How to Achieve Voting Power for Families

Anthony Zimmerman
February 1982
Reproduced with Permission

Again Michael Jones, Sherlock Holmes of letters, tracked down a guilty party; this time the Left which hi-jacked Lyndon Johnson's initiative for family life legislation to thereby save the sexual revolution (Fidelity, September 1991). To ensure that innovative and constructive family policies succeed better in the future, families ought to take political power into their own hands more directly. Otto Van Hapsburg made a fascinating proposal about how that might be done which deserves study. His proposal, however, has little chance to get a hearing in a political world bullied by an enormous and lucrative contraception-abortion industry, which is married to the media and which pockets a key to the national treasury. Tomorrow, however, that industry may stop its bullying tactics when it is clear that AIDS pursues sex players with the ferocity of an Achilles pursuing Hector. AIDS may be nature's cure for our suicidal addiction to pansexism.

It is Dr. Herbert Ratner who suggested that AIDS is nature's way to promote human survival. Over a hundred years ago Kierkegaard, the famous Protestant theologian, said, "The trouble with life is that you understand it backwards, but have to live it forwards." Nature, however, expects man who is guided by reason and directive natural inclinations, to understand life as he lives it forward. When man ignores nature's teachings, nature automatically strikes back as if trying to bring man back to his senses. Perhaps this is what AIDS is all about (Child and Family 20, 3. 1988, p. 179).

Epidemics of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, continues Dr. Ratner, have their genesis in multiple sex partners. In a population of faithful monogamy AIDS and other STD's would not extend beyond the monogamous unit. "Nature's script, in effect, becomes the prescription protecting man and woman from epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases" (p. 182).

Both primitive and later societies which adhered to nature's script and in which lifelong monogamy is the norm, have been notably free of sexually transmitted disease, continues Dr. Ratner. Whereas in societies where sexual morals became lax and sensual and erotic life became an end in itself, where multiple sex partners were commonplace, where abortions multiplied, and an anti-child mentality developed, there the family unit broke down. This accounted for the decline and downfall of Rome, for example.

The race today as Dr. Ratner rightly observes, is characterized by infidelity to family, country and religion, by raised dissension between man and woman, single parent and broken homes, insecure childhood which carries over to insecure adulthood, sex deliberately separated from norms, rampant sexually transmitted disease, a sharp increase in sterility, seemingly uncontrollable drug abuse, a growing trivialization of the value of life as seen in abortion on demand and the promotion of infant and adult euthanasia. To rescue humans from racial suicide, nature has thrown down the gauntlet of AIDS, concludes Dr. Ratner:

Nature above all wants her highest product, man,to survive and thrive. She has apparently thrown down the gauntlet with AIDS. It is as if nature is saying. "You have misbehaved long enough; get back to abstinence and monogamy or perish." The sooner we live up to this fact of life, the sooner will mans destiny be secured and the sooner manwill. reap the benefits of the natural institution of the family, the cornerstone of society (Ibid. p. 184).

Thomas Molnar, relying on Juvenal's satires, describes abuses of decaying Rome which are like an eerie pre-run of the modem aberrations which Dr. Ratner described (see "Juvenal's Satire, Our Decadence" in The Human Life Review, Summer 1991, pp. 88-96). "Adultery, notes Juvenal, is the oldest of all crimes, confirming what all ages have known, that dissolution begins at home and is, first of all, sexual in character" (Ibid. P. 9 1).

Feminists and homosexuals, once influential in the fall of Rome, are duplicating their baleful wreckage, work today:

What stands out is Juvenal's indirect message to our feminists. He grasped the fact that... women's capacity and vocation to hold families together is just as important as manly virtues are in politics and on the battlefield. The decadence of the state begins with the loosening of women's conduct, their surrender to luxury, to eager seducers to the gradually acquired habit of watching sexually explicit shows, even the use of four-letter words. The corrupt woman of pivotal importance in Juvenal's judgment, the more so because Rome used to be puritanical--like New England.

