In a post-industrial society where marriage and fertility are expressions of values, rather than buttresses for economic security, policies that strive to make it as easy as possible for people to get married and have children should be at the forefront of the agenda. Broader state investment alone cannot take the place of a pro-family culture, from media outlets to religious institutions to schools.
Author: Patrick T. Brown (Patrick T. Brown)
A healthy culture, nearly every Public Discourse reader would agree, needs strong families. There is a growing number on the right—and I count myself among them—who recognize the family as possessing an inherent economic logic, in addition to its essential culture-shaping role. Families are influenced by market forces, starting from the very fundamental decision of whether to form a household or not. This requires some amount of getting our hands dirty in the nitty-gritty of politics and policy design.
As conservatives become more interested in family policy, they should avoid two extremes: rebutting any use of government, on the one hand, and on the other hand, assuming that trillions can be spent without negative repercussions. A social insurance model like the Family Security Act 2.0 strikes this balance: it provides modest but worthwhile support and preserves families’ authority to determine their own work-life balance.
Borrowing a family policy prescription from Helsinki or Budapest is bound to disappoint. A distinctly American family policy platform must be seen as expanding choice, not constraining it, and working with our national character, not trying to reshape it, all while understanding family as the essential institution in society, one that stakes an unavoidable claim on our public resources.
What role does economic policy have to play in advancing a conservative agenda? Should the American right move away from a commitment to an unfettered free market and embrace nationalism, protectionism, and more government support for families?
“One Billion Americans” is more than a cheeky provocation. It is a reflection on what it might take to restore American vitality, and the policy steps needed to get us there.
In The Age of Entitlement, Christopher Caldwell chronicles our increased willingness to eat our seed corn and inability to propagate the future. But the questions he raises require a treatment other than borrowing the frameworks of progressive theorists and drawing different conclusions that suggest an inescapable logic of racial resentment.
In Alienated America, Tim Carney paints a picture of a nation riven by a social capital divide, a divide that has led to the rise of populism and socialism. Our task is to rebuild civil society. This work need not wait for enabling legislation, the seizing of the means of production, or a national declaration of fealty to Rome. It can—and should—be undertaken today.
“Economic piety” has led to an overemphasis on consumption, writes Oren Cass in The Once and Future Worker. If we value family and community life, we need a labor policy that is explicitly intended to sustain them.
Facing an increasingly divided nation, the conservative movement must offer policies addressing the reality of life in urban centers.
To engage and shape the culture, we must understand the power of storytelling—and respect its limits.