Why God, Family and Tradition Do Not Equal Happiness

Conservatives are freaking out about the death of the traditional family. But the family appears to be getting better.

From: The Guardian, via Alternet

By: Jil Filipovic

“Are we living in a post-familial age? According to a new report, The Rise of Post-Familialism: Humanity’s Future? , the answer is yes: the traditional family unit is slowly dying out as more people choose to forgo children and even marriage. As a result, society is economically imperilled, lacking the necessary workforce to support older generations. We’re also “values-challenged”, entering a brave new world of materialistic indulgence, selfishness and protracted adolescence.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Luckily, almost none of it is true.

People around the world are indeed delaying childbearing and marriage, and larger numbers of people never marry or reproduce at all. But that is not synonymous with a moral decline, or selfish decadence. It represents an uptick in women’s rights, a commitment to creating the family one wants, and wider choices for everyone.

It’s no shock that the drop in the number of children a woman has came along with the advent of the birth control pill. The countries with the highest birth rates aren’t just highly religious; they’re poor, have abominable human rights records and lack access to reliable birth control. Contrary to New York Times columnistRoss Douthat’s position , it is not in fact the country with the most babies that wins: if that was the case, Nigeria would be running the show.

Despite the clear correlation between reproductive rights and prosperity, the report’s author, joined by conservative commentators, laments the decline in childbearing because, as David Brooks says , it represents a rise of individualism and personal freedom – and that’s a bad thing. Brooks writes:

“People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice – commitments to family, God, craft and country.”

But the moral case against individualism and choice doesn’t have legs. It’s a moral good when people have a wide array of choices and increased personal freedom – not just for the individual, but also for children, family and society. And the evidence backs that up.

Valuing tradition, family and God doesn’t automatically translate into healthy families or economic prosperity. Just look at the United States: the states that most idealise the conservative model do have higher birth rates, earlier marriage, higher levels of religiosity and more consistent church attendance. They make up consistent conservative voting blocks. They also have the highest levels of divorce in the country, the highest poverty rates , the highest teen pregnancy rates , the lowest child health ratings and the lowest education levels . On the other hand, the states that champion “liberal values” do have later marriage rates and lower birth rates. They’re also richer and better educated, the children that reside in them are healthier and families split up less often.

And contrary to the assertions in both the report and the commentary surrounding it, a lower birth rate does not actually mean that individuals end up voting to support only the interests of affluent childless singles. Quite the opposite: the social safety net is much stronger in liberal, supposedly individualistic, lower-birthrate blue states. An array of choices seems to mean that people respect and support a variety of paths.

The rest of the world tells a similar story. There are obviously myriad complex factors that play into a nation’s success, but the places where people are the healthiest and the most economically stable are the relatively liberal nations that provide for social welfare while allowing many different models of family to flourish.

Meanwhile, the arguments in favour of a return to the traditional family remain unconvincing, and even insulting. For example, NYT columnist Ross Douthat accuses single people of being “decadent” [4] in their selfish singledom (an argument neatly taken down by Ann Friedman [10]). In the report itself, the authors project a nobility on to staying at home and “sacrificing” for one’s family, as opposed to young people who show “an almost defiant individualism” and “indulge themselves in hobbies, fashion or restaurants”. Singapore pastor Andrew Ong says that the child-free media culture is “about not growing up”.

Listening to these guys, you would think that kids are an awful drag, that raising a family requires (almost entirely female) sacrifice, and that such hardship simply must be endured for … something they don’t quite specify. By contrast, they seem to think that single people are in a perpetual adolescence, out partying, eating and drinking until, I suppose, we get ours by dying alone with our cats.

That’s not making much of a case for marriage and babies, is it?

In reality, most of these selfish singles are in fact eventually getting married and having babies. They’re just doing it later [11]. The result is that these selfish late procreators are wealthier, their marriages last longer and their kids are healthier. How awful.

Investing in future generations is crucial, but conservatives seem to value not so much investment as major personal sacrifice in the here-and-now that results in poorer outcomes for everyone involved. And for what? So that future generations can grow up to sacrifice themselves too? Feminists and other liberals aren’t against supporting children and making the world a better place. We just realise that the best way to do that isn’t by making ourselves collectively miserable, but by actually taking steps to improve society for everyone, now and later.

