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But We Have Our Love to Pay the Bills

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Speaking of conservatives who want to pretend to talk about inequality while not actually talking about it, Edroso finds this gem from Kathleen Parker:

Obviously, marriage won’t cure all ills. A single mother could marry tomorrow and she still wouldn’t have a job. But in the War on Poverty, rebuilding a culture that encourages marriage should be part of the arsenal.

See, if you want to make it to the real big leagues, it’s better to let snarky critics refute your smarm than just doing it yourself.  I’ll leave the rest to Roy:

I guess all conservatives will get with this program soon enough, even though, in correlation-is-causation terms, marriage is as likely to make you white as it is to make you rich. Poor people who don’t want to get married, here’s your only hope: When the Republicans come for you, tell them you’re gay.

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  • MAJeff

    Phillip Cohen, a family sociologist at the University of Maryland, has been all over these folks for the last couple weeks.

    • Interesting. He links to this LA times story about a study that demonstrates that its not *whether* you get married that matters for, say, lifelong harmony in your “little magical economy” but when. And your intentions or your religious focus when you get into marriage doesn’t mean a thing for the longevity or happiness of your marriage:

      Researchers discovered that higher divorce rates among conservative Protestants were tied to earlier marriages and childbearing – factors known to ramp up divorce. Starting families earlier tends to stop young adults from pursuing more education and depresses their wages, putting more strain on marriages, University of Texas at Austin professor Jennifer Glass said.
      But the study went a step further: Glass and another researcher also discovered that people living in areas with lots of conservative Protestants were at higher risk of getting divorced, even if they weren’t conservative Protestants themselves.
      County by county, for every 1% increase in the share of conservative Protestants compared with mainline Protestants, the divorce rate increased 0.02%, the study found. Glass argued that community institutions in such areas might encourage early marriage, affecting divorce rates for everyone who lives there.
      “Pharmacies might not give out emergency contraception. Schools might only teach abstinence education,” Glass added. On top of that, “if you live in a marriage market where everybody marries young, you postpone marriage at your own risk. The best catches … are going to go first.”
      The study also found that it was not poverty nor higher rates of marriage, on the whole, that were driving up divorce in “red” counties, as others had theorized.
      “It’s surprising,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “In some contexts in America today, religion is a buffer against divorce. But in the conservative Protestant context, this paper is showing us that it’s not.”

      http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-sci-sn-red-states-religious-conservative-divorce-20140116,0,7835151.story#ixzz2qm8wzQqM

      In other words: there are marriages and marriages. If one wanted to see marriage as some kind of tool of social engineering, in other words, you would want to encourage high rates of birth control (fewer shotgun marriages) and later marriage (longer periods during which individual men and women were encouraged to shop around and delay marriage) in order to create stable marriges and families in the long run. Because if you put this early marriage/high rate of divorce thing up against the incredibly destructive nature of post-child divorce and the financial struggles of divorced women and children you’d have to be pretty scared of promoting marriage at all as a cure for poverty and social dysfunction.

      • BigHank53

        Where you’ve gone wrong is attempting to actually solve a problem. The marriage-promoting conservatives don’t care if it actually works or not. They’re utopians, and their ideal world contains fresh-faced young couples raising cheerful, happy children. The real world fails to measure up, it’s all the fault of the imperfect real world, and now they have all the excuses they ever needed to shrug and turn their backs on the inhabitants of the real world: why should they lift a finger to aid people who refuse to do anything to help themselves?

        It’s another culture-war set piece. They want to frame the problem in such a fashion that they are (a) on the side of the perceived moral good, and (b) make sure that’s the side that’s losing. When the good guys are losing, they’re allowed to break the rules and cheat.

        • MAJeff

          This is exactly right. Quibbling over whether or not more marriages have taken place, or whether the prayed for positive effects have occurred, is very much secondary to putting in place policies that “promote” marriage, usually with pretty slogans and stock photography.

          • MAJeff

            Oh, and wingnut welfare for “pro-family” “education” and “counseling” organizations.

            • So you are saying that Consevatives on Marriage are like Rick Perry on the effectiveness of Texas’s Abstinence Only Education Policies? In other words, though the clip is priceless, “its more important to be right about something morally than to be effective about it in the real world!”

              • MAJeff

                ayup.

              • I shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore, but every time I see a video of Rick Perry trying to answer a question, I’m kind of amazed by how dumb he sounds. And how little he cares about his own vast ignorance. He’s just absolutely convinced of things that he can’t explain or defend.

                • Pat

                  “If George Bush Jr. and Rick Perry really had been brothers, George would have been known as the smart one.”

                  Love that quote!

              • Karen

                I want to take this chance to remind everyone that Wendy Davis actually raised slightly more money than her presumptive R opponent last quarter.

              • Mike G

                I’ve never listened to him talk at length but was struck how much his voice sounds like Bush.

                The Texas accent of Pure Republican Stupid.

        • Origami Isopod

          Yep. Same thing w/r/t assuming that wingnuts actually want to reduce the abortion rate. They don’t; they simply want to punish anyone who strays outside the narrow boundaries they set for “acceptable ways to live.”

      • DrDick

        This really highlights the ways that conservatives get causality backward. It is not marital instability that causes poverty, it is poverty that creates marital instability. Want to reduce marital instability? Double or triple the minimum wage and provide universal healthcare and universal free childcare.

        • MAJeff

          And end mass incarceration.

          Seriously, taking large numbers of (mostly) men out of their families and communities for the piddly-ass shit the war on black and brown folks with certain kinds of drugs hasn’t really made those families a shit-ton more stable.

          • DrDick

            Very true.

        • GoDeep

          I think the causality works both ways, DrDick. That is, out-of-wedlock births to young single women will often lead to poverty. Conversely, shotgun marriages by inexperienced young adults also often leads to divorce & then to poverty.

          We don’t have an Either-Or situation here, we have a Both.

          That’s my problem w/ the standard conservative-liberal debate. B/cs of our conditioning in the culture wars the sides argue Either-Or when common sense screams that its “both”.

          • DrDick

            Out of wedlock birth only has negative consequences for those with low income. Professional women have been doing it successfully, with no negative repercussions, for decades. It is more teen birth, rather than out of wedlock birth, that causes problems and this is strongly correlated to poverty.

