The striking similarities between what happened to black Americans at an earlier stage in our history and what is happening now to white working-class Americans may shed new light on old debates about cultural versus structural explanations of poverty. What’s clear is that economic opportunity, while not the only factor affecting marriage, clearly matters.
One of the things that has separated the American left from its European counterpart is that the latter, following “Karl and Fred” have emphasised the reduction of differences in socio-economic class and economic inequality over the identity politics Americans obsess with (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc).
Well, it looks like that obsession–coupled with our other obsession of sexual freedom–has shifted the central issue at last, although that’s not obvious if we look at the agenda these days of same-sex civil marriage, immigration reform and the like. But I think it’s fair to say that our elites only talk a good game about economic equality–the system as it’s set up benefits them so much that they’d really take a hit if they actually did something worthwhile about it.
For all the analysis in the article re why this has taken place, there’s no evidence that the solution adopted by the broad base of society–single, mostly female parenting–is going to do anything but perpetuate the problem. In the end there are two solutions to this–either people must buck their culture and form stable families as an exemplar, or they must rebel and take what they think is theirs.
This is the opportunity of Christian churches. But as long as we waste time on trying to take back our culture and not changing it where we’re at–a much harder, long-term process in a world where instant results are the only ones anybody cares about–we’re not going to contribute to this in a positive way.