Wednesday, February 11, 2015

He Told Us So

There was an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal discussing a report written fifty years ago by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Moynihan was an American original. He served as an adviser to four successive presidents - Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. The observant among you will have noticed that they ranged from the very liberal to the very conservative. He served four terms in the U.S. Senate (D-NY). He was also ambassador to India and the U.N. He was a Navy veteran, serving during the end of WWII. He had advanced degrees in sociology and economics. All in all, he was an American Renaissance man. (Sources here and here.)

He was also uniquely qualified to comment on LBJ's Great Society. He did so with great insight into the underlying flaw of Johnson's misguided efforts to improve the status of poor blacks back in the 1960s (to clarify - it was not the intent that was misguided, but rather the way LBJ went about it).
Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the future senator’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

“The fundamental problem is that of family structure,” wrote Moynihan, who had a doctorate in sociology. “The evidence—not final but powerfully persuasive—is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling.”

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the civil-rights movement. Even worse, writes Harvard’s Paul Peterson in the current issue of the journal Education Next, Moynihan’s “findings were totally ignored by those who designed public policies at the time.” The Great Society architects would go on to expand old programs or formulate new ones that exacerbated the problems Moynihan identified. Marriage was penalized and single parenting was subsidized. In effect, the government paid mothers to keep fathers out of the home—and paid them well.

“Economists and policy analysts of the day worried about the negative incentives that had been created,” writes Mr. Peterson. “Analysts estimated that in 1975 a household head would have to earn $20,000”—or an inflation-adjusted $88,000 today—“to have more resources than what could be obtained from Great Society programs.”

History has proved that Moynihan was onto something. When the report was released, about 25% of black children and 5% of white children lived in a household headed by a single mother. During the next 20 years the black percentage would double and the racial gap would widen. Today more than 70% of all black births are to unmarried women, twice the white percentage.

For decades research has shown that the likelihood of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, dropping out of school and many other social problems grew dramatically when fathers were absent. One of the most comprehensive studies ever done on juvenile delinquency—by William Comanor and Llad Phillips of the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2002—concluded that “the most critical factor affecting the prospect that a male youth will encounter the criminal justice system is the presence of his father in the home.”

In 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28%, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8% of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.

Ultimately, the Moynihan report was an attempt to have an honest conversation about family breakdown and black pathology, one that most liberals still refuse to join. Faulting ghetto culture for ghetto outcomes remains largely taboo among those who have turned bad behavior into a symbol of racial authenticity.
Of course, any attempt today to have 'an honest conversation' about race, culture, and poverty is doomed to failure because one side of the discussion refuses to acknowledge those basic facts, and cries "racist" when the other side brings them up.

Moynihan anticipated this as well. In his own words:
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

"... the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."
It is now obvious that the liberal belief that politics can change a culture is profoundly mistaken ... especially when political correctness forbids us from changing that culture.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.


Bag Blog said...

Back in my high school days (70's) I remember telling my mother that a large number of the black girls whom I had started high school with had now dropped out to have babies. I didn't have any statistics, but the number of black girls getting pregnant vs. the number of white girls was very noticeable. I told my mother that their slave culture must be to blame on their getting pregnant, but not married. My mother said something like, "They've had plenty of time since the slave days to figure it out and stop that crap."

Well Seasoned Fool said...

My mother said something like, "They've had plenty of time since the slave days to figure it out and stop that crap."

Wise woman.

Randy said...

It used to be one whole generation that had been raised under the Johnson 'plan' (welfare). Now it's two, soon to be three. SMH

CenTexTim said...

BB - your mother is obviously a racist... :-)

WSF - Yes, she is.

Randy - you're right. It has become institutionalized, and I don't know what can be done to stop it.

Old NFO said...

It's already into the 3rd and starting into the 4th gen... when 13 year olds are having kids... sigh

CenTexTim said...

Kids having kids... and the so-called black 'leaders' have a vested interest in perpetuating the situation.