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Back to November Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 190 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS NOVEMBER 2001

Love & Economics:
Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work
Love & Economics 
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Love & Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work by Jennifer Roback Morse, Spence Publishing Co., 2001, 234 pps, $27.95

The premise for this pro-family book is that stable, traditional, loving, and self-sacrificing families are essential to a free society. The author terms as "laissez-faire" those families in which each member pursues his own interests, regardless of the needs of the others. Such families, writes Morse, "do not work or make their members very happy."

According to Dr. Morse, "a family held together by a series of contractual understandings, even the most reasonable and elaborate, turns out to be less stable than a family held together by that vague, much misunderstood, intangible quality called love."

A libertarian economist by profession, Morse admits that, while laissez-faire economics works well for the system of limited government envisioned by our Founding Fathers, a similar philosophy does not work when applied to the family. She writes that basing family life on the feminist notion of individual autonomy rather than self-giving love and commitment results in social and family turmoil. In turn, this turmoil gives rise to the antithesis of a free society: the government-run family. "Raising children collectively is comparable to centrally planning an economy," she notes, which has proven to be a complete failure wherever it has been tried.

Dr. Morse points out that the family performs an irreplaceable social function, that of transforming helpless infants "from self-centered bundles of impulses, desires and emotions to fully socialized adults." She argues that only families can teach the skills necessary to preserve freedom: trust, cooperation, and self restraint. "The government cannot replace the family in this all-important task," she writes, adding that new alternative families are not adequate substitutes either. "Single and divorced parents have difficulty producing the qualities of cooperation and connectedness in their children. Likewise, children raised primarily by paid childcare providers often have social difficulties. The fact that adults voluntarily agree to a living arrangement or childcare plan does not guarantee that the needs of their children will be met."

Morse believes that, ultimately, "Without loving families, no society can long govern itself."

Call 1/888-SPENPUB, or visit www.spencepublishing.com.


 
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