            • Yes, this, one hundred percent this. Once you tease out the class and economic issues you get to the baseline: if you are a poor girl and get pregnant your life is blighted. If you are an upper class girl and get pregnant you will continue on with your upper class life and either raise the child with massive financial input from your family or give the child away.

              Teen pregnancy and teen motherhood are not the same thing.
              Teen pregnancy and teen motherhood aren’t identical to out of wedlock p and m.
              Lack of money and education are the real issue here proving once again that every sin, act, gesture and goal can be dangerous for poor people when they are merely routine for rich people. From drug abuse to pregnancy mistakes in judgement or timing or setting that rich people can surmount drag poor people down. Pregnancy is just one example. Marijuana law enforcement and cheating in schools are two others. Upper class people don’t get punished and poor people do.

              • GoDeep

                Yeah, Aimai, you’re right that rich ppl have a safety net that poor ppl don’t…hence the need to watch your step if you’re poor.

            • GoDeep

              There’s so little OOW birth by professional women that it can’t even be said to be a trend. Today, unlike say, in the ’70s, professional/upper middle income couples have low levels of divorce. The troubling trend is OOW birth among 20-30yo women. Poor people (men & women alike) can get out of poverty, but having a OOW kid to support just makes it incredibly more difficult…I went to HS w/ a sizable # of classmates from poor families. Those of us who managed to avoid children until we were in our late 20s/early 30s have done reasonably well. Most of us have doubled our parents’ real incomes; some have even tripled it. But the folks I know who’ve had kids OOW are lucky to be doing as well as their folks did.

              • But this is because of wage stagnation. You are basically discovering that people are no longer thought to be entitled even to have one or two children (in or out of wedlock) because wages have stagnated so much that there’s no such thing as a living wage, let alone a wage that can support a family. its not so much that OOW births have destroyed people’s ability to make a living wage–its that having no choice about how much wealth to amass and no ability to create good jobs out of thin air people are not willing to defer or refuse to have children at all.

                • DrDick

                  Yep, it is poverty, or low incomes, that causes the problems.

              • DrDick

                According to Pew, they appear to make up almost 20% of never married single mothers. Again, economics and poverty are the fundamental problems here. Yes, poor people make problematic decisions (not just about parenting) for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they suffer from a lack of reliable information. Secondly, they are subject to a wide array of powerful negative cultural pressures. Thirdly, they often (reasonably) perceive that it does not matter, since they are unlikely to get ahead no matter what they do.

                • Pat

                  Lucky and smart, GoDeep. We all have to be both to make it out. Anybody can get hurt or sick, and that can derail the best plans.

      • GoDeep

        Some years ago the NYT ran a similar comparison b/tn MA & TX. What they found was that in MA kids & young adults practiced safe sex b/cs they wanted to get good jobs & saw kids as an obstacle to that. In TX kids/young adults didn’t really see good jobs & didn’t really see as an obstacle to getting a run-of-the-mill job. So, in many ways, this isn’t surprising. It resonates w/ me in a John Ogbu kinda way.

        What’s left out of the write up, is a look at the intensity of religiosity. If I’m not mistaken weekly church attendance is still the #1 predictor of low divorce; #2 is co-habitation prior to marriage. So the facile link to religious conservatism is misleading.

        Most importantly what’s left out of the write up is an acknowledgement that evangelical Protestants, poverty, divorce, and out-of-wedlock births are all much higher in the South, meaning that the co-variance among all these variables is high & making the type of regression they’re trying to conduct much more difficult…Hence, I’d place more of the emphasis on the economic factors linked to divorce & poverty–which we can independently document–rather than the cultural-religious factors.

        • Gee, the jews I know have an incredibly low divorce rate and never go to church at all. How weird is that.

          • GoDeep

            There are 2 sides to the coin, Aimai. Weekly church attendance is the #1 leading predictor of low divorce… But as I say, co-habitation is the #2 predictor. Both these things are true. So it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the Jews you knew had low divorce rates. IIRC Jews are ~3% of the population, so at that size they would prolly only marginally affect either #1 or #2.

            • i think “cohabitation” is a weird category–people who don’t cohabitate but get married get divorced quite a bit and/or can be unhapilly married. People who cohabitate but don’t get married fall out of the statisics entirely. And people who cohabitate and are happilly married? How are they counted?

          • delurking

            Right, and all the atheists I know are married with kids. Go figure.

        • DrDick

          If I’m not mistaken weekly church attendance is still the #1 predictor of low divorce;

          Oddly enough, the most religious states (measured in part on weekly church attendance) have the highest divorce rates.

          • GoDeep

            Its not odd at all. There’s a difference b/tn a religious state & a religious couple…hence the common confusion.

            Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.
            When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

            This has been true for a good 20yrs, perhaps longer…This is why I was saying above that the write up was misleading.

            • Thats just an incredibly weird article. I read it and I basically can’t make head or tail of it. I’d have to look at the stats myself. I don’t even know how they are defining marriage and divorce or whether they are counting marriages and divorces that took place prior to a person self identifying as evangelical or born again.

              • DrDick

                I am with you. That article makes no sense at all and I am certainly not taking the researcher at his word, since a) he seems to have an ideological ax to grind on this issue and b) he seems to use highly problematic and idiosyncratic criteria to identify his groups. I would need to read the actual journal article to evaluate it.

            • Pat

              So that answers my question, below. After getting divorced, people stop attending church.

        • Pat

          Question for you, GoDeep. Are there any stats for continued church attendance for people who are divorced? What I’ve seen is that there is a strong stigma attached to divorcees in many conservative churches. I mean, they failed. If infidelity is involved, you’ll usually see at least one person leaving the fold (unless they’re a psychopath), because everyone is up to their ears in other people’s business.

          So if half of divorcees stop going to church, we might still see an association of church-going with first marriages, but it’s artifactual.

    • Anna in PDX

      Wow. I just spent about an hour reading his blog. My takeaway is that there is not a lot of good research out there about marriage and poverty. And that the correlation/causation confusion is really, really widespread.

  • somethingblue

    The beauty of this is that it can be adapted to any issue at hand.

    Obviously, Beethoven’s late quartets won’t cure all ills. A single mother could listen to all of them tomorrow and she still wouldn’t have a job. But in the War on Poverty, rebuilding a culture that encourages string music should be part of the arsenal.

