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Grim Reading
The Bleak Reality of Single Parent Households

A new policy brief derived from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Survey of American Family Finances and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics shows exactly how much family really matters when it comes to helping kids out with important life events and transitions on the financial side. There’s really no surprise there.

But some of the detailed findings on the trouble single mother families face make for some bleak reading:

Single mothers tend to be younger than two-parent households raising children, and nearly half have never been married. And they are in a more fragile financial state than households with two parents. Two-thirds of single-mother families had income under $40,000 in the previous year, and most have very little money in reserves: About half have virtually no net worth, while three-quarters of two-parent families have positive net worth. Single mothers report owing personal loans to friends and family at a higher rate than two-parent households (19 percent versus 11 percent) and are twice as likely to have past-due bills (26 percent versus 13 percent).

A read through the whole report points to the unavoidable conclusion that a major goal of social policy has to be the formation of two-parent households.

This shouldn’t involve—as the occasional dorky pastor type or culture warrior might imagine—giving chastity and abstinence lessons to teens. Such lessons aren’t a bad thing necessarily; it’s just that over the centuries this kind of influence appears to be, well, limited.

And on the other side of the divide, this isn’t about birth control either. Short of lacing the tapwater with birth control drugs, we aren’t going to get anywhere on the single parent problem by focusing on this end of the equation. In fact, as birth control (and abortion) became more available, the numbers of single parent households has more than doubled—from the sixties with the pill on up through Roe v. Wade in the 1970s. Availability of birth control to women who want or need it is important for other reasons, but an increase in birth control availability isn’t associated with any kind of decline in the illegitimacy rate.

There is, however, a lot that can be done by looking at how young men figure in to the problem. To be a father but not be married to the mother of your children needs to be made both unnecessary and uncool. More role models ought to help here: we need more men in schools, and more men in the agencies that interact with youth. And much could be done by thinking creatively about employment and regulation policy: cities like New York and Chicago ought to be tinkering with their regulatory and economic policies to create the kinds of jobs that young men without a college degree can do.

Dealing merely with the consequences of single parent families—kids growing up in poverty, and the generationally compounding inequality that emerges as these kids end up replicating the trajectories of their parents—is in the end much more expensive and, let’s be honest, largely hopeless if we aren’t doing more on the prevention side.

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  • Jim__L

    If there’s no honor in being a husband, why should a man bother?

    (Please note, I know I’m begging the question here.)

  • WigWag

    Families headed by single mothers are the inevitable result of America’s war on men. The black underclass experienced this grim reality first. We are now on the verge of creating a white underclass every bit as irredeemable as its predecessor. We’ve been trying to remedy the pathologies afflicting the black underclass for decades now. Nothing we do works; we don’t know how to fix the problem.

    If millions of economically teetering working class whites descend into an underclass already populated by millions of underclass blacks, our country will have a problem the magnitude of which we’ve never experienced. It could destroy our country. And it will be tragic.

    The only way to prevent this from occurring is to preserve good paying jobs for working class Americans who already have them and to bring good paying jobs back from nations that have stolen those jobs.

    The Democratic approach of relying on tax incentives and training will never work. Those Carrier employees who were told their jobs were being exported to Mexico will never get new jobs as coders or computer programmers no matter what neoliberal Democrats think.

    Establishment Republicans are even worse. The hedge fund overlords who own the Republican establishment don’t even think there’s a problem. If their funds can improve their investment returns by a quarter of a percent by having thousands of Americans thrown out of work so a company can move to Mexico, it’s a trade they’re happy to make.

    This consequences of ignoring this problem are mind boggling. The size of the solution needs to match the magnitude of the problem. We need a president who jawbones our companies into staying put and imposed severe financial consequences for companies that leave. We need to impose significant tariffs on products shipped to the United States if those products were previously manufactured in this country. We need to pull out of NAFTA and abandon the new Asian trade agreement.

    If all of this leads to a trade war: so be it. The United States is still the largest economy in the world. If there’s a trade war we will win it. But a smart approach could prevent a trade war while giving a leg up to Anerican workers.

