Yesterday I had a conversation with an old friend about same-sex marriage. He posted a link to the following page, which he had compiled:
In our subsequent conversation, he made a few statements I found interesting, so I’ll quote them here:
To clarify, let me reiterate that my blog posts weren’t intended as an argument against gay marriage, but rather as an explication of the negative results of legalizing gay marriage.
Having said that, I also indicated at the bottom of the page in question: “This thought is made all the worse when realizing that for all the public and private money to be divvied out to gay marriages, there will be little if any social benefited in return.”
The point in bringing this up is to suggest that costs (social and economic), while very important, aren’t all that should be factored into the equation. It is helpful to balanced the cost against the benefits. If the benefits exceed the costs, then the costs make sense. Otherwise, they don’t.
And, if for heterosexual marriages the benefits outweigh the cost, whereas for homosexual marriages the costs outweigh the benefits, then, discriminating in favor of the one and against the other makes good social and economic sense. Treating them equally would be social and economic nonsense. Right?
And here’s part of our interaction:
I’m not sure how giving people the same benefits that others are entitled to is a negative result.
So, if adults are entitled to drive cars, you don’t see the negative result of giving toddlers that same benefit?Runtu wrote:I’m not sure we can know at this point what benefits, if any, there will be, because except in a few places, the effect of legalized same-sex marriage is hypothetical.
We may not be able to establish all the benefits to an absolute certainty, but as with economic forecasts and environmental impact statements, we can offer useful, educated guesstimates.Runtu wrote:Hmmm. I worry about people who think freedoms and civil liberties should be dispensed by the government based on a cost-benefit analysis.
As explained previously, in this case the government isn’t dispensing freedom, per se. Rather, it is dispensing government sanctions–i.e. the states seal of approval and incentives (benefits).
And, presumably, the government doesn’t dispense its sanctions for no reason. Typically, as with other regulatory and licensing acts (like with doctors and lawyers and businesses and teachers and auto drivers), there is a rational basis (cost-benefit) for the dispensing.
For example, regarding state sanctions for driving cars, there is good reason that the government sanctions people who have lived beyond a certain age and who have demonstrated adequate driving competency. On balance, the benefits to society exceeds the costs. However, the government doesn’t dispense this sanction to toddlers because the financial and health and safety costs would far exceed the benefit to society.
The same, in principle, holds true for the state sanctioning of marriage. Governments got into the business of sanctioning traditional marriage, in part, because they rationally surmised that the social cost of illicit heterosexual relationships would be higher than the benefits of promoting licit heterosexual relationships, and so it was in the state’s interest to incentivize and regulate traditional marriage.
Inspired by Wade’s logic, I have realized the error of my ways and have decided that marriage is not a right but is a privilege granted by the state, much like a driver’s license or a concealed-weapons permit. As with these privileges, state sanction of marriage should be granted only to those who would realize a net benefit from marriage, based on cost-benefit analysis and, when necessary, scientific guesstimates.
One group that has persistently shown itself to do significant social and economic harm is the uneducated, specifically high-school dropouts. Therefore, it would be irresponsible and counterproductive to allow high-school dropouts (HSDs) to marry and perpetuate and spread these societal ills.
According to a study from Northeastern University, male HSDs are 63 times more likely to end up in jail or juvenile detention than are their peers who have high-school diplomas (less-slothful citizens, or LSCs). The situation is especially bleak among black HSDs, 25% of whom are incarcerated at any given time. On average, HSDs cost society $209,000 per person for incarceration, making them a significant burden on society.
HSDs are also likely to be chronically unemployed. The Northeastern study showed that 54% of HSDs aged 16-24 were unemployed, compared to 32% among LSCs and only 13% of those with college degrees (educationally responsible citizens, or ERCs). According to the Wall Street Journal (published by ERCs, of course, so it can’t be biased), over half of all HSDs over the age of 25 were chronically unemployed in 2010.
HSDs are also much more likely to live in poverty. According to the US Department of Education, 30.8% of HSDs age 16-24 live in poverty, compared to 24% for LSCs and 14% for ERCs. On average, incomes for all adult HSDs are more than $10,000 less per year than their LSC counterparts and $36,000 less per year than ERCs.
HSDs also contribute to the birth of children to unwed mothers, which can have catastrophic social and economic effects. According to the New York Times, “Young female dropouts were nine times more likely to have become single mothers than young women who went on to earn college degrees, the report said, citing census data for 2006 and 2007. The number of unmarried young women having children has increased sharply in some communities in part, [researchers] said, because large numbers of young men have dropped out of school and are jobless year round. As a result, young women do not view them as having the wherewithal to support a family.”
The costs, then, are staggering. According to the Northeastern University study, compared to LSCs, the average HSD costs taxpayers $292,000 in lost taxes, higher costs in cash and in-kind benefits, and incarceration costs. If society gives its seal of approval to marriages between such socially destructive individuals, things can only get worse. There is nothing fair or just about giving people an incentive to cause the net loss of nearly $600,000 per couple. Everyone loses.
Clearly, the uneducated have not demonstrated adequate competency to be entrusted with the responsibilities of marriage, and the risks associated with their “lifestyle” are significant and well-known. And, if for LSC marriages the benefits outweigh the cost, whereas for HSD marriages the costs outweigh the benefits, then, discriminating in favor of the one and against the other makes good social and economic sense. Treating them equally would be social and economic nonsense. Right?