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In the mid-1960s, a social scientist noted something ominous that came to be called “Moynihan’s Scissors”: Two lines on a graph crossed, replicating the blades of a scissors. The descending line charted the decline in the minority male unemployment rate. The ascending line charted the simultaneous rise of new welfare cases.

The broken correlation of improvements in unemployment and decreased welfare dependency shattered confidence in social salvation through economic growth and reduced barriers to individual striving. Perhaps the decisive factors in combating poverty and enabling upward mobility were not economic but cultural — the habits, mores and dispositions that equip individuals to take advantage of opportunities.

This was dismaying because governments know how to alter incentives and remove barriers but not how to manipulate culture. The assumption that the condition of the poor must improve as macroeconomic conditions improve was to be refuted by a deepened understanding of the crucial role of the family as the primary transmitter of the social capital essential for self-reliance and betterment. Family structure is the primary predictor of social outcomes, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan knew in 1965.

Fifty years ago this month, Moynihan, then a 37-year-old social scientist working in the Labor Department, wrote a report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” that was leaked in July. The crisis he discerned was that 23.6 percent of African American births were to unmarried women. Among the “tangle” of pathologies he associated with the absence of fathers was a continually renewed cohort of inadequately socialized adolescent males. This meant dangerous neighborhoods and schools where disciplining displaced teaching. He would later write: “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority . . . that community asks for and gets chaos.”

Academic sensitivity enforcers and race-mongers denounced him as a racist who was “blaming the victim.” Today, 72 percent of African American children are born to single women, 48 percent of first births of all races and ethnicities are to unmarried women, and more than 3 million mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children.

In 1966, Sargent Shriver, head of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” was asked how long it would take to win the war. He replied, “About 10 years.” The conventional wisdom was John F. Kennedy’s cheerful expectation that a rising economic tide would lift all boats. America now knows that bad family structure defeats good economic numbers.

Today, a nation dismayed by inequality and the intergenerational transmission of poverty must face the truth that political scientist Lawrence Mead enunciated nearly 25 years ago: “The inequalities that stem from the workplace are now trivial in comparison to those stemming from family structure. What matters for success is less whether your father was rich or poor than whether you knew your father at all.”

Moynihan, undaunted by his shrill critics who stifled debate and research, brought his barbed wit to the subject, suggesting that an important determinant of the quality of American schools was their proximity to the Canadian border. That is, high cognitive outputs, measured by standardized tests, correlate less with high per-pupil expenditure than with a high percentage of two-parent families, which are not scattered randomly.

The election of Kennedy was celebrated in academia as the empowerment of the professoriate. Moynihan ruefully remembered the euphoric expectation of “the direct transmission of social science into governmental policy.” We still are far from fully fathoming all that has caused the social regression about which Moynihan was prescient. There has been what he called “iatrogenic government,” an iatrogenic ailment being one caused by a physician or medicine: Some welfare policies provided perverse incentives for absent fathers. But the longer Moynihan lived, the more he believed that culture controls more than incentives do.

“The role of social science,” he would write, “lies not in the formulation of social policy, but in the measurement of its results.” Not in postulating what will work but in demonstrating what does work. And, increasingly, what does not work.

Chastened by “the obstinacy of things,” Moynihan recalled a Harvard chemist defining the problem that exists, in the physical sciences and perhaps in social science, when, in Moynihan’s phrasing, “the number of variables interacting with one another in any given situation makes that situation extraordinarily complicated and difficult to fathom.” Moynihan asked the chemist at what number of variables this problem begins. The chemist replied: “Three.”

What Patrick Moynihan knew about the importance of two parents

 

 

And thus it is shown that LDS doctrine truly is what science and research will ultimately find in the cases that LDS doctrine addresses (Does LDS doctrine ultimately address all cases? Is it the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything?). In this case that the two parent home with a mother and father is the superior condition for raising children.

 

I still agree with JFK here that a rising economic tide lifts all boats. The problem is that cultural problems outweigh any economy and thus the Plan of Salvation, which solves cultural problems if adhered to, is also an economic solution.

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To me that comes across as more blaming the poor for their own poverty. As to boats; not when the less affluent boats are nailed tight to the pier.

