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For many years social conservatives have sought to limit reproductive rights for women and deny equal rights to sexual minorities in the name of “family values.” Now Republican legislators in Iowa want to limit divorce rights, saying that such limits are necessary to stop the daughters of divorced couples from becoming promiscuous (see Daily Kos, Huffington Post). I can easily see this latest conservative attack on sexual and marital rights catching on in other states. What will they think of next?

It’s obvious why grassroots religious conservatives support such efforts: Their religious beliefs dictate heterosexual marriage and parenting as the only valid way of life. Republican politicians and their financial backers obviously benefit from these efforts as a way of drawing religious conservatives to the polls to vote Republican. Less obvious are the potential economic incentives for rich conservatives to support the “family values” crusade. For employers and the wealthy, the “family values” crusade can help to ensure a surplus of low-paid labor through forced childbirth, limit employment choices for workers and tie workers to their jobs, cultivate a more docile and obedient workforce, and promote “family-style” mass consumption and consumerism.

Ensure a surplus of low-paid labor:

Forced childbirth helps to ensure a surplus of labor, including a reserve supply of unemployed workers, which benefits employers by keeping wages down and reducing workers’ bargaining power. With high unemployment, workers desperate for jobs will accept low pay and unsatisfying conditions just to have a job. When any job opening attracts hundreds or even thousands of applicants, employers can demand higher qualifications, discriminate against applicants on any basis they like, and offer little in the way of pay or benefits. High unemployment forces workers to take temporary and part-time jobs with no benefits or job security. The growth of unpaid “internships” that should be paid jobs attests to the fact that some workers now will even work without pay for the sake of getting their feet in the door somewhere. Discrimination against unemployed workers further pushes them to accept unpaid or low-paid jobs just to be able to say that they are “employed.” Unemployed workers can also be used as scabs in the event of a strike.

For all these reasons and more, employers and the wealthy have a vested interest in limiting women’s reproductive rights, limiting access to family-planning services, and cutting budgets for all tax-supported public services used by poor and working-class people. Any limitations on reproductive rights and access to family-planning services at the state or federal level will have little effect on the wealthy, who can simply jet-set to another state or another country or hire discreet private doctors for any reproductive needs they might have. De-funding family-planning services and cutting budgets for other tax-supported services—health care, education, welfare, etc.—also helps to cut taxes for the wealthy. Allowing employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control likewise helps them to cut costs. Employers and the wealthy have a vested interest in forcing the rest of us to have babies, cutting tax-supported public services of all kinds, and keeping working-class people at the poverty line or below, so desperate for a job that they will accept anything.

Limit employment choices and tie workers to their jobs, cultivate a more docile and obedient workforce:

For those so inclined, being married with children can be wonderful, and I don’t wish to disparage that way of life. After all, I’m a product of that way of life on the part of my parents. Marriage with children is also, however, a powerful coercive mechanism for getting people to work and making them work harder for less pay. Single people and people without children are far freer than the family-bound to leave a job they don’t like and seek preferable alternatives elsewhere. They are far freer to tell their employers, “I want a raise or I’m leaving,” and far freer to take the risk of union organizing or going out on strike. The family-bound have fewer options and less bargaining power with employers, and this is obviously benefits employers.

The conservative war on reproductive rights and family-planning services is related to the conservative war on public education: Cutting public education budgets, downgrading the quality of public education, demonizing unionized teachers, and making an enemy of “elitist” public higher education obviously helps conservatives to cut taxes for the wealthy. At the same time, it helps them to limit choices for working-class people by limiting their access to quality public education. The wealthy can send their children to exclusive private schools and private universities, where they will receive a quality education. Working-class people and their many children, meanwhile, will be trapped in a life of taking whatever jobs they can find. Overworked, under-educated, desperate workers are also less likely to make trouble for their bosses and easier to manipulate at election time—just wave the American flag and the Holy Bible and tell them to vote Republican and then get the hell back to work. Just think: If all those college students who volunteered and voted for Obama in 2008 had instead been putting in 12-hour days at a meat processing plant, John McCain might be president right now. As with reproductive rights and family-planning services, employers and the wealthy have a vested interest in enjoying quality education for themselves while denying it to the rest of us.

Promote "family-style" mass consumption and consumerism:

Just as single people and people without children have more choices on the job market, they also have more choices regarding consumption. The single and the childless can get by on less money, live in smaller homes, drive smaller cars or no cars at all, and make other consumer choices that are not necessarily the most profitable for the corporate establishment. Families with children have larger homes, drive larger automobiles, shop for children’s clothing and toys, and stock their kitchens with mass-market food items purchased at supermarket chains. Corporate consumer advertising mirrors the “prosperity gospel” of evangelical megachurches: In both, the ideal American family consists of Mom, Dad, and the kids living in an energy-gobbling single-family home and driving a gas-guzzling family van or SUV to the mall to stock up on eco-unfriendly consumer items—not some single or childless person living in a small apartment and riding a bicycle to the local hippie fair-trade shop.