One of the ways we’re doing that is by making it easier for women to choose to have children. Demanding that women sacrifice everything for child-rearing isn’t exactly getting the young ladies to line up, but that’s what our current employment model is based upon. It is actually exceedingly difficult in much of the world for women to achieve highly in a career while also having a thriving family and personal life. Our current employment model is based on a family economy with a male partner who is able to work full time, and a female partner who stays at home and tends to the children. Women are now in the workforce in unprecedented numbers – but the workforce hasn’t adjusted to give people much time for anything other than work. And conservatives have championed this model, praising folks who do multiple jobs just to make ends meet or work 80 hours a week. High-achieving men still often have wives who stay home. What happens, then, is high-achieving women either “opt out” and let their husbands do the bread-winning, don’t get married or decide that they want to have kids later or not at all. And the economy suffers for it.

But young single people don’t just want to slave away at work all day, and we don’t have someone at home taking care of the rest of our lives. We also want a work-life balance. We may not be going home to children, but we want to pursue our hobbies, spend time with the families we’ve created and engage with our communities. We realise there is much more to life than just work – but we also think there’s much more to life than a traditional family.

That kind of push-back could be the key in making work-life balance a reality. Historically, women’s work has been undervalued and disrespected. One reason “work-life balance” is discussed but not actually executed is because, I suspect, it’s women – and the most disrespected and undervalued group of women, mothers – who that balance is perceived to benefit. So what if this new group of highly effective, highly motivated, hard-working young single people are now demanding more balance and reasonable work hours and leave policies? Everyone benefits.

Women today also want relationships that are mutually supportive and egalitarian, something they might struggle to find – but not for the reasons conservatives seem to think [12]. Lots of men haven’t caught up, and still want wives who will be subservient and financially dependent. For men, getting married and having kids comes with increased social status and emotional benefits, not to mention actual salary increases and workplace opportunities. For women it’s the opposite: motherhood brings with it lost income and opportunity. There simply aren’t enough subservient women who are willing to put themselves in financial, social and sometimes even physical peril to have a “traditional family”.

Despite its reliance on rightwing values, there is much to be gleaned from this report. It identifies a place where liberal feminists worried about gender equality and conservatives worried about fertility rates can come together to promote both of our goals. Make reproductive freedom a priority, including the right to have healthy babies. We do this by promoting healthcare that covers the family planning tools that lead to healthy, wanted pregnancies. Federally mandated parental leave and other family-friendly policies like state-sponsored childcare would also make it easier for women and men to work and raise families. More affordable housing programmes would make it more plausible for parents to stay in the places where they choose to live, and where they have put down their social roots and earned their stripes at work. Real investment in public education would relieve much of the financial burden for parents who want their children to have the same opportunities they did.

Finally, support a variety of lifestyles and choices. When the traditional family model isn’t something that everyone is expected to personally sacrifice to create, we can construct and implement policies that benefit actual families, in all of their incarnations. When they are not a crass economic contract where financial support is traded for housekeeping and child-rearing but instead a unit based on love, respect and mutual support, marriages last longer. The conservative and religious promise that there is only one best way to live, one that requires temporal sacrifice and is justified solely by obligation but will be rewarded by happiness in the afterlife, but it doesn’t actually lead to good outcomes here on Earth.

Family isn’t dead. It’s just getting better. Expanding its definition and allowing people to choose their own happiness model is just making it more highly valued than ever.

Emphasis Mine

see:

 

Why Conservatives Wrongly Blame Single Moms for the Disastrous Failures of the Right-Wing Economic Model

“Broken homes” are irrelevant when there are so few well-paid jobs with decent benefits.

From AlterNet

By: Joshua Holland

We should view lower-income single moms as heroes. Most of them make enormous sacrifices to raise their kids — trying to balance work and parenthood in a society that offers them very little support. Many are forced to forgo opportunity to advance, working multiple jobs just to scrape by. But too often, they’re villified – blamed not only for failing to “keep their man,” but also for America’s persistently high poverty rate and dramatic inequality.

