Government can’t fix family, it can only confiscate

By Charley Reese, The Orlando Sentinel

October 1998 – I noticed in a directory of conservative organizations a proliferation of organizations concerned about the family. Most of them claim to have an interest in “public policy” matters.

Sorry, folks. The imperial government is guilty of a lot of stuff, but it is as innocent as Snow White on this issue. The government did not break the American family. The government cannot restore the American family.

When you hear a politician claiming to be interested in“restoring”the family, write him off as a demagogue or a fool. No law, no appropriation, no bureaucratic program can fix what’s wrong. It’s all personal and private. It’s a morality issue,not a public policy issue. It’s not just the government that has gone sour in America; it’s the people.

It’s people who spend $8 billion a year on pornography. It’s people who spend God knows how many billions in gambling casinos. It’s people who take vows and break them. It’s the people who bring children into the world and abort, abandon, or abuse them. It’s people who watch Jerry Springer or listen to Howard Stern. It’s the people who patronize trash. It’s people who approve of Bill Clinton, a sleaze and failed president.

The government has nothing to do with it. The government didn’t corrupt anybody. It would be closer to the mark to say people have corrupted the government.

The first idea Americans ought to get over is that government can fix whatever we decide ails us at any given moment. Government is quite limited in what it can do .It is just force. The government can kill people, confiscate their property, deprive them of liberty, or threaten them with all of the above. It can confiscate money and write checks on the confiscated money and thus buy votes. That’s it, as far as basic powers go.

Wise citizens would be as leery of asking the government to solve a problem as they would be of asking a wolf to watch their children. The problem won’t get solved, but the government will use the attempt as an excuse to widen its jurisdiction into even more areas of our lives – and, naturally, confiscate even more of our money.

Traditional Americans believed, and wisely so, that the power of government should never be used except to protect public health and public safety. A government cannot make bad people good, but good people can make bad government good.  undefined

Write Charley Reese at The Orlando Sentinel, 633 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL 32801, or e-mail at

Studies uphold traditional family
➤ Behaviorial problems in stepfamilies
A seven-year study of 180 families by a BaylorCollege psychologist demonstrated again that breaking up a traditional family results in problems for kids.

Psychologist James Bray compared 90 stepfamilies with 90 nuclear families (a mother and father with their biological children) and found that 20% of children in long-term stepfamilies have serious behavioral problems by the time they reach adolescence, according to USA Today. That is double the rate of problems for kids in traditional families, Bray said.

Even though the children in some stepfamilies seemed to adjust to the changes well, Bray said for some there was a noticeable “boomerang” effect in their teenage years.

USA Today, 8/17/98

➤ Depression for mothers while cohabiting
When the soothsayers of the sexual revolution demanded an end to the oppressive institution of marriage, “shacking up” together took the place of wedded bliss for thousands of couples. Now it seems that cohabitation is the more oppressive arrangement, at least for women who have children.

Sociologist Susan Brown of Bowling Green State University (Ohio) studied almost 400 cohabiting couples and 2,226 married people to discover the incidence of depression.

According to USA Today, Brown’s study showed that married couples showed the highest degree of satisfaction with life. Couples who lived together for a brief time showed less satisfaction, with long-term cohabitation producing the most dissatisfaction for both men and women.

Particularly susceptible to depression were women who had children when the mother was living with her boyfriend. Brown said this detrimental effect on mental health appeared due to the woman’s fear that the relationship might dissolve completely.Almost half of the women in Brown’s study who were cohabiting with a boyfriend had children.

USA Today, 8/20/98