« Obama as Robin Hood: Why Soaking the Rich Doesn't Work | Main | Attention, Crimethtopperth »

May 29, 2008

Women Voters As A Destabilizing Social Force

Interesting theory from John Lott: has the increasing presence of female voters in the electorate acted as a destabilizing influence on society? My phrasing is much stronger than his, but I believe this is the logical implication of his thesis:

Can women's suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries help explain the growth of government?

While the timing of the two events is suggestive, other changes during this time could have played a role. For example, some argue that Americans became more supportive of bigger government due to the success of widespread economic regulations imposed during World War I.

A good way to analyze the direct effect of women's suffrage on the growth of government is to study how each of the 48 state governments expanded after women obtained the right to vote.

Women's suffrage was first granted in western states with relatively few women — Wyoming (1869), Utah (1870), Colorado (1893) and Idaho (1896). Women could vote in 29 states before women's suffrage was achieved nationwide in 1920 with the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

If women's right to vote increased government, our analysis should show a few definite indicators. First, suffrage would have a bigger impact on government spending and taxes in states with a greater percentage of women. And secondly, the size of government in western states should steadily expand as women comprise an increasing share of their population.

Even after accounting for a range of other factors — such as industrialization, urbanization, education and income — the impact of granting of women's suffrage on per capita state government expenditures and revenue was startling.

Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting.

Yet, as suggestive as these facts are, we must still consider whether suffrage itself caused the growth in government, or did the government expand due to some political or social change that accompanied women's right to vote?

Fortunately, there was a unique aspect of suffrage that allows us to answer this question: Of the 19 states that had not passed women's suffrage before the approval of the 19th Amendment, nine approved the amendment, while the other 12 had suffrage imposed on them.

If some unknown factor caused both a desire for larger government and women's suffrage, then government should have only grown in states that voluntarily adopted suffrage. This, however, is not the case: After approving women's suffrage, a similar growth in government was seen in both groups of states.

Women's suffrage also explains much of the federal government's growth from the 1920s to the 1960s. In the 45 years after the adoption of suffrage, as women's voting rates gradually increased until finally reaching the same level as men's, the size of state and federal governments expanded as women became an increasingly important part of the electorate.

But the battle between the sexes does not end there. During the early 1970s, just as women's share of the voting population was leveling off, something else was changing: The American family began to break down, with rising divorce rates and increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock births.

Over the course of women's lives, their political views on average vary more than those of men. Young single women start out being much more liberal than their male counterparts and are about 50 percent more likely to vote Democratic. As previously noted, these women also support a higher, more progressive income tax as well as more educational and welfare spending.

But for married women this gap is only one-third as large. And married women with children become more conservative still. Women with children who are divorced, however, are suddenly about 75 percent more likely to vote for Democrats than single men. So as divorce rates have increased, due in large part to changing divorce laws, voters have become more liberal.

Women's suffrage ushered in a sea change in American politics that affected policies aside from taxes and the size of government. For example, states that granted suffrage were much more likely to pass Prohibition, for the temperance movement was largely dominated by middle-class women. Although the "gender gap" is commonly thought to have arisen only in the 1960s, female voting dramatically changed American politics from the very beginning.

Question: Lott mentions that the American family began to "fall apart" just as the numbers of female voters began to level off. He notably fails to mention another sea change that took place in the American electorate at just about that time: the influx of illegal immigrants.

What, if any, effect could this have had on the ever expanding role of the federal government?

Also, he conflates two types of political influence I don't think are rightly conflated: allowing women to vote and the willingness of Americans to vote for a female President. Those are vastly different propositions: one can be entirely willing to allow women to vote while being unwilling to see a woman in the Oval Office. What do you think of Lott's thesis?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Posted by Cassandra at May 29, 2008 08:52 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


What about the most basic characteristic of a democratic government, that if you introduce a new block of potential voters (i.e.; illegal aliens or women) the more pandering of politicians will seek to appeal to that block of voters thus increasing the size of government to "buy" their votes. Conservatives have National Security (military industrial complex) as a carrot, Liberals have nanny state initiaties, (nationalized health care) and Libritarians have a free-for-all (legalize drugs, prostitution; etc.). If all of a sudden chimpanzees were granted human rights and were released from zoos and others started to emigrate to the United States we'd find politicians promising farm subsidies to banana growers and television shows that would exploit our evolutionary challenged brothers by dressing them in funny clothes would first be criticised, sued, forced to pay reparations and ultimately litigated out of business.

