Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Prudiciousness Matters

Dig this.
One of the most sobering observations made by Wax comes in the form of a disarmingly simple calculus presented first by Isabel Sawhill and Christopher Jencks. If you finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, you will almost certainly not be poor. Period. I have repeatedly felt the air go out of the room upon putting this to black audiences. No one of any political stripe can deny it. It is human truth on view. In 2004, the poverty rate among blacks who followed that formula was less than 6 percent, as opposed to the overall rate of 24.7 percent*. Even after hearing the earnest musings about employers who are less interested in people with names like Tomika, no one can gainsay the simple truth of that advice. Crucially, neither bigotry nor even structural racism can explain why an individual does not live up to it.
I've lived both sides of the kids and marriage question. The mechanics of failure are simple, powerful and inescapable when you're unmarried with kids. If you care about the poor and you care about children, you've got to be a prude.

* - Since the overall rate includes married couples who have graduated from high school, that 24.7% is actually lower than what should be the real comparative statistic - the poverty rate of those who have not completed high school and/or had children out of wedlock. The score isn't 24.7 to 6, it's actually worse than that.

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