    Obviously, the novels of Ayn Rand won’t cure all ills. A single mother could read through Atlas Shrugged tomorrow if she read really quickly and didn’t stop for bathroom breaks and she still wouldn’t have a job. But in the War on Poverty, rebuilding a culture that encourages the reading of lengthy ideological tracts disguised as fiction should be part of the arsenal.

    Obviously, eating babies won’t cure all ills. A single mother could cook up a tasty ragout of her little ones tomorrow and she still wouldn’t have a job. But in the War on Poverty, rebuilding a culture that encourages women to get back in the kitchen should be part of the arsenal.

    • Beauty. Sheer Beauty.

    • But on reflection the argument for marriage looks more like this:

      Successful wealthy people often own two cars. This enables them to chauffeur their kids to important events, get out and enjoy social life, attend theater. Cars are also very important to getting to work! Poor Single Women almost never own two cars. Often they even live in areas where public transportation is used to get out and about. Society should encourage these women to build two car garages in order to better integrate into the social world and increase their earning capacity.

      • Mitt Romney

        Obviously car elevators won’t cure all ills …

      • herr doktor bimler

        When the only tool you have is a cargo cult, everything looks like a bamboo framework.

        • LeftWingFox

          I want this comment’s baby.

    • rea

      I could live with with a mandatory Beethoven late string quartet requirement as a condition of food stamps, I suppose.

  • Murc

    I don’t understand. People have been telling me all my life that I should get married if I meet someone who I love and treats me right and who I want to spend the rest of my life with.

    Seems like our culture encourages marriage pretty heavily.

    • Manta

      That is exactly the wrong way to encourage marriage.

      Instead, they should have explained you that marriage is an economic proposition: you get to share the expenses, have more economic stability, divide the labor between two people, etc.

      • Grumpy

        Polygamous marriages, unmarried couples, unmarried polyamorous couples, roommates, and communes all share expenses, increase economic stability, and divide labor. Should society encourage them too? If not, why not?

        • Yes, this is obvious (and to repeat myself from roy’s original blog post) if trouble shared is trouble halved, and happiness shared is happiness doubled, then the obvious corrollary is that society should encourage polyamory and probably polygyny as well. Polygyny over Polygamy, actually, since several men married to one woman creates an even better parental profile (number of parents per child) than polygamy. Ask a tibetan: polygyny hsa been practiced among some communities as a way of limiting fertility per couple and preventing ecological disaster when the number of children outpaces the family resources. When several men (usually brothers) marry one woman all the resources of the patriarchal family and its assets can be used to support the same, smaller number, of children than in a polygamous family with a higher number of wives and children.

          Ditto for both gay marriage and lesbian marriage, of course.

          • Anna in PDX

            Several men married to one woman is polyandry. Polygyny is the reverse. Sorry, years of debate on Muslim discussion lists. Polygyny is no longer common, if it ever was, in Muslim countries, mostly for economic reasons. But the idea that it is a right is strong among conservative Muslims, sorta like gun rights here.

            • Sorry, I knew that looked funny. I can’t even blame lack of coffee.

          • DrDick

            I have to agree here, though I second Anna’s comment about polyandry and polygyny.

      • joe from Lowell

        Instead, they should have explained you that marriage is an economic proposition: you get to share the expenses, have more economic stability, divide the labor between two people, etc.

        Ooh, baby.

        Watch out for Mr. Smooth, ladies!

        • Don’t forget the sex! I understand from one of our new would be Republican overlords that marriage means sex as much as you want it, with no pesky consent required from the little lady in the negligee in bed next to you.

          • Manta

            Well, once it may have been true: but nowadays is quite easy to have sex without need of marrying.

            As you see, the meaning of marriage does evolve.

            • DrDick

              And, as any frat boy or star athlete will tell you, you do not really have to worry about that consent thing anyway.

        • GoDeep

          Yes, b/cs as anyone who’s ever had a roommate knows its preposterous that sharing expenses & home duties with another person would ever improve your economic condition. Its absolutely, purely preposterous.

          • Pat

            +1000

    • joe from Lowell

      Seems like our culture encourages marriage pretty heavily.

      The last time the Republicans made this a big thing was during the Gingrich years.

      Back then, the response to this point was to say that, while our culture supports marriage, blah people live in a different culture, with the booty women in the hip hop videos, and the welfare mommas, and the goddam pants falling down.

      • herr doktor bimler

        The last time the Republicans made this a big thing was during the Gingrich years.

        Now there’s a man who walks the walk as well as talk the talk.

        • joe from Lowell

          Newt loves marriage. That’s why he’s had so many.

          • Practice makes perfect!

            • MAJeff

              Is it practice or is it a tasting menu?

          • Hogan

            “I don’t know why people say the institution of marriage is dying. All five of mine have worked out.”

  • Davis

    I’m just gad that they are being forced to address an issue that they have been ignoring all this time, and it gives us an opportunity to see them make fools of themselves to boot.

    • cpinva

      “I’m just gad that they are being forced to address an issue that they have been ignoring all this time, and it gives us an opportunity to see them make fools of themselves to boot.”

      they’ve been making fools of themselves publicly for a long, long time, this is merely the most recent example. ms. parker is a well known fool, having a column for many a year, writing foolishness on a weekly basis.

  • Grumpy

    Cut down on your poverty with one weird trick!

    • redrob64

      Where’s your extremely lengthy and informative video?

      • eweb

        Also, where do we send our check?

  • Grumpy

    “Marriage solves poverty” is a new thing for Republicans, not just for Parker:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/01/08/rubio_on_marriage_and_poverty_no_there_there.html

    • You mean NOT a new thing, don’t you? This has been going on forever and was a key component of Bush’s “compassionate conservativism” and his faith based program office.

      • Hogan

        It goes back at least to the Moynihan report.

        • Anna in PDX

          So I suppose I should leave Manju’s beat to him, but wasn’t he a Dem?

          • Vance Maverick

            Yes. Different times, of course, but even if the streak of liberalism in the Republican party has been wiped out, the streak of conservatism within the Democratic party lives on today.

            • Not conservativism, just moralizing.