Posted by: Esbiem at May 29, 2008 10:35 AM

If all of a sudden chimpanzees were granted human rights and were released from zoos and others started to emigrate to the United States we'd find politicians promising farm subsidies to banana growers and television shows that would exploit our evolutionary challenged brothers by dressing them in funny clothes would first be criticised, sued, forced to pay reparations and ultimately litigated out of business.

Oh, you have made my day :p

That was brilliant.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 29, 2008 10:44 AM

There is seldom just one reason or cause for anything, what a narrow view. But I suppose the notion that "if you could just go back in time and change one thing in history then everything else would straighten itself up" is held by many people.

Everything changes over time and you either learn to embrace it and get involved so you can have a say in the way things change, or you whine about "the good old days," and have no say in the outcome of your life. Trent Baby: look at what you have and then figure out a way to get the best outcome. It's called living, and personally I like it and the challenges it brings!

Posted by: Samantha West at May 29, 2008 11:23 AM

Power hungry politicians would be spared the expense of $5000 hookers! They could score with a box of Chiquita bananas. Humans would end up on the inside of the zoo looking out and the new CHIMPYWOOD suits would replay "Planet of the Apes!"

Posted by: vet66 at May 29, 2008 12:26 PM

Oh! The inanity...err...the Humanity!

Posted by: The Ghost of Elliot Spitzer's Conscience at May 29, 2008 12:35 PM

I dunno. I'd like to see more background information, actually, like how did the governments of the states compare where women voted and didn't vote before 1920? I'm not sure I follow his reasoning there; if it was women's votes alone that made the difference why wasn't there a difference between the two groups *before* universal sufferage? Or why the government didn't get back to pre-war levels after WWI but before 1920. My husband pointed out that growth of wealth itself often leads to growth of government--and there certainly was a lot of wealth sloshing around in the roaring 20's. How does the US compare to other countries where wealth grew but women's votes didnt'?

The article itself says women's share of the vote didn't reach the male numbers until the 1970's. What accounted for the growth up to that point? If women were a smaller share of the votes up to then, then a large number of men had to be voting in favor of these changes too--the famale vote would have only acted as an addition to a pro male vote, not the definitive, and could still have been overruled by a majority male vote against. The crash in the 1930's (a time when most families were still the 'traditional', and when women were still a smaller proportion of the vote) left men the ones who would want more government as in social safety nets--a matter of economic class/expectations rather than gender. This was also when the Communist Party and unions were making great strides...I don't see him taking changes in viewpoints of the male portion of society into account. If women had little impact in the western states because of low numbers before 1920, why would they have had such a disproportionate impact immediately afterwards, when the article itself says female voting numbers didn't reach male numbers until much later? The New Deal etc were male initiatives with a large following among male voters. Given the conditions during the Great Depression I submit that these would have passed whether women voted or not.

And I dunno again. I 'grew into' a more conservative viewpoint in my 20's--and kept it through marraige, divorce, single motherhood and remarraige. There are also young, single women in the conservative ranks. I'd like to see what he bases that statement on.

He's made a dandy case for correlation but I'm not willing at this point to agree on causation.

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 29, 2008 12:37 PM

Look buddy, this isn't as easy as it looks.

One minute you have millions of adoring fans. The next your fur is turning green and you're being upstaged by some upstart cub in the next exhibit.


Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 29, 2008 12:38 PM

Women's suffrage ushered in a sea change in American politics...

As well it should! *Any* group of human beings forced to endure governmentally-sanctioned suffering deser --


Posted by: BillT at May 29, 2008 02:53 PM

This reminds me of that episode of The Man Show where Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla went to various womens rights rallies and got huge numbers of women to sign a petition to "End Womens' Suffrage Now". Remember, this was done by women who were politically active enough to attend a political rally.