The second thing that stands out in Juvenal's portrait of Romansociety around 110-130 A.D., that is at the zenith of prosperity and power, is the ubiquitous homosexuality. No, imperial Rome did not pass grotesque laws enforcing the presence of pederast teachers in the classroom or homosexual couples in rent-controlled apartments; it did the near-equivalent, open toleration. But here too, the main fault is women's. Their imitation-male behavior, contempt for marriage and family-their presence at cruel and obscene circus games-weakened men's self-image, tempted them to favor the company of other men, then of boys and transvestites....

Juvenal's was a cry in the desert, because societies do not learn, from others, or from their own defects (Ibid. p. 95).

When societies as such did not learn to correct their defects, they became monuments on the roadside of human history; thus far, howeverhumanity has been able to continue its forward thrust after leaving behind decadent civilizations; oceans and mountain barriers insulated cultures from each other, so that not all humanity died out when this or that social group did. And when humanity began increasingly to gel into one society with the coming of the Roman Empire and global communications, Christ came to live among us, to be the yeast which renews all humanity.

But instead of rising as the yeast of Christ, humanity today is on a whoring binge, like the Israelites when Moses was away on the mountain. Planned Parenthood and associates point with pride-a pride which smells of sulphur--to, global statistics indicating that half the race in the reproductive years practices contraception. AIDS arrived swiftly, like a specific remedy. With AIDS as our stern teacher, let us take an honest look at the proposal which would increase family voting power.

So far as I know, Otto Von Hapsburg is the originator of the proposal that parents should have the right to cast a vote for each of their children who are below voting age (see 30 Days Sept.- Oct. 1990 p. 47). To that proposal we might add that unborn children should also qualify for a vote through their parents; that adopted children would qualify similarly; that only legitimately married couples now living together would be empowered to vote in place of their underage children; that spouses are still entitled to vote differently from each other, and to split the votes of their children fairly. In summary: parents and guardians get one vote, in addition to their own, for every child for whom they are providing care and education.

If voting power is thus dramatically shifted to families, political candidates would instinctively recognize the strategic importance of where the votes are so concentrated, and of catering to family needs. Large families, in turn, would sense the wisdom of caucusing to map out common policies and to make their votes count. Their family welfare is central to the issues. A candidate who opposes parental notification before abortions are performed on their children, or before condoms and Pills are distributed to them, would likely not waste time campaigning among large families; and if these are prevalent in a district, the hapless candidate may know enough to bow out even before the votes are counted.

We ask then: is such increased voting empowerment for families, in harmony with Catholic social teaching? Do families have a special right and duty to take in hand the government of the area in which they and the children live? The justification for this development is easily found in the special concern parents have to shape the environment in which their children will grow to adulthood; and to shape the future world in which their children will live.

Genesis relates how God created the family as the primary social organization who should populate the earth (Genesis 1:23 28; 2:21-24); and Christ restored the family to its original monogamous state (Mt 19:4-9). Some hunter-gatherer tribes relate, much like Genesis, how God instructed and helped families at the beginning. Seeing the family from their viewpoint helps us to focus on what is the proper relation of families to civic government.

William Thomas, who lived in the 1840s among tribes of the Kulin hunter-gatherers where Melbourne, Australia is today, wrote in "Letters from Victorian Pioneers" how these people recognized Bundjil as "the Maker of the earth, the trees, the animals and humans. They tell how Bunjil, after creating two men, gave to each of them a woman; then He spent three days with them on earth during which time He and His assistant introduced them into the ways of living here. To each man He gave a spear, and to each woman He gave a digging stick. He and His assistant then instructed them: the men in the arts of hunting the kangaroo and emu, the women in digging edible roots and tubers. He told the couples to live together as husband and wife.

The song of the Kulins here reaches a climax. For three blissful days the Creator and His assistant had been living with them, but the time to return to heaven had come. A storm arises, then gradually increases to enormous intensity; at its height it carries off Bunjil and His assistant Pallyyan - far away - into the sky and out of sight.

Here the narration rises to a more solemn tone again, in a kind of thought parallelism. in which the "far away" phrase at the conclusion resonates the painful longing with which the new people gazed at their Creator, who had placed them into this new universe.