          • Historian Robin Marie Averbeck apparently dealt extensively with the Moynihan Report in her PhD thesis, which I believe she’s expanding into a book. From what I’ve seen at her blog and in comments she writes at the US Intellectual History blog, I like her take on the matter. This post, dealing with the idea of “elective affinities” seems relevant here. I’d recommend reading it in full because I don’t think it’s possible to get her argument in a short excerpt (well, you can skim through the first eight paragraphs, before she gets around to Moynihan), but I think this is the essence of it:

            If you come up with an idea, that, consistently, is beloved by assholes, and connected to horrible policies which those assholes consistently pursue, then the chances are good that it is a very bad idea connected to very pernicious things and that you, too, might be an asshole — unless you make a special effort to disassociate yourself with all said assholes; that is, an effort sincere and substantial enough to bring an end to their admiration of you.

            Which is only to say that the vogue in liberal circles to make apologies on Moynihan’s behalf are deeply misguided – something, again, I explore in more detail in the dissertation and will probably do so again here – and so is the attempt to take ideas which, historically, have been put primarily to very bad use, and try to squeeze out the virtue we are sure must be hiding, somewhere!, deep inside them.

            • Hogan

              I will get to this, but in the meantime:

              Yes, Moynihan was a liberal Democrat doing policy work for the LBJ administration. This was at a time when no one, including liberals, thought it was important to listen to what poor people, and especially poor black people, thought about their own lives and how they could be improved. The prevalence of female-headed black families, which Moynihan identified as the central “pathology” driving poverty, was an adaptation to an environment that included restrictions on AFDC eligibility such that if a woman had an able-bodied man anywhere within shouting distance of her household (and a husband would definitely count), she lost her benefits. This was one of the prices extracted by Southern Democrats for supporting any welfare program at all. The welfare rights movement was largely a response to the ignorant paternalism epitomized by the Moynihan report.

              (And also to shit like this: as Cloward and Piven have documented, the way it worked in the South was that once the cotton crop was ready for harvest, the county welfare board would suddenly discover that most women were no longer eligible for benefits, and therefore were available (by which I mean coerced) to go pick cotton for whatever the growers felt like paying, until the crop was in and eligibility was restored. This worked especially well because agricultural workers were exempt from the federal minimum wage. Thanks again, southern Democrats!)

              • Cloward and Piven? Next you’ll be pushing for Agenda 21 and an Alinsky in every pot.

                • MAJeff

                  Derrick Bell can’t be far behind.

                • Hogan

                  I generally skip ahead to “all power to the soviets.” Life is short.

                • Hogan

                  I love people hating on Derrick Bell when they spend the rest of their time proving his fucking point: we’ll never eliminate racism.

                • MAJeff

                  I remember when they all went off about some video of Obama hugging Bell, and I just couldn’t get my head around what they were babbling about.

                • How about Robert Blauner? ;-)

            • efgoldman

              If you come up with an idea, that, consistently, is beloved by assholes, and connected to horrible policies which those assholes consistently pursue…

              Whew! I first read this as a direct quotation from her dissertation, which made me think: I’d like to go to the grads school where they accept a dissertation which starts like that!

              • The Newport Creamery Golden Cow

                So glad to see that I wasn’t the only one.

              • Yes, I’d love to see how she worded this idea in the actual dissertation.

            • Manta

              So the idea is very bad or not depending on whether you dissociate yourself from some people or not?

              • Hogan

                You’re leaving out some important steps.

                If your idea is widely admired by people who generally admire bad ideas, you should consider the possibility that it’s a bad idea. If you decide it is a bad idea, you should say so.

                If you decide it’s not a bad idea, then the rest of us should consider the possibility that you’re one of those people who generally admire bad ideas.

              • I think the point is that you have to judge the merits of an idea by taking the consequences of that idea into account as well. In another post arguing the general case that scholars (or at least historians) don’t spend enough time grappling with the consequences of ideas, she comes back to Moynihan as an example:

                As countless liberal defenders have since pointed out, Moynihan never intended to contribute to a backlash against the civil rights movement which would lead eventually to the nearly complete abandonment of impoverished black Americans when he wrote his report on the state of the black family in 1965. Yet rather than recognizing how neatly his work fit into this agenda, and aggressively correcting for the mistake, Moynihan spent the next several years lashing out at those who he felt misinterpreted him and contributing to the exact dynamic he was attempting to deny. Small wonder, then, that some scholars – including myself – consider his report as based more in reaction than reform. Yet despite this, I do not doubt Moynihan originally had some good intentions – so many of us do. But if we assume our own ideas are going to be received into the wider world in which we move without taking the responsibility ourselves to explain and defend their implications, we will be sorely disappointed.

                So, it’s not dissociating from certain people or not that makes an idea good or bad. But rather that if an idea is taken by bad people to push harmful policies, it’s a good sign that you went wrong somewhere along the line.

                • Just about every idea can be twisted and used to push for bad policies no matter how noble minded it appears. In fact this is extremely common. As an extreme example do we blame Darwin for people who later developed racist social Darwinism? So I don’t think this is really any profound statement. Also Moynihan’s report is something more than being badly interpreted ideas later adopted by bad people as implied in the original paraphrase above. I am sure the original thesis is considerably better argued regarding this point. The actual quotation from it suggests that it is. Already soon after it was written a number of people could credibly point out how Moynihan’s report reinforced rather than moved to eliminate racial inequality.

                • “Also Moynihan’s report is something more than being badly interpreted ideas later adopted by bad people as implied in the original paraphrase above.”

                  Right. Perhaps the first quote I excerpted was a bit of rhetorical excess. I think the word “consistently” in it might be doing a lot of the work.

                  “Already soon after it was written a number of people could credibly point out how Moynihan’s report reinforced rather than moved to eliminate racial inequality.”

                  Yes. And, without wanting to put words in her mouth, I think Robin Marie’s point is that the fact that assholes used his report for these assholish purposes is a good indicator that it is in fact the case that “Moynihan’s report reinforced rather than moved to eliminate racial inequality.”

                • GoDeep

                  It sounds as if you’re suggesting that the science be twisted to support the (preferred) ideology, rather than that the ideology evolve to follow the science? ..Sorry if I’m misreading what you’re saying.

