Culture & the Family

Michael Carnuccio | October 31, 2014

Free Market Friday: Ending the cycle

Michael Carnuccio

Economists have long understood the tragedy of the commons. It happens when nobody takes responsibility for something, often because everyone is supposedly responsible for it together. In this commons, people end up serving their short-term desires. No one has an incentive to take the long view. The results are predictably dire.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The recent string of tragic incidents with college and professional athletes and pop culture icons has forced many Americans to confront this kind of violence that so often hides in the shadows. This is a crucial time to think about our individual and collective responsibility to confront domestic violence, and any other sort of abuse, head-on.

Messages and incentives matter. Fathers and mothers must be engaged in modeling appropriate behavior, like how to seek counseling to settle disputes. Our children are watching and will replicate what they see. As nonprofits and law enforcement engage the issue, be sure to complete the circle and not subliminally reduce the responsibility of family members to each other. Focusing on ways to instill personal responsibility and strengthen connections within families is an important way to defeat domestic violence.

Coaches and athletes must commit publicly to denouncing domestic violence or any other kind of abuse as they publicly and privately promote an internal and external culture that deals with anger management and stress-related issues in a civilized and noncontroversial manner before conflict escalates. Pop culture must follow suit.

Just as society has publicly engaged drinking and driving or the increased safety that can result from wearing seat belts, all must be firm and repetitious with the message that abuse is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.

Abuse is disproportionately committed against women. This savagery must stop. In an age where women are justly making gains in society’s economic treatment compared to men, we should be ashamed that we penalize athletes more for the ill treatment of dogs.

The principles of personal responsibility, positive peer pressure and the example of the good Samaritan – everyone is my neighbor – will help drastically reduce domestic and other types of abuse. It’s time to act.

We can have strong families or we can have bigger government. The two are mutually exclusive. The answer is us, not them.

Michael Carnuccio

Former OCPA President

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