    Clinton, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich are all willing to crucify the American working class on the cross of free trade. The only candidate who’s expressed an interest in policies to protect the working class is Trump.

    Protecting two parent families is enormously important. Female-headed family’s are a key characteristic of the underclass. We will never maintain two parent families as long as men are economically marginalized.

    Only one candidate even cares about the economic vitality of men.

    • Andrew Allison

      Except for the first and last sentences, I couldn’t agree more. We have set up a system of perverse incentives which encourage girls who resent parental control (what else is new) to get pregnant in order to escape, and boys who are not required to pay a price for their indiscretions to be irresponsible. What could go wrong?

      • Stan Wright

        You have part of the problem described, but missed some important details about the perverse incentives. Who is incentivized to make babies for cash prizes? Answer, the girl. Who pays those cash prizes? The government in the form of welfare benefits, ( that the girl becomes inneligible for if the man remains in the home), as well a child support that is collected from the man’s imputed or actual income, whichever is greater for 18 years. So the girls are incentivized to have babies, eject the father from the home for welfare, collect whatever child support that is squeezed from the man, and then be lionized, not shamed, as a perfectly acceptable and respectable normal family. What government programs are incentivizing men to impregnate the girls? What social institutions celebrate their proclivity? Government? Church? Civil? I know of no men or groups of men throughout my life that celebrate their fellow man fathering children and abandoning them. Men pay an enormous price in confiscated income, social & economic isolation and marginalization, and potential deprivation of their liberty and freedom if they find themselves out of work and not able to meet their productivity quota for earnings. Can you point to the Federal/State/Local programs that specifically provide for men devastated by these perverse incentives? Please make a list of government expenditures helping girls vs. boys and get back to us all on how men pay no price.

        • Andrew Allison

          I should have been more specific; I was referring to child support. Twenty-five percent of all custodial mothers do not receive ANY child support. Care to make an educated case as to the percentage for “girls who make babies for cash prizes” don’t? How many of them actually take the legal steps to obtain and/or collect child support?

          • Jim__L

            People buy lottery tickets for less than a 75% chance of winning.

            And buying lottery tickets isn’t as much fun.

          • Andrew Allison


          • Stan Wright

            How many of them still receive welfare benefits? It is possible that the discussion here has circled back to the poverty issue. Could the fathers of these 25% single mother households be subject to any conditions other than being pure and simple deadbeats? Maybe they are in prison and not able to work, ( but still accruing child support arrears ), maybe they are paying to another mother who also ejected them from the household & have nothing left to pay? The point is that the government has amazing powers to collect child support. They can garnish wages, imprison you, take away rights, etc. What drives that 25% number? You are saying that the single moms don’t take the legal steps to obtain the support, so therefore your solution is what exactly? Give more blame to all men? Because it is only men who must pay the price for their own and other men’s indiscretions?

            Finally, I will take an educated guess at how many custodial mothers make babies for cash prizes. I’d put it at least 25%. Consider that women initiate nearly 70% of divorces, & they know that they are the default custodial parent, and therefore will be awarded child support, as well as likely maintenace/alimony. Their is huge upside/incentive for women to take this path, even when there is no fault by the man.

          • Andrew Allison

            First, while I think that you have grossly overestimated the non-support costs to the young men in question, I clarified my point that many (most?) of them don’t provide support to their offspring and the mothers. In answer to your first question, essentially all of them — that, as we agree, is what makes it attractive. The reasons why so many single moms don’t take the necessary steps are irrelevant to the argument that they are not receiving support from the father. Finally, I did not argue that only men must pay the support price, merely that, in general, for the demographic under discussion (“girls who make babies for cash prizes”) they don’t. Incidentally, according. A comparison of the single-parent demographics in with the overall population is also instructive.

    • Stormcrow

      Agreed, the donor class of both sides should realize that they won’t be able to build the walls of their compounds high enough if tens of millions of young white males are added to the existing underclass. If the current ruling class wants to risk having to face a modern committee for public safety then by all means continue the status quo.

      • Jim__L

        “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

        Jay Gould
        US financier & railroad businessman (1836 – 1892)

        (One of the “robber barons” of the US railroad industry, and archetype of Teddy Roosevelt’s “malefactors of great wealth”.)