                • Its not “the science.” So its not “the science which is being twisted.” There was always an enormous dose of magical and artistic thinking in the entire “culture of poverty/poverty of culture” debate.

                • GoDeep

                  I was interpreting his comment more generally than the marriage debate. He seems to be arguing that if the results of the science don’t support desired policy outcomes, the science is necessarily wrong. Again, apologies if I’m misinterpreting.

  • LosGatosCA

    I think everyone is taking the wrong angle here the real correlation is inverse and it’s between having a mind capable of processing data in a logical fashion, applying the results in a compassionate manner and capability to be hired by Fred Hiatt to spread idiocracy far and wide.

    Also, too, let them eat cake.

  • Karl ❤ Rosa

    Too bad the USA went out and built an entire economic and physical infrastructure that’s actively hostile to family stability, I guess.

    • Hogan

      Yeah, we really should have thought that through.

      • Karl ❤ Rosa

        Yes it could use a good thinking-through starting with our policies on employment protection, paid, and guaranteed family leave.

    • GoDeep

      I’d be happy if ppl who have kids out-of-wedlock either use some contraception, or make sure they’re financially stable, or have kids w/ a long term, committed partner/spouse…let’s not make it more complicated than it is…a little personal & familial responsibility goes a long way.

      • Karl ❤ Rosa

        The point is OK people don’t make decisions in a vacuum so what are the concrete material and cultural preconditions that support or enable people to be “financially stable” or “have a long term committed partner” or “extended familial support network”

      • Karl ❤ Rosa

        Hint its not entrenched structural poverty and contingent unpredictable employment.

        • GoDeep

          That’s exactly my point. If you’re facing unpredictable employment why would you want to make things more difficult by not practicing safe sex?

          • A) Not every pregnancy is the result of a choice not to practice safe sex. Especially for young girls.
            B) Not every woman (or man) who thinks they are practicing safe sex (i.e. non reproductive sex) is correct. Women are frequently both pressured out of safe sex or have their contraception interfered with (stolen or damaged) by their mates. The incredible financial and social barriers to abortion mean that this population easily gets stuck with babies they not only did not intend to have, but actively attempted to avoid having.
            C) There is an enormous amount of social pressure in some relationships, I won’t say some subcultures but that is also true, for women to accept that they don’t control when/where/how/with what results they have sex and also when/where/how/why they have children.
            D) Different populations and age groups have different time horizons. I got married at 35 and had my first child at 36. Not only was I lucky to be able to do so, given the constant drumbeat of criticism for women who delay fertility but then have trouble getting pregnant. There are lots of other communities in this country where people expect to have their children much earlier and die much earlier. I’ve met plenty of poor, working class people, who don’t have an older generation above them at all. Everyone they know died of overwork and stress and no health care by their mid fifties. Waiting until you were in your thirties to have a child would be, for them, like my waiting until I was in my 50’s.
            E) A last point I’d like to make about specifically conservative Christian subcultures is that they highly prize ignorance of sexuality and sexual choice for women (and for men, but to a lesser degree). There is an ongoing push to drive the age of marriage and reproduction down for their girls in order to prevent autonomy and the possibility of sex outside of marriage or sex outside the community. Pregnancy in this subculture is seen both as a natural function of womanhood and as a necessary part of tying the young couple down and to each other.

            So, to agree with the poster above: the “decision” whether or not to have a child in or out of wedlock, before you are financially stable or when something might happen that makes you less stable in the future, is not binary. Its not clear cut.

            • GoDeep

              I agree with you on A, C, E, and, to an extent B (avg abortion is ~$300. Based on my experience the decision not to have an abortion is more often a religious/personal choice than an economic one).

              My real concern, though, is with w/ working class people aged 20-30. That’s where OOW births are increasing (they’re actually decreasing for teens). The fact that the % of OOW is decreasing for teens but increasing for YAs *suggests* to me that this is more individual choice than social pressure. For 20-30yos I expect 2 things: 1) social pressure to be less; 2) individuals to exert greater responsibility.

              This last point isn’t a gendered statement. As many men I grew up with complain abt getting surprised with a baby as women I know who are pressured not to use contraception. The obvious truth is that if both parties insist on safe sex then neither party would be surprised.

              • You know nothing at all about the affordability and availability of abortion if you think the “average cost” is only 300 dollars. You have to factor in distance to provider, cost of staying overnight or more than overnight in states with artificial delays built in (such as laws mandating ultrasounds, lectures, and waiting periods). Many states and localities in this country have only one abortion provider and those providers literally fly in from out of state only on certain days. This can create artificial barriers to a timely abortion such that women who can’t immiediatly get time off of work, daycare for their other children, bus fare and hotel costs for several nights into the red zone where they can’t get a legal abortion AT ALL.

                • GoDeep

                  I’m well aware of the cost & availability of abortion, Aimai.

                  I also know plenty of ppl for whom cost was not the issue, but their religious/personal views were. Since you’ve already called us “among the most religious” I think you would realize that many black women choose not to have abortions even when cost is not at issue.

                • Ok, so why aren’t you working on that? It would be a faster way of dealing with out of wedlock births than trying to force women to wait to have sex until the mythical “mr right with a good job shows up.”

                  I have a huge problem with discussions of women and their reproductive choices which overestimate the choice women actually have in the fathering and timing of their children. I get what you are arguing–you are making a straight up, classic, delayed gratification and income argument. If woman X wants to increase her chances of achieving middle class education and income she needs to not have children until she is in a stable job and in a stable, long term, relationship with a guy of equal or greater social status.

                  I also get where you are coming from in feeling that children having children is incredibly destructive. I have teenage daughters and I do not expect them to have children at all until they are well into their thirties. I’m not advocating a different morality for people of another race/class than I do for my own daughters.

                  However, that being said, having children is a life changing experience–a valuable and meaningful human act–I’m uncomfortable excoriating young women for choosing to become mothers if this is what they are choosing because they aren’t going to be able to become fit wage slaves in a hi tech economy which isn’t guaranteeing jobs to anyone. I mean–for what are they delaying gratification? For whose benefit are they refusing to have children? What is the meaningful, beautiful, focus of the lives they are supposedly leading while they stay in school and learn to be cogs in an indifferent and often non existent economy?

