With the unwitting help of Ruth Marcus, liberal Washington Post opinion writer, I have a suggestion for you: revive and increase the marriage tax.John makes some great points, but allow me to suggest that he's missing the underlying assumption which is the most amazing part of all.
“The marriage gap presents a real cost,” Marcus writes.If current trends hold, within a few years, less than half the U.S. adult population will be married. This precipitous decline isn’t just a social problem. It’s also an economic problem.That’s because the educated and rich are marrying more and getting richer; the uneducated and poor are marrying less and falling further behind. “Family structure,” Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution told Marcus, “is a new dividing line in American society.”
Specifically, it’s an income-inequality and economic-mobility problem. The steadily dropping marriage rate both contributes to income inequality and further entrenches it.
When people talk about these inequalities, they imply that marriage and education are things that just happen to us. Just as plankton has no way to influence the tides, we are driven along by forces too large for us to control and these forces lead us to learn and get married. Each of us has a doom laid upon us, a doom we cannot escape. That's the entire basis for our social spending. We don't seek to reward some behaviors (self-denial) and punish others (hedonism). Instead, we treat the symptoms of these behaviors as if their sources were a complete mystery.
Hey, plankton isn't even aware of the tides.