Posted by: a former european at May 29, 2008 04:24 PM

...this was done by women who were politically active enough to attend a political rally.

Jimmy and Adam were *women*?

Who'd a-thunk it...

Posted by: BillT at May 29, 2008 04:39 PM

Fortunately, there are three things you can always count on from American voters: greed, stupidity, and ignorance.

Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 29, 2008 04:43 PM

Oh, and...

/smack!!!! :p

Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 29, 2008 04:43 PM

Greed, stupidity, ignorance and smack?

Wait one -- I'm expecting the Spanish Inquisition any minute, now...

Posted by: BillT at May 29, 2008 05:15 PM

Hah! NOObawdee expects thee Spanish Inquisition!

Posted by: Binky Torquemada at May 29, 2008 05:18 PM

I agree that causation and correlation are awfully conflated here. But I would throw another log on the fire and point out that women's voting rates leveling off and the family structure deteriorating also coincide with:
1) Highly available female contraception (i.e. the Pill)
2) Roe v Wade
3) The sexual revolution
4) Watergate

I would be VERY hesitant to draw conclusions from the fact that those events happened within the same time frame.

Now, I DO think sufferage DID have a massive impact on national policy, and I DO think you can trace the passage of Prohibition to the Sufferage Movement. The two were very closely allied. However, correlation and causation DO NOT MATCH. Specific proof is that Prohibition was repealed, but women did not lose the right to vote. Prohibition would likely have passed without women voters (especially given female voting rates at the time of passage), but it would have been a closer vote.

In this age, do I think women voters are that different than male voters? Not really. We all have issues that are important to us, but I don't believe any gender issue to be a split on gender lines. For example, conventional wisdom is that the pro-choice crowd is "woman friendly". However, I know a large number of pro-life women. Does that make sense? Only if you don't accept the stereotypes. Do young single women tend to be more to the left? Statistically, it seems so. But it's not a pre-determined thing.

Oh and one final note. I do want to take SOME issue with the statement "Conservatives have National Security (military industrial complex) as a carrot, Liberals have nanny state initiaties, (nationalized health care) and Libritarians have a free-for-all (legalize drugs, prostitution; etc.)" As a Libertarian, I agree (in principle) that drugs, prostitution, and all other self-destructive behaviors should be legalized (primarily to take the criminal element out of them ala the repeal of Prohibition), these are not the only, nor even the primary, issues of importance to me. My primary desire is to reduce the Federal government down to its Constitutional roles only, and leave matters that are not covered by the US Constitution to the States and the citizens (like the 10th Amendment says). But for some reason, folks hear "Libertarian" and think you must be a pot smoking hippy. I've personally never tried the stuff and have no desire to do so.

So :P

Posted by: MikeD at May 29, 2008 05:30 PM


I LOVE that you picked up on the Spanish Inquisition!

I so wanted to bring that into it :) Bring on the comfy chair!

Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 29, 2008 05:50 PM

Far be it from me to disappoint our Princess....I might never get my beer-gram.

I hope you brought the popcorn, too.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 29, 2008 07:41 PM

Given my current altered state of self-assured sub-consciousness induced by a cocktail of prescription muscle relaxers, Hulk Hogan steroids, and some wicked-assed anti-inflammatory agents, I firmly believe that I am without question the only person that can possibly shed light on the current state of this thread.

First and foremost: What is the question being asked? Is it that since women have joined the ranks of the enfranchised that the whole government thing has gone to hell in a hand basket? If so, the answer is yes. But not because women became voters, but because there entered into the political discourse a host of voices previously silenced. Sure, the country has (by and large) women voters to thank for prohibition, and the resulting rise of organized crime. But what happy-go-to-hell guy was going to outlaw beer so long he had the legal right to party his family into the poor house? Good intentions + Bad policy = Long term pain. Through their support of prohibition, women voters slapped society silly, and founded a civil tolerance for moderation that has steadily been narrowed in the ensuing decades . Hint: Don't argue with the results. When guys were completely in charge, we damned near drank civil society in chaos. In the long view, take it as you would your mother throwing you under the cold shower after you thru-piped down too much of that first taste of Southern Comfort. One hard lesson and a month's grounding later, you learned to how to better moderate your bad acts and, more importantly, how to nearly completely cover your tracks - even if that meant threatening that little snitch Norbert to within a inch of ending his sorry-assed snitch life.

