New culture: Cruel joke on fatherless kids

For children, the week’s news could hardly have been worse. Growing numbers of them are born into a world where adults decide after the fact, as Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin did, that “we’ll just remain friends for now,” as he said on “Good Morning America,” and “we’re both cool with that decision.”

Johnston and Palin are the Murphy Browns of this age, celebrities whose highly publicized choices signal acceptance of lifestyle decisions that are devastating to children born down the economic and social ladder. Liberals cite them as evidence that the culture is permanently recentered around the family model of the out-of-wedlock birth.

If so, weep.

The new data from the National Center for Health Statistics reveals an across-the-board tragedy. “All measures of childbearing by unmarried women rose to historic levels in 2007, with the number of births, birth rate, and proportion of births to unmarried women increasing by 3 [percent] to 5 percent,” the center’s statisticians reported. Altogether, nearly 40 percent of all children born in 2007 entered the world without a married mother and father in the home.

Among whites, it was 27.8 percent, up from 26.6 in 2006. Among blacks, it was 71.6 percent, up from 70.7 percent the year before. Among Hispanics, it was 51.3 percent, up from 49.9 the year before. By every measure, what you know instinctively is confirmed by academic studies. Children suffer throughout their lives because of the decision two adults make that the incidental creation of human life should not rush them into maturity or commitments.

Charles Murray, an author and scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, delivered the Irving Kristol Lecture almost two weeks ago. It’s a brilliant lecture on America’s drift — and now, push — toward Europe’s regulatory and social welfare system. The problem with the European model, he said, is that “it drains too much of the life from life, [a] statement that applies as much to the lives of janitors as … it does to the lives of CEOs.” Murray’s premise is that life has deeply satisfying meaning — or can — if what we’ve done with it is important, if it required a great deal of effort, and if we have been responsible for the consequences.

“There aren’t many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements. Having been a good parent. That qualifies. A good marriage. That qualifies. Having been a good neighbor and a good friend to those whose lives intersected with yours. That qualifies. And having been really good at something — good at something that drew the most from your abilities. That qualifies.”

The institutions, therefore, that bring deep satisfactions are four: family, community, vocation and faith. There’s no hierarchy to the four, nor is it necessary to draw satisfactions from all, he said. Social policy should strengthen those institutions. “And that’s what’s wrong with the European model,” Murray said. “It doesn’t do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.”

The expansion of the welfare state here didn’t result in happier and healthier children. Instead, “we have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of marginal poverty but because of dysfunctional families.”

Meanwhile, the man who once drew deep satisfaction from his role as provider while working menial jobs and therefore “doing something authentically important” with his life is marginalized. “If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status [as a good provider] goes away.”

Work to support a family, instead of being a foundation for a deeply satisfying life, becomes “something that interferes with the higher good of leisure.” If we come to believe, Murray said, that “human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate” then “the purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.” Murray’s commentary is primarily to: “Do we want the United States to be like Europe?” Within that is, however, a warning: Government can displace men from the family, but it cannot replace them, no matter how vast its array of social programs. “It drains the life from life.”

I am of no doubt. We have a government, and now a culture, recentering on a dysfunctional family model that gives children material goods — and takes their daddies.

109 comments Add your comment

Glenn

March 23rd, 2009
4:24 pm

Charles,

Please don’t think I blew you off upstream, when you mounted your defense of Charles Murray. I simply had other things going.

My problem with Murray is his racialism, which centers around his last-ditch defense of the discredited Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (SBIS), largely a military effort which surely has done more damage in peacetime than it ever did in wartime service. Murray, who obviously knows nothing of the lucrative scamminess of pyschometry, never noticed that, for example:

A quantifiable rating “intelligence” claims that it is fixed, inherent and ineducable, whereas people’s scores on the SBIS tend in fact to improve over time, in cases in which the test is readministered;

The thing supposedly quantified by that exam, in the exam’s variously shameless editions, is ultimately “reaction time”, by which quotient rabbits, say, are far more intelligent than any human;

The exam always has been over-reliant on oral and literate language, making the SBIS more a test of linguistic fluency than of anything like innate “intelligence”;

The exam is, in strictly scientific terms, a sure marker of only one thing: a person’s ability at test-taking. (An important skill in these times, I grant you, but not the one for which millions upon millions of dollars exchange hands while this fraud continues to snake its way.)

As for your separatism, Charles, I really don’t see how it comes into this discussion and, like Jackie, I wish you’d explain. You and I have had this out before, civilly — as have you and Jackie (and others) done. It seems to me that this state and country accept your right to separatism. You obviously hold strong convictions in that direction.

