Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

These Are the Droids You've Been Looking For

Very interesting exchange between NY Times colleagues Ross Douthat and Paul Krugman.  Douthat kicked it off with a column about the coalition that reelected President Obama, noting that Obama's coalition included a lot of people who have been failed by traditional social institutions and who are "united by economic fear."  Krugman responded by casting this as an argument for social democracy.  Douthat responded to the response, arguing that (A) what works for Sweden won't necessarily work here, and (B) in any case, Sweden enjoys stronger families than the United States, out-of-wedlock births notwithstanding.

Frequent readers will suspect that I instinctively side with Krugman, and they will be right.  But I am thrilled that this debate is happening, because Krugman and Douthat are among the best pundits in the United States, and this is basically the debate we have been waiting for.  And already the debate is generating fascinating points.  For instance, Douthat raises the very interesting point that notwithstanding its high rate of out-of-wedlock births, Sweden actually has more stable families than the United States.  (OECD report here (PDF), Reihan Salam post here.)

This reinforces something I already believed, which is that, just as liberals need to accept that science has proven that white people are racially superior to black people (right, Will Saletan?), they also need to get much more comfortable thinking about and talking about non-state norms and institutions that contribute to human thriving.  This is true for two reasons.  First, liberals are simply wrong to downplay the salutary effects of strong social norms.  Quite often those norms are complementary to, and maybe even necessary for, a well-functioning social democracy.  The government can be a powerful force for human dignity, but there is no reason to rely on it exclusively.

But also, quite often these are debates that liberals can and should win.  Conservatives sometimes pretend that all arguments about values and tradition are favorable to them.  Not at all!  Norms of egalitarianism, fairness, respect, etc. reflect core liberal values and often cut against the conservative project of replacing our shared values with the sociopathy of the marketplace.

And so let me issue just such an argument.  We all know that Sweden is less of a basket case than conservatives would predict based on its huge public sector, its widespread secularism, and its high rate of out-of-wedlock births.  Reihan Salam wants to turn this into a point about how Sweden isn't as left-wing as you might think, because it has a fairly stable family structure relative to the United States.  That's a perfectly legitimate point, but consider all the implications.  Isn't it possible that Sweden has a more stable family structure than the United States in part because social democracy, even when highly secular, is more family-friendly than free market capitalism, even when heavily inflected with religion?

In short, isn't this a case where liberal norms, institutions, and values are winning, even by allegedly conservative standards such as family stability?  And shouldn't we be ready to celebrate that and advance it as an argument for social democracy?  The thing Democrats tend to do is to note how some Republican budget cut will devastate working families, and then say something like, "And they dare to call themselves the party of family values!"  It's a good attack, but it would be much better if liberals would openly recognize the value of families and articulate a fully-thought-out pro-family agenda.  And where might you find such an agenda?  Well, I hear Sweden does pretty well, maybe their social system is worth a second look.

8 Comments:

Blogger Sarang said...

I don't want to rehash previous responses over email, so I'll just make a couple of short points. 1. I agree that when liberals go on about conservatives-and-families it often feels like they're making gotcha points, which detracts from the overall influence of the critique, and might be partly fixable by repackaging various liberal policies with Family labels. 2. Beyond this I am not sure what specifically you are going on about when you talk about norms, at least at the level of generality of this post. (Would it be smart/wise of the Swedish left to develop cold feet about the sexual revolution?) 3. There is an interesting distinction between what seems the conservative view of families, well-being, social cohesion etc. (viz. state support is "crowding out" existing social networks like the family and the church by taking away their material rationale, and in order to make the family and the church more effective we have to weaken the state -- this is like your old division of labor thesis) and the reality, which is that there is no crowding out, and people are happier/more functional along all dimensions, so that families tend to work better, in conditions of low economic anxiety. Regardless of how much further value one thinks good families add, this appears to suggest (a) that _substantively_ one should want to promote economic stability to make families work better, (b) that _politically_ this won't work at all for the same reasons that Keynesian economics doesn't work politically. People don't really believe in the existence of positive-sum games.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Grobstein said...

I was wondering how much of this family structure difference is really explained by fertility differences: if children who would be born not-into families are simply not being born, it's hard to see what that has to do with economic security.

But the fertility gap between Sweden and the US is smaller than I thought it would be: 1.80 vs. 2.05. Link.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[b][url=http://www.onlinesaleswebsite.com/]louis vuitton handbags[/url][/b] The truth is, they typically offer for just as much as 30 US pounds per pound. Geoduck clams are frequently eaten cooked but at times are well prepared in the raw sashimi style. Soy sauce and wasabi are popular condiments served with Geoduck meat.. Most normally, your price range will be a percentage of your gross once-a-year profits and can range relying in your goals and objectives. Once you ascertain what this finances is going to be, stay with it. To obtain the most from the price range, take into account using a professional company.

[b][url=http://www.uggsclearancebusiness.com/]uggs boots clearance[/url][/b] four. The headline might be a very powerful ingredient. If the title of the write-up had been Releases, there a superb likelihood you wouldn have discovered the prospect of looking at it extremely enticing. All over again, it's just polite to do so. Never furnish them beers, they can be not allowed to drink for the position, or carry it with them while about the job. As a substitute of tipping, it may possibly be encouraged that you can handle them to your pizza, or simply a pair of burgers, and several cold drinks (if you will discover a great deal much more than a few movers).

