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Spinning Necessity as a Virtue: Families to Stand in for Fragmenting Social Safety Nets

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An anodyne seeming article at VoxEU, which I reproduce in full below, makes a straightforward seeming case for policies that bolster family ties in the face of a nasty combination of aging populations and high unemployment among the young.

It isn’t hard to see that this line of thinking is the policy equivalent of getting in front of a mob and trying to call it a parade. We can already see that in bad economic times, many people turn to relatives for help. Kids leave home later, and my impression is having parents help with buying a home is far more common than when I was young. It was unheard of for someone middle aged to move in with his parents; now that sort of story is a human interest staple. I suspect that we will see a partial reversion to the living arrangements of 50 to 100 years ago, when it was more common for multiple generations to live together (which will increase average household sizes and might make better use of McMansions at the expense of new home construction).

And even the wealthy worry about their ability to take care of their kids. I saw someone today whose joked that his wife’s car was in a list published last weekend of the 100 most expensive cars in Connecticut. He said that even though his kids were smart and would probably go to good schools, he was not sure they’d be able to get jobs. Normally, if push came to shove, he’d be able to get them quietly hired by a friend if the employment market was terrible when they got out of college or grad school, but many of his colleagues were retiring or downsizing their businesses. And even though they’d never starve, he thought it was very important that they work so as not to become trust fund wastrels, or worse, druggies.

This VoxEU piece tries to put a positive spin on this trend, but I would not view it as happy. While our atomized society in the US is highly neurotic, my sense is that the weakening of community ties and short job tenures (meaning tenuous social relationships in the workplace) are bigger culprits than nuclear families, which became the new normal in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet economists are deeply weeded to the idea of isolated individuals acting in markets, and it also suits politicians. Napoleon remarked that he was keen on promoting individualism, since it made people easier to control.

Similarly, Emile Durkheim described the difference between primitive societies, which he called “mechanical societies” (reversing the industrial metaphor) because people were interchangeable parts, with advanced, “organic societies,” which have a great deal of specialization and role differentiation. It isn’t hard to see that a necessity-borne emphasis on family bonds will force women back into more traditional roles of caretaking whether they want that or not.

Consider this selection from Wikpedia:

As the society, Durkheim noted there are several possible pathologies that could lead to a breakdown of social integration and disintegration of the society: the two most important ones are anomie and forced division of labor; lesser ones include the lack of coordination and suicide. By anomie Durkheim means a state when too rapid population growth reduces the amount of interaction between various groups, which in turn leads a breakdown of understanding (norms, values, and so on). By forced division of labor Durkheim means a situation where power holders, driven by their desire for profit (greed), results in people doing the work they are unsuited for. Such people are unhappy, and their desire to change the system can destabilize the society.

And to the post that produced these musings, and hopefully further reader discussion:

By Edoardo Campanella, Economist at the Fiscal Affairs Department of the Italian Upper-House. Cross posted from VoxEU

Western countries with ageing populations are in the grip a cruel irony. At the same time as having more old people than ever to support, youth unemployment is at its highest levels for a generation. As many of these countries go into elections this year, this column warns against populist politics that panders to the grey vote, and instead calls for leadership that puts the family first.

Deep economic crises encourage a radical rethinking of the socioeconomic model that generated them. The combination of shrinking economies, political stalemate, and growing social resentment is inducing people, especially the younger, to question a model of society that is prone to generate huge inequalities as well as great instability but is incapable of providing a long-term direction in difficult times. With general elections approaching in most European countries over the next 12 months, there are all the ingredients for populism to emerge. If so, Europe, not just the common currency, will be under serious threat.

To avoid this scenario, it is imperative for aspiring, reliable candidates to speak hard truth to their voters by explaining that sacrifices are not over yet and that more are necessary to tackle the challenges posed by the global market forces that are undermining Europe’s prosperity. To persuade their fellow citizens to accept new cutbacks, politicians have to inspire their voters with a shared long-term goal – one that is capable of strengthening social cohesion, motivating common efforts, and justifying reciprocal concessions.

In the past, political ideals or religious precepts projected a country into the future by treading the path towards a common goal of justice, equality, or fairness. The end of ideologies, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, along with a growing tendency toward secularisation, multiculturalism, and individualism, has left our society with no driving values. Therefore, what begs asking is whether today’s leaders can find a new driving force to revive common interest in their societies.

Family and political consensus

Nowadays, politicians should look at family, meant as a socioeconomic institution, to replace ideologies or religion in creating political consensus. Across time and space, it has always been the cornerstone in building a sense of community and creating the commitment to the common good. As acknowledged by the European Parliament in 2010, family produces assets and factors for development by promoting peace, stability, and cohesion as well as freedom, responsibility, and solidarity. And in time of crisis, like the current one, it acts as ‘shock-absorber’.

In greying Western societies, where old people rig political and economic life for their benefit, family is the only institution able to build a bridge between young and old, merging opposite individual interests into a common general one. By creating strong and natural intergenerational links, family projects society into the future by charting a path towards an ideal of fairness between generations that benefits everyone regardless of economic status, religious view, or political affiliation.

Yet the countless spiritual virtues, material benefits, and political implications accruing from kinships have long been unnoticed by politics, if not in appearance, surely in practice. In recent decades, myopic leaders, not realising the importance of these intergenerational links, have created consensus and maximised their chance of election just focusing on the most numerous group, the elderly. In several advanced economies, the accumulation of explosive public debts, soaring youth unemployment rates, and dual labour markets are side effects of this political approach.

An enlightened leader should realise that people, at least with their close relatives, are altruistic, not selfish. Parents care about the opportunities of their offspring, and the youngsters wish their old relatives to live an untroubled retirement with the assistance of the state. This intra-family altruism spreads out to society as a whole, making policymaking more far-sighted.

Focusing a political campaign on the democratic minority, the youth, will capture the votes of many old fathers. And the elderly will be happy twice over.

• First, their children will realise their dreams.

• Second, the young people, being again the engine of the economy, will increase the size of the cake for the oldsters as well.

Thus, by playing on family ties, politicians could persuade older voters that an increase in the retirement age or other fiscal austerity measures are not a dolorous renunciation, but a way to relieve their offspring from unfair obligations. And today’s young people, once old, will follow suit in honouring the social contract. This is the political approach adopted by Mario Monti’s government to persuade Italians to accept today’s sacrifices in exchange for tomorrow’s benefits.

The role of family-friendly policies

But passively appreciating the social, economic, and political benefits accruing from intra-family altruism is not enough to strengthen social cohesion. European leaders should actively promote family as a fundamental principle of our society by adopting a wide set of policies:

• They should guarantee job and economic security to younger generations to favour the creation of new family units.

• They should implement family-friendly policies to help people striking a better work-life balance, thus increasing the fertility rate (OECD 2007), beefing up the workforce with young workers and preserving the stability of the pension systems without relying on massive and costly immigration.