The idea that the decline of “traditional marriage” is the root cause of all manner of social problems is especially prominent on the political Right. Serious research into the causes of wealth and income inequality has not been kind to the cultural narratives conservatives tend to favor, but they nonetheless persist because such explanations have immense value for the Right. They offer an opportunity to shift focus from the damage corporate America’s preferred economic policies have wrought on working people – union-busting, defunding social programs in order to slash taxes for those at the top and trade deals that make it easy for multinationals to move production to low-wage countries and still sell their goods at home – and onto their traditional bogeymen: feminism, secularism and whatever else those dirty hippies are up to.

The single mother, especially the black or brown single mother, plays an outsized-role in this discourse. A compelling body of research suggests that economic insecurity leads to more single-parent “broken homes,” yet the Right clings tirelessly to the myth that the causal relationship is the other way around.

Writing favorably of Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010, Kay Hymowitz – a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and author of Marriage and Caste in America – set up a rather obvious straw-man when describing what she calls the “single-mother revolution.”

Defenders of the single-mother revolution often describe it as empowering for women, who can now free themselves from unhappy unions and live independent lives. That’s one way to look at it. Another is that it has been an economic catastrophe for those women. Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. Census puts only 8.8 percent of them in that category, up from 6.7 percent since the start of the Great Recession. But over 40 percent of single-mother families are poor, up from 37 percent before the downturn.

I have yet to encounter a “defender” of single-parent households who would suggest that they “empower” poorer women. For affluent women heading a household, the story is very different. The fact that she may not be stigmatized as she once was may indeed be empowering. But that’s because studies have found that they don’t lose economic status at all—they maintain their position. That wouldn’t be the case if there was something about being a single mother that inherently led to poorer economic outcomes – if that were the case, single-moms at every income level would fare worse than other women.

We tend to see wealthier single mothers as strong and heroic, juggling work and kids. And they are, but the reason they can do so is that they can afford whatever help they might need — hiring nannies and tutors, or enrolling their kids in after-school programs.

But as Jean Hardisty, the author of Marriage as a Cure for Poverty: A Bogus Formula for Women, notes, it’s a different story for those without means. “Single mothers who are low-income… are constantly criticized by the general public,” she wrote, “and are held accountable for their single status rather than praised for finding self-fulfillment in motherhood. They are usually judged to be irresponsible, or simply unable to meet the child’s needs, including the supposed need for a father or father figure.”

Here, we also need to acknowledge the role of public- and corporate policies that make it harder for women without the means to hire help to juggle work and family life. American workplaces are uniquely inflexible. According to Harvard’s Project on Global Working Families, the United States is one of only four countries out of 173 studied that doesn’t mandate some form of paid maternal leave. The others – Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland – are all developing states. When faced with an illness, or a sick child, 145 countries offer some form of paid leave, and the United States is among the stingiest. The authors note that we offer “only unpaid leave for serious illnesses through the [Family Medical Leave Act], which does not cover all workers.” This is, in part, a result of conservative complaints that mandated leave to deal with family emergencies is an unacceptable infringement on the “free market” – an argument made by the same people who would have us believe that poor single moms earned their poverty by raising kids alone.

The crux of the issue is that while it’s pretty self-evident that having one breadwinner instead of two (or one breadwinner and one parent to raise the kids) is an economic disadvantage — and any number of studies have found that single-parent households (especially single-mother families) are more likely to be poor — this “culture of poverty” narrative confuses correlation with causation.

Hardisty, writing specifically about poor people of color, notes that those living in poverty face tangible barriers to setting up and maintaining a stable, two-parent home:

Race accounts for several barriers to marriage in low-income communities of color. The disparate incarceration of men of color, job discrimination, and police harassment are three barriers that are race-specific. Other barriers are universally present for low-income people: low-quality and unsafe housing, a decrepit and underfunded educational system; joblessness; poor health care; and flat-funded day care . . . are some of the challenges faced by low-income women and men. These burdens make it difficult to set up stable, economically viable households, and also put stresses on couples that do marry.

