An Instructive Concept: Does it Exist? Should it?
draft(c) 2014, Davd
Before registering your car, in this province of Canada and in many provinces (of Canada, France, .. and “states” of e.g. Australia and the USA), you must get liability insurance and are urged to pay additional fees for collision, fire, theft, storm, and even insurance against rocks hitting your windshield and breaking it. If you drive rather little, the insurance may cost you more than the gasoline you buy to fuel the car—even at this year’s and last year’s prices—but few people complain. Legally required it may be, but most people accept that paying for car insurance is prudent.
If someone in my grandfather’s middle years, between the World Wars, had suggested that everyone should have to buy insurance in order to drive, [s]he would probably have been scoffed-at, maybe called crazy. Cars were relatively new as a technology, speeds were lower1, experience with road accidents and the damage they did, sketchy. (Experience with divorce was also much less in those days—and even as recently as my own childhood after World War II.)
Today, if you can’t afford car insurance, you can’t afford to drive… and that got me thinking about marriage and divorce. If you can’t afford to insure your marriage—does that perhaps mean you can’t afford to get married? Divorce risks are becoming known and understood now, as car “accident” risks were becoming known in the middle decades of the 20th Century.
I could be mistaken, but it seems to me that i know of more men who have suffered terribly from marital mishaps, than from highway mishaps. I’m not writing about “fender-benders” in parking lots or getting tar on the paint driving past a construction project; and i’m not writing about arguments over whether you ought to eat breakfast in your pajamas or who takes out the garbage. Those can be frustrating, they are definitely not fun, but they aren’t disastrous like a divorce case, or having a woman get violent on you and get away with it, or a false accusation being treated as if it were true, or a major property or custody dispute on separation.
A divorce case, a violent wife who says “nyaa! Nyaaah! Can’t hit a gir-rul!“, an undeserved criminal conviction or even charge one must defend (sometimes even an undeserved restraining order) or a major property dispute on separation, is more like a head-on collision or skidding off an icy road and down a 200-foot cliff. You might survive. You might not2. And if you do survive, you won’t have the same easy graceful attitude toward life or the same sense of vitality that you used to have.
Suppose before marrying, a man “priced out divorce insurance”? What would it cover? What would it cost? How many men could afford to marry if the cost included divorce insurance?
[Suggestions, readers of this draft?]
It’s fair comment, to point out that the worst aspects of divorce—separation from your children especially—cannot be covered by insurance3. The same applies to being killed or maimed in a road accident: Money won’t make things right; what it will do is “mitigate the harm.” The concept of divorce insurance directs our attention to the increased—perhaps still increasing—insecurity of marriage in this century compared to half a century ago.
It’s been argued that requiring drivers be insured has motivated people to drive more carefully—because traffic tickets and accidents increase the cost of the next year’s insurance. Some analogy to divorce insurance exists, in the sense that if actuaries ever did design divorce insurance, they would identify risk factors and assign higher rates to clients whose “risk factor profiles” were not promising… but there’s no analogy to the annual setting of driving insurance “premiums”. The risk factors will have to take forms that can be identified well before marriage.
To me, it’s a sad comment on the past several decades, that this ‘blog’ can be worth writing. Fifty years ago, in 1964, marriage was safe for most men, and divorce was usually fairer for the unlucky, so it would have been fair comment to call writing about divorce insurance, alarmist… unless one knew what was going to happen between then and now.
One might add, that fifty years ago, in 1964, air travel was safe enough and easy enough to use, that it would have been fair comment to call any forecast of today’s “security precautions” alarmist… and eighty years ago, to repeat, if someone had suggested that everyone should have to buy insurance in order to drive, [s]he would probably have been scoffed-at, maybe called crazy.
Methinks the two declines in safety, air travel and marriage, have different causes4. But it is worth asking—how, in the past few decades, has life got easier, safer, and better? Are jobs better? No. Are they getting better? Not likely! Is higher education more or less affordable? Is a degree more or less worth having economically? Does the interest rate you can get for retirement savings even “keep you up with inflation”? Is economic growth a political mantra that might have made sense fifty or a hundred years ago, but doesn’t any longer?
It might just be, that the declines in “easy life based on economic growth”, though they never needed to include a decline in the safety and fidelity of marriage, are going to bring back some respect for men as husbands, fathers, and brothers. Because the phenomenon, the “end of the easy-going world of Europe, North America, and ANZ” includes more than misandry, perhaps a longer piece i’m drafting about “the end of that world” will appear in a coming week.
Meanwhile, if you have been wondering if you ought to get married under today’s somewhat misandric laws, the questions “What would divorce insurance cost me?” and “Can I afford it?” might give you a useful perspective on the subject.
1. Around 1950, when as a boy riding in the back seat, i first paid attention to speed limits, 50 mph was a normal highway maximum, 25 mph was normal on city arterial streets—and my grandfather was already an old man.
2. Might not survive? Ask Sergeant Tom Ball! (Many other men have died as a consequence of misandry in law and bureaucracy; Sgt. Ball’s last words have become relatively well known.)
3. To me as a Christian, what’s really needed is a revival of fidelity. So far, the one way to exert effective pressure toward fidelity, that i’ve seen reported, is for a church to expel those who divorce for no or frivolous reasons.
4. The (earlier) increase in the danger of driving seems to reflect mainly higher speeds, more distance driven, and much more crowded roadways. As an analogy, bringing down or hijacking an airliner probably has a closer parallel to divorce, than does a road accident.