• Politics should adopt measures able to shape the family-model in a growth-friendly way. As shown by Alesina and Ardagna (2010), strong and oppressive kinships, while indeed associated with higher fertility rates and higher levels of happiness, tend to crowd out the market, reduce labour mobility, and increase rigidities in the labour market. Therefore, a well-designed family-model will avert the ‘amoral familism’ trap described by sociologist Edward Bunfield (1958).

• Reforming the pension systems and eradicating dual labour markets will make intra-family altruism flow in the right direction. In the past, adult children were obliged to care for old and sick parents. After the creation of the welfare state, government-funded pensions and medical assistance replaced this obligation, even if younger workers’ taxes financed such schemes. But nowadays in Europe the role of family in the transmission of economic resources is reviving, with huge flows of wealth from old to young. On an individual basis, old people’s transfer of resources to their adult children may well be motivated purely by parental love. But, from the perspective of their group interests, these transfers represent a concession aimed at preserving from collapse a system that is skewed in their favour. Therefore, European countries should alter their social contract by redirecting more resources to the young (Campanella 2011).

Conclusion

The next round of voting in Europe presents a great opportunity to rebalance the current socioeconomic model, providing people with a direction in their daily life and avoiding the enormous costs associated with a transition to a yet unspecified alternative model. A family-based approach to politics could sweep away the bleak shadow of populism.

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151 comments

  1. SteveA

    So, Campanella’s answer to people questioning “a model of society that is prone to generate huge inequalities as well as great instability” is to inveigle them into thinking that “family values” will save the day. Beware dangerous ideologies that would reduce those “huge inequalities”! More neoliberalism will make things better — we swear!

    This isn’t economics; it’s PR.

    1. KnotRP

      So the choices are “Restore Glass-Stegall” or “Live with your Mother-in-Law”?

      It is apparently true that Americans will try
      everything else first, before doing the right
      thing….

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      SteveA, here’s the scam the *conservatives* are pushing: *Family values* equals *eliminating government* while bringing Grandparents home to babysit your eight kids, while calling this *Home Care for Elderly Family Member* which is to be subsidized by the *government*–just as *government* now subsidizes the *home schooling* and *Special Education* of their kids, as well as their *religious* Houses of Worship of the Golden Calf*, *religious* schools, colleges, and universities, and hospitals.

      What a racket! The *government* should cease to subsidize by any means any *religious* institution and any *private enterprise* of any kind.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Moreover, if their *God the Father/Nanny* wants them to succeed financially, they will surely succeed without a penny of *government* subsidy.

    1. amen

      it also should be noted that the UK has the second smallest average home size in Europe, ~1500-1600 sq ft v. ~2200+ in the USA.

  2. Foppe

    Sorry, but I find this VoxEU post way too laced with obnoxious “we really need to unite now that we are confronted with the great democratic boogeyman — Populism” to make me riff on it constructively. The only thing I can think of off-hand is to make sure this guy is removed from his lofty perch near the ears of policy-makers everywhere.

        1. Lambert Strether

          It’s a war on everybody by the apex predators in the 1% of the 1%. I really deprecate the “middle class” formulation (hat untip, 2016′s Elizabeth Warren). It just seems to me like “shovedown” in another guise, and implies that those not in the “middle” are “lower,” i.e. undeserving, bad decision makers. etc.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            LS, an astute distinction. It does boil down to the interests of .01% and their .99% Agency against the 99%. The *middle class* thing is a red herring. But they will do whatever it takes to box us into insignificance and impotence.

          2. Carla

            Yes, it’s true. Because of the devastating effects on our entire society, the rich will suffer too. But not soon enough.

    1. K Ackermann

      Yes, and passages such as Thus, by playing on family ties, politicians could persuade… suggests that the problems will no longer be problems with just a little psychological shaping.

    2. Justicia

      “The end of ideologies, following the fall of the Berlin Wall …”

      That said it all about where this piece is coming from.

      No, “ideologies” didn’t end. Soviet communism ended, China turned to state capitalism and Gangster capitalism won the day. After looting the middle class, it is now extorting tax dollars from governments on threat of blowing up the economy. Mr. Campanella’s tract tells us if we hunker down in family bomb shelters we might survive the blast.

  3. tom allen

    “trust fund wastrels, or worse, druggies.”

    (1) Those are mutually exclusive? (2) Those are in the right order?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He talked more re 2 than 1, but I think (weirdly) it had to do with Whitney Houston than that being a real issue with his kids. I think of wastrels as being more layabouts than people who are self destructive. But that’s my sense of usage.

      1. K Ackermann

        Not all druggies are self destructive. Some are enormously talented, happy, thoughtful individuals who find drugs to be an express train to their creativity.

          1. F. Beard

            Actually before 1904, a not small percentage of Americans were addicted to heroin or cocaine but held down jobs and raised families.

            Believe it or not, many adults grow out of drug use assuming the “justice” system does not ruin their lives first.

      2. Tertium Squid

        “And even though they’d never starve, he thought it was very important that they work so as not to become trust fund wastrels, or worse, druggies.”

        The first part of the statement is even more thought-provoking. There’s always opportunities to work in any economy, if you’re not worried about getting paid. Unless the only thing that motivates them into action is fear of starvation, this family has no problems at all.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          TS – or see your *superfine* DNA ruined and sunk down the drain:

          “TRAFFIC” – a film Directed by Steven Soderbergh, 2000 (Criterion Collection 2002).

    2. Up the Ante

      And do not forget “W” called out internet users as addicts, so yes, you’ve been anticipated/occupied, as they would have it.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Greg R, Santorum as Emperor of Europe would be Pope Benedict’s dream of the *Second Coming*.

  4. Middle Seaman

    The Italian contribution reads as a high school plan designed by a kid watching too much CSPAN.

    For instance: “European leaders should actively promote family as a fundamental principle of our society by adopting a wide set of policies:

    • They should guarantee job and economic security to younger generations to favour the creation of new family units.

    • They should implement family-friendly policies to help people striking a better work-life balance, thus increasing the fertility rate (OECD 2007), beefing up the workforce with young workers and preserving the stability of the pension systems without relying on massive and costly immigration.”

    Politician today work for the banks/rich. Guaranteeing jobs is the furtherest thought in their minds. etc.

    The only reason we suffer economic deterioration is the emphsis on making the rich richer. Had families and individual voters been significant, children would come back home to visit and celebrate.

    Companies are persons, but persons are not.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Note also that “family friendly” also feeds the Church and the fundamentalists as the ultimate refuges.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      MS, “Family Values” is CODE for a Totalitarian Pan-Christian Movement with Pope Benedict as its *Godfather*. See its effective “Mein Kampf” published as:

      “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History” by Plinio de Correa de Oliveira (York, Pennsylvania, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)–a registered name of The Found for a Christian Civilization, Inc.)

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Date of publication 1993; correction: “The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc.”

  5. Jose L Campos

    First one ridicules reality, then one fights it and finally one accepts it. So here, the ridiculing is flourishing, but the reality of grand parents taking care of their adult brood is very real and expensive.
    Liberals want the state to be gone so they will get their feudal system instead. Then slavery and finally hunting gathering. Perhaps at the end they will be absorbed into the reverse Rhoosh Bang

    1. Justicia

      “Liberals want the state to be gone so they will get their feudal system instead.”

