As blizzards sweep across Hell, words come of something really surprising: The New York Times is agreeing with Charles Murray—at least on some things.Two recent stories examine the death of marriage among lower income whites as well as many minorities, and the writers appear to accept the idea that children benefit from stable, two parent families.
The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.
Murray himself blames much of the disaster on the social changes of the Sixties and the subsequent mainstreaming of these values. Many critics are roasting him for understating the influence of economic factors that have made it harder for young people generally and young men especially to get jobs that can support families.Via Meadia sees both factors at work, and both as signs of the collapse of America’s 20th century social order. Our economic model isn’t providing the kind of jobs it was supposed to provide, and our social and cultural systems aren’t reproducing the values and attitudes that can help people succeed — and hold the country together. Those aren’t, in our view, competing theories of what has gone wrong; they are complementary analyses of the troubles we face.There is plenty of blame to go around. A society that is failing to equip the next generation for marriage and parenthood is failing the most basic test. Elites have been amusing themselves with grand global carbon treaties, duties to protect, the abolition of nuclear weapons and other frivolities and unicorn hunts even as the foundations of life for millions of Americans were washing away. It’s time for us all to get much more serious about preserving what’s left of our national cultural capital and think about how to rebuild it.Gay marriage is an important question in its way, but the failure of the heterosexual family among those who need it most is a much bigger issue and has much more importance for the future of this country. Typically, we talk about the former almost incessantly, and the latter rarely if at all. But if even the New York Times is coming to understand that the creation of stable, two parent families united in wedlock is vital to the future of children and to the future of the nation, we may be at the start of a substantive, productive conversation that could lead to serious efforts to repair the gaping hole at the center of our social fabric before the damage is past all human hope of repair.