The blissful joy of the Supreme Being when contemplating His creation, writes Wilhelm Schmidt, and the cheerful splashing of His helper in the waters -- and the teachings that both of them impart to the new humans -- all this is enclosed in an idyllic and peaceful paradise, which is in no way disturbed by even the slightest kind of disharmony, or any sign at all of discord among the persons who make their appearance on the scene. This is genuine and most ancient primeval culture (quoted from the author's Religion of Adam and Eve,Vantage Press, New York, 1991, pp. 67-73; see references there).

Our own ancestors must have experienced the close and intimate kind of family life which the hunter-gatherer economy tends to re-enforce. For them this wasfamily life. During countless generations after Adam and Eve began our race, before agriculture and herding were invented about ten thousand years ago, families were the prime providers of their own needs. Tribal government was by consensus of the families which constituted the tribes. The consensus embodied what families needed and wanted. These families typically lived for most of the year as one or several extended families in groups of perhaps twenty or thirty people; several times a year a tribe of Aborigines, consisting of perhaps 500 to 1500 persons, met to adjust differences, to feast, to celebrate the ancient myths, to arrange marriages. Clearly, families held the government in their own hands.

Technological development and urban sprawl do not basically alter the principle that families, by fundamental right, hold the reins of governmenttightly in their hands. The great moral teacher Pope Pius XII said this elegantly in a day when totalitarianism mistakenly but brazenly claimed rights over persons and families regardless of their welfare:

Hence, it is the noble prerogative and function of the State to control, aid and direct the private and individual activities of national life that they converge harmoniously towards the common good. That good can neither be defined according to arbitrary ideas nor can it accept for its standard primarily the material prosperity of society, but rather it should be defined according to the harmonious development and the natural perfection of man. It is for this perfection that society is designed by the Creator as a means.

To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations....

Further, there would be danger lest the primary and essential cell of society, the family, with its well being and its growth, should come to be considered from the narrow standpoint of national power, and lest it be forgotten that man and the family are by nature anterior to the State, and that the Creator has given to both of them powers and rights and has assigned them a mission and a charge that correspond to undeniable natural requirements (Pius XII, Encyclical "Function of the State in the Modern World" 20 October 1939).

The principle that governments exist for the service of individuals and families is clear enough; whether families and individuals will effectuate this principle into existing governments more surely and completely if parents with children receive the right to vote in place of these children does not necessarily follow from that principle. It is a political arrangement, and must be judged with political acumen. It is my opinion that families would have more effective control of their governments if this change were made; that is, if parents would receive one additional vote for each child under their care.

The next question to be asked is what changes ought to be made to meet the present needs of families. The problems we know quite well: abortion, contraception, divorce, sterilization, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, living together without formal marriage, mothers drawn out of homes, feminism which disturbs male-female harmony, and more. A broader problem is the increase in numbers of salaried employees in contrast with falling numbers of the self-employed and family workers; this migration of workers from primary industries into the secondary industries and services is a factor of economic development. The ubiquitous pay check tends to measure the values of family contributions falsely: it tells the lie that the salary recipient does more for the family than the home-keeper. Might there be a way to adjust the salary system so that the wife of the wage earner feels equally important in the family as the wife of a farmer and shop owner?

The problems are enormous, prodding us to think big. Let us assume that AIDS has thoroughly discredited the pansexists, and families are prepared to legislate a public moral code favorable to the traditional family, and to make suitable provisions for the economic and social needs of families in an advanced economy. The provision of day care centers for small children, to free mothers to enter the labor force, is much on the minds of people in Japan today. But this has been tried elsewhere and found wanting. The Swiss experience is a disaster.

Tax Supported Day Care Centers? Sweden did that. Families learned that the mother must now work outside the home to earn the money to pay others to take care of HER children. And those others don't always educate the children according to the minds of the parents. The original designers of Sweden's programs did not think parents could handle the job or caring for their children as well as the state could. Besides, women ought to be out there where the action is, not imprisoned at home. Alva and Gunmar Myrdahl, both NobelPrize recipients, wrote in their book called Crisis in the Population question, 1930:

It's still possible for weak, stupid, lazy, unambitious, and other less equipped individuals to remain and make their way within the domestic world, both as housewives and servants. And for the rest, prostitution is always available (p.249; quoted by Katerina Runske, "Daycarism & Socialism in Sweden" Human Life International, Reprint 17).