      Wait, wait. I thought liberals wanted Big Government and conservatives wanted No Government so they can get their system of corporate fuedalism instead.

        1. Carla

          It’s all relative. It seems as if the European version of small government would be the American version of socialism, if Americans knew what that meant, which it seems we don’t.

          But since we’re learning that all over the world, “government” is simply a proxy for the international banking cartel, maybe we can start thinking in new and different ways. I hope.

    2. mk

      what I’ve read about hunting gathering seems to me to be an interesting and fulfilling lifestyle, much more interesting and physically engaging with reality/nature than what I/we have now.

      Something interesting I found on a Standford medical blog this morning:

      In the study, Roly Russell, PhD, a researcher at the Canadian-based Sandhill Institute for Sustainability and Complexity, examined how countries’ social structures, environmental health and GDP influence human well-being and happiness. Scientific American’s Observations blog reports:

      Russell studied numerous studies about happiness in many nations, assessing 248 variables that the various investigations had relied on. The variables ultimately fell into three broad groups of factors: financial and infrastructure (traits such as GDP and gross domestic savings); human and social (years of schooling, freedom of choice); and natural (health of land on which people live, access to nature). He then correlated those factors with the degree to which people said they were happy. Preliminary results indicated that financial factors reflected only about half the variability in happiness across countries, but human and natural capital each accounted for about two thirds of the difference.

      http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2012/02/study-suggests-social-systems-and-environment-are-more-important-than-money-in-determining-happiness/

      1. i am

        I’ve been captivated reading a family history of my ancestors who came from Sweden to the US around 1890. Here are the two bits I find most fascinating:
        1. They performed industrial work in cities just long enough to buy some cheap wilderness land from which they carved a subsistence farm. They cut down trees on site to build a house and clear land to farm with hand tools and pure backbreaking labor.
        2. Their level of material poverty was so profound that a postage stamp to send a letter back to sweden was usually “an unimiginable luxury.” They had no electricity, plumbing, labor saving appliances etc. Yet they relate that they were extremely happy people.

        WTF!!??

        Development is supposed to mean moving from subsistence farming to industrial work. It certainly creates monetary wealth far beyond what subsistence farmers enjoy, but is it the right way to human happiness? I have at least one anecdotal case that the reverse may lead to more happiness. Foxconn suicides bolster the case from the other direction as well.

        Converting everyone in the world to subsistence farming is not feasible though even if we were convinced it might be desireable.

        I think what this reveals is that our industrial societies are failing in the broadest sense if all the material gains are producing less happy people than subsistence farming. The thesis that our industrial societies are failing human happiness is not exactly a news flash though. Maybe it at least suggests a diagnostic tool for evaluating our progress. Is there a way to make our wealth gains into happiness gains?

        1. Carla

          “Is there a way to make our wealth gains into happiness gains?”

          With the international banking cartel running all of the major governments in the world, I would think it unlikely. But I would love to be surprised.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        mk – the ultimate goal: to put women *IN THEIR PLACE*. Phallic Tyranny vs. Phallic Tyranny, from religion to religion world without end.

  6. Leverage

    Just read the introduction, had enough with it:

    “The end of ideologies, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, along with a growing tendency toward secularisation, multiculturalism, and individualism, has left our society with no driving values.”

    No, not the end of ideologies, but the start of the hegemony of one ideology over the rest. The ideology that the author carries, some sort of the neoliberal flavour and their globalist agenda to destroy the wealth of the people and favour the capitalist class and bankers above anything else.

    “Therefore, what begs asking is whether today’s leaders can find a new driving force to revive common interest in their societies.”

    Common interests (aka “swallow it sheeple”) to accept “cutbacks” and “effort” (to pay bankers debt created out of nothing without any resemblance to risk management) while they do nothing on their part? And why it has to be that way? Please stop telling others what to do and start to apply your medicine to yourself hypocrite policy maker.

    Tired of these scumbag types which will try to find anything to excuse the status quo.

    1. Doctor Brian Oblivion

      I think Thomas Friedman’s “suck on this” is punchier.

      Perhaps what the author is really looking for is some kind of opiate for the masses whereby they accept austerity and rat on stick for some great reward sometime later… er, hospice?

      This has got to be satire. Or perhaps it died with irony.

  7. Boston Scrod

    Another argument for a return to feudalism couched in the duplicitous newspeak of the economist.

    One minor observation: if Campanella’s chilling vision is realized, the need for psychotherapeutic services should go through the roof. There is a damn good reason why (outside of certain dogmatic religious subsets) the different generations live apart as soon as they are able.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      BS, right, this way leads to a lot of *Elder Abuse* and killing of grandparents, then parents, and–oh, what the hell–those disobedient children.

  8. Brick

    First read through of the Edoardo Campanella piece and I wanted to be sick. I got the impression that politicians should take advantage of family altruism to persuade citizens to accept new austerity measures. I would also serious question whether at the moment old people rig political and economic life in their favour. Ultimately its about politicians renegading on their contracts with the people and how to sell it, so citizens have to pay again.

    Second read through and I could sort of see some interesting ideas like a job guarantee and economic security to younger generations, helping people striking a better work-life balance, beefing up the workforce with young workers and preserving the stability of the pension systems. The comments on amoral familism worry me though as politicians always seem to bias actions towards family growth towards certain stratas of the population in a way that suppresses those stratas.

    The quotes from Emile Durkheim on the forced division of labour for me cover a slightly different aspect and for me a much more interesting and dangerous concept. My take is that it relates to the forced seperation of tasks to improve efficiency without regard to the talents of the individual. In a way its a form of suppression where job scope is curtailed to reduce employment costs and improve efficiency to benefit decision makers. I think the swing from the ethos of individualism to forced division of labour (some call it slavery) over the recent business cycle has been a major culprit for tepid economic recoveries. If it continues to swing that way we might expect communication problems within business entities and the slow collapse of society as the rule of law gets subverted towards maintaining the status quo.

    1. bluntobj

      “strong and oppressive kinships, while indeed associated with higher fertility rates and higher levels of happiness, tend to crowd out the market, reduce labour mobility, and increase rigidities in the labour market.”

      Since this piece is aimed at Europe, I am inferring that the kinships so described are referring to Shariah traditions among those who practice Islam. Followers of Islam are Europe’s most fecund population subset, and are projected to radically change the demographics of Europe in the next 10 years. I find it amusing that the spirit of xenophobia is alive and well in Europe, and that while they want family growth, they only want the “correct” type of family growth: populations similar in ethnic and religious demographics that put the bureaucrats in power and maintains a welfare state. Populations that practice Islam are “other-directed,” and are not easily controlled. I have seen estimates of Islamic population growth on the order of 40% of voting age populations in France before 2025. Think the Eurocrat 1% are not running scared? This is merely a desperate measure to try to maintain their power.

