This piece came across the Designated Conservative‘s RSS Feed recently from “Sixteen Small Stones” (excerpt below – click here to read the whole piece). The author draws a striking parallel between the financial mess the country is in and the oncoming family and marriage train wreck:
An analogy between same-sex marriage and the credit crisis
by J. Max Wilson
In order to draw my analogy, it is important to first look at how this economic crisis came about. As usual, even experts disagree about some of the roots of the crisis, and like the Great Depression, I am sure that they will be arguing about them for decades to come. However, most of the explanations I have seen point to the Housing Market Bubble , Subprime Mortgages and Mortgage Backed Securities as the crux of the crisis.
(T)he credit crisis was incubating for a long time before it actually hit. Laws and policies enacted nearly a decade ago, if not more, did not bear fruit until this last year.
A decade ago I was…
…newly married and worried more about school, work, and family problems than obscure shifts in banking law and social initiatives being made by the Clinton administration and my Republican representatives in Congress. I would have never believed that the bad subprime lending practices of lenders and the greed of investment bankers far away from my simple, honest attempt to make a living could damage my own job and threaten the value of my home.
And that is why the subprime credit crisis provides a good analogy for the potential dangers of redefining marriage.
Over and over again I hear supporters of same-sex marriage ask derisively how a same-sex marriage could possibly destroy anyone else’s marriage. More recently they point to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since May 2004, and declare triumphantly that the societal meltdown prophesied by opponents has not materialized.
But as the subprime mortgage crisis demonstrates, in complex systems seemingly small policy changes, and millions of individual decisions, can over a longer time-scale cause disastrous results for even those who were not involved in the bad decisions, even if things look peachy in the interim. Five years ago we might have asked derisivly “How can my neighbor’s subprime mortgage hurt my mortagage?” And now we know how.
Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is analogous to redefining lending guidelines to offer mortgages to applicants who under previous definitions would not qualify. We are creating subprime marriages.
The motivation for changing the definition is also similar. Home ownership is a stabilizing institution. Government programs sought to lower the standards for mortgage qualifications in order to encourage the stabilizing influence of home ownership among lower-income families and minorities. Plus everyone wants the benefits of home ownership, and the government and businesses wanted the increased revenue by lending and taxing people who were previously not eligible.
But by lowering the standards they set up a system that in the long term destabilized the entire housing market.
Likewise, marriage is a stabilizing institution. Some same-sex marriage proponents argue that by allowing homosexuals to marry they will stabilize relationships that are at the present notoriously unstable. They want the benefits of marriage. Who doesn’t? But just like home ownership, but even more so, marriage is a long term investment. It is an investment in the next generation of citizens consisting of the children raised by marriages, and by proxy an investment in society. By redefining marriage, we potentially destabilize the entire system in the long term, even if things look peachy in the interim.
Of course, same-sex marriage is only one type of subprime marriage. For decades now we have been investing in other forms of subprime marriages as we grow increasingly tollerant of pornography, infidelity, abuse, and divorce. In many ways same-sex marriage is as much a result of these existing subprime marriages.
To look at five years of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and declare triumphantly that there are no deleterious consequences is like declaring in 2005, at the height of the housing bubble, that extending homeownership to people who were previously inelligibe and breaking down the barriers to banking, the whole country has benefitted across the board. It’s short term thinking.
The possible effects of subprime marriage may not be felt for decades, or even two or three generations.
While I empathize a great deal with same-sex couples and their desire to redefine marriage and claim its benefits, like subprime mortgages, in the long run investing in subprime marriage is a bad investment with the potential to be amplified through the complexity of society with disasterous long-term results that affect everyone.