Where was I? Something about women voting.

Oh yeah. Anytime that a new voting element arrives into the electorate, the first thing that happens is that every office-seeker starts speaking Spanish. No, wait. Every office-seeker starts speaking directly to the newly enfranchise voting block, and inevitably promises them "the voice" that they had heretofore been denied. Think of Irish Catholics in the late 19th Century and you wind up with Tammany Hall. Run that same demographic forward about 90 years or so and you have a policy making body dominated by such intellectual heavyweights as "Stroking" Ted Kennedy, William Adam Clayton Powell Jefferson, John "The Rock of Denial" Conyers, Maxine (Ms. Pathetic Self-Serving Dis-service")Waters, and, my choice as the last surviving immigrant to switch out the lights in Cleveland, Sid Vicious - no I mean Tom Delay. Oh what the hell. They're both dead anyway.\

There's a simple point here that I what you all to think carefully about before responding: Follow your doctor's orders and go directly to bed.

Or up the anarchy in the hope that you can stave off women enacting such proscriptive laws that would neuter roughly six thousand years of cover stories that YOUR FOREFATHERS made up to cover their asses. Why do we tolerate Iran with a nuclear bomb, but god-forbid you should come home a few hours late wearing somebody's panties on your head. Thankfully, as harmless in the short or long term, or so, your particular voting behavior might be, just so long as the dog you vote for keeps you from having to sleep with the family mutt in the backyard, we've got progress.

But here is where the truth lies upon the rubber that meets the road:
When you doctor says "You should probably go straight to bed," ignore the fascist. He is nothing but a feminist tool.

Hey, wait. I'm a feminist tool, too? Aren't I?

Hoo boy.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 29, 2008 08:19 PM

> then a large number of men had to be voting in favor of these changes too--the female vote would have only acted as an addition to a pro male vote, not the definitive

Not necessarily. The women could easily have represented a major tipping point, if their ideals were heavily weighted one way or the other... and the closer it got to even, the more weight their positions would have.

This picture of women as oppressed victims until the 60s is one that feminists like to sell. In reality, the liberation of women started in the 40s, with Rosie the Riveter -- took a short step backwards in the 50s, and then began marching forth again in the 60s. Contrast the female leads in films all during the war, with the ones from the early 50s. I'll even cite two films, two years apart, which can show the contrast:
That Way With Women (1947)
Mother Is A Freshman(1949)
Read the review for TWWW if you want a detailed description of the contrasts.

-- It's not very PC to say it, but I do concur with the notion that women tend to think more about compassionate responses to problems and not necessarily deeply consider all the ramifications that might make that compassion counter-productive in the longer run. This certainly would be a contributing factor in the tendency of the nation to be shifting steadily to a nanny-state.

That's a generic statement, and does not necessarily apply to any specific reader, male or female.

The influences of a female-dominating culture (i.e., children reared without input from the father) also provide a context into the shift since the 60s.

I'd like you to consider an editorial written in the local college newspaper some years ago:

Graphic illustration of what the hell is wrong with this society: a college male yells at a group of college females, calling them 'water buffaloes.' They tell on him, he gets put on probation, he is threatened with suspension and he is forced to take a 'sensitivity training course.'
Sensitivity; I hate that word.
Sensitivity is no longer an admirable quality. It is something forced upon everyone. Laws are being altered to force people to become 'more sensitive,' and those who are not have to fake it to avoid arrest by the New Age Police.
This is the outcome of a generation of sissies, and I tell you, it makes me sick.
All kids until now had a set of rules. If somebody called you a name you didn't take a shine to, you grabbed him and beat the tar out of him.
These were simple rules. It was a model of frontier justice, and every kid understood it. [As Bo Diddley said, 'You don't let your mouth write no check your tail can't cash.']
And it worked.
Sure, there were kids who ran and told, but they always got their tail kicked sooner or later...
But somewhere along the line, these bonehead hippies decided to instill new values in their kids; 'ALWAYS run to the teacher and squeal, NEVER stay and fight.'
So instead of learning to stand up and fight, learning to say when, kids learned to be finks and crybabies.
Of course not every single parent taught this to every sinlge kid, but it was a pervasive philosophy that slowly crept across popular conciousness. Teachers taught it in school. Babysitters reinforced it, and slowly it became the generally accepted path for childhood."
And now, the end result is more lawsuits than ever. There's lawsuits over name calling and emotional damage because some wimp gets their feelings hurt.
So when someone calls someone a name, they get reprimanded for not being sensitive. But he does not need to be. Everyone needs to quit complaining and toughen up a little.
Those women from the original example should have grabbed that guy and beaten the bejesus out of him. If you can't handle name-calling without running to school officials, you clearly missed out on part of the maturing process.
If someone is telling 'nigger' jokes, he should get his butt kicked. It would teach him decorum, as well as letting everyone know what kind of person he is. But instead children are taught to tell 'nigger' jokes in private. That way they can be racist while everyone thinks they are sensitive.
... Fortunately, I was raised in a throwback community, cut off from fancy-shmancy educational improvements. If some kid took my basketball, I hit him and took my ball back. If he didn't cry, we'd play together and end up friends.
If I called a girl stupid, she'd round up a bunch of her homegirls and make me look bad in front of my friends. Then I would learn that she was not to be trifled with.
What parents today don't realize is that kids are incredibly resilient and perceptive. By raising a generation of kids where parents are afraid to hit
them because it constitutes abuse, we have a generation of teens who think they are above punishment.
My mom used to smack me with a wooden spoon. It hurt like you wouldn't believe.
... That's what we need more of -- my mom whipping kids with a wooden spoon.
There is no such thing as a fine line between discipline and abuse -- there is a big, fat line, and every kid knows it. Sure, that spoon hurt, but was it abuse? Hell no, it was a lesson, and it worked.
In no way does telling kids what to think open their minds.
... Kids have to sort things out on their own. It has worked that way for centuries. But now we have established a culture of blame, and we teach kids no matter what they do, it is not their fault -- someone else is responsible.
There is now a generation of immature, self-involved brats with short attention spans and no sense of discipline.
And one day, they'll be in charge.

- Nathaniel Hensley -

I believe there is some validity in Hensley's point, and would suggest that the "mommification" of the country has had a substantial effect on the growth of government, too, not merely litigation.

It contributes to the victim culture as well as to the "throw money at it!" solutions so widespread and so often ineffective.

I don't think women's suffrage is entirely at fault for the endless expansion of government, but it's certainly contributed its fair share to that expansion.

Posted by: obloodyhell at May 29, 2008 08:19 PM

Conflation indeed.

But this has firmed up several ideas I've been mulling over recently serving to set up a Foundation for further study on the logical conclusions of progressive creep as a function of the IdeserveItSoGimme affliction in modern society.

Posted by: Hari Seldon at May 29, 2008 08:29 PM

I think Mr. Rdr's comment is crystal clear to me only because I too spent an extended period of time under the influence of prescription drugs enhanced by the concurrent consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, as directed by the label, to enhance the effectiveness of said prescriptions...

So if anyone had a Blazing Saddles moment in trying to understand the Sheriff's arrival announcement, as it were, just ask and I'll attempt a translation.

Posted by: bt-gabby-haze-hun at May 29, 2008 08:43 PM

spd darlin', why aren't you in bed? :p

/turning the lights out gently as she shakes her head and laughs softly

Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 29, 2008 08:57 PM

Good grief. I just read where Hedley Lamarr aka Harvey Korman has passed on... RIP HK.

A hearty round of HARRUMPs would be a fitting send off!

Posted by: bthun at May 29, 2008 09:12 PM

The correlation/causation problem is very difficult to solve in any sort of counterfactual. There are some tools that are relatively reliable, though. Here's a thought experiment that might help sort out how much is "caused" and how much is "correlated."