Sweden's "Minister of Equality" continues Mrs. Runske, said that housewives belong in the museum; a large daily paper proclaimed housewives to be "traitors." The fact Is that taxes are so high, to pay for all the government welfare, that 86 percent of the women work outside of the home, although a majority (74% of the conservatives, 43% of the socialists, for an average of 51%) totally want to be at home if they could afford It. "We are forced to work, and that is the reality of the Swedish paradise today" observes Mrs. Runske. Socialist women aim to have a law that every Swedish child from three years will have to be sent to a day care center. And you have no choice about which center to choose. More: Mrs. Runske gives examples of the curriculum, the books used; pornography, like a picture book of "how to make children." In history books, the great ones are all socialists.

In conclusion to the problem of day care centers: families should vote against tax supported day care centers. Privately owned day care centers, and privately arranged services, responding to parental needs and market forces, with some government regulation are preferable in every way; they avoid the fatuous system by which parents are elbowed out of the way by a state which seeks to monopolize the education of the very young children.

Anti-abortion Legislation: Restore the laws as they once were essentially, to forbid all abortion and traffic in abortifacients. The need to make exceptions is a myth, so no exceptions shall be made. Pregnant mothers, however, may receive the indicated medical care to preserve life and health according to the recognized principles of good morals and good medicine.

Contraceptives and Sterilization: Forbid the manufacture and sale of contraceptives as formerly, and forbid sterilization for contraceptive purposes of man and woman. The government does not enter the bed room, but it does inspect drug factories and sales outlets to enforce the ban on contraceptives, and it monitors the medical profession to enforce the ban on sterilization. School based clinics of Planned Parenthood inspiration would then lose their raison d'etre.

Marriage Incentive Measures: Japanese young women, having tasted freedom while single and employed, "are reluctant to conform to the kind of marriage that men favor," claims a Japanese feminist (Kyodo, July 26, 1991). In Japan recently the age at first marriage is gyrating upwards, and the birth rate is falling through the bottom. The situation is typical among other currently developed countries.

Under the proposed parental power voting system, parents will want to create an environment which will render the marriage commitment at a suitable age attractive to their sons and daughters. (We know that priestly and religious vocations also tend to come in greater abundance from large families.) Taking our cue from the Old Testament, we should make newlyweds feel special:

When a man is newly married, he is not to be drafted into military service or any other public duty; he is to excused from duty for one year, so that he can stay home and make his wife happy (Deut 24:5).

Freeing newlyweds from public duty today is best realized by giving them a tax-free year. With the marriage license they should be entitled to a credit card, valid for one year from the day of the marriage, which exempts them from ALL taxes, including supermarket sales tax. They offer the card to the accountant at the gate, receive a smile of recognition, and bask in a glow of public approval. The tax jubilee year for newlyweds should be given only once in a lifetime, and perhaps not given to those who marry younger than twenty years of age. The idea would need testing, but I throw it out to you for consideration.

Child Allowances:Japan's population replacement rate is depressed at only 1.53 children born to replace two parents. Most developed countries have a similar problem. As an incentive to bear more babies, I suggest an additional tax-free year for couples upon the birth of every child; but to encourage healthy spacing, the tax free time should begin not less than two years after the previous birth; if the next birth is earlier, parents forfeit the tax benefits of the months before the two year dateline. No benefits are to be made for surrogate baby bearing, nor for fruits of in vitro conception. Should the family be on relief or below the poverty line, where tax benefits, are minimal, child allowances (below) may be increased on a sliding scale system.

For children under parental care through age eighteen, child allowances and/or tax exemptions ought to be generous enough to expand parental freedom to decide about the number of offspring, without fear of excessive economic hardship. The benefitsshould be so regulated that the mother has a viable option to remain at home and have another child, or to enter the labor force. Three or four children per family may then replace the one or two, more rarely three, of today. And parents who love large families will be able to manage more easily, to enrich themselves and the children with this added humanity, for the benefit of the nation and the joy of the Church.

You arc and represent large families, those most blessed by God and specially loved and prized by the Church as its most precious treasures. For these families offer particularly clear testimony to three things that serve to assure the world of the truth of the Church's doctrine and the soundness of its practice....

