The Marriage Mandate

Anthony Devlin/PA Wire URN:21012772 (Press Association via AP Images)
Anthony Devlin/PA Wire URN:21012772 (Press Association via AP Images)

Children raised without a mother or a father represent a major crisis in many American communities. Marriage is one of the essential ingredients for a health and independent society – it’s very difficult for people of modest means to avoid government dependency without getting married, especially if they have children.

We need a huge number of stable families raising more than one child for society to flourish. Some fear it will be difficult to properly encourage the traditional form of marriage now that the Supreme Court has imposed gay marriage across the land.

Fortunately, the other controversial Court decisions handed down this week give us powerful tools to reverse the damage from decades of liberal social engineering and keep the institution of marriage vibrant. Gay marriage won’t be a problem at all – in fact, same-sex couples will be invited to be part of the same grand program, achieving maximum social harmony. Heck, they won’t have a choice, any more than straight couples will. Compulsory unity from coast to coast!

What I propose is an ObamaCare-style individual mandate for marriage.

The mandate will be assessed in two stages. First, we’ll use one of the trans-constitutional “tax penalty” hybrids created by our Legislator-for-Life, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, in his first effort to keep ObamaCare alive. This tax penalty will be assessed against anyone who doesn’t get married at a fairly young age – let’s say 25 to get the discussion going. We can refine it later, based on statistical analysis of how young people need to marry in order to raise the 2.5 children we need for a healthy population, and build the sort of communal resources it takes for a couple to have a good shot a prosperous lives together. We could offer waivers for college students, rather like the way draft deferrals used to work. (Or maybe not, if we’re interested in using a sledgehammer to smash the “campus rape” problem.)

Both same- and opposite-sex marriages will satisfy the mandate. True, the objective is to encourage opposite-sex marriage and procreation, but stable young same-sex couples will be good for society too. Even without getting into the possibilities of adoption, artificial insemination, and so forth to provide same-sex couples with children, from a social engineering standpoint they enjoy many of the same financial independence advantages as opposite-sex couples, which is beneficial to society as a whole.

Imposing a mandate for marriage uses left-wing logic to circumvent all of the difficulties in encouraging men and women to get together and create stable families. No discussion or persuasion is needed when it’s mandatory. We’ll be forcing people to do the right thing – and there is far more evidence that marriage is good for society than nearly anything else the Left seeks to encourage with the compulsive force of government. It would be safe to bet that a renaissance of marriage across the land would make most other left-wing social engineering programs superfluous. The welfare state would grow so small that we wouldn’t have to argue about it so bitterly, and less money flowing through the system would mean less waste and corruption. Imagine what it would do to the rate of abortion.

People who don’t want to get married don’t have to, of course. They can opt out and pay the tax penalty, which could be introduced at a politically salable low level and increased over time, just like ObamaCare’s individual mandate. President Obama thinks the ability to opt out of his health care system by paying a special tax is all the freedom you need when it comes to insurance. Marriage is an order of magnitude more important to society that any health insurance scheme.

The money from the Marriage Mandate tax penalty could be used to greatly increase subsidies for children and reward long-term stable marriage. Everyone but the most determined libertarians agrees the State has a strong interest in seeing children raised in good environments and educated well.

The teachers unions have been saying for years that one of the big reasons student performance declines, even as staggering sums of money are pumped into public education, is that students without good home lives don’t get the parental support they need to excel in school. There may not be any other way to address that problem than bringing marriage back to troubled communities in a big, big way. And if we aren’t even allowed to discuss the special virtues of opposite-sex marriage any more, what can we do but use the stern guiding hand of the all-knowing State to guide everyone, gay and straight alike, down a path that will benefit children more than anything else the State could possibly do?

As for childless couples, we can use Marriage Mandate tax money to offer attractive rewards for remaining married over a long period of time, whether the union involves children or not. That should address complaints from same-sex couples that they get shortchanged by programs strongly geared toward rewarding heterosexual reproduction, and it would also give social-engineering incentives for same-sex couples to remain married – good for society, and great for any children in their households.

Same-sex marriage advocates have long argued that gay men and women are as interested in fidelity as straights are. In the current social climate, we might cynically observe that neither gays nor straights are interested enough. The Marriage Mandate will fix that in a jiffy, across the spectrum of sexual preference.

