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08/03/2008

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John

Why is the rate of divorce seen as a sign of national decline? Divorce is always seen by some as pathological; an unhealthy behavior like substance abuse, which is always personally tragic and for which programs should be created so that it can be avoided at virtually any cost.

It is difficult to see the upside of increasing rates of violent crime or drug addiction, two phenomena most people would agree are adverse to social welfare (even by those who believe the US is not declining). But high rates of divorce are different. Divorces are voluntary transactions, people get divorced because they want to. There are benefits to divorce as people who are dissatisfied with their marriage can move on and live a happier life.

In addition to personal benefits, there are also social ones. Spousal abuse and child abuse are two factors cited by petitioners in divorce proceedings and those issues, presumably, would be mitigated somewhat by divorce. Substance abuse could rise as a result of the stress of legal confinement in an unhappy relationship.

The US' rise in the post World War II era coincided with the growing acceptance of divorce. Ireland's economy (the Celtic tiger) took off around the same time divorce became legal.

I know it is simplistic to look at divorce in isolation when looking at the causes of a complex phenomena like the US' potential decline. I just don't think that divorce should be evaluated as a cause of decline, but rather, it may have a net social benefit.

Josh SN

Daniel,

I didn't say he invented tariffs, but "infant industry protection" through tariffs. Nice use of the word regurgitation? No. I was wrong about that.

I've read months of the debates of the 1st Congress on tariffs. Hamilton wasn't there. What he wanted was fairly irrelevant. I've read his ideas of "infant industry protection" were not, in fact, adopted till later. In fact, that's what your link says. Thanks for making my point for me. Too bad I had to waste my time reading your link to support my argument.

I never said he wanted "especially high tariffs" ever. You are repeatedly making "stuff" up and refuting it. You hardly need me for this argument at all! The (northern, manufacturing base) Federalists supported higher tariffs than the Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans.

You are free to point to anything _other_ than the economy that Becker and Posner are talking about. You tried already, but only pointed out something that Posner was saying didn't have much impact on the economy. Posner did, briefly, mention raw military power, but, as I said before, most of that conversation was really about military expenditures.

I think what you don't like to hear is that, by and large, I'm right. Neither Becker nor Posner anywhere mention freedom, liberty, justice or independence.

You make one point, about tariff rates, which is interesting in the current context. The Federalists, Whigs and Republicans (before Hoover) believed in a larger government, and the main source of revenue was tariffs. So, the early "left" was, by its nature, relatively protectionist, as it is now, and for large government, which is what the "left" is by definition, and, yet, the right calls itself Federalist.

BO Bill

I disagree with the Professor and believe that we are in economic decline. If you break down the Jobs Report, we are steadily losing manufacturing, construction, and business jobs, which, in my opinion, create value. We are steadily gaining health care and government jobs, most of which take wealth away from the value creators.

I see a consumer economy that is sustained through borrowing and deflating the currency, neither of which is sustainable. Unless our electorate votes themselves entitlement cuts, which they won’t, does it not become inevitable that people will stop loaning the government money? Then what?

I’m not sure either so I have a large garden.

Daniel

Wow Josh - I'm rather enjoying getting you all riled up over this.

What I said was "Hamilton didn't invent the idea" - which I meant to imply infant industry protection, not just tariffs themselves. Regardless, why the hell do you think they were even imposing tariffs in England before Hamilton? For the fun of it? They were trying to protect their relatively undeveloped industries from imports from the Continent and beyond.

Could we agree on: "Alexander Hamilton was one of the earlier explicit proponents of the theory of infant industry"? Geez...

And I'm not sure what you mean by: "I've read his ideas of "infant industry protection" were not, in fact, adopted till later. In fact, that's what your link says. Thanks for making my point for me." Pretty much every tariff Hamilton suggested was adopted in 1792. Its not that his program wasn't adopted until later - it was adopted immediately. What was adopted later was a STRONGER, more protectionist tariff... a non-Hamiltonian tariff, if you will. Tariff levels that he opposed when he was at Treasury. I would hardly say that his "ideas were not adopted till later".

You are right that northern manufacturers supported higher tariffs, but wrong to say that the Federalists did (or at least Hamilton and Washington - I can't claim to chronicle what all the federalists thought). Jefferson and Madison both passed substantially higher tariffs than Hamilton ever proposed or wanted in their trade war with Britain.

The point is, Hamilton wasn't particularly enthusiastic about using tariffs to protect industries - he was very enthusiastic about promoting industries with subsidies and strong national credit markets.


And please read what I'm saying about Posner and Becker! I'm not saying they talked about anything other than economics in any substantial way. what I'm saying is, quite simply: "who cares". Nobody's beliefs are encapsulated in a single blog post, and its quite understandable that these two particular bloggers are going to focus on economics - its what their readers want. It does not mean its the only thing in the world they care about - GET OVER IT.

Daniel

One more thought - Drew McCoy is a great source on differences between Federalists and Republicans on this stuff - especially the way that Republicans ultimately co-opted core Federalist constituencies by going overboard on the initial, modest, Hamiltonian protection plan.

Why do you think the Republicans dominated the political scene for decades? They beat the Federalists at their own game... and when the Federalists lost the average northerner, all they had left were the bankers - and although bankers are useful to have around, that's not a constituency that's going to win you any elections.

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