I Now Pronounce You Friend And Friend

An article on incentivizing friendship:

...a number of scholars are seeking to shore up friendship in a surprising way: by granting it legal recognition. Some of the rights and privileges restricted to family, they argue, should be given to friends. These could be invoked on a case-by-case basis - eligibility to take time off to care for a sick friend under an equivalent of the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example. Or they could take the form of an official legal arrangement between two friends, designating a bundle of mutual rights and privileges - literally "friends with benefits," as Laura Rosenbury, a law professor at Washington University, puts it. One scholar even suggests giving friends standing in the tax code, allowing taxpayers to write off certain "friend expenditures."

I'm a big believer in the under-valued virtue of friendship, and wrote a long essay on the matter, "If Love Were All." It's the final third of "Love Undetectable" and probably the single piece of writing I'm proudest of. But I loathe the idea of government's getting involved in this inherently private relationship. Marriage is different - there are very good reasons for government to encourage care of joint households, finances and children. If we want to leave money to friends, or grant them power of attorney, we have the legal means to do so. But a core element of real friendship is freedom - freedom without any government meddling or incentivizing.