Wherever you find large families in great numbers, they point to: the physical and moral health of a Christian people; a living faith in God and trust in His Providence; the fruitful and joyful holiness of Catholic marriage (Pius XII, 22 January 1958).

Splitting the Family Wage:It is proposed that employers pay half the salary to the worker, the other half to the home-maker spouse; this in recognition of the reality that husband and wife form an economic unit. If both draw a salary, both salaries should be split even. This also blunts sensibilities about sexual discrimination in wage levels; even if the wage she draws is less than his, the payments arc made to one team, equally.

What should be done if the couple divorces? In the Japan situation it happens too frequently that the wife feels bound in duty to care for the children until they are on their own; but when the nest is empty she leaves him. In view of this and other considerations, I think the full pay should be made to the worker alone after divorce. The prospect of losing this support may help couples to ride out storms. However, after divorce, the employer is enjoined by the court to pay alimony directly to the spouse who cares for the children. I think sharing the wages half and half while married will help husband and wife to share other things of life more mutually and generously as well.

Care for the Elderly:In Japan elderly citizens arc a bonanza for hospitals and clinics, which receive national health insurance fees for their hospitalization, treatment, and medication. Catch a cold, and the hospital may try to justify a whole series of tests, and send the patient home with bucketfuls of medicine, all paid for through public health insurance. The government's watchful attempt to control excesses is only partially successful. If you need medicine in Japan, make the rounds of homes with elderly people, and collect medicines which they did not use. As you might have guessed from this, there is no push for euthanasia by the medical profession in Japan. Who wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

The government also watches to prevent families from hospitalizing their elderly folks for reasons of mere economy and convenience, where most of the hospital fees paid by health insurance. Problems associated with care for the elderly will grow enormously as Japans population takes on a more visible tint of silver.

Shall we not provide monetary incentives to reward sons and daughters who care for the elderly and disabled at home? For example, by providing monthly government allowances to the home care taker? I think the Lord is not opposed to firming up the third commandment by providing dutiful sons and daughters an economic incentive to do with joy what they ought to do anyway.

Housing: A banker friend in Japan recently declared his conviction, loud and clear, that home ownership is the key to more stable family life and a higher birthrate in Japan. For many years, long before the recent scandal of the "bubble economy" came to public notice, the price of land has been allowed to rise through real estate speculation, until middle class salary workers cannot buy their own home. The banker has three children; one will inherit the home of the parents; for the second he bought a piece of land some years ago; for the third he cannot afford to buy land, the price being too high. And he is a banker, above the level of other wage earners.

Parents, possessing the power of the ballot, will wish to ensure that their married children can own homes, whether condominiums or single housing units. How to bring that about by legislation? The banker pondered, said Japan started regulations too late, and must now hold land prices on a horizontal plane while inflation creeps slowly upward in the rest of the economy. Perhaps readers can suggest more innovative solutions.

The liberal Left, reports Michael, once torpedoed an initiative of Lyndon Johnson to construct a policy more favorable to families in the USA. A new effort to construct and implement a healthy family policy can be timed to move in behind the AIDS bulldozer.

An AP bulletin from Bangkok, 15 October 1991, sees a problem ahead; WHO expert on AIDS, A. K. Marson, predicted a tremendous and worldwide increase this decade in AIDS cases and deaths; he projected figures: 30 to 40 million men, women, and children by the year 2000, will have been infected with HIV since the start of the pandemic; this, he said, represents a tripling or quadrupling effect in eight years time. If we extrapolate the tripling or quadrupling effect to additional eight years, this yields 90 to 160 million infected in the year 2008; 270 to 640million in 2016; 810 to 2,560 million in the year 2024; then 2430 million to all the rest of infectable humankind in the year 2032. But people who are chaste until marriage, who are faithful thereafter, who escape accidental infection, can survive. It is to the expected survivors that we again recommend the policy once proposed by Lyndon Johnson:

The family is the cornerstone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitudes, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. When the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled.

So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together--all the rest: schools and playgrounds, public assistance and private concern, will never be enough to cut completely the circle of despair and deprivation. (To civil rights leaders, June 1965; quoted in FIDELITY September 1991 p. 24.)