      The family situation here in the US will return to the turn of the century family structure as well; cheap energy is the enabler of the diaspora we have experienced over the last century. I’ve already implemented my plan for my and my wife’s parents, and I view it as a positive development.

      I would also pose the following question: Given the degradation of the American condition, society, community, environment, and family, was the cost of such atomization and alienation worth the increase in life mobility?

  9. Dan B

    Yep, this is self-serving, wooden Durkheimian reasoning: maintain (through propaganda) the collective conscience (universally shared values) to keep society together. It is a reaction to its alternative: the class conflict model of Marxism, the perspective Durkheim was countering in much of his work. Nonetheless, this functionalist (derived from Durkheim) view of society appears to be the outlook of “enlightened” elites who cling to their share of wealth, status and power; and that is a main reason why OWS frightens them.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Dan B, they have cause for worry. History shows that such *useful idiots* are the first to be sacrificed when the mob gets angry enough.

  10. Coop

    Raising the retirement age keeps older people in jobs that could go to younger people. I’m not sure the younger generation would see that as a positive. It certainly helps governement coffers, but doesn’t do much for youth unemployment.

    1. ambrit

      Coop;
      Just hang out at any box store for a while and you’ll see lots of oldsters working usually ‘part time’ positions well into their sixties and seventies. Part time because the rules allow the employers to short change the part time employees on pensions, medical insurance, pay and holiday/sick days. Since most oldsters at present still have some sort of retirement scheme, employers can subtly push down wages across the board. “Look you lazy kids! Those old timers suck it up and do with less! Why can’t you?”
      Watch the flow of the money and all will become clear.

      1. Coop

        I know that a lot of seniors work retail, I see them all the time at Home Depot. I’m talking about a regular full-time job. How many seniors are staying on after retirement because they need the money, especially given the housing bust, and stock market bust. I don’t know the numbers, but at a non-profit agency I recently worked at, there were all kinds of people past retirement age still working.

      2. jonboinAR

        Yep, I’ve seen that. I know several oldsters who work at those places for the pittance you describe, and it ain’t ’cause they want to.

    2. Susan the other

      That was my thought too…there were a lot of conradictions and bad assumptions in this article. Was the author unaware of this? His phrase “the bleak shadow of populism” was also interesting in its ominous undertone. I don’t think populism is all that bleak. I think populism is closer to democracy than technocratism. And we will go forth and be fertile! In an age of the 50% divorce rate. Beef up that workforce and the government will get some cattle cars lined up so you can have labor mobility. Who dictated this shit? It’s disgusting. The only remotely sensible comment came from Yves who said we could turn all those McMansions into extended-family boarding houses. Not a bad idea.

      1. jonboinAR

        That populism is bleak to the 1% in what it portends: the forced sharing of their hoarded wealth, so the article, by that phrase at least, is addressed to the 1% and how they might help direct the propaganda effort to diffuse the “bleak populism.”

  11. F. Beard

    With general elections approaching in most European countries over the next 12 months, there are all the ingredients for populism to emerge. If so, Europe, not just the common currency, will be under serious threat.

    To avoid this scenario, it is imperative for aspiring, reliable candidates to speak hard truth to their voters by explaining that sacrifices are not over yet and that more are necessary to tackle the challengesWith general elections approaching in most European countries over the next 12 months, there are all the ingredients for populism to emerge. If so, Europe, not just the common currency, will be under serious threat.

    To avoid this scenario, it is imperative for aspiring, reliable candidates to speak hard truth to their voters by explaining that sacrifices are not over yet and that more are necessary to tackle the challenges posed by the global market forces that are undermining Europe’s prosperity. To persuade their fellow citizens to accept new cutbacks, politicians have to inspire their voters with a shared long-term goal – one that is capable of strengthening social cohesion, motivating common efforts, and justifying reciprocal concessions. Edoardo Campanella

    Not one mention of the government backed/enforced counterfeiting and usury cartel, the banking system? Instead the victims of it are to blame?

    Is there anything more contemptible than the dishonest rich preaching virtue to their poor victims?

    Next we’ll be hearing about how warfare is a character building exercise.

    And just how is it that none of the supposed character defects of the population mattered during the boom but are all important during the bust?

    And heaven forbid we have “populism” when banksterism is such a roaring success, eh? posed by the global market forces that are undermining Europe’s prosperity. To persuade their fellow citizens to accept new cutbacks, politicians have to inspire their voters with a shared long-term goal – one that is capable of strengthening social cohesion, motivating common efforts, and justifying reciprocal concessions. Edoardo Campanella

    Not one mention of the government backed/enforced counterfeiting and usury cartel, the banking system? Instead the victims of it are to blame?

    Is there anything more contemptible than the dishonest rich preaching virtue to their poor victims?

    Next we’ll be hearing about how warfare is a character building exercise.

    And just how is it that none of the supposed character defects of the population mattered during the boom but are all important during the bust?

    And heaven forbid we have “populism” when banksterism is such a roaring success, eh?

    1. F. Beard

      I give up. (At least for today). Even my editor is fighting me.

      Moderator, please delete the above comment.

      Thanks.

        1. F. Beard

          [corrected comment below, I hope. Please delete original above Lambert. Thanks again.]

          With general elections approaching in most European countries over the next 12 months, there are all the ingredients for populism to emerge. If so, Europe, not just the common currency, will be under serious threat.

          To avoid this scenario, it is imperative for aspiring, reliable candidates to speak hard truth to their voters by explaining that sacrifices are not over yet and that more are necessary to tackle the challenges Edoardo Campanella

          Not one mention of the government backed/enforced counterfeiting and usury cartel, the banking system? Instead the victims of it are to blame?

          Is there anything more contemptible than the dishonest rich preaching virtue to their poor victims?

          Next we’ll be hearing about how warfare is a character building exercise.

          And just how is it that none of the supposed character defects of the population mattered during the boom but are all important during the bust?

          And heaven forbid we have “populism” when banksterism is such a roaring success, eh?

          (Edoardo’s piece is a target rich environment worthy of a near word by word refutation but I am too angry to properly do it now. )

    2. alex

      F. Beard: And heaven forbid we have “populism” when banksterism is such a roaring success, eh?

      I’d suggest that Yves, and anyone else who wishes to communciate clearly, avoid the word “populism”. It has such different connotations to different people that it’s not useful for clear communication, where the true value of words is in a common understanding of their meaning rather than a debate about it.

      I was momentarilty taken aback by Yves use of “populism” in it’s negative sense, and would have been seriously put off by it if I didn’t know a priori where she stands. If she means “demagoguery” then that’s the word she should use. To me “populism” has a positive connotation, so I’m not sure what word to use instead. Suggestions welcome.

      1. alex

        Oops, silly of me to criticize Yves when “populism” was used by Edoardo Campanella. Nevertheless the same advice about avoiding the word if one wishes to communicate clearly applies. Using “populism” to mean “demagoguery” is itself demagoguery.

        1. F. Beard

          I embrace the word “Populism”. I am not ashamed of it.