In 1998, the Fragile Families Study looked at 3,700 low-income unmarried couples in 20 U.S. cities. The authors found that nine in 10 of the couples living together wanted to tie the knot, but only 15 percent had actually done so by the end of the one-year study period.

Yet here’s a key finding: for every dollar a man’s hourly wages increased, the odds that he’d get hitched by the end of the year rose by 5 percent. Men earning more than $25,000 during the year had twice the marriage rates of those making less than $25,000. Writing up the findings for the Nation, Sharon Lerner noted that poverty “also seems to make people feel less entitled to marry.”

As one father in the survey put it, marriage means “not living from check to check.” Thus, since he was still scraping bottom, he wasn’t ready for it. “There’s an identity associated with marriage that they don’t feel they can achieve,” [Princeton sociology professor Sara] McLanahan says of her interviewees. (Ironically, romantic ideas about weddings—the limos, cakes and gowns of bridal magazines—seem to stand in the way of marriage in this context. Many in the study said they were holding off until they could afford a big wedding bash.)

And economic insecurity – and lack of education – also make it more likely that two-parent households will split, creating single moms and dads. In a review of the literature about the primary causes of divorce, Pennsylvania State University scholars Paul Amato and Denise Previti write that “studies indicate that education and income facilitate marital success. Education promotes more effective communication between couples, thus helping them to resolve differences. In contrast, the stress generated by economic hardship increases disagreements over finances, makes spouses irritable, and decreases expressions of emotional support.” Partly for these reasons, they write, socio-economic status “is inversely associated with the risk of divorce.”

Perhaps the most compelling reason to reject the cultural hypothesis pushed by people like Kay Hymowitz is that people with little money have the same attitudes about marriage as those with big bucks. Hardisty cited studies showing that “a large percentage of single low-income mothers would like to be married at some time. They seek marriages that are financially stable, with a loving, supportive husband.”

Poor women have the same dream as everyone else; Hardisty notes that they “often aspire to a romantic notion of marriage and family that features a white picket fence in the suburbs.” But the insecure economic status wrought by three decades of business-friendly “free market” policies leads to fewer stable marriages, not the other way around.”

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.


Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/story/155845/why_conservatives_wrongly_blame_single_moms_for_the_disastrous_failures_of_the_right-wing_economic_model?page=entire

Can Science Vanquish the Small-Mindedness and Bigotry of Social Conservatism?

Social conservatives are fighting a losing battle — not against a global secular humanist conspiracy, but against the pill, the car, and the Internet.

From: AlterNet

By: Michael Lind

Growing public support for gay rights, including gay marriage, is the latest example of the moral liberalism that has transformed advanced industrial societies in the last few generations. The social traditionalists who claimed to be a “moral majority” in the United States in the 1980s are acting like an embattled, declining minority in the second decade of the 21st century. A few years ago the conservative activist Paul Weyrich declared that the right had lost “the culture war” and called on social conservatives to withdraw from mainstream society into their own traditionalist enclaves.

Many paranoid social conservatives blame the triumph of moral liberalism on a conspiracy of sinister secular humanists, using the media and the public schools to indoctrinate their children and grandchildren in a godless morality. But the truth is that social conservatism has been undermined by technological progress, which has increased the opportunities for freedom in matters of sex and censorship while raising the costs of enforcing traditional norms.

The pill did more to undermine traditional sexual morality than an imaginary secular humanist conspiracy could have done. Advances in contraception, far more than liberalization of abortion laws, not only reduced the costs of premarital sex but allowed married couples greater opportunities to plan their fertility. One result has been below-replacement fertility for most natives of advanced industrial societies, as a result of choice rather than coercion. Given the opportunity, most Americans, like most people in other advanced industrial nations, prefer fewer or no children to the large families of yesteryear. Participation in the modern workforce by the majority of mothers as well as unmarried women would have been impossible, if not for the pill.

