Thursday, February 14, 2013

Moral Relativism Loses - Game, Set, Match.


Last night, I started thinking about the inverse of my previous posts on cities with the highest percentage of single parent households and how they're all basket cases. I wondered if I could find the list of cities with the highest percentage of married households.

Google. First hit. Bingo.

#1 on the hit parade is Flower Mound, Texas. How does Flower Mound stack up against the nation at large?

Average income: $95,416. That's the 98th percentile right there, kids.

Let's look at the large city with the highest percentage of single parents, Camden, NJ.

Average income: $23,421. That's the 11th percentile.

Game, set, match. If you care about the poor, then you must care about objective morality. You can't have it both ways.

If you're wondering, here's a synopsis of Pope Benedict's (then Cardinal Ratzinger) homily on the dictatorship of moral relativism. Looks like he was on to something.

Freaky. It's almost like he'd been clued in by Someone Else.


Jeff Burton said...

The left is going to retort that the causation runs the other way (because they're rich, they're married, and it's the poverty that creates the family dysfunction).

Yeah, it's a slam dunk for us, but I'm know how the other side thinks. They've been thinking that way for a couple of centuries.

K T Cat said...

So if poverty caused broken families, why didn't we have more broken families before? We were poorer in real terms back in the 50s.

T. Lieberman said...

You seem to be saying that poverty correlates with single parenthood, and wealth correlates with married parenthood.

According to some statistical methods, you throw out the highs and the lows anyway. But assume the two cities you identified are simply extreme examples that represent a general trend.

You wrote: "If you care about the poor, then you must care about objective morality."

It's hard to understand what you're saying here. Are you implying that single-parent households violate some moral standard? And who are you addressing; who is the "you" who cares about the poor and is supposed to care about morality? Does "caring" about morality mean upholding certain standards in one's own life - or does it mean judging other people, supposedly for their own good?

Marriage, parenthood, and household income are complex social phenomena. There are many reasons why single parenthood might correlate with poverty. First of all, there are any reasons why some households with children would only have one parent at home. One parent might be dead; killed in military action overseas, let's say, or killed by violent crime near home. Or hospitalized with a prolonged illness aggravated by their inability to afford preventive healthcare. Or jailed for infractions that wealthier people would have gotten away with because they would have hired lawyers. Or they moved somewhere else to find work. Or they divorced because their financial stresses made it that much harder to make the relationship work. Or they were surrounded by people who had all of these factors in their lives, which created a culture that was more permissive and understanding of single parenthood.

And what of the married parents? I doubt the data says it was their original marriage or that the children are the biological offspring of both of them. If you happen to find yourself a single parent, what does "objective morality" tell you to do: marry? remarry? stay single? do whatever it takes to avoid poverty?

It is just not intuitive to me that large numbers of people can avoid poverty simply by acquiring the marital status that someone else wants them to have. Yes, I have read elsewhere that married couples tend to be wealthier and that divorce generally leaves individuals in worse financial shape. But I think there are more complex sociological factors at work than simply having another working adult to share the rent with.

And, even if marrying - and staying married to - the parent of one's child is ordinarily a kind of "objective morality," doing it for financial gain would seem to erase most of the claim of moral motivation. Even more awkward is the revised idea that some detached elitist judge who "cares about the poor" should hope that they all behave morally and stay married to each other, ideally out of their own purely moral motivation, so that they will be pleasantly surprised to be rewarded with money, not having fully understood (being poor, you know) how the karmic system works.

tim eisele said...

"A married man with a family will do anything for money." - Talleyrand

K T Cat said...

Ah, the "complex social phenomena" argument with the "judging other people" one thrown in for good measure. Well done! We'll deal with those in a bit, but let's take care of the statistical analysis one first. Feel free to throw out the top and bottom data points. Throw out the top ten and bottom ten. It won't matter. A glance at the remainder tells the same story.

Until I have a chance to go into greater detail for the rest, I'd highly recommend this article.