Fiat Debases Marriage

The following is an excerpt on the debasement of marriage from “Fiat Ruins Everything” by Jimmy Song. Visit the Bitcoin Magazine Store to order a print, digital or audio copy of the book.

LOVE HAS BEEN debased.

In the past, love referred to the virtues present in enduring, intimate relationships. It demanded sacrifice, discipline, and patience. Classical writers saw love as a virtue because of its inherent difficulty. To paraphrase Apostle Paul, love is patient, kind, unenvious, and humble.59 Cultivating these qualities requires tremendous internal work and self-improvement.

Today, however, love is often used to describe any strong feeling or desire, like “I love ice cream” or “I love my job.” What was once the pinnacle of virtues has been reduced to expressing the intensity of fleeting emotions. The word love has been devalued more than trophies at a children’s competition.

While the concept of love has been cheapened, this essay is not merely a diatribe on language. I certainly lament the loss of meaning in words, but there are more pressing issues at hand. Instead, this chapter will focus on the practical consequences of love’s debasement on civilization—the institution of marriage.

The devaluation of love is not merely a linguistic issue; it has had profound implications for society. In particular, it has contributed to the breakdown of the family unit and the rise of high time-preference behavior. High time-preference refers to the tendency to prioritize short-term gratification over long-term benefits, and it has infiltrated every aspect of modern life, including relationships.

No-Fault Divorce

In 1969, Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, passed the No-Fault Divorce law—the first of its kind in the United States.60 The law aimed to reduce the bitterness surrounding divorce. Before its enactment, there had to be valid grounds for ending a marital union. For instance, if a wife wanted to leave her marriage before 1969, she needed to provide a reason, such as physical abuse or infidelity by her husband.

However, many people sought to leave a marriage without having valid grounds, leading to fabricated reasons and character defamation. Ronald Reagan’s first wife, for example, cited mental cruelty as her reason for divorce.61 The No-Fault Divorce law was intended to eliminate the need for such false accusations, akin to a parent’s policy of “I don’t care who started it” and punishing both children in a fight, regardless of the actual cause.

The law quickly gained popularity, and every state in the U.S. adopted it, many within just a few years of California’s 1969 law.62 Unfortunately, like many government regulations, the results were unintended and damaging.

With the hindsight of over half a century, we can confidently conclude that the No-Fault Divorce law has not reduced bitterness in divorce proceedings but has made it worse.63 The law has failed to put an end to false accusations, character attacks, and the overall trauma associated with divorce but made them worse. The divorce industry has flourished, while the institution of marriage has been debased.64 So, what went wrong with this law? To explore, we need to understand two historical facts about marriage.

First, marriage is fundamentally a contract or a promise, traditionally centered around lifelong fidelity. While this may seem restrictive, it serves a crucial purpose: providing a stable environment for raising children. The stability of the parental union is vital for the well-being of the offspring, so the constraints of marriage exist primarily to benefit children, rather than facilitate personal happiness.

Second, marriage has historically existed outside of government control. Government regulation of marriage is a relatively recent development, mainly rooted in historical attempts to prevent interracial marriages and polygamy.65 Marriage registration became mandatory to enforce these restrictions from the top down. The No-Fault Divorce law is another example of government regulation with unintended consequences, further eroding the sanctity of marriage and the stable environment it was designed to provide.

Every Marriage Is Open

With no-fault divorce, either party can terminate the contract without assigning blame. Consequently, marriage contracts cannot legally demand fidelity, as the option of divorce is available regardless of whether one partner cheats or not. In essence, there are no legal repercussions for infidelity, and the outcomes of divorce typically hinge on who has the more skilled lawyer, not on who broke the agreement.

Legally speaking, marriage has become a weak and undemanding contract. While you can certainly promise to remain faithful to your partner, there are no legal consequences for breaking that vow. From the government’s perspective, all marriages are essentially open marriages. This situation is akin to offering candy to diabetic patients at every meal—it undermines the very foundation of what marriage is supposed to represent.

How did we arrive at this point? Hasn’t faithfulness always been a crucial aspect of marriage? Is the notion of pledging loyalty so challenging?

Historically, most instability for families arose from external factors such as war, plague, or famine. Despite these challenges, marriages provided stable environments, enabling children to thrive. Today, however, family instability often stems from internal circumstances, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce66 and fertility rates at record lows.67 For many, marriage is no longer primarily focused on raising children.

Over the past century, there has been a significant shift in the perception of marriage. If you spoke to someone 100 years ago, the values associated with marriage would revolve around duty to children, sacrifice for the community, and obligation to family.68 In contemporary discussions about marriage, the conversation frequently turns to love. The difference between these perspectives is striking. One is a community-centered view of marriage, while the other is self-centered. We have regressed to a childish mindset, believing that communal institutions should revolve around our personal desires.

The L Word

“Love is all you need” is not just a Beatles lyric, but a belief that many people genuinely hold. However, considering the debasement of the word “love,” this statement is incredibly self-centered. For most individuals, marriage is pursued for personal happiness, with a desire to experience strong feelings of love. Yet, these feelings often result from the commitment, sacrifice, and responsibility that are frequently overlooked.