By turning parenthood into a choice, rather than the nearly inevitable result of sex within marriage, the pill turned marriage into a relationship between two adults, with or without children, rather than a child-centered institution. This redefinition of marriage, along with social acceptance of growing numbers of heterosexuals who never marry or cohabit without marriage, inevitably undermined opposition to toleration or approval of gay and lesbian unions. Once most Americans stopped listening to priests, preachers and rabbis who seek to prescribe what married couples do in bed, it was only a matter of time before they stopped paying attention to clerical rules about what anyone does in bed.

In addition to the pill, the automobile is another technology associated with sexual liberation. In the premodern village or urban tenement neighborhood or sex-segregated campus, people were under the constant surveillance of family and neighbors. After World War II, access by young people to cars gave rise to institutions like road trips, “parking” in farmers’ fields and the one-hour hotel stay. And automobile-based suburbanization has enabled moral liberalism by creating communities in which people know few if any of their neighbors. Few progressives who long for a return of pedestrian villages want a revival of village surveillance and moral conformity.

If contraceptive technology has already let the horse of moral liberalism out of the barn of traditionalism, communications technology has burned down the barn. As recently as the 1970s and 1980s, Protestant and Catholic pressure groups were able to impose wide-ranging censorship on American television and radio and schools and public libraries. The church lady who insisted on the removal of “dirty books” from the library and organized boycotts of television shows and movies was a powerful figure in American life. Now pornography and graphic scenes of violence can be downloaded on a PC or a phone. Censorship was easy when there were choke points like TV and radio networks and the U.S. Postal Service. But technology has radically altered the cost-benefit calculation. Re-creating something like the older regime of media censorship would require not only North Korean or Iranian-style repression but also a vice squad with a bigger budget than the Pentagon.

The replacement of centralized, heavily censored broadcast media by a seemingly infinite number of channels has enabled far greater realism in cinema and television. Even before the Internet, subscription-only cable television was making possible uses of profanity and sexual explicitness that would never have been tolerated in broadcast television. Older generations may be shocked by graphic language, violence and sex, but it seems unlikely that we will return to the kind of bowdlerized entertainment in which characters said “frigging” and “darn,” in which characters in TV shows and movies did not bleed when shot or cut by swords, and in which the camera discreetly swiveled to the fireplace during romantic encounters.

Premodern societies, including the United States in recent memory, were based on a kind of Orwellian doublethink. There was the real world, populated by people who had premarital and extramarital sex, used contraceptives inside and outside marriage and had abortions, had children out of wedlock, patronized prostitutes and looked at pornography. And there was a fictitious world of literature and cinema and public discourse in which these aspects of life could not be mentioned, or could only be hinted at darkly. Much illicit behavior was tolerated, but occasionally and arbitrarily individuals who were caught were singled out and sacrificed, to maintain appearances. The cultural revolution of recent decades does not mean Americans are less moral than they were in the ages of speak-easies and corner bordellos and vaudeville strip shows. They are just less hypocritical.

Paul Weyrich was right about the culture war. Social conservatives are fighting a losing battle — not against a global secular humanist conspiracy, but against the social consequences of the pill, the automobile and the Internet. Short of reversing the industrial revolution, emptying the cities and restoring agrarian society, after the manner of Pol Pot’s communists in Cambodia in the 1970s, the best hope for social conservatives is to retreat to minority enclaves like those of the Amish. On self-created reservations they can raise their children as they see fit, segregated from mainstream culture and visited, perhaps, by morally liberal tourists nostalgic for an older, simpler way of life. And if their fertility is higher than that of the morally liberal majority, they can hope to take over America by strength of numbers — in 500 or a thousand years.”

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/story/155552/can_science_vanquish_the_small-mindedness_and_bigotry_of_social_conservatism?akid=8838.123424.AH7LRN&rd=1&t=12

5 Ways Conservatives are Destroying the Institution of Marriage

Those who think and talk like Rush Limbaugh have championed policies that wreak havoc on the family lives of working Americans.

From: Alternet

By:June Carbone and Naomi Cahn

Emphasis Mine

President Obama’s strong support for same-sex marriage is strong support for the institution of marriage itself. It’s a vital step toward a revitalized institution better equipped to address the needs of today’s families.

