Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Harold Meyerson hits a home run

David Seaton's News Links
Harold Meyerson has exposed one of what Marxists like to call the "contradictions" of the right: talking up the sanctity of the family while simultaneously destroying it.

Certainly the stability of the family is at the center of any traditional conservative's value system... everything else radiates from it. And that family system is also the center of patriarchal repression and the model for all dictatorships
and the obedience school for the citizens of such dictatorships.

Therefore a person of the left might be happy to see those bonds loosened. However the individual thus "freed" must find a replacement for the practical support that a traditional family or clan gives its members. That is where the welfare state comes in. Free child care, nurseries, subsidies, generous old age pensions etc. Anything else is social disintegration like we saw in Katrina.

American "conservatives" have created the worst of both worlds. They have destroyed the family and put nothing in its place. Katrina was only a color coded metaphor for America's working poor and how they are viewed by the de-cerebrated radicals that call themselves conservatives in the USA. DS

Meyerson: 'Family Values' Chutzpah - Washington Post
Abstract: As conservatives tell the tale, the decline of the American family, the rise in divorce rates, the number of children born out of wedlock all can be traced to the pernicious influence of one decade in American history: the '60s. The conservatives are right that one decade, at least in its metaphoric significance, can encapsulate the causes for the family's decline. But they've misidentified the decade. It's not the permissive '60s. It's the Reagan '80s. In Saturday's Post, reporter Blaine Harden took a hard look at the erosion of what we have long taken to be the model American family -- married couples with children -- and discovered that while this decline hasn't really afflicted college-educated professionals, it is the curse of the working class. The percentage of households that are married couples with children has hit an all-time low (at least, the lowest since the Census Bureau started measuring such things): 23.7 percent. That's about half the level that marrieds-with-children constituted at the end of the Ozzie-and-Harriet '50s.(...) the Ozzie and Harriet family -- modified by feminism, since Harriet now holds down a job, too -- still rolls along within the upper-middle class but has become much harder to find in working-class America, where cohabitation without marriage has increasingly become the norm. Taking into account all households, married couples with children are twice as likely to be in the top 20 percent of incomes, Harden reported. Their incomes have increased 59 percent over the past 30 years, while households overall have experienced just a 44 percent increase. To be sure, the '60s, with its assaults on traditional authority, played some role in weakening the traditional family. But its message was sounded loudest and clearest on elite college campuses, whose graduates were nonetheless the group most likely to have stable marriages. Then again, they were also the group most likely to have stable careers. They enjoyed financial stability; they could plan for the future. Such was not the case for working-class Americans. Over the past 35 years, the massive changes in the U.S. economy have largely condemned American workers to lives of economic insecurity. No longer can the worker count on a steady job for a single employer who provides a paycheck and health and retirement benefits, too. Over the past three decades, workers' individual annual income fluctuations have consistently increased, while their aggregate income has stagnated. In the brave new economy of outsourced jobs and short-term gigs and on-again, off-again health coverage, American workers cannot rationally plan their economic futures. And with each passing year, as their level of economic security declines, so does their entry into marriage. Yet the very conservatives who marvel at the efficiency of our new, more mobile economy and extol the "flexibility" of our workforce decry the flexibility of the personal lives of American workers. The right-wing ideologues who have championed outsourcing, offshoring and union-busting, who have celebrated the same changes that have condemned American workers to lives of financial instability, piously lament the decline of family stability that has followed these economic changes as the night the day. American conservatism is a house divided against itself. It applauds the radicalism of the economic changes of the past four decades -- the dismantling, say, of the American steel industry (and the job and income security that it once provided) in the cause of greater efficiency. It decries the decline of social and familial stability over that time -- the traditional, married working-class families, say, that once filled all those churches in the hills and hollows in what is now the smaller, post-working-class Pittsburgh. READ IT ALL

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