In the Arena

Inconvenient Truths

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Two important stories this morning in unlikely places. Jason DeParle of the New York Times, a liberal mainstream bastion, has a terrific piece about the terrible social and economic effects of having children out-of-wedlock. Irwin Stelzer of the Weekly Standard, a conservative mainstream bastion, has a smart piece about the depredations of the banksters–and he suggests, wisely, that Mitt Romney might profit from saying something substantive about the fetid state of international finance. Taken together, these pieces are clarion reminders of the political discussion we should be having this year, but aren’t.

Liberals don’t like talking about the effect of morality on poverty–even though the data have been glaring for years. Certainly, the loss of manufacturing jobs has been part of the growing gap between rich and poor. And so has the plutocratic greed that Stelzer hints at in his piece. But it is also quite clear, as DeParle writes, that children who are born to intact families have a much better chance of succeeding in life than those who don’t. And DeParle shows why, in intimate detail: fathers matter, not just in terms of providing a paycheck, but also in child-rearing, providing the  rich learning–and extra-curricular–environment that leads to success. Any honest debate about the growing gap between rich and poor needs to address all three elements: the job losses caused by global economic shifts, the Information Age plutocracy and the decline in morality among an increasingly broad swath of our lower middle classes. DeParle cites estimates that the out-of-wedlock explosion accounts for 40% of the increase in income disparity–that sound like a lot, but no matter. A remoralization of America when it comes to out-of-wedlock births is well past due.

As for Stelzer’s article: any honest debate about the financial crash, the sluggish economy and the future of American capitalism has to include a detailed plan about how to deal with the bankers who have profoundly distorted, and pillaged, the system. Sadly, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney have addressed the “moral hazard” that accrues from having banks that are too big too fail (Jon Huntsman was the only candidate in either party to offer a plausible plan for breaking up the banks.) Obama’s stand is disappointing; Romney’s is business-as-usual. He hasn’t provided policy details on anything in this campaign. He proposed massive, ridiculous tax cuts without laying out the loopholes he’d close to pay for them. He won’t talk about immigration. He won’t talk about the government’s specific role in goosing the economy. He won’t release his tax returns. But his failure to talk about how he’d regulate Wall Street is particularly gaping void.

We know Obama’s plan, sort of–it’s the deficient Dodd-Frank bill, a morass of regulation concocted by regulators, rather than clear legislation laying out the rules of the road for big banks. Romney says he’s against that. Good. But what’s he for? It’s time for some Republican–other than Huntsman–to call out the financial sector for its reckless greed and immorality. A remoralization of America when it comes to Wall Street is also well past due.

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radsenior
radsenior

Joe Klein makes some valid points. I like his thought process. Too bad Romney has no one like him to help steer his ship.

ganmerlad
ganmerlad

Liberals don't avoid talking about the number out of wedlock births perpetuating poverty.  Why do you think liberals are so pro-birth control access?  They DO realize you can't legislate 'morality' though.  And what happens when you expect 'taught morality' to take care of the problem instead?  Ask 'abstinence only' states what their teen birth rates are. (hint: gobsmackingly high)  This is a problem that simply can not be dealt with by going on about the morality of it.  The 1950's ended 52 years ago.  Even an iron-fisted dictator couldn't put the genie back in that bottle.  But sure, advise Romney to make a talking point of reintroducing social stigmatization, which will surely bring to mind the Taliban, and will turn off independents and lose a few moderate Republicans.  I think its a great idea!

ranger99
ranger99

You can't legislate morality.  All attempts to do so have ended in disaster.  You can legislate banking practices.  The government doesn't exist to determine what is right and wrong, only legal and illegal.  How can people not understand that?

f_galton
f_galton

My strategy for having kids out of wedlock is to father them when I'm on vacation in social welfare states like Sweden.

mkelter2011
mkelter2011

It would be really nice if the money I pay for my Time Magazine subscription would pay for a real journalist to cover some of these important "inconvenient truths".   Instead, I seem to be paying for partisan hacks like Joe Klein who would rather use the ink to cover stories about teenage boys getting haircuts from young Mitt Romney, or talking about Romney's "hairfire manifesto".

If Americans have voted like idiots in the past, the quality of American journalism has some responsibility.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Do I agree that a loving two-parent household is far better than a loving one-parent household?  Absolutely.  I think there are very few Liberals who dispute that.  However, I think a non-loving two-parent household is far worse than a loving one-parent household.  And that's where the problems start to show.

