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Spring 2024


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New Podcast Interview
Melinda Cooper on Behind the News

Melinda Cooper, whose book Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism is just out in paperback, speaks with Doug Henwood on the podcast Behind the News .Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to listen to the full interview. An excerpt appears below:

“I think the early days of AIDS activism were interesting and promising and then it seems to very much narrow down after the defeat of Clinton’s health insurance proposal. So it’s interesting to me that some of the earliest defenses of same sex marriage come from neoliberals—people like Richard Posner. He responded to the AIDS crises with a concern that this would be an opportunity for universal health insurance and he wanted to shut that down. He was not at all a social conservative. His argument was simply that the risks of unsafe sex are well known and any rational decision maker who engages in unsafe sex or needle sharing is perfectly aware of the risks and so can be assumed to have given their consent. And if that is the case, then there is no rational economic justification for social insurance or for any kind of public health response to the AIDS crises. He did recognize one instance in which the state should intervene, and interestingly, it was the idea that the state should make legal and promote same sex marriage. So it was a classic poor law response to the public health risks of AIDS. It was the idea that the spousal unit should act as a substitute for universal health insurance. I think, like many of the neoliberal scholars, he characterizes marriage as a kind of primitive form of insurance.”