Social Engineering and Welfare Undermining the Family

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George Gilder recently reviewed Men Without Work, by Nicholas Eberstadt, with some elaboration on the points:

When fathers abandon (or are kicked out of) families, fewer boys will succeed in becoming effective, competent workers or loving and disciplined husbands and fathers. Women alone have a much harder time raising boys to be good men. The problem is compounded when schools view male achievement as a problem to be solved, not something to be celebrated, and when so few teachers are men. In their frustration, women often attempt to turn boys into girls — to “feminize” them, as sociologist Patricia Cayo Sexton pointed out decades ago. This result is heavily manifest in the statistics in this book and in American society. What we experienced in the U.S. was a massive plague of affirmative action that drastically upset the balance of power between men and women both in the home and on the job.

There was no evidence of systemic discrimination against women in the work force. Women as early as the 1970s earned as much as men of comparable skill and experience, and black women as early as the 1960s, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed out, were already earning 106 percent of black-male earnings. Single women have long made as much as single men. New affirmative-action rules, combined with the preferential availability to single mothers of welfare under Aid to Families with Dependent Children, effectively destroyed the black family by driving out fathers and disabling boys by depriving them of fatherly discipline and example. Economists obtusely denied the family-eating effects of the welfare state by failing to measure the value of leisure time, which made welfare benefits far more attractive than male earnings. This effect spread to lower-class white families as well and produced the social catastrophe that Eberstadt documents so well in this book.

Central planners will necessarily miss many critical considerations, not only because they’re human, but also because the sorts of people who become central planners will tend to have similar experiences.  Interacting with coworkers when I worked on the docks in Galilee made some lessons personal.  One guy, for example, wouldn’t get married because it would limit the access of his wife and children to welfare, and families not joined in marriage are more likely to dissolve.



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