                  Having children is an act of hope and faith in the future and in the ultimate meaning of one’s life as a parent. If jobs are not easily available and clearly meaningful I don’t know why you’d expect a teenager or a woman in her mid twenties with no hero man in the offing to delay the gratification involved in becoming a parent. I get that you want to–but you don’t seem to understand why people choose, even in the worst conditions imaginable, to go forth and have babies and dream of life as parents.

                  My point here is that your analysis is based on a kind of Randian objectivist “he travels fastest who travels alone” model but that doesn’t suit everyone. If your theology of delayed birth doesn’t work for
                  1) women who don’t have a choice in becoming pregnant
                  2) women who can’t access abortion
                  3) women who can’t get a husband but can become a mother
                  4) women who activelyw ant to be mothers regardless of the class consequences
                  etc..etc..etc.. you need to back the truck up and realize that you are banging your head against a brick wall of your own making.

                • DrDick

                  It is also the case that poor women are more likely to belong to religions which do believe in birth control or abortion (Catholicism and various Evangelical or Fundamentalist groups).

                • GoDeep

                  Yeah, DrDick, I was pointing out that same thing up thread. Its difficult to statistically tease out the various effects of class, religion, culture, etc.

                  I understand your passion on this issue, Aimai, and I genuinely respect your empathy. One area where you & I differ is that you–as you said last week–can’t be bothered to listen to Republican lies. But I know from my grandparent’s old clock that even a broken clock is right twice a day :-) Twenty years ago I made the same arguments you’re making & strongly believed them. But 20yrs of following the stats religiously coupled with watching my community implode suggests to me that stable marriages are one part of a stable society. They certainly aren’t the only part, but they’re one part.

              • Also on the topic of “out of wedlock births” for people aged 20-30 I have some interestingly good news for you. There is little evidence that those are in fact unplanned births or births that aren’t taking place in the context of what both parties see as stable relationships. The idea that marriage comes first and babies after is a fairly recent one. Lots of times and places in the US have prized babies first and marriage afterwards because of the importance of demonstrated fertility to the idea of marriage or because of the cost of marriage itself.

                You have to grasp the difference between marriage and weddings and the role of financial planning in both. The working and lower classes have often done without formal marriage because no or few assets are at issue. Upper classes have always favored formal marriages and weddings as important status markers with babies coming afterwards. But lots of younger families right now don’t have deep pockets paying for the wedding and choose to have their babies first and marry afterwards, when both man and woman have been saving for a while. They are cohabiting and consider themselves married but they are not concerned with the wedding.

                • GoDeep

                  Yeah, I’m aware of that. The majority of these births aren’t Unwanted. The plurality (last I looked) are simply Mistimed.

                  As a precursor to marriage co-habitation is great. By itself it has a higher dissolution rate than marriage. Of course, even that beats no partnership at all. I realize the dynamic has changed since the ’70s, but I’m skeptical based on the black community’s experience that anything good will come of it.

                  The thing abt babies first & marriage second is news to me. I’ve literally never heard/read that before, at least as a general trend & not something limited to a narrow time & sub-culture, say sharecropping blacks during Reconstruction.

                • Pat

                  It’s been a thing in the Nordic countries for years, and Central Europe has been following. Italy and Spain, not so much.

              • DrDick

                You obviously have never had a condom break on you. I have. Even if both parties are committed to safe sex, things can go wrong and do.

      • DrS

        This seems like a great way to, using hindsight, shame people further for their “mistakes”. If they’ve got a problem then they clearly weren’t financially stable or find the right person or have the proper support system etc.

        Which is a particularly crazy expectation given the rampant job loss and economic dislocations we’ve seen in the last several years.

        It’s all too easy for me to imagine that there were quite a few people in say, 2006, who decided to have a child since they were in a stable job, and their partner was too. Then the shit hits the fan in 2008.

        • Lee Rudolph

          And, at the same time, the bottom dropped out of the market for two-year-olds!

          • DrS

            Pretty much! Why didn’t they pay attention to the market signals?!?!

            • GoDeep

              If we were talking abt a 1 round event such as just the 2008 Great Recession, DrS I’d be inclined to agree with you, but, at least in the black community, we’re talking abt a trend that’s been moving inexorably upward since the ’60s.

              In terms of “shaming” yeah you’re right that racists & millionaires often use the “personal responsibility” as a dodge, but just b/cs they use it as a dodge doesn’t mean that there’s no truth to it. I don’t believe for an instant that you don’t want your children to practice safe sex & personal responsibility.

              • Are you telling me that the Black Community, one of the most religious in the country, is telling its children to practice safe sex and facilitating adult conversations about delayed gratification and the importance of starting a stock portfolio and the teenagers are simply ignoring it? Or that the pressures on an impoverished, broken, community in which lots of people get locked up for crimes that aren’t even crimes in the white community interferes with a teenager or a mid 20’s woman’s ability to be choosy about when she gets pregnant and has children? Sasha and Malia Obama are not in any danger of having a teenage pregnancy. And plenty of white girls are. The issue is class, and not race, so why do you keep localizing it to one race community?

                • DocAmazing

                  Moynihan is worth two in the Bush.

                • GoDeep

                  The issue is class, and not race, so why do you keep localizing it to one race community?

                  B/cs I’m black, lol. I have a personal interest–stake, really–in seeing my community prosper. Unfortunately, tho, I fear blacks are the canaries in the coal mine on this issue. The white working class OOW birth dynamic is starting to resemble that of blacks.

                  You’re right that there’s an intersection of race & class & I’ve yet to see either a liberal (it was the slavery!) or a conservative (its sexual permissiveness!) race-based argument that made any sense at all to me.

                • Well, you might want to read around a bit more if you think that liberals are all about “blaming the slavery.” Really, liberal analysis did not start and end with the civil war.

                • GoDeep

                  Lulz. I’m not suggesting that most liberals say that today…Though it was quite in vogue among liberals–even certain black activists–in the ’90s. I still hear itfrom white liberals today, tho, even good friends of mine. Makes me face palm. In their defense it was popularized by William Julius Wilson.

                • Pat

                  There was a fantastic article recently on the White Ghetto, i.e. Appalachia. It describes a horrendous economic hole in the middle of the Eastern US that has all the problems anyone has ever attributed to the black community.

                  We are you, GoDeep.

