The Right vs. The Family

Source: Arlie Hochschild, Dissent Magazine, Winter 2016
(subscription required)

…..Congress controls the agenda and the public purse strings, and has moved farther and farther to the right. It has taken many programs—including those that would improve childcare—off the table. Among many Republican congressmen, the talk instead is about how many cabinet-level departments to abolish—Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the EPA—not to mention federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Many even deride Michelle Obama’s fight against junk food and obesity and threaten to cut off its funding. So while many of us have moved forward in our personal lives, we’ve moved backward in the public sphere.

So what next? The first step is to put the basic issue of the family back on the table. I am referring not to “family values”—the affirmation of one kind of family—but to the value of the well-being of the family. While our nation is increasingly split between left and right, those on both sides probably agree that it’s good for children to find in their families a sympathetic ear for their problems, a healthy lifestyle, encouragement for school work, and a mood of relative harmony. We could agree on the value of family.

So the question arises: which public policies lead to the well-being of families, and which don’t? The philosophy guiding public policy on the right—one that goes unquestioned in the mainstream media—links the “free market” to “family values.” But what do we really know about the link between free-market policies and the value of family?….