Many people want the rewards without putting in the work, reflecting a fiat mentality. They aspire to shoot like Steph Curry without any shooting practice. Is it any wonder that they often miss the mark?

Much like how an excessive focus on unemployment led to the flawed reasoning of Keynesian economics, an obsession with “love” at the expense of other aspects has contributed to the debasement of marriage.

When people discuss “love,” they typically refer to an internal state they desire, rather than the virtue itself. They want to be “in love” or experience an emotional high similar to a sugar rush. This self-centered view dominates contemporary perspectives on marriage, transforming it into a path to personal happiness.

As stated above, marriage was historically intended for raising children and starting a family. This objective clashes with the self-centered notion of marriage, particularly if children impede personal happiness.

No-Fault Divorce essentially endorsed and legitimized the personal happiness theory of marriage. Consequently, it’s no surprise that birth rates are plummeting, fewer families are being formed, and motherhood is portrayed as outdated. When happiness becomes the central focus, there’s little room for children. Under this paradigm, concepts like duty, order, and sacrifice lose their significance.

Click here to order a copy of “Fiat Ruins Everything: How Our Financial System is Rigged and How Bitcoin Fixes It”, by Jimmy Song.

Fiat Money Caused Marriage Debasement

The debasement of money contributed significantly to the debasement of marriage. The dollar’s break with gold in 1971 was partially due to the numerous social programs of the 1960s. In particular, LBJ’s Great Society programs like Medicare put significant pressure on the dollar, leading to the decision made in 1971.69 The U.S. was spending money it didn’t have because it was the global reserve currency.

These programs aimed to provide a social safety net for the poor. However, their effect was to replace marriages, families, and communities with entitlement programs. The No-Fault Divorce law was part of the same societal trend as the Great Society programs. They sought to reduce conflict through money, and personal well-being became a government mandate with the advent of fiat money. Fiat money, in other words, created an expectation of the government providing happiness to the people and that focus on happiness ultimately debased marriage.

The emphasis on personal happiness stems from the moral responsibility of the money printer. If the government can print money to solve a problem, it soon becomes a moral obligation. No-fault divorce and welfare programs were part of this trend of government “solving” problems for people. Fiat money made everyone a consumer of government goods instead of a producer for society and that led to an ethic based on personal happiness. Fiat money debased duty, responsibility, and sacrifice, and that in turn debased marriage.

The subsequent debasement of marriage hurt the poor the most. In particular, the debasement of marriage has devastated the Black community. In 1950, a higher percentage of Black women had ever married by age 35 than white women.70 The combination of social programs, the emphasis on individual happiness, and the debasement of marriage contributed to the dissolution of Black families.71 The lax attitude the government held toward marriage became a reality for those who could least afford it.

Bitcoin Promotes Long-term Thinking

It’s inspiring to see many people in the Bitcoin community getting married. Delving into Bitcoin encourages a long-term mindset. As you adopt low time-preference behavior with your money, it naturally extends to other aspects of life. One of the most significant long-term concerns is finding meaning, and family offers a deep sense of purpose. Low time-preference behavior fosters the formation of families.

This motivation contrasts sharply with the prevalent social mentality of seeking personal happiness. With a focus on the long-term, there’s room for sacrifice, responsibility, and commitment, which inevitably gets overshadowed when pursuing personal happiness. The traditional view of marriage aligns with low time-preference behavior. Ancient philosophers would call low time-preference behavior prudence or wisdom. It’s exactly the antidote to following the dictates of fleeting emotional rushes like “love.” Bitcoin helps break us free from our narcissistic self-indulgence.

The Beatles were wrong. Love isn’t all you need.

Ten Things You Won’t Do for Love

– 1 –

Put your phone away and experience life, because who needs human connection when you have Wi-Fi?

– 2 –

Tolerate weight gain or unemployment in your partner, because how they make you look matters more than what you committed to.

– 3 –

Uninstall Tinder, because swiping left and right on strangers is an option you need for external validation.

– 4 –

Sell your awesome MMORPG character on eBay, because your virtual self has more experience points and a cooler mount than your real-life relationship.

– 5 –

Deadlifts, because there’s no way you’re doing something consistent and difficult.

– 6 –

Quit drinking, because who needs a healthy liver and a clear mind when you can have tequila shots and questionable decision-making skills?

– 7 –

Have kids, because avoiding a minivan and endless diaper changes in the next few years is more important than your life legacy.

– 8 –

A ketogenic diet for longer than a few months, because pizza is your love language.

– 9 –

Sit through a boring date, like an opera or pottery class, because nothing is more important than being entertained.

– 10 –

Save and get out of debt, because nothing says romance like being buried under a mountain of financial stress and never-ending credit card statements.

Click here to visit the Bitcoin Magazine store to order a print, digital or audio copy of “Fiat Ruins Everything” by Jimmy Song.