I want to see more fathers take care of their children.  I have a huge problem with dead-beat dads.  I think there are very few Liberals who disagree with these realities.  However, anything you could reasonably do at a governmental policy level is not helpful - love is as important as the second parent and the study cannot remove love from the equation - those households that are two parent households are predominantly loving two-parent households while a significant number of one parent households would be non-loving two-parent households if forced.

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

 Liberals don’t like talking about the effect of morality on poverty–even

though the data have been glaring for years. Certainly, the loss of

manufacturing jobs has been part of the growing gap between rich and

poor. And so has the plutocratic greed that Stelzer hints at in his

piece. But it is also quite clear, as DeParle writes, that children who

are born to intact families have a much better chance of succeeding in

life than those who don’t

This is like arguing what came first the chicken or the egg. Let us face it children from poor broken homes do not succeed. Children from from poor broken homes are more likely to find themselves in poor broken homes in the future. It is not that the poor broken homes have less morality, it is they have less money.

3xfire3
3xfire3

Obama to Clinton welfare reform: Drop dead

The Washington Post

President Obama is the chief executive, obligated by the Constitution to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Obama, however, seems to have — by executive order — altered that to read “take Care that the Laws [which he likes or wished Congress had passed] be faithfully executed. The list of laws he won’t enforce or is unilaterally amending is getting long: Defense of Marriage Act, immigration laws, voting laws, and anti-terror laws. He won’t even enforce all the provisions of his signature legislation as we’ve seen in the bushels-full of Obamacare waivers. The latest and most inexplicable gambit is his decision to undo bipartisan welfare reform.

ABC News explained: “After the Obama administration announced this week that it is opening up waivers to states from the work requirements contained in welfare reform, Republicans began to speak out against the move, complaining it completely undercuts the law. . . . Congressional Republicans decried the move as ‘a blatant violation of the law’ and contend the waivers will actually cause harm to the impoverished Americans because beneficiaries will come to rely on the handout with little motivation to seek employment.”

The outrage is bipartisan. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a furious statement :

By gutting the work requirements in President Clinton’s signature welfare reform law, President Obama is admitting his economic policies have failed.

“While President Clinton worked with Congress in a bipartisan way on welfare reform and economic opportunity, President Obama has routinely ignored Republican proposals, rejected House-passed jobs bills, and imposed an agenda that’s helped keep the unemployment rate above eight percent for 41 months. Instead of working with Republicans to boost job creation, the president is simply disregarding the requirement that welfare recipients find work.

“Welfare reform was an historic, bipartisan success – this move by the Obama administration is a partisan disgrace.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

 A witless gooper shill quotes Jennifer Rubin, who is herself a witless gooper shill.

The right-wing merry-go-round in action.

~

Diecash1
Diecash1

Complete garbage,gramps. Why don't you try backing that up with some facts for a change? I'm sure you're unable to recall W's "signing statements", right gramps? You probably had no problem with them, did you? Pathetically hypocritical of you, gramps. Again.

3xfire3
3xfire3

President Obama is the most dictatorial undemocratic president of all times.

He makes little attempt to follow the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

Diecash1
Diecash1

The move gives states the ability to apply for waivers, but those applications would still have to be approved by the secretary. Two states with GOP governors, Utah and Nevada, have submitted requests for a waiver so far, while three additional states, Connecticut, Minnesota, and California, have asked about the potential for waivers.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/po... 

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

Wrong, Joe. I don't know of any liberals who have a problem talking about morality, and the effects thereof.  What we have a problem with is using morality as a basis for law.

paulejb
paulejb

Ohiolib,

Just exactly what is it that liberals view as a basis for law if not morality?

Cthulhu Shrugged
Cthulhu Shrugged

Remember, paul... it was the "moral brigade" who were "morally outraged" by the "immorality" of interracial marriage, women's suffrage, integration amp; civil rights, gay marriage...

Basing law on the shifting sands of "morality" ... especially religious "morality" is a wonderful path to repressive theocracy.

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

 Rights, liberty, and the Constitution all come to mind.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Morality is by large based on emotions. No legal document should be based on emotions.

AlterYourEgo
AlterYourEgo

Joe is pointing out two very good articles and they really get down to the decline in basic morality in America.  Moral relativism has its price.