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The combined cycle of poverty and dysfunctional families is hard to break. You can't just throw money at it without addressing the family issues, as experience has clearly shown. Both need to be addressed before the cycle can be broken. Given today's "rights and entitlement" attitudes among the general population, and government's repression of family responsibilities in the name of "empowerment", we are not currently in a position to break that cycle.

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The combined cycle of poverty and dysfunctional families is hard to break. You can't just throw money at it without addressing the family issues, as experience has clearly shown. Both need to be addressed before the cycle can be broken. Given today's "rights and entitlement" attitudes among the general population, and government's repression of family responsibilities in the name of "empowerment", we are not currently in a position to break that cycle

 

Poverty is the main driver of dysfunctional families. Eliminate the poverty and dysfunction goes down by almost 80%

 

Your "rights and entitlements" attitude is just the same "blame the poor for their poverty" attitude that Christ railed against 2000 years ago.

 

Governments repression of family responsibility? You've got to be kidding me. Governments step in when families are either unable or unwilling to help.

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Poverty is the main driver of dysfunctional families. Eliminate the poverty and dysfunction goes down by almost 80%

 

Your "rights and entitlements" attitude is just the same "blame the poor for their poverty" attitude that Christ railed against 2000 years ago.

 

Governments repression of family responsibility? You've got to be kidding me. Governments step in when families are either unable or unwilling to help.

 

Can you provide some references for your assertion that dysfunction goes down by 80 percent when poverty is removed? I have never heard that figure before or even that correlation before.

 

Thanks,

Glenn

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To me that comes across as more blaming the poor for their own poverty. As to boats; not when the less affluent boats are nailed tight to the pier.

No, the study is right. Some families are not passing on the basic skills and world views needed to be successful. In fact it has become something of an epidemic. While the rise of adult children living with parents is partially due to economic realities another part of it is that many families are not raising their children to be able to navigate and survive, let alone thrive. There are reasons that when the impoverished come into money (lottery for example) they are usually declaring bankruptcy within the next decade.

This does not mean we stop helping the impoverished or we stop decrying the disgusting growing gap between the wealthy and the poor but it is a factor,

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Poverty is the main driver of dysfunctional families. Eliminate the poverty and dysfunction goes down by almost 80%

 

Your "rights and entitlements" attitude is just the same "blame the poor for their poverty" attitude that Christ railed against 2000 years ago.

 

Governments repression of family responsibility? You've got to be kidding me. Governments step in when families are either unable or unwilling to help.

 

Decades of experience has show exactly the opposite of what you claim here.

 

Welfare, in an attempt to eliminate poverty, breeds dysfunctional families.

 

Governments actively repress family responsibility when the welfare and social services system shields single teenage mothers - often with multiple children - from any responsibility for caring for the children they have on a whim. Foster parents operate under incredible restrictions because the rights and entitlements of dysfunctional families outweigh an common sense efforts to break those dysfunctional cycles by providing children with appropriate structures and directions.

 

The "rights and entitlement" disease that is epidemic in our society is hardly something Christ would approve of now or 2000 years ago. In fact, unfounded accusations of "blaming the poor" display our entrenched the rights and entitlements attitude is in those who refuse to look at the real world for what is happening to families.

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There is some truth to both sides of this debate. It is very clear that poverty adversely affects the likelihood of a child being successful in life. It is also clear that impoverished families are more likely to result in single mothers raising the children. Welfare in the form of merely handing out money or food stamps tends to be counterproductive. However, government spending which creates jobs is not. Having a job and earning money creates a sense of self worth and tends to propel a person towards middle class values. However spending money trying to make dysfunctional families functional is dangerous because it focuses on the family and results in missing the window of opportunity with the children. Better to figure out how to improve the foster care system, or invest in magnet constructivist schools which cause the child to be away from the dysfunctional home environment as much as possible. Families can be a great benefit or a great curse. Assuming that if the father is home that this will make everything wonderful is rubbish.