        • What Dr.S. says. How fast the goal posts move from “no out of wedlock births” to “no births without a stable income” to “you shouldn’t have had that birth retroactively since there is now a world wide depression/recession?”

          I’d also like to add that no one accused “Jon and Kate Plus 8” or the Duggars of being shiftless child hoarders but they are–if god and/or divorce intervenes and Mr. Duggar decides to start on a second family (say) and withdraw his breadwinning capacity from his first family all those virtuous christian children will be suckin’ at the government teat in no time flat. Disasters come to everyone. Unless we all withohold our reproductive productivity if we aren’t in the top 1 percent who then is entitled to have children in the first place?

          • GoDeep

            Yeah, there are real racist overtones to the personal responsibility message & whose the target of it. That said, I know plenty of ppl who criticize the Duggars–just abt all my friends, lol.

            One of my friends from HS has 10 kids. She never posts full family pics on Facebook tho b/cs she’s gotten so much criticism for having had 10 kids–this even though she’s been happily married almost 20yrs now. I don’t think that having that many kids is, frankly, responsible.

            • DrS

              Yeah, there are real racist overtones to the personal responsibility message & whose the target of it.

              Which, quite frankly, makes it so interesting that you constantly and repeatedly traffic in just such messages.

              • GoDeep

                Do you have an accusation to make, DrS, or just an insinuation? This is the intertubes, sir, just come out & say it, lol.

  • I posted this over at my blog but its worth repeating here: David Brooks (Indepdent from Pseudo Sociology) points out that people practice “assortative mating” by which he means people tend to marry within their same social circle and because social circles are quite racially and class limited people preferentially marry people who are already like themselves. Looking at the benefits that accrue from Todd from the Bar Harbor Todds marrying Lockjawed Lettice from the Long Island Lettice’s and assuming that they will accrue to Laswhawna marrying some guy from her impoverished neighborhood is just crazy. Marriage is the least of the luck and benefits that Todd and Lettice bring to the union of their two stock portfolios.

    • Vance Maverick

      Yglesias has an odd piece on this. He points out that the federal poverty level for two is not much higher than the level for one. But I can’t tell what his attitude is toward this observation. He acknowledges that it’s more economical to share expenses, as roommates or a family. Does he think the federal poverty “guidelines” (tips on how to be poor?) assess this effect correctly, or not?

    • “assortative mating”

      That phrase brings to mind Mini__B’s block sorter. If you have a triangular block, make sure to marry someone with a triangular hole.

  • Shakezula

    In other words, let’s continue to insist that marriage is the answer to poverty for a few more decades, complete with shaming of poor women who have sex before marriage. If that doesn’t work we’ll try something else.

    Just kidding! We’ll keep harping on marriage until you bundle us into tumbrils.

    • As long as its a Tumbril built for two who are you to complain?

      • herr doktor bimler

        “A Guillotine built for two” fits the meter better.

        • Yes, but no forward motion.

          • Lee Rudolph

            There’ve been lots of advances in engineering and materials science since the good Dr.’s name was first attached to his invention. I see no reason at all not to assume a horizontally-moving blade, for a standing or seated client.

            • DrS

              The sinister roots of Milwaukee’ Sawz-all

    • GoDeep

      I don’t know Shakezula. In my hometown community 25% of ppl live in poverty; the average income in my hometown zip code is $25K–that’s household not individual. I see strings of city blocks w/ nary a 2-parent family. The kids suffer in school & run the streets. There’s no doubt that if these kids had stable, 2-parent households they’d be much better off.

      From age 18 to 25 one of my nieces had 5 kids by 5 different men. She’s a smart girl, but has a penny anny job & it may be years before she gets off public assistance. A few months after her last kid was born the father moved out & stopped giving her child support. When she realized she didn’t have enough money for rent she attempted suicide. Fortunately she was found in time. So I think we overlook the positive link b/tn marriage & poverty at our own peril.

      What frankly worries me most abt the black community is that we’re bifurcating into 2 segments: One of Haves like the Obamas with 2 parent, middle class families; and one of Have Nots with 1 parent, impoverished families.

      • Oh, I didn’t read down fast enough. I see that, essentially, you agree that the issue is one of class and people’s prospects, not race.

        I’m really horrifically sorry about your Niece but when people are in dead end circumstances they are going to make choices which are, sometimes, harmful to them or incomprehensible to outsiders. Surely the most sensible thing to do is not to exhort people like your niece to be celibate until they can find a perfect marriagable man but rather to help them into non dead end jobs and a better social life so that they can have a social circle that supports them in the absence of the perfect husband?

        • GoDeep

          Both of my parents believed in teens practicing safe sex; my father actually dispensed birth control at a clinic he ran in the ’70s. I personally offered to pay for my niece’s abortion should she so choose. We actually found a local college that offered a program for student-mothers–then she had her 2nd kid. My niece’s younger sister missed out on her own childhood being my niece’s babysitter. So the entire extended family has been supportive; and remains so still. So for us its not abt preaching, its abt self love & responsibility to self. There’s a reason that black parents when I was coming up taught kids that they had to be twice as good–b/cs we have no safety net.

          You’re right that there’s an intriguing line of research relating to poverty which studies decision making under pressure. We’ll see where that leads us…

          • So your entire argument rests on the bad outcome of one teenage girl’s choices? That is sooooome data set.

            • GoDeep

              Oh for real, Aimai, the stats support themselves. What my niece’s tale is is an example. This data set isn’t just #s in some spreadsheet, I have names and stories to go along with every one of them. Discussing niece #1 is much better than discussing niece #2 who only had 2 OOW births but unfortunately was such a poor parent to child #1 that she’s *prolly* guilty of criminal negligence. Fortunately child #1 is 21, and niece #2 appears to be doing well with child #2. This is my lived experience.

              The personal responsibility message isn’t even controversial; its nothing that Obama hasn’t said to blacks all over this country.

  • Alan in SF

    The question, of course, is how do you rebuild this culture of marriage? One idea might be if Hollywood could make a series of movies, where a young man and a woman meet each other, experience a few roadblocks but persist, and get married, finding the happiness they’ve always dreamed of.

    Oh, wait.

    • somethingblue

      Sounds like that Swedish movie–Frames from a Wedding or something like that, wasn’t it? Very inspiring!