    • Anthony

      WigWag, what you reference (American broadening class anomie) has a parallel of some duration in Mother Country – “the culture of autonomy, grit and determination that were associated with steely working-class men has all but disappeared.”

    • Jim__L

      Also note: Every historical culture that decided to experiment with matriarchy either collapsed, or was in an active state of collapse when it attempted the experiment.

      We’re following the same pattern here.

    • Fred

      Marx to the contrary notwithstanding, not everything is economic. Employment and incomes were a helluva lot lower during the depression than they are now, but we didn’t have this problem. The problem is moral and cultural. You have the chicken and the egg backwards. The moral collapse that caused the breakdown of the family (which btw began in the 1960s, one of the most economically prosperous periods in our history) results in young men growing up without the habits, attitudes, and self-discipline to economically prosper. Until we fix the moral and cultural problem, no economic policy, left, right, center or Martian, will fix the problem.

      • m a

        You’re neglecting the loss of emphasis on commitment by young women as well. The insistence on life-long partnerships that both men AND women will be truly committed to (~70% of divorces initiated by the woman). Lots of young folks like to post a picture of an old couple with the caption- How did you stay together for 50 years? In our day when something was broken, you didn’t throw it away- you fixed it.

        • Fred

          You are absolutely right, as I know from experience. But I would argue that the breakdown of commitment is one part of the more general breakdown of moral and social norms.

          • m a

            I agree.

      • Fred

        Looks like once again I up voted myself by fat fingering the arrow to see who up voted me.

        • m a

          Its ok, it was a really good comment!! (thanks for fessing up…)

    • jeburke

      Good points all, but this is not just an economic problem. It’s a cultural problem. Middle class women are increasingly not marrying — or divorcing — while their menfolk are not challenged economically.

  • KountvonNumbacrunch

    Bleak? They do as they please while strangers pay all their bills. They have more than most hard working people in the world.

    • Tom

      Some do. Many do not.
      Let’s not pretend that poor people are poor because they are lazy, because many are not. Lousy impulse control is a much better indicator.

      • m a

        While I agree that lousy impulse control is probably a better descriptor than laziness; his point that the poor in the US have it better than most folks in the world is true. The poverty rate in the US is tracked/reported on income prior to government assistance received. Given the number of programs available, they’re actual income is much higher than a large percentage of the world’s working class once the government assistance is included.
        The folks who have it the worst in the US, IMHO, are the lower working class folks who don’t make a lot, but don’t receive much in assistance either. The ones who don’t give in to the siren song of government dependence, but don’t have the education/impulse control to plan a way out. I.E. get saddled with a family they’re trying to take care of prior to gaining skills/experience for a good job. Think the high school kid good with his hands, who if he resisted fooling around and getting his girlfriend pregnant, could have been a skilled welder, auto mechanic via apprenticeship and is instead scrambling for whatever minimum wage job he can find.

        • Jim__L

          You know the archetype of the illegal immigrant collecting as many government handouts as he can? And the other one about the illegal immigrant working unbelievably hard for very low wages?

          Why can’t they both be true at the same time, in the same people?

  • Anthony

    “…a major goal of social policy has to be the formation of two parent households.” Well, here’s how a woman views it:

    • Boritz

      She doesn’t want much…

      stronger equal-pay protections
      higher federally mandated minimum wage
      a national health-care system that covers reproductive intervention
      more affordable housing for single people,
      tax breaks for single dwellers
      criminal-justice reforms
      government-subsidized day-care programs
      federally mandated paid family leave
      universal paid-sick-day compensation
      increases … in welfare benefits
      reduced college costs
      quality early-education programs

      I think we are the victims of a joke.  This must have been Bernie Sanders in drag.

      • Anthony

        Without casting “gender” aspersions, the woman took exacting pains to lay out her argument. Not surprisingly, her “other side” argument may not go over well…

        • Boritz

          “may not go over well”

          On the contrary, there is little doubt that we (collectively) will do everything possible to make this wish-list a reality. On this I have less doubt than the author.

          • Anthony

            Good luck with that!

