Western Civilization)

child well-being, family, happiness, human capital, marriage, religion No comments

A few years ago I met Don Renzo Bonetti, parish priest near Verona, Italy. He is the founder of a family movement, The Great Mystery Project (“Mistero Grande” in Italian).  He said he was “forming the families who will rebuild Western Civilization after it collapses” and wished me luck with my work in the social sciences, which he thought could play its own role (rather limited) in this rebuilding.

Western civilization is collapsing very quickly — silently in Italy and other European countries, as they gradually disappear, demographically, before our eyes — raucously in US.  Our debate may be the first stage of the next great awakening.  It is not yet a response but there is a widespread awakening to the level of the crisis and a growing desire to do something about it.

The solution, the rebuilding of America, will be aided by our deepest roots as a nation, which are not in our being a particular people or race but in the ideals of freedom, articulated by our Founders as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   But these ideals alone will not be enough to carry the day.

Many institutions need rebuilding: schools, universities, media, movies, and churches. The reform needed for our ideals to flourish again in these will never take hold without the first and most basic reform – the rebuilding of our families.

Such rebuilding of the family is most likely to happen within communities of worship, because it is there that our national experts in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are most to be found: the intact married family that worships God weekly.

Where is life most abundant?  In the intact married family that worships God weekly.  Where is death most absent? In the very same place.

Where is liberty most abundant? Where are children free? Where are women and men most free to achieve the good they desire?  In that same place.

Where are people happiest?  In that same place.  The data is incontrovertible.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness occur most in the intact married family that worships God weekly.

This is the place where the two great loves are most present: love of others and love of God.  And these loves are both the seed and the soil of the rebirth of America.  These families know what to do and they are the most likely to help. This is America’s “Great Mystery”, its great resource.

Spread the word.

 

Pat Fagan