Love, marriage, and — the dole?

Here’s what happens to government “pro-marriage” initiatives: Stop wasting marriage money!. Funds allocated by the British government to “strengthen the institution of marriage” are being given to gay and lesbian groups, organizations that provide contraception and abortion referrals for teenagers, and organizations for the divorced and separated. Not, one supposes, what the proponents had in mind.

The problem is that a bureaucracy, like any other actor, has to understand things in its own way, and a modern bureaucracy can’t understand marriage because marriage is non-rationalized and non-technocratic. When bureaucrats hear “marriage” they think “sex and relationships” and disburse the funds accordingly, favoring the organizations that share their own rather value-free approach to the matter. Any other approach would make no sense to them, and forcing them to change the way they act would require constant supervision by non-bureaucrats, something by its nature very difficult to organize.

Marriage is mainly informal, moral, non-rationalized, and local. What has disrupted it is the overgrowth of value-free, formal, rational and universal institutions like the modern bureaucratic state and world market. The way to restore the balance needed for a tolerable way of life is to cut back on the activities of competitive institutions, not to extend those activities to include promotion of marriage. You don’t solve fundamental organizational problems by trying to force organizations to act in opposition to their nature.

1 thought on “Love, marriage, and — the dole?”

  1. A striking example in
    A striking example in support of Jim Kalb’s argument occurred here in Australia recently.

    An organisation called Relationships Australia was set up by the government, mostly, as I recall, to help combat the growing divorce rate.

    It has recently admitted that it has been advising divorced or widowed elderly women to become lesbians! (The argument being there are not enough elderly men to go around, and lesbianism combats loneliness.)

    Relationships Australia continues to offer this guidance to single grandmothers, despite a generally scornful response from the public.


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