Family

Mother

Louanne Miller obit picture_smallOn Mother’s Day, I’m honoring Mom, who died two months ago – and you should honor yours, too

My mother, Louanne Vorba Miller of Middletown, took her last breaths on Friday, March 11, in Room 2044 of the intensive-care unit at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. It’s unreal watching your parent, especially your mother, die in front of your eyes.

Within a 10-minute span, everything went from OK to terminal. It was impossible to register what was happening: The woman who created, nurtured and cared for me for 28 years (mothers never stop looking after your well-being) suddenly ceased to be.
No more holiday visits. No more check-in phone calls. No more walking in the door, seeing her reading in her favorite recliner. No more arguing about politics over e-mail.

Those moments are gone. They live on only in memory. As Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly said in T.S. Eliot’s play, “The Cocktail Party,” “We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them.” Mom, being an English major in college, would appreciate the literary reference.

Eliot’s truth never left my mind in the weeks following my mother’s untimely death. Her passing helped me realize just how precious our relations to others are. During our lives, we leave an indelible mark on those around us. We create ripples in life’s ocean that spread out, touch and interact with others, creating a web of connection that binds us, turning us from selfish creatures into beings capable of love and compassion.

Whether they be our friends, family, coworkers, or complete strangers, our essence is made whole by the people we bond with in our short time here.

Louanne Miller lived a simple life. But she, too, left an impression on those closest to her. Here are a few particularities I’ll remember her by:

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Families and time preferences: Should a libertarian society be childfree and polyamorous?

Usually when libertarians talk about marriage, it’s about how the government shouldn’t be involved. When we talk about children, we debate whether or not we can sell them. Rarely do we ever talk about the role of the family in a free society. The US is experiencing a huge decline in the nuclear family, and with it, some very clear economic costs. Fewer people are getting married and the ones who do are waiting longer to take the leap. The average number of children per family is down to .9 from 1.3 in 1970, causing some people to refer to our current period as the “baby bust.” In the face of these statistics and the popularity of social experimentation among young libertarians, it is essential to take another look at the role of the nuclear family in relation to both the well-being of society and the individual.

At first glance, it’s easy to look at these statistics and sing the praises of human progress and individualism. In his article, Capitalism and the Family, Steve Horwitz argues it was capitalism that pulled women out of the household and into the workforce, while simultaneously reducing the demand for child labor. In other words, the birth rate declined and women were able to focus on building their careers before getting married.

While I admire independent women (and men, for that matter) and respect a couple’s personal decision to have fewer or no children, I think my generation is going to experience a huge amount of non-buyer’s remorse for choosing the #singlelyfe or the increasingly popular DINK life. To be clear, I think that less child labor and more working women is likely a good thing; I just think that the pendulum may have swung too far to the other side in an attempt to rebel against the “shackles” of traditionalism.

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