          • m a

            And the country will all look like inner-city Chicago.

      • Honordads

        In short, she wants government to replace fathers. Howzat working so far?

        • Jim__L

          Uncle Sam, the happily cuckolded Sugar Daddy? Works real great for the women.

          Not so much for their kids.

          • CapitalHawk

            Uncle Sam as the heavy who takes from working men to give to non-working women. I wonder, if you were to calculate how much women receive from government transfer payments as compared to men, how far ahead women would be? I have a hunch it would be pretty massive, given that they are virtually the only recipients of welfare payments (and Medicaid) and because of their longer average life spans they receive much more in Social Security and Medicare payments.

          • Jim__L

            Fascinating. How does that balance out in the “equal pay” debate?

          • CapitalHawk

            Good question. I would expect it to more than make up for the imbalance. Also, please don’t buy into the whole “women make only 77% of what men make for the same job” crap. The imbalance is because of women taking jobs that pay less and because of women working fewer hours for paid work (and more hours of unpaid housework) then men. To the extent there is any imbalance in pay to men and women (for the same job and at the same seniority level, etc.), it is approximately 5% (depending on who you ask and what industry you are talking about). See here for an example:
            That difference could be due to sexisim, due to men’s documented aggressiveness in asking for raises (as compared to women) or something else. They don’t know what causes it.

    • WigWag

      The article reflects the perspective of a highly educated, upper middle class woman. Although she talks a lot about the plight of lower class, unmarried women, I think she tends to suggest that the motives of these women in staying unmarried are the same as for women like her. I doubt that’s true.

      My guess is that millions of unmarried working class women would love to be married; they’re not for a single reason. There is a dearth of marriageable men. This is clearly true in the black community where marriageable men are hard to come by because so many are incarcerated for criminal activity or unemployable because they have no skills or self discipline. As Charles Murray has documented, the precise same phenomenon is occurring amongst the white working class. Millions of working class white women want to marry but they can’t find a man worth marrying.

      Neither political party is inclined to adopt policies which can fix this problem. Democrats, from Clinton on, have advocated job training as a key answer. It isn’t. Those blue collar Carrier employees in Indiana can attend government funded training programs till the end of time; they’re not getting jobs as systems analysts or software developers. Professor Mead has addressed this issue in many posts; his recommendation that these laid off employees create a new life for themselves by becoming massage therapists, life coaches or Uber drivers is equally hopeless. Except for Trump, the GOP wants to make the problem worse by supporting more free trade agreements. As the pais de resistance, both parties want to stick it to working class men by making it easier for immigrants to compete with them. Anyone who thinks this will do anything but further depress the number of marraigable men is nuts.

      The only thing that will help is a big time jobs protection program. We need to punish companies that move jobs overseas, we need to place barriers in the way of imported products and we need to shame companies that don’t do the right thing by American workers.

      The irony is that all of this is far less radical than it sounds. Europe already does it; so do Japan and China. We need to make it exactly as difficult to sell Chinese and Japanese products in the United States as it is to sell American products in those countries. If they want to sell their products here, make them do what they do, manufacture their products here. Do this, and the millions of single women who want to marry and have their kids brought up in two parent households will be able to find a husband who can find a job.

      Anthony, there’s one more thing about the article I want to mention to you. It correctly notes that Americans are having children at a much later age. There are real consequences to this that scientists are becoming aware of but are rarely discussed. It’s well-known that there is an epidemic of developmental disorders like autism and the various forms of attention deficit disorder sweeping the United States. There is increasingly strong evidence that a major risk factor for these disorders is increasing parental age. The evidence is mounting that the sperm and eggs from 30 somethings is just not as good as the sperm and eggs from 20 somethings. The sad reality is that while it may be socially desirable to delay having children, it is biologically highly undesirable. The price for his parents decision is too often paid by the innocent child. It has even been suggested that waiting longer to have children can negatively impact the child’s IQ.

      We are conducting a massive uncontrolled experiment the consequences of which are totally unpredictable. The one thing we can predict is that the rich will be fine; the working classes will continue to be marginalized.

      Unless Trump wins.

      • Tom

        “Especially if Trump wins.”