    • joe from Lowell

      I love this comment.

    • DrS

      I really enjoyed Don Jon.

  • confused

    I don’t read alicublog unless someone here links to it, and am not particularly familiar with edroso’s style, so maybe someone can explain: what point is he trying to make by referring to Parker as “Miss”? Is there a special reference here that’s lost on me? Or is it the case that he, a professional writer (isn’t he?), doesn’t understand honorific prefixes in English? Or he wants to fight poverty but he’s down with corrosive gendering, so much so that he wants to repeal a victory in linguistic de-gendering from 40 years ago?

    Has this guy been under a rock since the late 60s? WTF?

    • Anna in PDX

      She probably once wrote a column decrying the Feminazism of “Ms.” would be my guess. His writing is always very heavy on the references.

      • Anna in PDX

        Oh and also he probably wanted to signal that she herself is unmarried, so that her column also suffers from a “for thee but not for me” tendency.

        • Kathrine Parker’s father, rather infamously, was married SIX TIMES and dumped each wife rather viciously and left his daughter to believe that she was the real and only love of his life. That woman has an electra complex that can be seen from the moon.

          • ETA: its Kathleen not Kathrine and here’s her self reported version of my little Electra thing:

            “It’s complicated,” says Parker of her disciplinarian upbringing. We’re in a Georgetown coffee shop, and she periodically glances into her purse, containing as it does a recently adopted, 5-pound blind poodle named Ollie. “My mother died when I was 3. Second mother, married when I was 5, divorced when I was 12. Third mother was just my 10th grade. I knew that one wasn’t going to work. The other two came after I left home. I was gone at 17. I skedaddled.” She calls herself the daughter of a Yankee pilot and a Southern belle, by which she means that her father was stationed at a U.S. Air Force Base in South Carolina when he met her mother, a local girl. “These guys fly in, they’re gorgeous, they’re the crème de la crème, and they’re Yankees, so they know stuff that these girls have never seen before. And they just swept those girls off their feet.”

            In Parker’s telling, her mothers were interchangeable, passing through her family’s Florida home much like the camera-toting excursionists in nearby Orlando. She speaks of them often in the plural — mothers — a nebulous mass of female adults somehow attached to her father, whom she describes with reverence and in sharp particulars. Every night during her high school years, she and her father convened in the kitchen, he cooking and she stationed before a mound of potatoes. Her father lectured. She listened and peeled. “I was not encouraged to express myself,” she recalls. “I didn’t start expressing opinions around the house until — well, I never did. I tried it once; I think it was when McGovern was running for president. My father stopped speaking to me for a year and a half.”

            • DrS

              Wow. I can see why she has such a positive view of the institution of marriage.

              • And of fathers! She writes column after column excoriating liberals and blue staters for not respecting fathers enough. My father just celebrated 60 years of marriage with my actual mother. He could kick her father’s ass, marriage wise and he’s as blue as they come. Ditto for his anarchist parents, ffs.

          • herr doktor bimler

            an electra complex that can be seen from the moon

            I’m searching in vain for any complexity.

        • DrS

          She’s married.

          • I think that has to be at typo from Roy. He’s not the kind of person who would use “Miss” as a derogative and it doesn’t apply here.

            • confused

              It’s hard to mis-type “Ms.” as “Miss”. I think he’s confused.

              • DrS

                You know, you could ask directly, or at least in the comments over there.

        • confused

          Ahh…thank you. But see Dr. S’s comment below. Is it possible edroso just doesn’t know what he’s doing? Neither explanation fits perfectly if Parker is really “Mrs.”.

          • Anna in PDX

            Yeah, in this case I am going with aimai’s guess of typo. It was fun to speculate, though!

          • No, its really not possible that Roy “doesn’t know what he’s doing.” You should read over there more often.

    • BigHank53

      I’ll put money on a Miss Havisham reference or the equivalent. One might suppose that a tumultuous upbringing–as well as simply being an adult for the last thirty years–would make a person a bit more sympathetic to the complexities of modern families. But being a proper pecksniff pays Ms. Parker better.

    • Anna in PDX

      Ok, I did more searches and I now think it is a reference to the “Miss Parker” character from The Pretenders. This is the issue with Roy’s writing, for me, just so many references I miss.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I assumed it was an offhand reference to Southern manor-house gentility. “Miss” suggesting “prissy lady.” Same joke as calling Lindsey Graham “Miss.”

    • pete

      Mr Occam might have been worth consulting before the 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th questions.

    • Anonymous

      Ms-ing and Miss-ing women on the internet is, generally, a deliberate attempt at goading. Unless the person regularly Misters men, as opposed to using their first name, surname, or full name. You see it here among the commenters, sometimes.

  • DrS

    Pulitzer Prize winner, Kathleen Parker.

  • wengler

    Harping on marriage is great Republican strategy, because not only is it meaningless, it costs rich people not one pretty penny.

    • Actually, harping on marriage is yet another way that rich people get rich since transfers of money from the federal government for “marriage initiatives” were one way that right wing evangelicals got their hands on some of that sweet, sweet, taxpayer money. Just like abstinence only programs. So: harp on, harp ever, is their motto. Because when they say its not about the money? Its about the money.

    • herr doktor bimler

      Part of this marriage-encouragement culture will be the abolition of the current incentives to divorce, e.g. “alimony” and “asset division” and “child support payments”.

      • King Solomon

        As long as child division is still an option!

  • e.a.f.

    marriage? isn’t that the institution women go into thinking life will be grand only to find out they are being beaten, abused, and murdered by their loving spouses. Ah, yes that insitution. what makes people poor is the lack of money. Marriage isn’t going to solve anything. Two never did live as cheaply as one.

    Divorce does impact ones bank account and life style, but usually only for women. After a couple of years, the man’s life style is back where it was and the woman is on the road to living hand to mouth, unless she had a decent career which paid a decent/living wage.

    When you have children, either by birth or adoption, and a healthy bank account, all will be well. Doesn’t matter if the relationship heads south, the money will get you through.

    Part of the problem in the U.S.A. there isnt much of a safety net. No decent day care system, no worker protection when people have issues they need to deal with, etc. Things aren’t going to get better until there is a change in how politicians think and act.

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