You know from before that I myself am a white integrationist. I’m something more. For some 20 years now I’ve been increasingly under the spell of the Mexican Revolution, which ultimately was not only integrationist, but formally miscegenistic. I really love that about Mexico.

Before the Revolution, two things. First, Mexico was a nation with one great, huge city, three small cities (ports, and Durango), and about 700 villages. Second, Mexican residents were routinely divided according to Spaniard, Mestizo, Indio, French, German, Gringo, Afro-Caribbean, Portuguese, etc., etc.

But the Revolution changed that. In the end its rallying cry was, “La Raza Cosmica!” (The Cosmopolitan, or Universal, Race!) The idea was that from all these strains Mexico could make itself stronger, in its place, than any other People, or any other combination of Peoples, could be.

Since those days, a kind of classicism (not so mention political corruption) has continued, but beginning in the 1920s you’re either Mexican or you’re not. There are no longer hyphenated Mexicans.

I like that about Mexico.

Glenn

March 23rd, 2009
4:38 pm

HEY ALL KIDS, WIND UP YOUR LIDS FOR YOUR OBEDIENT SERPENT, THE AY…JAY…FRIGGIN…Ceeeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeEEEEEE!

What ARE they doing, messing with the rulemaking on this blog without informing us? What are they doing, treating us as guiney pigs?

Where do our posts go? Who owns them? Where do they live? What do they eat for breakfast?

Fully twenty-five years ago the feds stopped letting contracts to engineers who couldn’t think to speak the language of “user-oriented design”, and yet the powerfreaks at the AJC get off tweaking Jim’s re-jiggered blog site at our expense without a thought of letting us in on what they’re trying to do.

Much less will the arrogant cover-ups of their own under-training give us an explanation as to why the thing is an intermittant Black Hole according to a seeming randomness which only they control.

Just like the politicians who are the subject of this blog: perfect twisted power-maniacs.

williebkind

March 23rd, 2009
5:12 pm

Geez..you liberals sure are educated and doctrinated by those college professors. I bet you can not wait to get your hands on those single parents’s kids.

I always thought it was about sex..you know like Bill Clinton and a few others in the spot light. Then I thought about Pelosi…OMG…puking. Well, it is about sex! Nothing but sex! And the hippies which are the far left liberals brought it out in public. I did not need to attend a major college to figure that out but I am a product of public schools. SEX SEX SEX and more SEX.

Glenn

March 23rd, 2009
5:16 pm

Yes, well, as my mother used to say, “I don’t doubt that it’s something terribly…basic.”

Glenn

March 23rd, 2009
5:28 pm

The “chirp, chirp” is the staff’s fault of late.

Strictly the staff’s fault.

@@

March 23rd, 2009
6:17 pm

Glenn:

The teachers don’t rotate, the groups of children are dismantled and new groups are formed. I’ll have one group of kids for cognitive lessons, a different set of kids for fine-motor lessons and a third group of kids for self-help lessons. Speech and gross motor is integrated into all three. Those groups remain intact for six weeks. It actually works very well.

New group dynamics challenge both the kids and the teachers. Oftentimes, if a child is stuck on a task, a new set of eyes can determine why. A different approach and…..voila! Things are rolling again. Mimicking behaviors is minimized and higher functioning role models encourage competition where possible. Social skills are enhanced.

Brundlefly

March 23rd, 2009
8:10 pm

“Are you punch drunk?” That was Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes asked of President Obama after he had had just about enough of the nonchalant responses and “ha-ha, all is well” mentality and response of POTUS. I’m not laughing, this is no time laugh, and you can’t humor your way out of this disaster that Pelosi/Reid/Obama have laid on our steps. Who are the morons that elected this man who is in WAY over his head? Yeah but he looks good, speaks well from a teleprompter, and uses a Blackberry man, get with the times man! It’s all good man! Please.

“You’re sitting here. And you’re— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asked at one point.

“Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft said.

“No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day,” Obama said, with a laugh.

Glenn

March 24th, 2009
8:37 am

@@,

It makes sense now. Thanks for explaining. Before, I couldn’t figure how a school smart enough to employ you would have a dumb order of rotation. Now I see that your employer is intelligent too.

Cheers.

Mark from Minnesota

March 28th, 2009
8:11 am

Wow!! After reading what is going on in GA politics, sounds like you have a bunch of Socialists in charge. It is true that GA is a nanny state. Good Luck