Authoritarian Russia or Republican Texas? There really isn’t that much of a difference, when you get right down to it. Take this latest brilliant idea from GOP state Rep. Bryan Salmon, who is proposing property tax cuts for married straight people who are committed to breeding. Starting at four children, you get a 40% tax cut. Ten kids? 100% tax break. No property taxes at all. “With this bill, Texas will start saying to couples, ‘Get married, stay married, and be fruitful and multiply,” Slaton said in a statement.
Married people would catch a deal too with a 10 percent tax trim, even if they don’t have kids. But there are caveats. The married couple must be a man and a woman. There is no requirement on how long they have to have been married. They can not have been divorced.
There’s a high degree of Christofascism going on here, since it’s all about straight marriage, premised on the assumption that you are already homeowners and thus high up enough on the social ladder to be worthy of this state-sponsored beneficence. It’s heavy on the culture war, something that Stalin and Putin didn’t have the luxury of demanding. But that’s certainly where the scheme originates.
In 1944, following a decade of his purges, as well as massive losses in WWII, Stalin decided Russians needed to start replenishing the population. In came the “Order of Maternal Glory,” encouragement of Russian women to become “Hero mothers.” It didn’t really matter to Stalin if they were married or not—he just needed the production.
Along with some snazzy medals (first-class to mothers who bore nine children—they didn’t all have to still be alive; second-class to mothers of eight; third-class to mothers of seven) the Hero Mothers also got perks, including childcare assistance, boosts to their pensions, and priority access to foods and other goods that were in constant short supply. The award existed until 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved. Most of the former republics ended it.
Then in 2022, Putin revived it, again looking at the demographic necessity of decades of a declining population and a new war. That and a decided bent toward reviving Stalinism. The revived “Mother Heroine” award comes with a million rubles, about $16,500 in 2022 dollars. Putin is stingier than Stalin, though—mothers can only get it with 10 children once that 10th kid turns 1 year old, and all of the other children have to have survived.
Kristin Roth-Ey, an associate professor at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, said its comeback is “obviously a conscious echo of the Stalinist past.” She added that it is “part of being a good Russian citizen,” as is common in other “authoritarian … nationalist movements that we see in places like Hungary and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe.”
And now Texas. Can Florida be far behind?
Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego has thrown his hat into the ring! Gallego will try to take progressive-turned-bizarre-centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat in 2024. Today on The Brief, Markos and Rep. Gallego talk about the state of the country and his campaign, and what Americans want from the officials they elect to office.