[b][url=http://www.louisvuittonsalemarket.com/]www.louisvuittonsalemarket.com[/url][/b] Celebration online games can accomplish all of this when offering leisure towards the attendees. Listed here really are a handful of of our favourite online games. Give them a attempt and see your company grow. He also attended Chanel and Saint Laurent vogue universities. It expert been the preliminary Christian louboutin boutique that obtained instantaneous fame. To stand out in a very fantastic quantity of opponents, this company of trainers features a excellent number of very good facets.

[b][url=http://www.uggsclearancebusiness.com/]uggs[/url][/b] Keeping relationships with friends and loved ones is rarely a simple process. It involves a great deal of difficult time administration and fantastic memory to keep all our relationships intact and well-oiled! For anyone who is the kind of person who has a poor memory and who would not have the talent for fixing your plan to pay time with the crucial men and women in your daily life, you're likely in massive problems. Not all of people have secretaries or personalized assistants to carry out the fussing for us, regrettably.

[b][url=http://www.louisvuittonsalemarket.com/]louis vuitton outlet[/url][/b] No person acknowledges the necessity to get observed in position for only a soccer activity, but also inside a Southerly, it's got the your way of living ( room ) this mom and father realized it generations previous to myself (from Auburn and UGA, correspondingly), and its particular some kind of personalized wherein I'm joyful to continue. The theory harkens time to get a time if cultural gatherings, which includes basketball on the internet online games, wound up ought to obtain precise outfitting, and perhaps a interval in which gals of all ages just failed to head outdoor inside of sweatpants owning ideas on her or his feet. Obviously, the next traditions was created to me..

[b][url=http://www.cheapuggsstore.com/]ugg boots cheap[/url][/b] Some corporations will want the correct to deliver a representative in your place of work (such as the home if that is in which you do enterprise) to require a photo of your workplace. It is to confirm that you simply are for the site you say you might be. Some will settle for a photo of your office environment alternatively in the onsite pay a visit to..

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am no longer certain the place you are getting your info,
however good topic. I must spend some time studying
more or working out more. Thank you for fantastic information I
used to be on the lookout for this info for my mission.

Here is my page ... carpet cleaners boston

8:41 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

nike outlet, louis vuitton, ugg boots, chanel handbags, replica watches, kate spade outlet, longchamp, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, michael kors, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin outlet, prada handbags, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin, longchamp pas cher, tiffany and co, nike free, air max, louboutin shoes, christian louboutin outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin pas cher, sac longchamp, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, jordan shoes, air jordan pas cher, gucci outlet, nike free, tory burch outlet, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, nike roshe run, nike air max, nike air max, uggs on sale, louis vuitton, burberry, ralph lauren pas cher, replica watches, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses

7:50 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

michael kors, coach outlet, michael kors, coach outlet, sac guess, nike air max, ralph lauren uk, hermes, burberry, north face, north face, michael kors outlet, hollister pas cher, hollister, replica handbags, vans pas cher, true religion jeans, ray ban uk, michael kors, tn pas cher, lacoste pas cher, hogan, nike free run uk, nike blazer, converse pas cher, oakley pas cher, ugg boots, true religion jeans, burberry outlet online, true religion outlet, nike roshe, michael kors, timberland, air force, vanessa bruno, mulberry, nike air max, new balance pas cher, ray ban pas cher, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, true religion jeans, ugg boots, kate spade handbags, coach purses, michael kors outlet, nike air max, michael kors outlet, abercrombie and fitch, lululemon

8:00 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

ferragamo shoes, north face outlet, asics running shoes, babyliss, converse outlet, abercrombie and fitch, reebok shoes, p90x workout, ghd, timberland boots, oakley, nike air max, mcm handbags, ray ban, giuseppe zanotti, beats by dre, louboutin, wedding dresses, celine handbags, mont blanc, hollister, jimmy choo shoes, nfl jerseys, new balance, baseball bats, vans, ralph lauren, gucci, soccer jerseys, iphone cases, chi flat iron, hollister, nike air max, nike trainers, insanity workout, instyler, soccer shoes, nike roshe, lululemon, longchamp, nike huarache, herve leger, birkin bag, valentino shoes, converse, mac cosmetics, vans shoes, bottega veneta, north face outlet, hollister

8:12 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

links of london, louis vuitton, moncler, moncler, swarovski, swarovski crystal, juicy couture outlet, barbour, hollister, bottes ugg, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton pas cher, pandora jewelry, karen millen, toms shoes, coach outlet, thomas sabo, ugg boots uk, moncler, lancel, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, moncler, ugg pas cher, canada goose outlet, juicy couture outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, louis vuitton, moncler outlet, canada goose, canada goose, canada goose uk, montre pas cher, canada goose outlet, moncler, pandora jewelry, moncler, canada goose, louis vuitton, wedding dresses, doudoune canada goose, pandora charms, supra shoes, barbour jackets, marc jacobs, moncler, canada goose, replica watches, pandora charms

8:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home