      • Anthony

        The author is probably of class you indicate. Yet her perspective is that of a woman regarding issue from her side. She may or may not share interests/concerns beyond class lines; I choose not to speculate nor extrapolate.

        Robert Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, gives a different perspective than yours regarding challenges faced by demographic groups you reference above. He argues that historical trend lines – slower labor force growth in an aging American population – may impact marriage economic probability downscale (lower expectations given our historic economic trend). Though I think his perspective may be overly pessimistic, the issue (marriage, single woman) cannot be separated from economics and capitalism per se.

        To that end, “a strong case can be made for preserving and strengthening the U.S. manufacturing base, if necessary by retaliating against the mercantilist trade policies of state capitalist countries like China. The positive spillover effects from manufacturing to the rest of the national economy are significant and U.S. National Security depends in large part on a dual-use civilian-military manufacturing base. But even a renaissance of manufacturing in America would not bring back the number or kinds of well-paid factory worker jobs that existed half a century ago . Even in China, Japan and Germany, which have made manufacturing a priority, manufacturing jobs as a share of the workforce are in decline, thanks mainly to labor-saving automation. Today, the two most common large employers in the 50 American states are Wal-Mart and the local state university system.”

        Above all, the demographic you highlight will be neither factory workers nor tech nerds bur service economy applicants – that’s a reality and linking marriage probability to a future predominant of domestic service sector jobs requires public policy thought readjustment (just what may be our expectations realistically). Relatedly, the major presidential candidates treat the main economic phenomena of our time – slow GDP growth, the decline of manufacturing employment and the rise of low-wage service sector jobs concentrated in health care and hospitality – as aberrations and not as a historic trend to be squared with societal interests in maintaining economically stable marriages.

        On the whole WigWag, I find nothing of substance to disagree with in your explication. As a matter of fact, I find common sense notion of having children later and unexpected natal issues probable being examined by medical research to determine correlation both important and informative. And as always, I appreciate and will utilize referenced links. Thanks.

        • WigWag

          There’s no doubt that the decline of our manufacturing sector is inexorable. In the medium term and long term, solutions need to be found though I don’t think anyone knows what those solutions might be.

          In the short term we need to stem the bleeding before millions of additional white working class men and women join millions of black men and women in America’s underclass. The only tornaquet that can be applied is the application of a strong dose of economic nationalism.

          It is one thing to lose American manufacturing jobs to automation. It’s quite another thing to lose these jobs to nations who’s protection is massively subsidized by our middle class taxpayers and working class warriors.

          If we continue on the road our bipartisan elites are leading us down, we’re toast.

          • Anthony

            Let us agree to stanch the bleeding for all Americans and not write off or demarcate any class. Also, I added addendum to initial post after you edited 1st reply.

          • Jim__L

            Agreed, except with the idea that the decline is inexorable. The Luddites were wrong before. Industry expanded as demand blossomed for goods and services no one had ever dreamt of before.

            Your recent comments prove you’ve got a great head on your shoulders, WigWag, but directing your meditations away from support for Trump and towards rediscovering the trends and structures that prevented the Luddites’ unrealized apocalypse would be a better service to humanity.

      • Jim__L

        “We are conducting a massive uncontrolled experiment the consequences of which are totally unpredictable.”

        Haven’t you just laid out evidence predicting that the results here will be bad?

        • WigWag

          Yes, but the evidence is only suggestive, not dispositive. More work needs to be done before we can arrive at definitive conclusions. But I do think that this is an underreported story. For most of human history up and until the 1970s the vast majority of women bore their first children while they were in their 20s. In many societies it was common to give birth the first time when a women was in her late teens. After ten thousand years of history, this has changed and millions of women in the West are giving birth for the first time in their 30s or in some cases even later.

          There are all sorts of sociological reasons for this but few people stop to think about the biological implications of this massive change of approach. Not only does fertility go down the older a woman gets, it is entirely possible (but not yet certain) that giving birth later in life puts the health of the child at greater risk.

          As I said, a great deal more scientific work needs to be done to confirm these findings; but the preliminary evidence looks disquieting.

          The fact that people are generally unaware of this phenomenon is even more disquieting.

