After destroying the American family, the left is still not happy

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The one thing the American left is excellent at is mucking up systems that function reasonably well the demanding that the government, which mucked things up, step in and fix things.

They newest cause célèbre is the increasing inequality of opportunities between the children of affluent (though I probably should say “normal”) families and less privileged families. Its prophet is Robert Putnam.

The Harvard political scientist, famous for his book “Bowling Alone” that warned of the decline of American community, has returned to his alma mater to talk, this time, about inequality. Not between the 99 percent and the 1 percent, but between two groups that have also fallen further apart: children born to educated parents who are more likely to read to them as babies, to drive them to dance class, to nudge them into college themselves — and children whose parents live at the edge of economic survival.

The distance between the two is deeply personal for Putnam, now 74 and launching a book that he hopes could change what Americans are willing to do about children in poverty. He grew up in a working-class Ohio town on Lake Erie where, in the 1950s, poor kids could aspire to Rotary scholarships or factory jobs. He left Port Clinton for Swarthmore, where he met a woman in his introductory political science class who would raise two children with him. They would go on to Harvard. His grandchildren are college-bound, too, or already there, one of them living on the same floor of the dorm where Putnam once bunked.

As one reviewer summed it up, Putnam has discovered life is not fair:

Where Putnam succeeds is in describing the diverging life chances of children in rich and poor families. (“Rich” parents finished college; “poor” parents have high school degrees or less.) The point isn’t just that rich kids have advantages but that their advantages are large and growing.

A majority of rich kids still grow up with two parents. For poor kids that’s increasingly rare. Rich kids get almost 50 percent more nurturing time from their parents, when there used to be no class difference. Rich kids have a growing edge in access to good day care. The children of less ­educated parents “are increasingly entering the world as an unplanned surprise.”

On it goes as Putnam charts class advantages that start in the womb and widen at every stage. He is particularly troubled by the class differences in the prevalence of family meals, citing evidence that family dining promotes good grades and behavior.

Education is supposed to help level the playing field. Horace Mann called it the “great equalizer.” Now it’s closer to the great fortifier — compounding the advantages of class, since the affluent come better prepared and more able to pay. A few decades ago, the gap between rich and poor kids in finishing college was 39 percentage points. It’s now 51 percentage points. Even poor kids with high test scores are slightly less likely to get degrees than rich kids with low scores. Putnam rightly calls this “shocking.”

Putnam uses a series of charts to show the differences, such as this:


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and this:

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Putman and his followers make all sorts of policy recommendations — involving more intervention by the same people who caused the problem — such as;

Putnam’s solutions are not particularly novel. He wants more investment in early childhood education and criminal justice reform so more low-income men can find work and raise their own babies. He wants religious groups to take up the problem of mentoring. He wants public schools to end “pay to play” fees for after-school sports.

All of this causes an eruption of nice white lady syndrome:

 

Many in the town balked at the piece, and the photo (it turns out that school was demolished to build a new one). Christine Galvin, the area director for United Way in Ottawa County, organized a public meeting at a local library where Putnam video-chatted with residents to explain that the trends his research described were not Port Clinton’s fault or unique to it.

“He painted an awful picture of the town I live in, but he just paints reality,” Galvin says. In a letter to the local paper, she implored the town to do something. Could you take a child, she wanted to know, to a story time? Could you mentor a single mom? Could your group sponsor a community potluck? If the answer was yes, she published her cellphone number.

“He named the problem,” she says of Putnam.

That is, in fact, what Putnam does.

But the problem, the 800-pound gorilla sitting calmly in the corner, eating Doritos, and throwing the bags in Putnam’s face is not named. It is the destruction of the traditional two-parent family. Instead of dozens of charts, Putnam needed only one:


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or maybe two:

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Since the reign of LBJ, the left has been at war with the two person nuclear family. Cash payments were made to unmarried women with children but not to married women with children. Housing was made available to unmarried women with children. Divorce has become so simple that every day I expect to read that there is an iPhone app for that. Sex has been completely unmoored from the concept of love, fidelity, or family and has become and end unto itself; a recreational activity, at best, and is rapidly becoming a spectator sport. Religion has been banned from schools and public life and somehow this is a surprise that the disadvantaged children, children who are already ignored at home, are not going to church and that churches aren’t more actively involved in mentoring programs. From the NY Times:

On it goes as Putnam charts class advantages that start in the womb and widen at every stage. He is particularly troubled by the class differences in the prevalence of family meals, citing evidence that family dining promotes good grades and behavior.

If you don’t have a “family” why is it a surprise that “family meals” are rare?

The left has succeeded beyond its wildest expectations. It has separated childbearing from family. It has provided financial incentives for women to have children and raise them on their own. It has succeeded in marginalizing men to the point where only a limited number of men will ever earn enough to be attractive marriage partners. At the same time it has taken the one compelling feature that lures young men into marriage, that would be sex, and made it readily available by teaching young women that making themselves sexually available is how to demonstrate their equality with men. Communities have been destroyed through urban renewal and the establishment of dystopic public housing ghettos populated by single mothers and unsupervised and ungovernable children.

One wonders why they are complaining. They’ve done everything the set out to do. They should be celebrating.