In short, promoting “family values” helps employers and the wealthy to ensure a large, captive population of worker-consumer units with a limited range of options based on what is most profitable for employers and the wealthy: Force poor and working-class people to have as many babies as possible, then deprive them and their children of any tax-supported means of improving their lives. Reserve reproductive and educational choices for those who can afford them. Keep wages low. Keep working-class people poor, desperate to find a job, and then desperate to keep their jobs. Blast advertising at them so they’ll work even harder to buy those all-important consumer items you’ve convinced them they need to have. Turn them into debt-slaves and make them work still harder to pay it back. Cut their Social Security and Medicare, so you can work them until they drop dead. Why should longer life spans for working-class people mean anything but more years with their noses to the grindstone? The wealthy can enjoy a long, happy retirement, and the rest can work until they die.

Rich conservatives have an obvious political motive for their support of the religious "family values" crusade: It helps them to bring grassroots religious conservatives to the polls to vote Republican. Like the conservative war on public education, meanwhile, the "family values" crusade has many potential economic benefits for employers and the wealthy: "Family values" ties in effectively with efforts to cut taxes for the rich, to ensure a surplus of labor through forced childbirth, to limit employment options and bargaining power for workers, to cultivate a more docile and obedient workforce, and to promote a standard form of mass consumption and consumerism. For rich conservatives, “family values” is all about profit and power.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The lack of empathy and expedient manipulation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, irishwitch, blueoregon

    gets them the power and money. Try manipulating, anyone with whatever you think may work, lie, fabricate, deceive, point out an enemy. It doesn't work after a while, because you start thinking about what they will think once they realize you are lying. You feel guilt, remorse. Guess what, you are normal, you care. Imagine the world from someone else's perspective, they don't feel this, they don't care, there's nothing to stop them. In short they lack the higher emotions and the complexity of empathy. To replace this is money, which gives them direction and the motivation for more! This is where manipulation comes in, if money can't work for you maybe power will. Manipulating people means they are good for something, of some 'value'.

    To peer into the soul of a person you have to look no further than to what they care about.

    by zeepoint on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 07:57:29 PM PST

  •  My take on why rich conservatives do this (5+ / 0-)

    They KNOW without a doubt that they need people to vote against their self interests to keep pillaging the people.  Now HOW to accomplish this?

    Make fanatic idiots (fundies) think they stand with them. Why? (But we know they don't stand with the fundies, otherwise they would not balk at helping the less fortunate amongst us)
    It doesn't cost the rich anything to pass this crap so they support this crap and the fanatical idiots vote against their economic interests

    Why do you think the rich support such crap spewed by repugs, YET their companies (like Disney) give benefits to same sex couples?  They know it makes good business sense to NOT be hateful bigots, but they need the hateful bigots to vote for them, hence they support repugnant candidates & laws.

    Basically the rich support crap like this to keep useful (in their mind, SURELY NOT MINE) idiots voting against their own economic self interests.

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 08:09:01 PM PST

  •  I think more (14+ / 0-)

    that yours and my sexual freedom is just the price that the 1% are willing to pay for the political support of the socially conservative religious groups who demand it as the cost of their loyalty.

    Because wealthy single people actually consume more luxury goods than families would.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 08:10:25 PM PST

  •  In defense, condoms are cheap (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Any person who has a child they can't afford because the rich "forced" them by denying birth control is an idiot. I agree the rich want the world you describe. We don't have to give it to them.

  •  The control, subordination of women, minorities, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSophia, Homer177, Sunspots

    LGBT people, and the vast majority of Americans is the way to maintain power and use it to dominate America.  Fear and anger are the operative emotional mechanisms.  Fear of others and anger at their privilege is key to incitement of those who can be bought off with the cheap promise of a return to a nostalgic past that never existed.  The good old days can come again, just subvert these perverts, these unruly women, these immigrant hordes.  Then we can live with our kind and those others can serve us as the disowned  subordinates they are.  

    There is a new day dawning in the world of human life and it is diverse, inclusive and sensitve to basic needs and fairness of opportunity.  Those at the top who have enjoyed a 30 year spin up into the stratosphere of economic gain are not aware of the change they will be subjected to.  Ignorance is bliss, but in this instance it is a necessity.  Their rude awakening is near enough to sear their Gucci ass covers.  

  •  Disagree, I Don't Think They Give a Rat's Ass. (6+ / 0-)

    Forget cheap labor, try pricing the cost of maintaining an actual slave workforce on this continent. Tally up the dog food, barn expenses, veterinarian bills to keep the animals sufficiently productive long enough before you slaughter them in their unproductive old age.