          The meme being pushed is that the “responsible people”, the ones who did not see the ditch and drove us into it, are the only ones who can get us out of it. That’s baloney especially when their remedy, austerity, has no basis in physical reality such as actual physical shortages. It’s just accounting entries and unjust ones at that that are dooming people to needless suffering.

          There is a danger of a demagogue for sure BECAUSE THE PROBLEM IS NOT THAT DIFFICULT TO SOLVE. The person bold enough to solve it will be very “popular indeed”. Those “responsible people” who refuse to solve it now and are pushing injustice and needless suffering are the ones risking a future demagogue.

      1. Aquifer

        LBR,

        As an RC who has little use for, and is a consistent critic of, the hierarchy as the promulgators of much of its “dogma” (as the major flaw in the Church), I must take exception to your blanket slur. Not all RCs are Santorum, nor even the Pope’s, “fans” ….

        The persistent need to crap on folks who maintain ties to some sort of religious tradition that i see in comments on all too many “leftist” blogs is self destructive, IMO – another way of “profiling” which serves, albeit perhaps unwittingly, to divide and conquer. Don’t forget that some of the earliest communes, where “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” was promulgated, sprang from those first Christian enclaves …

        And then there are guys like the Berrigans …

  12. jsmith

    “As many of these countries go into elections this year, this column warns against populist politics that panders to the grey vote, and instead calls for leadership that puts the family first.”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Nice try to make yourself feel better, fascists, but you better than anyone know that once a sense of actual community again takes over the populace, it’ll be even harder for you to shove your neoliberal horsesh*t down our throats.

    Dividing and conquering, pitting one age group against another that’s been the hallmark of the last 40 years of your campaign to create a neofeudal state sure will be a tad more difficult when 3 generations are living under the same roof, huh?

    Just face the facts fascists f*cks, you guys are screwed.

    It’s a little harder to advocate for cutting your grandparent’s SS money when you depend upon it for the mortgage/rent, eh?

    Hmmm, want to stop unemployment insurance? Why, then someone’s mother won’t eat.

    The one thing that could have foiled your plans was a sense of community being instilled amongst the populace, families and neighborhoods once again acting cohesively and look what your gluttony and rapine have finally manifest.

    Your worst nightmare.

    So, go ahead and try and jump in front of the mob/parade or what have you.

    Everyone waking up to the grandparents/grandkids knows quite well that they’ve been f*cked and all the words and spin in the world won’t change that.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        LS, indeed, what better use for FEMA camps than as C.21 ice flows, Oriental death houses, or the earth and trees of the Himalayas?

  13. Noni Mausa

    I call the strategy “shovedown.”

    Federal services are shoved down onto states, states down to municipalities, municipalities down to volunteers or charities, charities down to families and friends.

    Cashier and teller jobs are shoved down to unpaid customers doing their own banking or bagging. Entry level jobs are shoved down to interns or remaining, overworked staff members. Other work is shoved down to the poorest nations or populations that can still do the job. The worst jobs that can’t be sent abroad are shoved down to undocumented or legitimate immigrants.

    And quite a lot of services, mostly in schooling and health care, are shoved down to families. Plows stop plowing and families are mandated to do the shoveling themselves. A remainder of services are simply dropped.

    The end result is a large population of people whose entire day is devoted to supporting themselves and whoever they may care for, but who receive in return the bare minimum wages or support necessary for them to live in the moment. Chickens can live like this, but people can’t.

      1. Noni Mausa

        Why I NEVER use self-checkout stands. As the guy said, ” ‘Self-service’ means ‘no service.’ “

        1. Lucy

          “Why I NEVER use self-checkout stands. As the guy said, ” ‘Self-service’ means ‘no service.’ “

          Me too!

      1. alex

        “What doesn’t survive are democratic societies and the rule of law.”

        Good point. How silly of us to have even tried.

    1. Neo-Realist

      I have a feeling this “shovedown” will be a strategy of the 2nd Obama term, particularly when it comes to taking a stab at reducing Social Security payments and or raising the age–family and charities will take the burden.

      A prayer breakfast with Rick Warren on the 2012 campaign trail?

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        NR, why is that Prayer Breakfast not against the law, when it is blatantly in contradiction of the separation of Church and State.

        See “THE FAMILY” by Jeff Sharlet to gain perspective on the vicious intent of the White Male Christian Political Bloc that virtually FORCES the Presidents of the U.S.A. to attend these functions and to put The Family’s theocratic agenda before that of the Constitution of the U.S.A.

        The Family effectively EXTORTS and BLACKMAILS the elected Officers of Government, while in office, to place Church before State publicly! For the President and all others in the three branches of government to CAPITULATE to the demands of these theocratic Masters is an ACT OF TREASON.

    2. Masonboro

      What you call “shovedown” others would call productivity gains or worker reform leading to a general improvement in the standard of living. Where you sit is where you stand I suppose.

      Jim

      1. ambrit

        Dear Masonboro;
        What really drives improvement in the GENERAL standard of living is the ‘pushback’ against the cramdowns attempted by the elites. The distinction is somewhat like the difference between the ‘average’ and the ‘median.’ Ten billionaires living next to ten thousand poverty level workers would ‘average’ out to one really wealthy neighbhourhood.

        1. Masonboro

          I don’t believe it either but that is the opposing view which also states that productivity increases will go to workers thru market price competition. I know, I know, but ,as a long time subscriber to The Economist, that is their position as an example.

          Jim

  14. El Snarko

    Much of this argument presupposes a convenient track to the second phase of this development: tribalism. In a highly family oriented society the clan becomes the smallest political unit by extension. Those merge, and we have Afghanistan. I was not aware conservatives were so enamoured of the concept of a trans-Atlantic Taliban, which is the logical conclusion.

    Further, three hundred years of liberal democracy go out the window because “freedom” is operationally degrees of autonomy. Tradition, cultural values, and economics of the firm serve to constrain this. It has now become commoditized and is for sale. Those with the means can afford more of it, even to the “luxury” of OJ ing ones spouse. If you can pay for it. This also affords the the ability to determine and meter out freedom to employees, and in fact to export it to other lands as long as the price is met. Think about this.

    Finally this is supports by the VSP’s on the grounds that there is “one way to the father”, the father is asymetrical compensation, and the religion is fed on freshwater. IN thirty muinutes I will be attending a local/county forum onjust these topics. Competitiveness will not help, because competitiveness really means less demand in the end. Education will not do it, because cor instance, calculus in the US and that in Nigeria are the same. A initial orientation towards any sort of a solution is to realize that aervices must be tax supported at agreed levels, cost shifting and free riderism have to be criminalized, and the nation as a whole, not just cities has to consider that the success of the last forty years are mostly from nations (China, Germany, Brazil sort of, Japan)who make no bones about national development.

    Here in Southwesern Ohio we just lost another 800 jobs yesterday. However, 70 miles to the east, Columbus, as a region just announced plans for Citi to add 2300. Ours were half postal jobs and half manufacturing. This has got to stop. I am certain that long parade of new pickups and suvs shown leaving Appleton Paper were not all paid off.

