25 January 2014

Neoliberalism and family values

What a load of crock.

So... let me get this straight. Nordic-style welfare states are bad because - in encouraging pro-family policies like paid parental leave, subsidised education, living wages and day-care, and generally making sure that families in general and mothers in particular don't lead miserable lives shuffling sixty hours plus a week between two below-subsistence jobs - they make single people feel comparatively bad about themselves?

The article itself is risible enough, using decade-old statistics to prove an utterly frivolous point in the style of a right-wing libertarian ‘gotcha’-style hack piece on the Nordic social-market model of the sort which are so popular on Reason and at the Cato Institute. But, for the record, it does illustrate clearly one highly intriguing thing: neoliberal capitalism is no friend to family values. That its defenders are actively seeking to use utilitarian logic to level life satisfaction between families and non-married childless people like this, is telling to say the least.

And I'm really not trying to be down on single people here; I've been one myself for most of my adult life. If one has not been called to holy monasticism or to the blessed life of celibacy, it really sucks. It might not suck as much in the US as I am sure it would in the Nordic countries, but I get the feeling that would have more to do with the climate. But REALLY, Alicia PQ Wittmeyer? Child support policies are bad because parents ought to be made as miserable as singles?

Well, one thing’s for sure: the next time a right-winger says that anti-capitalism is a politics of envy against the successful, all one really needs to do in response is direct them to this article. Because if Ms Wittmeyer is any indication, libertarians and neoliberals seem to do the politics of envy every bit as well as, if not better than, we anti-capitalists do.


  1. As a single person, I can honestly say that the Nordic model would make me happier because it would make me feel more optimistic about my ability to eventually get married and raise a family.

    In the U.S., marriage and family life are often seen as an expensive, burdensome chore, mostly because of the insane demands employers often make on people and because of our increasingly low-wage economy.

    The only people I can see who would have a problem with the Nordic model would be employers, because it reduces their power over the lives of their workers, or people who want to be single but feel married folk are “milking the system” at their expense.

  2. Many thanks for the comment, John! And I certainly know what you mean about preferring the Nordic model as a single person.

    But I think her point was more the latter of what you mention, that the Nordic model discriminates against people who are single as a lifestyle choice. Or something, I guess. But yeah, the entire article was just bad.

    Always glad to see you on here - I really enjoyed the Draitser article you linked just yesterday, too! Keep up the good work!