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War Between the State and the Family: How Government Divides and Impoverishes Paperback – 14 Mar 2007


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Morgan pulls together overwhelming evidence and data showing the benefits to adults, children, and society in general of marriage and intact families, and the problems of non-marriage, single parenthood, and divorce. -- Raymond J Keating, "The Freeman" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Patricia Morgan has published extensively on crime, the family, adoption and welfare policy over more than twenty years. Her most recent books are Family Structure and Economic Outcomes (2004), for the Economic Research Council, Family Matters: Family Breakdown and Its Consequences (a study in the New Zealand context, 2004) and Family Policies, Family Changes (based on Sweden, Italy and the UK, published in 2006). She is Visiting Fellow at the School of Humanities, Buckingham University. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
Making out the Family is something it never really was in the first place. 17 July 2014
By Junglies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been at odds with Patricia Morgan's work for some years but even more so when this monograph appeared under the Institute of Economic Affairs imprint. The IEA was renowned for it's fearless studies into the expansion of the basics of economics into areas not normally considered to be part of the notions of choice. Here the endorsement of a class ridden conservative diatribe in favour of the family undermines much of the formidable corpus of work previously carried out under the aegis of the IEA.

My first criticism is the way in which the author twists the meaning of the term incentives to effectively mean the way that the British government under both major parties has adjusted the tools of the welfare state in such a manner as to distort the social arrangements of marriage.

My second objection is to the casual way that the cultural impact of religion is not mentioned once in the text when the traditional Christian religions place such great store in the institution and especially when a news report here in North Carolina yesterday made much of protesting pastors at the threat to the law in this state which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

My biggest problem however is with her characterization of those of us of a liberal or libertarian disposition or even an individualist one as some sort of socialist because we advocate individual relations as opposed to supporting marriage.

It seems to me after closely following the text that she has two issues in mind. The first is clear, restoring the institution of marriage to it's premier position within society. The second is a little confused with the first but I believe it is a distinctly separate issue, that of reducing state spending on welfare benefits combined with the lowering of the tax burden.

What angers me more than anything is the way that she insinuates that alternatives to traditional marriage are the result of legislative changes over the years but in particular since the early 1960's following the widespread availability of contraception which, she argues, enabled men to separate sexual interactions from child rearing when another view would be to give women the ability to have some control over the timing and the number of children.

Morgan drags up marriage as in some sort of 1950s American television shows portraying happy families. She conveniently ignores the lessons of history with arranged marriages for breeding like in horses, the purchase of brides for dowries and the fact that married women were for a long time mere chattels of the husband. Men were in the powerful position of being to dictate family size to powerless women. Heaven forbid even now that women should maintain their own name after marriage and have to wear an ownership toke.

The political case against traditional marriage is that women are people too and they deserve their own lives as much as men do. What is important is choice and being able to have the ability to exercise that choice. Partly that can be achieved through education and I would articulate a policy for separate female education such that women might learn how to become independent in their own right by good financial education. I would also advocate joint bank accounts too.

Where I agree with Morgan is the need to restructure the welfare system to simplify and clarify the relations between the sexes. Fathers of children should be liable for their support as well as for enabling the mother of the child to build up a fund to provide income. Fathers who become unemployed should not receive any welfare benefits but they should be paid for the child. The state should not provide housing or any other payment unless there is a question of disability and mothers should be required to find work after a certain period. The goal should be independence not dependence. Non-paying father should understand that any arrears would always become due.

Let a thousand flowers bloom should be the call. In modern society, people should make provision for their old age and should not expect to be cared for by their children as they have enough to do. Foisting the aged and infirm onto children is a coward's way of dealing with problems caused by an aging society. Social arrangements should be a choice instead of having only the choice of being forced into an institution which does not work for all.

I could go on and on and perhaps I should write my own book to counter this

The truth of the matter is that we are a long way from the post World War II era and Morgan needs to recognize this not advocate the barefoot and pregnant patriarchal society she has spent this book doing.
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