  15. Ed

    I didn’t read the piece, but from the excerpts I gathered that the poor reception in the comments here could be due to a bad translation from Italian. Academic articles written in Romance languages often come across as a strange combination of stiff and flowery when (poorly) translated into English.

    Also, Italy is a somewhat extreme instance of the growing phenomenon of “benefits to the elderly, no jobs to the young” that is happening in all developed countries. Plus housing is kept expensive, benefiting elderly homeowners at the expense of young houseseekers. Since the problem is especially acute in Italy, this article could be a very polite way of asking the elderly to hand over some of their swag to their younger countrymen. But then it will read differently in countries where this issue is less at the forefront of political discussion.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      ED, is Italy the only *industrial/first-world* country where adult males live under Mamma’s roof, even unto death? How can such a *civilization* be functional? This leaves aside the organized crime in crass and occult circles, the blatant contempt and exploitation of women, the grip of the Roman Catholic Empire on the fortunes of Italy.

    2. Observer

      Ed, your point is well taken that the article’s context is Italian. But in my view it ain’t stiff, it ain’t flowery, and it ain’t polite. It sounds like an attempt at justifying removal of benefits for the elderly because, as the article points out, the responsibility (cost) of their care can always be transferred onto their family members. But, oops – the family members are unemployed. So in place of government benefits, there will be “family friendly policies” that will “shape the family model in a growth-friendly way.” Yeah, that’ll fix it.

  16. K Ackermann

    Spinning is right.

    I’ve read some good papers at VoxEU, but I’ve seen a lot of apologist crap, too.

    This paper, though, with its simple formula and strident positiveness, well… all it needs is an antagonist to be a neocon classic.

  17. aletheia33

    exploiting owners have been depending on family altruism as a way of controlling people for as long as both have been around. there’s nothing like the way freedom-loving young persons come around to be biddable once their first kid comes along. in slavery, it keeps people on the plantation. in the corporation today, it makes middle managers willing to travel back and forth to asia every other week to “work with” their new offshore “partners.” for higher level corporate american working mothers it provides wonderful maids and nannies who don’t get to see their own kids very often.

    such victims don’t get to have a healthy family life, but they believe they are doing the best they can for their children, and they are often right. sort of like when a victim of domestic violence continues to live with her husband because she cannot support their kids on her own.

    i would like to understand better why this is not looked into more in economics. parental altruism seems the form of altruism most hard wired and “irrational,” the aspect of economy that consists of adults working and sacrificing for the sake of their children 24/7 in the billions. of course, it’s also the most rewarding thing one can do with one’s life, bar none, for many people anyway, from what i hear, which makes it yet easier to put all that energy to use in the service of the 1%.

    however, not quite enough yet in history it would seem. the maximally efficient extraction of all potential monetary value from everything must be perfected. the vampire squid must constantly seek to squeeze more victims. this is a beast that has purged itself of or never had any sense of altruism. but its propagandizers (who want the absolute best for their kids) are extraordinarily good at recognizing trending new language (see “transparency”) and privatizing it.

    i’d love to see someone rewrite this entire piece substituting, in the appropriate places, language describing the type of old-fashioned civic altruism that needs to be encouraged from the financiers if europe is to pull through the coming difficult economic period. instead of talking up some kind of provision of jobs for young people, for example, “perhaps a guarantee of a certain once assumed level of security for banks that are seeking to become just banks again could be talked up.”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      But, but didn’t you know? Their kids will *redeem* their loser-parents, will elevate their parents up the ladder of profitable human commerce. They are *the hope of the future* in the parent’s eye. If you’re mounting the ladder to the .01% dream life for your DNA, your childrens’ *Nanny* experience is the *sine qua non* for social advancement.

      Balzac’s “Le Pere Goriot” captured this parental delusion perfectly.

  18. b.

    “It isn’t hard to see that this line of thinking is the policy equivalent of getting in front of a mob and trying to call it a parade.”

    That’s an insult to any decent mob. This is published opinion and paid affirmation media endorsing The People in their drift into quiet acquiescence. There is a comprehensive absence of anything remotely resembling a mob.

  19. Doctor Brian Oblivion

    I didn’t realize the onion wrote such long pieces as this. It stretches the joke a bit too far. I guess it’s hard to beat Swift’s A Modest Proposal.

    I suppose there could be a tie in. With the global economy in such wonderful shape and with all those high wage austerity driven paying jobs, what young people of today need to do is to start pumping out children.

    At least they’ll have something to eat during the winter holidays.

  20. Doctor Brian Oblivion

    At least we have our scapegoat. I thought we were going to eat the rich or run the bankers out of town on a rail or tar and feather the K Street bastards, but I had it all wrong.

    All this time the theft and fraud was being perpetrated by those selfish wrinkly old people living on social security and pensions.

    We have our scapegoat… let’s go get ‘em!

    OK I’m done.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        I mean, in an *efficient economy* like Hitler’s and ours, aren’t the *old and useless* really *surplus population*, and *useless eaters* occupying space that belongs to the Lebensraum project?

  21. liberal

    While our atomized society in the US is highly neurotic, my sense is that the weakening of community ties and short job tenures (meaning tenuous social relationships in the workplace) are bigger culprits than nuclear families, which became the new normal in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The “nuclear family” thing drives me nuts. AFAICT the “natural” human family form is the extended family. (I know that my own dad was really raised by his maternal grandmother; when she died, he was in his early teens, and he told me it was like one’s mother dying.)

  22. craazyman

    I don’t know about this plan. The higher the retirement age goes, the fewer the jobs left over for younger people. Unless new kinds of jobs are created so everybody can have one. But then new kinds of demand need to be created that require new kinds of jobs, but you can’t have demand without an income, which needs a job. It’s confusing.

    1. alex

      craazyman: The higher the retirement age goes, the fewer the jobs left over for younger people.

      Excellent point. Campanella has it backwards when he writes: “politicians could persuade older voters that an increase in the retirement age or other fiscal austerity measures are not a dolorous renunciation, but a way to relieve their offspring from unfair obligations.”

      Uh, Edoardo, the biggest problem is unemployment.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      But, but *manufacturing jobs are never coming back* and robots will replace *human energy* (which used to be called *labor*). Technology must march on to serve the .01% to such a degree that even the .99% Agency will no longer be a drain on their *wealth*.

      1. LifelongLib

        This reminded me of a bit from Studs Terkel’s “Working”:

        “Automation? Depends how it’s applied. It frightens me if it puts me out on the street. It doesn’t frighten me if it shortens my work week. You read that little thing: what are you going to do when this computer replaces you? Blow up computers. (Laughs.) Really. Blow up computers. I’ll be goddamned if a computer is gonna eat before I do! I want milk for my kids and beer for me. Machines can either liberate man or enslave ‘im, because they’re pretty neutral. It’s man who has the bias to put the thing one place or another.”

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          LL, and MonopolyFinanceCapitalists have the *bias* to replace as many people with robots as possible. WHY must technology serve the .01% agenda always?

          We get *hooked* in their system. Even if we don’t use *social media*, we now communicate with people (and at times robots) we have never seen, over the WorldWideWeb. I have discovered, after 7 years, that fundamental change is impossible through conversation in the ersatz *Elite* and M-I infused “Low Country” of the Deep South Anglo Confederate Savannah-to-Charleston gulag and environs.

          The Rebellion best combines Web communication with *local* *Occupations*.

        2. jonboinAR

          Yes, one of the real problems now is how to share the wealth of leisure time created by automation. IOW, (from my lower-class point of view) everyone needs to have a decent standard of living, regardless of whether there’s enough work “to go around.” What’s happening now, we all here know, is that the wealth created by automation, because of our current anachronistic wealth distribution system, is concentrated among the very few “owners” or financiers, while the many are left to squabble amongst themselves for the not enough jobs remaining. Naturally, the very top who are making out like *bandits* tend strongly to argue that the current system is somehow holy, and the rest of us just have to figure out how to get along better.

          25 hour work week for, say, $25/hour mandated minimum wage? I donno. In my rambling imagination I would say you’d also have to impose protectionist policies that force overseas factories to also pay what we would consider decent wages.

  23. Paul Tioxon

    “In developing my understanding of social policy,” Santorum writes, “I have learned a lot from the tradition of Catholic social thought.” Here Santorum is referring to the Catholic concept of “subsidiarity,” which he defines as “the principle that all social challenges should be addressed at the level of the smallest social unit possible, preferably the family.” This belief structure is compatible with the embrace by constitutional conservatives of the Tenth Amendment and the states rights doctrines that go with it. But it also allows Santorum to discuss innovative family-based and church-based approaches to fighting poverty.

    Rick Santorum’s mysterious, paradoxical manifesto, ‘It Takes a Family’: Character Sketch

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/rick-santorum-mysterious-paradoxical-manifesto-takes-family-character-122819958.html

    Now you know why Yves and company are better known for their finance acumen than their politics. Do need to go into the Reichian insights of the use of the family for mass psychological control? I know better than utter the M word here, it invokes the horrors argument and gives everyone the heebie geebies.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      PT, Santorum, servant of the Jesuits for the Pope, means to put *women in their place*–as servants to husbands (*Lord and Master*) and his progeny (males desired), and of course as breeders of R.C. children to the max, to counter the *Muslim hordes* and heretics (e.g. Protestants, Jews) who refuse to recognize the Pope as God.

    2. JTFaraday

      “I know better than utter the M word here, it invokes the horrors argument and gives everyone the heebie geebies.”

      What “M word”– Ron Paul starts with R!

      No wait. I have a better M word for this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commune_(intentional_community)

      “Here Santorum is referring to the Catholic concept of “subsidiarity,” which he defines as “the principle that all social challenges should be addressed at the level of the smallest social unit possible, preferably the family.””

      Yeah, no. Real austerity (and safety net shredding) is going to have to scale bigger than that. (Horrors).

  24. KingSalomon

    Despite the vast majority of comments rejecting the family idea and the economic implications of such policies I see it as a step in the right direction. The extreme individualism has been a cause of lots of society’s ills. Man is a social animal. People need social support. Loners tend to be selfish inconsiderate creatures. Although it has been the theme of the right for a long time, from different reasons of course, discarding the role of family and the sense of belonging is a huge mistake. I just read yesterday an article on people who live alone all over the US in the NY times and people were praising their eccentricities and the only reaction I could find within me was how sad. We have to learn as part of social contract to care and understand each other to feel compassion to other people needs and that we’ll never learn by being eccentric or as the right wing call it severely individualists cause it is not only about us and our ambition – we are part of a whole. I come from a different society, so I see the difference. People are lonely here. Loneliness is what pushed people to Church and we, ourselves, destroyed the sense of secular society which could be an alternative to backward thinking.

    1. alex

      “I see it as a step in the right direction”

      What’s a step in the right direction, greater family solidarity? I agree. But that’s not what Campanella’s article is about. It’s about using the virtues of family solidarity as a political excuse for governments abandoning support of their citizens. Big difference.

      1. KingSalomon

        Awareness is what’s important. Social solidarity is what’s important. You can also argue that people became more selfish and expect the government to take care of family members instead of doing their their share or worse live alone nourish their eccentricities and then rely on public help. I suppose that we should all try and better take care of the ones who need help individually and collectively – we will all eventually become sick and old and we all want the young to live well and prosper.

      2. KingSalomon

        And another very important point that libertarianism ideology is fantasy. No one is self sufficient!

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          KS, watch those *code words* – such as *doing their share* – a dead giveaway of Trollspeak.

    2. Soullite

      Yes. God knows, every child should suffer the petty tyranny of their parents. Every son should be forced to follow in his father’s footsteps, and every daughter should be given as a gift to the man her father decides is most deserving. Nobody should have dignity or freedom; they should all be forced to do as their parents say or risk poverty and starvation on the streets.

      You clearly have no concept of what the world was like back when multi-generational households are the norm. You don’t even appear to get human nature. Parents ALWAYS try to run their children’s lives, and they ALWAYS tell themselves that they’re doing it for that child’s own good. Only an idiot would desire a future where they actually had the carrots and sticks necessary to do so.

      1. KingSalomon

        I actually do know and I took care of elderly parents and I do have kids. I don’t think that multi generations should necessarily live under the same roof, but family should stick together and help each other. People should be aware of difficulties presented through age and learn to be more understanding patient and considerate – living alone will teach you the opposite. BTW, you’ll get old and controlling one day too, not sure you’d like to be abandoned…

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Hasn’t it occurred to you some families are toxic? Some people do best to get as far away from their parents as possible.

          1. jonboinAR

            Yeah, but not for the most part, I’d argue. I agree with the original author that more closely extended family relationships would be societally as well as individually beneficial. I think also, and that is part of that author’s motivation,is that idea is not terribly controversial to many. I ALSO agree with the poster just slightly upthread that the original author’s motives should be held in a great deal of suspicion, that he’s just trying to tell us that if we organized our families more beneficially we’d all find ourselves plenty happy with less, and never mind that little group we see out in the Sound having drinks while listening to live music on their sparkling extravagantly appointed yaughts (sp?).

          2. jonboinAR

            I think I mean “closely extended family relationships” to be “more closely BONDED or ORGANIZED extended family relationships”.

        2. Observer

          Just my observation on families, for what it’s worth: I dislike the term “dysfunctional family” because I’ve never seen a functional one. It doesn’t exist because, while we can choose our friends, we can’t choose our family members. It’s all relative (excuse the pun).

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      KS, you are missing a fact: it’s the legions of *single mothers* abandoned by the men who impregnated them who drive the success of the *Evangelical* agenda: just a few men in such *churches* seduce these forlorn women into their congregations, *taking care* of them as *proxy husbands and fathers to the children of unmarried women*.

      Most people don’t realize this. You must attend a few of the White *mega-churches* to see this productive dynamic in action.