Let's say that some brilliant Sophist showed up and convinced the whole nation that womens' suffrage was a bad idea. A few years later, a new Constitutional amendment -- ratified unanimously with broad support among both men and women -- repealed the 19th and removed womens' voting rights.

So here's the hypothetical question: We know quite a bit about demographic patterns in voting. What changes would you expect to see in American policy?

The reason this thought experiment should be useful is that it eliminates all other factors, which you can't do with past events. But if we changed just this one thing, what other things would change?

None of this is to advocate one way or the other; but Cassandra said she was interested in the question, and many of you correctly point to the causation/correlation problem. This is a way of shedding some light on that.

Posted by: Grim at May 29, 2008 09:17 PM

The family was under attack long before women voted. I tend to think that feminism has had more of a role in HOW women have voted, not necessarily the fact that women have the vote.

But that's just me.

I am not voting for Hitlery, Obamanation or McCain.

Posted by: Cricket at May 29, 2008 10:08 PM

Vote for me, Cricket. :) Nobody's ever voted for me for President before.

Posted by: Grim at May 29, 2008 10:14 PM

Then women had the vote in Wyoming, Montana and the Utah territories before 1900, and as a condition of statehood, they were deprived of the vote. I suggest if he wants context to look at those records or laws passed.

Just sayin.'

Posted by: Cricket at May 29, 2008 10:14 PM

Good point. That would be informative.

You will vote for me, though, right? I mean, has Mitt Romney personally asked you for your vote?

Posted by: Grim at May 29, 2008 10:20 PM

Frankly, this country started going to hell in a handbasket when they opened up the franchise to non-property owners in the late 1700s. The idea that those with homes or other land will be more responsible in defending and protecting same versus footloose wanderers has some merit. Plus, once the have-nots realized they could simply take what they wanted from the haves by govt fiat, the unstoppable rise of big govt. was inevitable.

Posted by: a former european at May 29, 2008 10:47 PM

I'll vote for you Grim....

Posted by: DL Sly at May 30, 2008 12:25 AM

But if we changed just this one thing, what other things would change?

That's easy -- neither Cricket nor Doc-Lady Sly would be able to vote for you.

Next question, please...

Posted by: BillT at May 30, 2008 04:25 AM

That would not, sadly, affect my chances of election very much. :)

Thank you, Sly.

Posted by: Grim at May 30, 2008 10:25 AM

Esbiem IMHO pretty much nailed it in the first comment...

Causation? Maybe those who are the alpha and the omega of nanny entities, the powerful through pandering politico's who loiter under the Treasury streetlight? Our honorable elected and appointed representative leadership who are willing to dispense Federal favors to their marks and those who perpetuate their behavior. And those wanting to be nannied or enriched by a redistribution warehouse is, IMO, not a gender issue. It's only my opinion, true enough, but if women were to surrender the vote, I can't see anything good coming from it. Certainly not a return to limited representative government.

Oh look! Something shiny! I'm off...


Posted by: bthun at May 30, 2008 11:54 AM

And Grim, if you ever decide to run for public office, I'll throw in some campaign project management... gratis.

Posted by: bt_James-thesnakehead-Carville_hun at May 30, 2008 11:57 AM

I just noticed that some purporating to me posted something unintelligble on this thread last evening. I don't know who that fellow was, but I couldn't agree more with what the doctor said.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 30, 2008 11:59 AM

Doctor, helk.

Where is the love here? I get no freaking respect. First I'm upstaged by that upstart of a brown bear cub and then this.


Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 30, 2008 12:55 PM

Who else in the blogosphere can tie in four such disparate subjects as doctors, female voters, Grim's candidacy and brown bear cubs? And Doc-Lady Sly's U-Toob sleuthing.

Five. Five such disparate subjects as doctors, female voters, Grim's candidacy, brown bear cubs and Doc-Lady Sly's U-Toob sleuthing. And thongs.

Ummmmm -- six. Six such

*whap!* Owww!

Posted by: Binky Torquemada at May 30, 2008 01:59 PM

And now for something completely different....