          • Jim__L

            Isn’t it a well-documented fact that the later a woman in life a woman has children, the greater chance of Down’s Syndrome?

            Obviously the question hasn’t been disposed of yet, but I think that that has less to do with the evidence and more to do with what is and isn’t fashionable among the chattering classes.

          • WigWag

            Yes, it’s pretty firmly established that the later in life a woman becomes pregnant the more likely it is that her baby will have Down Syndrome and other forms of polysomy that are worse. For the other disorders I mentioned, the evidence is less compelling; so far.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    You get more of what you pay for. The breakup of the American family and the source of the fatherless homes, can be traced directly back to the Welfare program started by Johnson in the 60’s. 50 years later we can see the results as children of fatherless homes are 10 times more likely to be in prison, test lower on IQ tests, and achieve much less in life. It can legitimately be said, that a woman raising a child without a father is committing “Child Abuse”, and a mother that truly loved her children and wanted the best for them, would either get married or give them up. There is a reason why “Bastard” has been a derogatory term throughout history.

    • Jim__L

      Definitely discontinue all programs that discriminate against married women for the purposes of determining benefits eligibility.

  • GS

    Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, the Bell Curve, 1994. The single parent households are overwhelmingly concentrated on the Bell Curve left shoulder. And whatever policy prescriptions one may arrive to, even “creat[ing] the kinds of jobs that young men without a college degree can do”, should be tailored to the left-shoulder segment. Logical persuasion does not work too well there, and while the coercion does, there is very little appetite for using it.

    • CapitalHawk

      The problem is that liberals think that all the poor are just as smart as they are, but are just unlucky (or the victim of racism or some other “ism”). Meanwhile, conservatives think that all the poor are lazy good for nothings. Both are, by and large, wrong. The poor (in America at least) are a group of people with poor impulse control, willing to work hard, but not that bright. They will respond to coercion, but, because they view the poor as smart people who are just unlucky, the left immediately views any coercion as “evil” being done by the Right as opposed to tough love.

      • GS

        The poor who are smart [even moderately so] do not stay poor. When I immigrated to the United States, I had $125, the clothes on my back, two suitcases [no tradable valuables there], and no spoken English – I could not ask my way to a restroom without making hand gestures and mooing sounds. While I could read English, writing a grammatically correct CV and cover letter were waaaay above me. If that was not “poor”, what was? Obviously, I did not particularly like it, and so I tried to claw my way up – and to a degree I succeeded. “Never again” – I am no longer poor.

        • CapitalHawk

          Well, if the poor are relatively smart and have some minimum amount of motivation/work ethic, you are correct. Intelligence and work ethic are both required (in at least minimal amounts) to get ahead. To the extent a person is lacking in one, they can compensate (often to a large extent) with the other. But if intelligence or work ethic is wholly lacking, then you have a relatively useless person. So, the liberals are right sometimes (some poor are unlucky smart people) and they really do just need some short term help to get them back on their feet. But, the conservatives are also right that some of the poor are just fundamentally lazy and they will never work to get themselves out of their situation.

          • GS

            The unlucky smart poor will not stay poor, unless due to their having some gaping character faults – in which case it is their just deserts. The liberals are fundamentally wrong, on that and on almost all other matters.

  • FriendlyGoat

    So MANY men would be better off with a vasectomy than a tattoo. Who will tell them?

    • Jim__L

      Someone who doesn’t care whether the human race survives into the future?

      • CapitalHawk

        Ever see Idiocracy? You should. The human race survives in that movie, but it’s not a world you would want to be in.

        • Jim__L

          Regression to the mean, CH. “Breeding” in humans is overrated, and leads mostly to inbreeding.

          • CapitalHawk

            Regression to the mean doesn’t mean (there’s that word again) that, no matter what, the average IQ of all humans will be 100. If that were the case, you wouldn’t have a different mean IQ in different races/population groups/whatever term makes you happy, but you do.

        • seattleoutcast

          Are you saying a movie based on flawed, evolutionary principles should be a basis for proper governance?

          • CapitalHawk

            This is what I’m saying:

            General “Buck” Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

            Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious… service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.

            Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

          • seattleoutcast

            Ahh, thank you. There is also a similar, but not quite as fun, situation in “A Boy and His Dog.”

      • FriendlyGoat

        Nah, those who are more familiar with the words “baby mama” than with the word wife. You’d be surprised how many incarcerated guys went into prison while already having biological children with women to whom they were never married and never will be.

    • seattleoutcast

      So your solution is a brute, totalitarian measure. Much easier for the State to control people with vasectomies and an arrogant attitude towards men. What is much harder to do is to build institutions that help men and women thrive in a society where raising a child is considered a detriment.

      Wait, we did have those institutions. They were called churches.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I was speaking of voluntary vasectomies, not the “State” controlling anything.

        • CapitalHawk

          Well, there is one fly in that ointment. I know of at least one man who wanted to get a vasectomy and had a very difficult time finding a doctor who would do it. Why? He didn’t have any kids yet.

          • FriendlyGoat

            So, grow some smarter doctors. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with any man who says 1) I’m not fathering children, and 2) I’m not putting the responsibility for birth control on women.

            Full disclosure: I had my vasectomy before I was 22 when my young wife and I decided to stop with one child.

          • Jim__L

            Yes, yes there is something wrong with that.

            The human race (and more specifically, our welfare state) requires a fertility rate of 2.1 to sustain itself. That is going to be SOMEONE’S responsibility. Dodging out on that is pushing that responsibility (which is a heavy responsibility, in terms of time, money, and emotional investment) onto someone else — that’s shirking, plain and simple.

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding having 2-3 kids in a stable mother-father-kids family as a norm, and structuring our laws accordingly.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Laws? My wife and I made our decision when we had one premie baby (miraculously okay) and were told that any future ones would likely be premie too. Today is my opportunity to tell you personally to mind your own dang business. Your ideas for a “norm” just don’t fit everything in life as much as you think.

          • Jim__L

            I’m sorry you had such trouble, and such a scare. I’m glad that things worked out for you. My first had a difficult birth and early childhood himself (though his brothers had better fortune) so I have a taste of what it might have been like for you. I had no idea that that was your experience, based on the general direction of your comments on these subjects.

            In Silicon Valley I’m surrounded by people whose reasons for not reproducing are far less grounded than yours. I think for them to take your personal tragedy as a shield or encouragement for their own destructive choices would be a very bad thing.

            If you’d like to discuss how sharply norms should be enforced (Twitter’s committee for public safety and Canada’s “human rights” Gestapo come to mind as ways not to do it) I’m up for that discussion. However, for very important topics like this, exceptions must remain exceptions, and general understandings of what is good and beneficial must be maintained, or society will fail to thrive.

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s absolutely true that my wife and I discovered our reason for having only one child—-and rather unexpectedly. One baby at seven months was enough for us. That was in the early 1970’s, a far more hopeful time for young people, anyway. As the years went by, we realized how fortunate both we and our son had been that he was just small, not impaired in any way (as he might have been).

            Today, I would advise any young man to ask himself whether he really wants to undertake the raising of children in the cultural and economic climate of the next 20-25 years as can be foreseen from here. Questions like, “Do you trust public schools?” come to mind.
            “Can you afford private schools?” Or, “Do you feel capable and willing to do Home School?

            Then there is, “Do you think your wife or girlfriend should manage the birth control”? If so, why?

          • Jim__L

            (An aside – you do realize that our society is undergoing an unofficial breeding program that favors Women Who Have a Bad Reaction to the Pill and Men Who Can’t Do Simple Math While Under the Influence of Pheromones? A tendency to use birth control will *always* be selected against, from an evolutionary perspective.)

            Bad schools? Have the kids anyway.

            One generation isn’t going to solve all the problems for the next generation. Denying the next generation existence on the basis that the world’s not perfect is not a compelling argument.

            The world wasn’t perfect for us. Should we all go shoot ourselves? The fact is that we don’t. Never have. A hard life is better than no life at all.

            Yeah, for all I complain about the Boomers, I’m glad I’m alive.

            (You do realize that in the “More hopeful time for young people”, the birthrate plummeted due to Roe, right?)