      Really, they do Elmer Gantry proud, and they’ve exported this abroad.

    1. ScottS

      I found this entire paragraph to be a huge red flag:

      • Politics should adopt measures able to shape the family-model in a growth-friendly way. As shown by Alesina and Ardagna (2010), strong and oppressive kinships, while indeed associated with higher fertility rates and higher levels of happiness, tend to crowd out the market, reduce labour mobility, and increase rigidities in the labour market. Therefore, a well-designed family-model will avert the ‘amoral familism’ trap described by sociologist Edward Bunfield (1958).

      Shape the family-model in a growth-friendly way?

      Who is crowding out what market?

      How does one concoct a “well-designed family-model”?

      What is amoral familism?

      Is there no research on amoral familism since 1958? Doesn’t that suggest that the topic died before Kennedy did?

      1. Foppe

        amoral familism ~ the type of behavior “caused” by the rise of the mafia (which of course occurs miraculously, and not because of macroeconomic policy failures such as a wide-spread loss of jobs thanks to gross mismanagement).
        I have no idea what this has to do with point the author is trying to make. The only thing I can think of is that he is trying to imply that ‘living at home,’ or ‘decreasing geographic mobility,’ automatically leads to societal breakdowns and takeovers by criminal cartels. If that is the case, then that’s about the dumbest (and sociologically most uninformed) idea I’ve seen bandied about all week.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Foppe, it could mean that those living in enforced immobility–as in stuck in a *ghetto* of vast ignorance, abuse, and crime, and no *options* in the *civilized world* (the *criminogenic environment* with *perverse incentives* in Bill Black’s terms)–are *sitting ducks*, prey to aggressive criminals who offer them the means to a *livelihood*, even if only to age 20.

  25. Harry Shearer

    Living much of the year in New Orleans, where multi-generational households never went out of style for many social groups, I found this essay almost humorously ignorant. First, politicians in Europe and the US cater to the older age cohorts for one reason: they vote in much greater percentage than do young people. If the system is skewed, it’s because youth are bored with/cynical about/ignorant of politics and its consequences for their lives. Second, the intergenerational model in New Orleans (a semi-European culture) is grounded in a tightly woven model of community, based on common rituals and traditions rooted in the Catholic culture of the city’s manifold founding ethnicities. Politics will have a hard time replicating that influence.

    1. ScottS

      Similar to W’s Ownership Society, where Republicans decided that, since homeowners were more likely to vote Republican, they would increase homeownership and have more Republican voters. A priceless case of confusing correlation with causation.

  26. Strangely Enough

    “old people rig political and economic life for their benefit”

    That’s a serious case of projection, and a comical take on “it’s all the fault of those old geezers.”

    And this is just too obvious a tell:

    “[B]y playing on family ties, politicians could persuade older voters that an increase in the retirement age or other fiscal austerity measures are not a dolorous renunciation…”

  27. ScottS

    Seriously? The answer to youth unemployment is convincing seniors to accept higher retirement ages? Then taking away their retirement benefits and throwing them onto their (unemployed) children as dependents? This paper isn’t even internally consistent.

    And the answer to inequality is to favor families? I, being single and childless, already subsidize others’ marriages, children, churches, public education, etc. How many more breaks do families deserve?

    And the issue of excess population — in my lifetime I’ve seen the world population go from five to six to seven BILLION people. We already have wars over scarce energy resources already — what happens when food and water are scarce(r)?

    And what about people who like their individuality and freedom? Forget them? What about abusive or patriarchal/matriarchal families — will we make divorce and running away or going to child services impractical because of how much we suddenly value family?

    I realize the 1% use “individuality” and “freedom” as a rallying cry to atomize the 99% and we need to come together in solidarity against inequality, but using “family values” as an excuse to push more inequality on the unwilling 99% is disgusting.

    1. Susan the other

      Yet another economically contradicting assumption: By going back to multiple generation households with only a few job holders we go back to a level of self sufficiency not seen since the Depression. And this self sufficiency will reduce the economy by reducing the need for day care, fresh vegetables, basic auto mechanics, roof repair, other building maintenance, possibly some dentistry! Etc. And all those hand-me-downs mean we don’t need no more stinking ready wear.

      1. ScottS

        Exactly right, Susan. You articulated what I couldn’t quite express — that in-family day-care, repair, maintenance, et al will lower GDP since we won’t be paying directly for it, so no taxable income, no social security contributions, disability fund contributions, unemployment contributions, etc.

        While I think these in-family services can be beneficial, they don’t support the paper’s stated goal of increasing economic growth by increasing family density.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Scott, doesn’t this confirm the INTENT to DESTROY the U.S. Government formerly o/by/for the People? The Global Feudal system is what they want, and it’s what they have been creating full-time since Reagan.

  28. scraping_by

    “Divide and conquer” begins with “divide.”

    The family is necessary and useful for the emotional life, but as an economic unit, it has no chance against even small corporations.

    Extensions of the family, the clan or tribe, might have some better chance against small companies, but with national or international corporation it’s still no chance.

    Larger social groupings, unions, parties, guilds, etc., have some chance, if they get control of government and find some status in law. Right now, it’s a lawless world and the 1% are going to keep buying government to keep it lawless. But it’s only non-corporate groupings that can ever stand up to the concentrated power of unrestrained wealth.

    Atomizing a nation into nuclear families will keep the opposition scattered and weak.

      1. scraping_by

        If you’re thinking of the Masons, true enough, along with learning stoic philosophy by acting it out, there’s the expectation of mutual aid in the business of life. A study of Masons in the early days of the US showed a pattern of both Masonic and family ties (often, both) among the successful business and government operators. The Anti-Masonic Party wasn’t completely a tinfoil hat crowd.

        The more hardcore occult usually has a commitment to sex and drugs, usually as an artistic statement. Providing sex or gathering blackmail material, perhaps. Not strong in the biographies of most successes.

        As to the Bohemian Club, it’s hard to say. The drunken homosexuality that underlies much of the modern world’s big plans is unexpected. As for the ceremonies, hard to say. They might take that seriously.

        I’ve never met an Illuminati, though there’s lot of people who act like it. Read the papers about Europe and they’re members in spirit, if not in fact. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

  29. Jim

    What is the relationship beteen the sense of well being which defines the health of the individual and his membership in community?

    Is the individual sense of well being always dependent upon membership in community?

    What happens if the community itself is disordered?

    What if individuals acquire a habit of always considering themselves as standing alone?

    Can someone still feel well in such an environment?

    Is it ultimely the community that cures?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Jim, an excellent *Liberal Arts* education, and experience in the discipline required for mastery in music or dance, sets a young person on the road to learning as an *auto-didact* thereafter, and a life of successful adaptation to reversals, including a *solitary* life of reflection coupled with outreach to *communities* of other human beings over a lifetime. This is the Renaissance ideal of the Contemplative and Active life lived abundantly.

  30. Sherman Nichols

    Boy! You guys are really good. We really touched a hot topic. This is really is what it is all about.

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