Posted by: DL Sly at May 30, 2008 02:22 PM

Sorry, that was much too silly.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 30, 2008 02:27 PM

"Sorry, that was much too silly."
Was not...

Besides, where else can... oh never mind. No sense in beating a dead parrot, eh what?

Posted by: bthun at May 30, 2008 02:41 PM

...and dead parrots.

Uhhhh. Make that seven.

Posted by: BillT at May 30, 2008 02:42 PM

At last!!! I found Mongo!


Posted by: DL Sly at May 30, 2008 04:18 PM

That was trick question? ‹|8^\

Posted by: Mongo at May 30, 2008 04:41 PM

Mike D: I think part of my ambivalence about the premise is that I don't see what he bases his statements on, ie, young women are liberal Democrats. Where do the statistics come from that support it? Did it come from a reasonably widespread and/0r national poll or did it come from asking 100 young women on a college campus? How do the voting patterns of women break down (surely they didn't vote as a monolithic block from the start)?

0bloodyhell:I understand your point and to a certain extent I agree with it. The issue I find more interesting however, is where did the changes in belief of what's right come from, particularly in the early years of the 20th century before women either had the vote or were not voting in large numbers? In colonial periods it was common for 7 year old boys to be apprenticed to a trade and yet we had child labor laws by the end of the 19th century. All accomplished without women voting.

I think it would be more illuminating to trace the change in belief by society as a whole about the role of government than to tie it any particular block of voters--who votes doesn't matter unless the ideas are there to be voted on.

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 31, 2008 12:37 PM

Grim: I don't know that anything would change at this point. Actually, I'm not sure all the posters here even would agree on a definition of "big government."

The expectations of government have changed over time; people cannot vote on concepts that don't exist. The changes in expectations of government started before women got the vote and some of the concepts are deeply embedded in society by now. The concept of "charity" embodied in Social Security and Medicare. Vet benefits didn't exist for most of our history. Education was considered the province of those who could pay and most schools were private and male. Even the "play the blame game and get money" comes from an original intention of punishing those who deliberattely marketed shoddy goods or caused harm by negligence.

What changes should be made?

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 31, 2008 12:57 PM

I think it's the 17th Amendment that was responsble for the check on the size and power of the Federal Govt was removed.

The 17th Amendment allowed for the people to elect the Senators.. so instead of the Senate representing the will of the State governments, they became super-reps. The States lost all ablity to check the Federal Govt

Posted by: Vince P at June 1, 2008 02:33 PM

The popular election of Senators may have opened the trough, so to speak, but that still doesn't explain why people *started* wanting to feed at the trough. I think following the development of wealth and changing beliefs in society might provide a better answer. When power looms were invented weavers tried to destroy them because the power looms cost them their livlihood. Given the society at the time the men and their families were pretty much left to starve. How did we get to a belief in both welfare and retraining funds that led to them becoming issues on which to vote--men OR women?

Posted by: Maggie100 at June 2, 2008 10:15 PM

> So here's the hypothetical question: We know quite a bit about demographic patterns in voting. What changes would you expect to see in American policy?

The biggest problem with this is that the effects have occurred already. You don't -- cannot -- necessarily fix problems arguably (quite!) caused by Women's Suffrage just by taking it away. The old can o' worms problem.

If the mommification, and the resultant victim society is, in fact, a result of sufferage, then that mommification and victim societization won't be reversed, soon, if ever, just by taking away the female franchise.

Posted by: OBloody Hell at June 2, 2008 10:34 PM

> In colonial periods it was common for 7 year old boys to be apprenticed to a trade and yet we had child labor laws by the end of the 19th century. All accomplished without women voting.

well, I think the child labor laws were more of an overreaction to the abuses of the industrial system of same. While apprentices were probably taken advantage of, I sort of have to wonder if it was anywhere near as bad as some of the kids thrown under the bus by factory work.

This wasn't so much by the end of the 19th as the end of the first decade of the 20th -- This happened mainly under Teddy, I believe.

I think it also tied to some very prominent events where women and children were harmed by things like factory fires, etc., with the escape doors locked and chained, preventing escape.

