Dilbert cartoonist: Nuclear-family marriage is poor engineering; poly tribes more optimal
|Scott Adams in 2007|
If we want children to be raised better and adults to be happier, he proposes an obvious solution: more tribal ways of life, including fluid relationship models that can better fit reality and provide some redundancy:
Divorce is one of the most expensive, horrible, and wasteful things a person [can commonly] experience. It is terrible for the kids, terrible for finances, good for lawyers, bad for employers, etc.... And those people typically remarry and either divorce again or, all too often, live unhappily ever after. The entire process is insanely inefficient.
Unfortunately, in 2015, marriage is probably the best system we have for raising kids. But as a thought experiment, imagine that the government removes all laws favoring marriage. You get no tax breaks, no nothing. And instead the government encourages people to set up alternative social systems that solve the problems of divorce.
How do you solve the divorce problem? Ask any economist. It is quite easy. I’ll give you a solution in one word: diversification.
In marriage, if something bad happens to one person, or one person becomes a jerk, the system breaks. Any engineer will tell you that is a poorly designed system. But if, for example, you had a small tribe of people cooperating for mutual interest, a bad day for one wouldn’t be a death blow for the tribe. If your love interest hates you today, you have three others on call. If you get sick and need childcare, there are ten people ready to help.
...I won’t design a full alternative to marriage here because people are different and one solution does not fit all. The main idea is that marriage is perhaps the biggest economic problem in the country that isn’t food-related. Marriage made sense in old-timey days. But with the help of the Internet it would make more sense for people to organize around what works instead of what we know does not.
You will be tempted to point out that hippy communes didn’t catch on. I’m not talking about poorly-engineered hippy communes. That’s like comparing a Model-T to a Tesla. I think that with some creative thinking, and maybe some experimenting, society could develop modern alternatives to marriage that remove the divorce problem.
I hear whispers that these sorts of arrangements are already happening, but because non-monogamy is shamed, you don’t hear much about it. Marriage will go away eventually, as all bad systems do.... Can we speed it up?
Read Adams' whole essay (Feb. 27, 2015). The relevant part here is the second half.
P.S.: Adams can get away with this stuff because, like Colbert and Stewart, he's in the comedy business. You can tell how free or unfree a society is by how important its comedians become — by how much of the important stuff only gets said by the jester.