Fifty years ago this month, Democrats made a historic mistake.Yes, such name-calling is standard fare for liberals. Say anything pro-family, and they will call you racist, sexist, and various other names.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, at the time a federal official, wrote a famous report in March 1965 on family breakdown among African-Americans. He argued presciently and powerfully that the rise of single-parent households would make poverty more intractable.
“The fundamental problem,” Moynihan wrote, is family breakdown. In a follow-up, he explained: “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families ... never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Liberals brutally denounced Moynihan as a racist.
The taboo on careful research on family structure and poverty was broken by William Julius Wilson, an eminent black sociologist. He has praised Moynihan’s report as “a prophetic document,” for evidence is now overwhelming that family structure matters a great deal for low-income children of any color.On that last point, he means all American kids, not just blacks.
In 2013, 71 percent of black children in America were born to an unwed mother, as were 53 percent of Hispanic children and 36 percent of white children.
Indeed, a single parent is the new norm. At some point before they turn 18, a majority of all American children will likely live with a single mom and no dad.
Causation is difficult to tease from correlation. But efforts to do that suggest that growing up with just one biological parent reduces the chance that a child will graduate from high school by 40 percent, according to an essay by Sara McLanahan of Princeton and Christopher Jencks of Harvard. They point to the likely mechanism: “A father’s absence increases antisocial behavior, such as aggression, rule-breaking, delinquency and illegal drug use.” These effects are greater on boys than on girls.Yes, everyone agrees that single moms are ruining society, but they differ on what to do about it. Kristof is a mindless knee-jerk liberal, so his only suggestion is to expand welfare programs:
What can be done?I did not know that so many 19yo girls were already pregnant.
In line with Moynihan’s thinking, we can support programs to boost the economic prospects for poorer families. We can help girls and young women avoid pregnancy (30 percent of American girls become pregnant by age 19). If they delay childbearing, they’ll be more likely to marry and form stable families, notes Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution.
So let’s learn from 50 years of mistakes. A starting point is to acknowledge the role of families in fighting poverty. That’s not about being a moralistic scold, but about helping American kids.
These liberals refuse to address the bad incentives that women have today. Increasing welfare for single moms will make the problem worse, not better.
More detailed analysis here:
I don’t often laud Nicholas Kristof. His op-eds for the New York Times are routinely smug and ill-informed. If there’s a single false assumption typically held by liberal chatterers to which Kristof doesn’t subscribe, I certainly haven’t found it. But when a person veers in the right direction, I’m honor-bound to say so, and this is one such time (New York Times, 3/11/15).