          • FriendlyGoat

            I simply wish that vasectomies were used more by a certain small segment of men so that we might use jails, rehab, various welfare programs and Roe less as result. The “baby mama” thing just isn’t working so well.

            As for schools, you might be surprised to know that I, a liberal, used rather conservative Christian schools all the way, K-12, with our one son. My wife was most comfortable with that, and we didn’t lose him to drugs, gangs, alcohol, sex, bullying (as either bully or victim), car wrecks, academic washout, or any of the other hazards. We did end up with him as a much more politically-conservative adult that we are, which we sometimes wonder about.

            (From a cost standpoint, I would not have been ready to do the Christian school thing with 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 children.)

  • Kevin

    “This shouldn’t involve—as the occasional dorky pastor type or culture warrior might imagine—giving chastity and abstinence lessons to teens. Such lessons aren’t a bad thing necessarily; it’s just that over the centuries this kind of influence appears to be, well, limited.”

    If you look at English history this is clearly wrong.

    In the Restoration era (ca 1660-83) licentiousness was common from top to bottom in society. The Monarchs and nobility were quite promiscuous and made little pretext if respecting marital vows. Among the lower classes, as I understand it, formal marriage was uncommon; most relationships seem to have been a sort of informal common law marriage at best. In the mid-18th century a series of laws regulating and promoting marriage were passed and the middle and upper classes moved towards what what later be called a Victorian sensibility.

    Several centuries before that the church forced through changes in heredity laws throughout Western Europe which disfavored bastards and recognized legitimate children born in wedlock as lawful heirs. William the Bastard (aka William the Conqueror) was not unusual in the 11th century, but several generations later illegitimate children were disqualified from inheriting titles and the. Boiling was keen to have their relationships recognized as legitimate marriages.

    Changes in law and custom have clearly driven changes in the marital behavior in England need doubtless woukd do so here.

    It’s no coincedence that the rise in single parent households has gone hand in hand with the liberalization of divorce laws and the change in AFDC for supporting widows to never married mothers.

    • Jim__L


  • rheddles

    Draconian policies are required.

    Paternity must be identified on all birth certificates. Multiple answers are acceptable. When confirmed by DNA testing, father made financially responsible till child is age 18 to be enforced by IRS. Non-dischargable in bankruptcy. Failure to identify confirmed father results in sterilization of mother and child sent to orphanage for adoption.

    Second offence, automatic sterilization regardless.

    End no-fault divorce.

    • John Stephens

      As far as the men are concerned, good luck getting blood from that turnip. Sterilizing the unwed mothers would be more effective, but God’s mercy on any politician even suggesting such a thing.

      • Jim__L

        There are a lot of womens’ organizations that want to make birth control common enough that sterilization of the entire population is the functional result.

        Politicians on the Left fall all over themselves to support such organizations.

    • m a

      Uh, that won’t work. That might prevent cuckolds from supporting kids that aren’t their own, which is currently more common than you might think. You need that guy supporting the kid for a couple years as an acknowledgement of paternity so that even if there is a test proving it isn’t his, he’s still stuck with supporting it.
      Ending no-fault divorce might have been the answer back when most folks got married prior to kids, not now when folks don’t bother anyway. What might work is giving the men the right to ‘opt-out’ of fatherhood by offering to pay for an abortion. If the mom refuses, he’s off the hook and the taxpayer as well. She receives no assistance for a child born at a time she can’t afford to raise it.

  • Fred

    But wait. Aren’t social issues just distractions from real issues, just something greedy corporate types use to con theocratic fascists and redneck morons into supporting tax cuts for the wealthy? /sarc

  • Honordads

    “…dorky pastor types”? Most are damn good role models. You just proved your thesis by calling a whole group of fathers unnecessary and uncool. Way to go.

  • m a

    Hmmmm…. nothing in there about no-fault divorce, the disincentives to men for marrying, the fact that ~70% of divorces are initiated by women…

  • elHombre

    Progressives and feminists have brought us to the point at which a large proportion of women don’t love children. They see them as a burden or a meal ticket or both. That is not the natural order of things and we are paying the price for it.

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