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There is some truth to both sides of this debate. It is very clear that poverty adversely affects the likelihood of a child being successful in life. It is also clear that impoverished families are more likely to result in single mothers raising the children. Welfare in the form of merely handing out money or food stamps tends to be counterproductive. However, government spending which creates jobs is not. Having a job and earning money creates a sense of self worth and tends to propel a person towards middle class values. However spending money trying to make dysfunctional families functional is dangerous because it focuses on the family and results in missing the window of opportunity with the children. Better to figure out how to improve the foster care system, or invest in magnet constructivist schools which cause the child to be away from the dysfunctional home environment as much as possible. Families can be a great benefit or a great curse. Assuming that if the father is home that this will make everything wonderful is rubbish.

Give it another few decades and we might be able to get rid of most of the middle class and problem solved.

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Decades of experience has show exactly the opposite of what you claim here.

 

Welfare, in an attempt to eliminate poverty, breeds dysfunctional families.

 

Governments actively repress family responsibility when the welfare and social services system shields single teenage mothers - often with multiple children - from any responsibility for caring for the children they have on a whim. Foster parents operate under incredible restrictions because the rights and entitlements of dysfunctional families outweigh an common sense efforts to break those dysfunctional cycles by providing children with appropriate structures and directions.

 

The "rights and entitlement" disease that is epidemic in our society is hardly something Christ would approve of now or 2000 years ago. In fact, unfounded accusations of "blaming the poor" display our entrenched the rights and entitlements attitude is in those who refuse to look at the real world for what is happening to families.

 

The Great Society reduced poverty by nearly 50%

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Society

 

"from 1963 when Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century."

 

The top main causes of all divorces is money relationship problems.

http://divorce.com/top-five-ways-money-problems-cause-divorce/

 

So you want to make the children suffer for the sins of their parents. BTW It was Bill Clinton who "reformed" welfare limiting it to just five years total and no more than two consecutive years in that five years.

http://www.urban.org/publications/306620.html

 

Good old Capitalist Jesus

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The Great Society reduced poverty by nearly 50%

 

So you want to make the children suffer for the sins of their parents. BTW It was Bill Clinton who "reformed" welfare limiting it to just five years total and no more than two consecutive years in that five years.

 

So let's assume that the stated statistics are correct. Given the increased number of dysfunctional families in our society, especially in the demographic that was targeted by The Great Society, I'd say that throwing money at it is a rather spectacular failure. Moynihan was right.

 

Otherwise, I'm not sure where your "you want to make the children suffer" shot is coming from. Doesn't seem to have much relevance to the discussion at hand - or to anything else, for that matter.

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So let's assume that the stated statistics are correct. Given the increased number of dysfunctional families in our society, especially in the demographic that was targeted by The Great Society, I'd say that throwing money at it is a rather spectacular failure. Moynihan was right.

 

He was indeed.  So far, the only return on our investment has been increasing numbers of dysfunctional families and the highest poverty rate since 1965.

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He was indeed.  So far, the only return on our investment has been increasing numbers of dysfunctional families and the highest poverty rate since 1965.

Yeah, that is definitely the problem and not the Baby Boomer's squandering the huge comparative advantage the US had then over virtually every other nation on earth claiming American exceptionalism and not, you know, the facts on the ground. Yeah, it was definitely our interest in helping the poor that sunk us and not the more conventional sin of avarice that brought us to this point.

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Yeah, that is definitely the problem and not the Baby Boomer's squandering the huge comparative advantage the US had then over virtually every other nation on earth claiming American exceptionalism and not, you know, the facts on the ground. Yeah, it was definitely our interest in helping the poor that sunk us and not the more conventional sin of avarice that brought us to this point.

But we built a lot planes and ships and missiles and stuff.

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But we built a lot planes and ships and missiles and stuff.

And we appreciate your contribution to blowing up ISIS but did we really need that many carriers and are we sure those ICBMs have not rusted over. Unless something is going on secret I believe we have not built any new ones since the 70s.

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Don't worry they haven't rusted out. A few have been decommissioned and are stored at the Manzano Nuclear Repository just outside of Albuquerque New Mexico.

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Don't worry they haven't rusted out. A few have been decommissioned and are stored at the Manzano Nuclear Repository just outside of Albuquerque New Mexico.

As if we needed another reason to avoid New Mexico.

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As if we needed another reason to avoid New Mexico.

How does the saying go, "What is flat, black and glows at night? Former State of Deseret in the event of a nuclear exchange."

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