by Stuart M. Butler
January 10, 2013
As Niall Ferguson has remarked (reflecting on Tocqueville), “The notion that you could achieve greater social cohesion by increasing the power of the state at the expense of civil society [is] a great illusion.” The answer to our concerns about inequality and mobility is to foster a broad commitment to strengthening the institutions of civil society, particularly the family. It requires local and national leaders to call for a reaffirmation of the virtues of industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religiosity in the communities from which they have been disappearing. The best, and indeed the only fruitful, way for government to participate in this effort is to remove the obstacles and perverse incentives of its own making—and to foster an environment in which our charitable and social institutions are free to form citizens of the high character a great nation demands.