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Mark O'Brien

Has it crossed Julian Brazier's mind that single parent families are bad for our economy and society directly because of their sponsorship by the State? Their children drop out of school, have trouble with the law and fall into care, he says, and this is undeniable. But despite the proof, parental status can only ever be a secondary cause of each of these. What's important for a child is to have good parents (or 'parent', if necessary). That means a single mother who teaches her child the value of education and the importance of decency and respect for the law. Education can't be blamed on single parenting as much as the failure of State education coupled with the reckless 'values' that children from single parent families learn: how can a social security recipient teach a child about the work ethic? How can a mother who receives money for getting pregnant too young teach a child about being responsible? There are some more important causes of the problems of the inner city youth than simply what their birth certificate says.

However, Julian Brazier and I do agree on the importance of marriage. But he thinks that sponsoring marriage rather than single parenting and other 'harmful lifestyles' is the answer. What he doesn't notice is that the institution of marriage was in its hey-day when the State sponsored nobody's lifestyle (the Victorian, free-market era). And sponsoring nobody's lifestyle - I am certain of this - will mean that people will naturally choose marriage. It is the way of our society, and the social engineering of the Welfare State has damaged the psyche of our citizenry. Some people choose not to marry out of their own judgement. But many choose not to marry because it is penalised by the State. If married couples were not penalised and not actively encouraged, but simply left to live and work without heavy burdens of taxation imposed on them, marriage would be the state of choice for our nation's households.

The social conservatives are showing symptoms of the dangers of losing your head. They've lived under the Welfare State for so long and it's changed the way they think, so that they believe it is the government's job to sponsor peoples' lifestyles. However, I feel certain that if the government left people alone they would make the best choices, not the choices which will give them the most money from Gordon Brown.

I don't know what State sponsorship of marriage would entail. Tax credits? (HAH!) Social security benefits? But all I know is that it will, in the long-run, do more harm than good. After all, as State sponsorship of single parenting has not bettered their quality of life, what is to say State sponsorship of marriage on the same scale wouldn't damage a married family's quality of life? The new ghettoes will not be the inner cities of the industrial north, but the suburbs of the affluent south! What will further the cause of marriage in our society is not to add married couples to the list of the people whom the State 'protects' (as if they're too feeble and weak to make their own decisions when trusted) but to sponsor nobody for living whatever lifestyle they choose. That way, if people make good choices, they will be rewarded by their own efforts. And if they make bad choices, they are responsible for them.

Selsdon Man

You are so right, Mark. It is the welfare state that promotes single parent families. Young girls get pregnant to get a council flat.

The Bush administration is one of the worst in history. It is outspending the Clinton administration by more than a quarter (not counting defence!)

How are 65 programmes costing $46 billion an exercise in limited government? Are they new programmes? Given then Bush administration's reckless spending, probably yes.

Big spending=big government. Even the American Conservative Union is fed up with it. They now realise that being a Conservative and a Republican are not the same thing.

Let us be frank, the Bush administration is authoritarian and social democratic - just like Tony Blair's. That is why they are so close.

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