A part of those social changes tied to affluence. As the USA became more and more affluent it saw ways in which it could collectively argue for spending money towards "benefit X".

As to why they forgot the principles, within 30-odd years, that had led several 1800s presidents to veto bills on the principle, "I like this idea but I see no Constitutional basis for the Federal Government to have a say in it", my personal boogieman would be the whole Germanic System of Education.

If I was going to go back in time and change one thing, my first consideration of it would start with assassinating Horace Mann. The end of the Little Red Schoolhouse and the beginning of modern "standardized education" using the Prussian model was an important step, I think, towards the slow, steady downfall of The Republic.

First, God made idiots... This was for practice.Then he made school boards.
- Mark Twain -

The need to abandon a system that had produced almost universal literacy in a populace in 1770 for a system which has produced probably less than 60% real literacy in modern times has always boggled my mind.

P.S., BTW, I also think that the next real steps were also the popular election of Senators, as well as the Income Tax:

[The Federal Reserve Act] was created to launch the national debt into orbit -- obviously you want big debts, because it means big interest payments. But what good is being able to run up the debt unless you have a mechanism for collecting the dues? ... Two months before the act was passed, the amendment was enacted to impose a progressive income tax on the population. It was sold on a soak-the-rich hook, but in fact some of the wealthiest supported it. Probably some of them were being genuinely altruistic, but the main reason was that the escape hatch for superwealth had been provided by legislation that enabled the creation of tax-free foundations. Thus, the big monopolies, such as in oil and steel, that the anti-trust acts were supposedly passed to break up, could continue to consolidate their holdings without hindrance, while the competition took the brunt of the tax system. Neat, eh? So that gave us the instrument for raising the debt, and the means to collect. All we needed then was a reason to escalate it. And the fastest way to get a country [in debt] up to its ears, of course, is war. [i.e., World War I].
- James P. Hogan, 'Mirror Maze' -

BTW, that this all occurred before women's suffrage does not let them fully off the hook. Anyone who imagines that the wives of men had no say in how their husbands voted is dreaming. Otherwise, why the heck did men vote for women's suffrage in th first place, and follow it up by almost simultaneously voting for prohibition, which was almost entirely a women's cause (one of the prime arguments for it was drunken men beating their women)?

Posted by: OBloody Hell at June 2, 2008 11:03 PM

> I think following the development of wealth and changing beliefs in society might provide a better answer. When power looms were invented weavers tried to destroy them because the power looms cost them their livlihood. Given the society at the time the men and their families were pretty much left to starve.

I think your grasp of time and events and place is a little off.

The Jacquard loom was invented in France, and it was the English and the French who were the Luddites attempting to destroy them. The USA welcomed them with open arms because they had a shortage of manpower. One of the chief reasons slavery continued was because cotton, the new cloth keeping those looms busy, was very labor intensive to pick, card, and clean.

As a matter of fact, the USA, until the 30s, always suffered from a shortage of available manpower to do the tasks at hand (it was the mechanization of agriculture which finally freed up enough that there were adequate numbers of people to work in the factories). It was also that mechanization which allowed society to consider child labor laws, which withdrew a percentage of the workforce from use -- something that the mechanization of agriculture was just then starting to free up enough men that it wasn't actually debilitating.

Actually, that points out a factor (#1) that is probably why such things as Child Labor Laws began:
1) Men freed for industrial use by mechanized ag
2) Some highly visibly accidents in which women and children were harmed

Prior to those times, the actions the children performed were simply too important to allow them to not be done (plus the children could not be as effective at heavy farm work). In addition, by removing the children from the work force, they no longer competed with adult men for jobs.

Posted by: OBloody Hell at June 2, 2008 11:18 PM

I am trying to find a published paper I read in past several years that showed the high increase in national debt for many nations when women got the vote. I was looking for it when I stumbled on this.
With the data I remember shown therein,wanted to indicate that women are much more ready to institutionalize charity by governments. They are ready to have someone else foot the bill for charity.

Posted by: Rethinking at October 3, 2010 03:48 PM