    --I don't think you could keep an unpaid actual slave in this economy as profitably as you can buy offshore 3rd world labor that works for between a dollar a day and, in the case of my business' competition, closer to a dollar a week.

    Remember when McDonald's was accused of diluting its hamburger meat with ground up worms. Exec held up a chart showing that worm meat was more expensive than ground beef.

    I'm pretty sure the rich support sex control is because that's what the authoritarian Catholic and Evangelical forces demand, and those are the rich conservatives' indispensable populist voter base and GOTV ground troops. The RW recruited them early in the 70's, I think even before Roe vs Wade.

    It's a marketing tool not a philosophy.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 08:40:10 PM PST

  •  I have to agree with a few others (0+ / 0-)

    in the comments who say that it's more about building a coalition with the bible thumpers more than anything else.  

  •  Good call on this one. (0+ / 0-)

    You definitely called it down the middle here. The wealthy can't win on economic policies alone, so they use social issues as an excuse to screw over the workers.

    This is also why Margaret Sanger continues to be crucified years after her death in more ways than one. They call her a racist and a murderer, but she did more for human beings than any religious conservative would or could.

    I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

    by Homer177 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:51:31 AM PST

  •  Pro-natalism was policy post-WWII (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The baby boom wasn't entirely voluntary.  There was no military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about in his 1960 farewell address.

    Returning veterans needed jobs.  Women had been working traditional men's jobs while the men were in the military.  To make room, women were forced out by using their childberaring ability against them.  Childcare centers closed, birth control became contraband.  Unmarried men were discriminated against by employers.

    The Griswold decision was handed down in 1963 that stated that outlawing contraceptives was a violation of privacy.  Until that time, condoms carried a warning:  "not to be used to prevent pregnancy; for the prevention of disease only."  

    People forming families created a market for product.   This was also the era of planned obsolecense.  To this day, the U.S. has the highest rate of unintended pregnancy in the developed world.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 08:46:02 AM PST

  •  don't forget old-fashioned paternalism (0+ / 0-)

    The rich have always amused themselves with the idea that the poor are little more than animals, driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the fear of pain, who have to be taught higher standards and self-restraint so that they can be made into law-abiding and productive members of society.  Sex is one of those areas: those dumb horny beasts need to be taught to keep their clothes on - and failing that, to embrace "respectable" family life when the babies start coming - while contraception and abortion just make it easier to indulge without consequence.

  •  The 1% may regret supporting forced birthism (0+ / 0-)

    In 1808, the earliest year that the Constitution allowed, the US Congress banned the further importation of slaves.  A slaveholding president, Thomas Jefferson, signed the bill into law.  The Confederacy not only continued that ban, but wrote it into its Constitution.

    One needn't assume racial enlightenment on the part of the Confederate leadership to explain this act.  Further importation of slaves would add to the slave population -- and the Confederacy already had about 4 million slaves to 5 million free people.

    Everyone remembered what had happened in Haiti.  Everyone remembered Nat Turner.

    The proportion of working people to plutocrats is a hell of a lot higher than 4 to 5.

    Quidquid id est, timeo Republicanos et securitatem ferentes.

    by Sura 109 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:42:04 AM PST

  •  The Seed and the Sperm (0+ / 0-)

    Controlling seed (food) and sperm (soldiers & laborers) ensures power, ownership, chattel (capital), property, fertile women, fertile land, expansion, and control.

    Simple as that.  

  •  An interesting take on the unholy alliance (0+ / 0-)

    of rich conservatives and often not-so-rich social reactionaries.  

    I also find that both groups gravitate towards stern, forceful masculine leaders, i.e., "stern father figures."  In the U.S., that seems to lead people to more groups and philosophies/policies championed by the right.  In other countries, it might be different - consider the late Hugo Chavez, a champion of the left...

  •  It's all about the POWER. (0+ / 0-)

    Spanning history and geography, the patriarchal society knows it gains power by putting and keeping down women, minorities, debtors, the ill, and the unconventional, any group that can be railed against if the proper propaganda is disseminated.

    Women's rights? Chip, chip, chip...

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:37:25 PM PST

  •  i would say they don't care (0+ / 0-)

    there are really two main classes of republicans




    the corporate ones don't really give a damn about social issues. They are the big contributes to campaigns and always want more favorable fiscal laws.. but consider this. if the top 1% were all republicans.. they would only make up roughly 2% of the republicans electorate.

    That's where religious republican come in. They make up the meat of the republican voters. They come in all shapes and sizes and income brackets but mostly come in only one color. These are the ones with the crazy conspiracy theories and have desire to control people's lifestyles.

    The corporate republicans have to buy off the religious ones with their social issues in order to get votes so that the republican representative can pass the fiscal laws they want

    find away to sever the tie between corporate republicans and religious ones... and you just broke the republican party.

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