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Links to Consider, 9/16
Yuval Levin on freedom as communal; Phoebe Arslanagic-Wakefield on fertility; Peter Gray on play; Alice Evans on alcohol abuse and domestic violence
Consider the rights protected by the First Amendment, which are often at the very heart of individualistic libertarianism in America. Are these really individual rights? The freedom of assembly obviously can’t be practiced individually. But neither really can the freedom of the press, of speech, of petition, or even the religious freedom that necessarily comes first. These are all rights that inhere in individuals, to be sure, but they are rights of individuals to participate in the lives of communities.
That’s a pretty good way to think about what freedom is, most of the time. It isn’t about being left alone but about being permitted to engage in social life, especially with the aim of forming others and of being formed to flourish. It is, in other words, a protection of the preconditions for exactly what people now are missing in their lives when they complain about feeling isolated and alone.
If the parenting costs theory of the Baby Boom is right, it suggests that birth rates can be increased by making it safer and easier to choose to have children. Today, the most obvious parallels with the developments that we have argued gave us the Baby Boom are cheaper household appliances that make it easier for parents to raise their children; better and more affordable maternal healthcare and fertility assistance, from more generous IVF policies to artificial wombs; and, cheaper and more plentiful housing for families.
I think that housing costs and morning sickness are the two biggest deterrents to married women having more children. Ever since thalidomide, women have been afraid to take medication to combat morning sickness, and drug companies have been afraid to try to develop such medication. But safe medication to combat morning sickness would be a huge improvement.
In the social realm, it would help to have more people marrying sooner. If you get married at 30, it is unlikely that you will have a large family.
over the past 5 decades or more we have seen, in the United States, a continuous and overall huge decline in children’s freedom to play or engage in any activities independent of direct adult monitoring and control. With every decade children have become less free to play, roam, and explore alone or with other children away from adults, less free to occupy public spaces without an adult guard, and less free to have a part-time job where they can demonstrate their capacity for responsible self-control. Among the causes of this change are a large increase in societal fears that children are in danger if not constantly guarded, a large increase in the time that children must spend in school and at schoolwork at home, and a large increase in the societal view that children’s time is best spent in adult-directed school-like activities, such as formal sports and lessons, even when not in school.
…You would think it would be obvious that taking away free play and other freedoms to act independently would make children anxious, depressed, and in some cases suicidal, but we adults are remarkably skilled at burying our heads in the sand on this issue. If you read the popular press, you would think the problem is screens and social media, or almost anything else other than the fact that we have more or less locked children up around the clock. So, here is some of the evidence we spelled out in the Journal of Pediatrics article.
…Research shows that people of all ages who have a strong internal locus of control (internal LOC), that is, a strong sense of being able to solve their own problems and take charge of their own lives, are much less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than those with a weaker internal LOC. Obviously, however, to develop a strong internal LOC a person needs considerable experience of actually being in control, which is not possible if you are continuously being monitored and controlled by others.
His substack is called “Play Makes us Human.”
In the absence of job-creation and democratisation, one feasible way to massively reduce violence is to tackle alcohol abuse. It is one of the single largest predictors of gender based violence worldwide, and it is not inevitable. Religious prohibitions, government bans and higher taxes can substantially reduce consumption.
But what about in the presence of job-creation and democratisation? Alcohol causes a lot of problems in the U.S. as well, but our famous experiment with Prohibition did not work out well.
substacks referenced above: