Saturday, October 03, 2009

Lex Luthor Buys Small Montana Town

A mysterious, and mysteriously well-funded "private security" company bought an unused prison in Hardin, MT for a "training facility." They are named "American Police Force" and use a double-headed eagle with a crown as their symbol. This is the same symbol that the sometime royal family of Serbia uses. Yes, nothing says American like a crowned symbol of European nobility.

This story reminded me of Blackwater, the Bush administration's favored mercenaries, who were led by a character right out of "Superman," Erik Prince. After Blackwater got lots of bad publicity for shooting civilians they changed the company name to Xe, heading further into the blackwater of comic book world.

Sure enough, American Police Force seems to be a spinoff of Xe.

Friday, October 02, 2009

"Loss of Consortium" Should Not Apply to the Dead

Kentucky law, like many states' laws, allows you to sue if someone incapacitates your spouse, causing you to suffer "loss of consortium." That means you are deprived of the "emotional and physical comfort" that a spouse can give - emphasis on the physical. If, for example, a hospital makes a mistake that leaves your spouse in a coma, you can sue for loss of consortium. The law does not apply, though, if your spouse dies.

Until now. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled yesterday that widows and widowers can sue for loss of consortium. Judge Mary Noble, writing for the court, wrote that it "defies common sense" for the law to let you sue if your spouse is incapacitated, but not if your spouse dies.

No, it doesn't. If your spouse is incapacitated, you can't enjoy consoritium, and there is nothing you can do about it. If that condition is due to someone else's error, you can sue them, and rightly so. If your spouse dies, then obviously you can't enjoy consortium with them. But there is something you can do about that condition: get married again.

The loss of consortium law was not created to give people a legal right to sex. It was a recognition that marriage was meant to be exclusive and to last until death.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

African American Marriage Index

Yesterday I posted on the National Marriage Index created by the Institute for American Values. They worked in conjunction with the National Center for African American Marriages and Parenting at Hampton University for produce a parallel index for black families. Each point on the African American index for 2008 is lower than the corresponding national number, and, therefore the overall index is lower - 39.6 vs. 60.3 (out of 100).

The main element dragging the black marriage index down are the rates affecting children. Nationally, 60.3% of children are born to married parents, and 61% of children are living with their own parents. The corresponding numbers for African American children are a dismal 28.4 and 29%, respectively.

The good news, though, is that the percent of intact first marriages among African Americans crept back up over the 50% threshold since 2000 - to 50.1%. This is movement in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

National Marriage Index

The Institute for American Values has produced a National Marriage Index. This is a valuable tool for charting the basic strength of marriage as an institution. It is composed of five measures:
  • Percentage of adults married
  • Percentage of married people "very happy" in their marriage
  • Percentage of first marriages intact
  • Percentage of births to married parents
  • Percentage of children living with own married parents.
The bad news is that index is only 60.3, a straight-line decline from 76.2 (out of 100) from 1970. The good news is that the declines in two of the five items - happy marriages and kids living with the parents - have leveled off, and one - intact first marriages - has increase since the turn of the century.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roma Can't Kidnap Kentucky Girls For Marriage, Even if it is Their Culture

A Kentucky girl whose family is from Bosnia was kidnapped by a South Dakota family, also from Bosnia, to marry their son. She was 14. Both families appear to be Roma (gypsy), though that has not been declared officially. The girl's parents pressed charges, the girl was returned, and the South Dakotans were arrested.

Arranged marriages of young girls are common among European Roma. The girls are not normally kidnapped - this case came to light only because the boy's parents neglected to secure the consent of the girl's parents. But the arrangement is common, even among Roma immigrants to this country. The girls normally drop out of school after they marry.

Sometimes we get ourselves into a tangle trying to be accepting of other people's cultural practices. This is easier when they do those practices Over There. When they bring them to this country, though, American expectations start to kick in. This is how we discover the real limits to our cultural diversity.

Kidnapping children to make them marry your children is beyond the pale.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Religous Nones Are Not Anti-God, But Disconnected From Institutions

The report "American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population" from the American Religious Identification Survey shows that a growing percentage of the population list no religion. Barry Kosmin, the lead researcher, projects that perhaps as many a 20% of Americans will be religious "nones" by 2030, up from the low teens now.

However, very few (7%) are atheists. Most are skeptics. They seem to me to be skeptics of institutions even more than of theology.

I have noticed in other research that unmarried people tend to be less attached to other institutions, as well. The nones are 39% unmarried, compared to 25% of the adult population as a whole. The nones are also much younger than most Americans, and many of them will affiliate later. Still, even adjusting for age, the nones are 33% unmarried, compared to 28% of their age-adjusted cohorts.

Elizabeth Marquardt found that children of divorce are less likely to affiliate with religious institutions. This report does not show the marital status of the respondents' parents. However, children of divorce are more likely to put off marriage, which is one reason that the children of divorce tend to show higher proportions unmarried at every age. I think it likely that the nones are disproportionately the children of divorce. They are skeptical of many institutions of traditional adulthood. But they don't reject the belief that lies behind them.

I think a large proportion of the religious nones are institutionally disconnected. When they find a way to connect to one institution, they are likely to connect to others, as well.