“But wait!” you might say. “What about income inequality? The poorest among us can’t afford to pay a special tax for remaining single. Rich people, on the other hand, will be able to pay that tax penalty without a second thought, making bachelorhood into a special privilege for the rich!”

On the first point, we already have special dispensations for the poor with the ObamaCare mandates. In this brave new world of the Total State using its power to force people into private contracts with each other, we can still use carve-outs to ease the pressure of the collectivist boot upon the necks of the downtrodden.

True, we run into a bit of trouble if the poor – who really need the strong guiding hand of the Marriage Mandate – are exempted from its punitive powers. That turned out to be a big problem with ObamaCare, too. The expansion of Medicaid welfare dwarfs the puny number of people urged into private insurance by the Affordable Care Act, while more people than ever are using hospital emergency rooms for free primary care – the very problem this ugly trillion-dollar scheme was supposed to fix. Perhaps at the lowest income levels, we’d need subsidies instead of penalties to make the Marriage Mandate work. We’ll have to study that carefully before drafting the legislation. No problem if we make some mistakes with that bill, because the super-legislators of the Supreme Court can always fix it later.

As for the notion of a libertine youth becoming a privilege for the rich: let’s face it, they’re the only ones who can truly afford it anyway. We’ll just be acknowledging reality with our Marriage Mandate bill. Also, the funny little secret about marriage is that the higher income brackets already understand its importance – they’re statistically more likely to marry young and remain married while raising their children. Inheritance law and mega-expensive millionaire divorces give them some pretty strong incentives to embrace fidelity. Rich people forking over a special tax to spend their twenties and thirties as swinging singles, with the money used to help bring the value of marraige to the poor? What could be more appealing to income inequality crusaders?

There’s no question we’ll be able to justify using government power to fix the marriage problem, though, thanks to another controversial Court decision this week, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs ruling, which enshrined the notion of “disparate impact” as justification for vast exercises of federal power. It doesn’t matter what the intentions of individuals are any more – all that matters is statistical evidence of disparity. (The intentions of politicians, on the other hand, completely supersede the text of the laws they pass, according to the King v. Burwell decision that saved ObamaCare’s subsidies.) Well, you’ll rarely find greater statistical evidence of “disparate impact” that the horrendous damage illegitimacy has wrought upon minority communities.

To anticipate one last criticism: what about jokers who get into sham marriages to avoid the tax penalty, an especially viable proposition given that same-sex marriage is now legal, and polygamy is right around the corner? Heck, the high school football team could have a group marriage and go right on horndogging all the way into their forties, free of charge.

That’s a problem, sure, and it spotlights something we should remember about every law – there will always be avoidance strategies, and sometimes they lead to results very different than what the framers of the law desired. The tax avoidance strategies that yield less revenue to the Treasury as tax rates increase are a great example. (Say, can’t Chief Legislator-Justice John Roberts fix that now? The Supreme Court should be able to use the core argument of King v. Burwell, that the text of a law is irrelevant when the sorcerers of the Court can divine what the authors truly intended, to rewrite the entire U.S. tax code so that it lands on the sweet spot of the Laffer Curve and brings in maximum revenue with minimum public burden.)

Whoa, that was an amazing idea… maybe I should have proposed that before the Marriage Mandate. Where was I?

Oh, right, scofflaws using sham marriages to dodge the tax penalty. Hey, it’s probably going to happen, but I tend to think human nature will make it a relatively uncommon phenomenon – most straight guys and gals, the vast majority of the population, don’t want to lock themselves into phony marriages with either the same or opposite sex. I also have confidence that the beneficial effects of the Marriage Mandate will be so great that people will want to embrace legitimate unions and get right with the State, the same way ObamaCare was going to be so super-awesome that people would voluntarily abandon their old plans and sign up.

Er… okay, maybe that was a bad example, but that’s how it was sold, and I’m trying to work up a sales pitch here. Once we get the law on the books, the President and Supreme Court can modify it by fiat however they deem necessary, while Congress gets to sit and watch the fun.

Bottom line: the Marriage Mandate is an idea whose time has come. It combines the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s decisions on ObamaCare, gay marriage, and disparate impact into one atomic fireball of compulsory social justice. Conservatives will love the results, while statists will love the methods. The idea can be defended with the mightiest bellow of “DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!” that our political lungs have ever produced. Anyone who objects to this proposal will have to explain why they hate children and want them to be poorly educated and raised in poverty.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.