Those who think and talk like Rush Limbaugh – who called the president’s statement a “war on traditional marriage” — have championed the policies underlying the real war. Research on contemporary marriage such as Brad Wilcox’s “When Marriage Disappears” showsthat the ability to sustain a long-term, two-parent relationship (with any sex) is increasingly a function of class. Our research in Red Families v. Blue Familiesreveals that it is also the product of a conservative economic program that has wreaked havoc on the family lives of struggling Americans.

We have been consistently stunned, though alas not shocked, by the anguished tones used by those who oppose same-sex marriage and who manage to argue with a straight face (pun intended) that declining marriage rates must somehow be linked to public recognition of same-sex couples. It is time to identify the real reasons for the transformation of marriage – and gay marriage has nothing to do with those changes.

Marriage results from the union of two partners convinced that they are better off together than apart. In times when only men had access to a “family wage” and child care was (and still is) expensive or non-existent, the traditional match involved a trade of men’s higher income for women’s domestic services.

What does marriage rest on today? For many, it rests on a commitment of two people to share their lives, to create a permanent union that provides support for children, and to manage the tradeoffs between careers, finances and services necessary to manage a family. This is an ideal held by both heterosexual and same-sex couples who are more financially secure. But it no longer fits large numbers of working-class couples who conceive children together. That’s because the foundation for their relationships has been destroyed by the very people who accuse President Obama of a war on marriage.

Let’s consider how they have systematically undermined marriage.

1. Attacks on Jobs and Wages. The “traditional” marriage that conservatives are so fond of talking about rested on the ability of a man — any man — to earn a “family wage” in a stable job. Those assaulting unions, like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, have undermined both the family wage and job stability. Job stability has declined in the United States since the 1970s. Dartmouth sociologist Matissa Hollister explained last year that the strongest evidence for this “is decline in long-term tenure among men employed in the private sector.”

2. Attacks on Work/Family Balance. In the absence of male job security, two incomes have been increasingly important to family life. Yet, managing two incomes also involves managing the down-time between jobs. Those characterizing themselves as “conservatives” have led the assault on unemployment benefits, education and work/family balance necessary to flexible family roles. While 178 other countries have paid parental leave, only a few states – all blue – guarantee paid leave in the United States. A few blue states — California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Hawaii – as well as Puerto Rico — offer temporary disability insurance programs, an option through which a biological mother can “draw on public insurance for pregnancy and childbirth.” In other states, families are on their own. Paul Amato’s 2009 book Alone Together demonstrates that tensions working-class men have experienced due to loss of employment and working-class women’s lack of job flexibility is a major factor in the class-based increases in divorce.

3. Attacks on Women. As Amato’s work documents, managing a world in which many women outearn men requires more flexible gender roles. Yet conservatives have led the fight against women and women’s autonomy. They link same-sex marriage to the remaking of the institution in the gender neutral terms they oppose.

4. Attacks on Reproductive Freedom. The war on women, which focuses on reproductive autonomy, has contributed more to elimination of the stigma against non-marital births than the counter-culture of the 1960s. How? Eliminate the male premium that supported the shotgun marriage and oppose abortion as murder and what’s left are single mothers struggling to make it on their own. If you happened to see the blog discussions of Bristol Palin’s non-marital birth, you may have noticed that neither conservative nor liberal women thought there was much point to Bristol marrying Levi, the birth father. And yet conservatives were more enthusiastic than liberals in congratulating the Palins for their support of Bristol’s decision to keep the child. Fine, perhaps, for a young women with financial resources, but what about those who don’t have wealthy parents?

5. Attacks on the Marriageabity of Men. Studies of marriage and gender relationships show that norms change quickly with gender ratios: marriage rates in most societies go up when men outnumber women and go down when women outnumber men in the marriage pool. (See Guttentag and Secord’s book Too Many Women: The Sex Ratio Question.) That’s because when the number of men that women find attractive as potential mates goes down, those men find they can play the field. The women in their lives come to distrust men more generally and invest less in relationships.

dramatic new study illustrates the effect by looking at the undergraduate dating behavior of young women on college campuses. The study finds that the more the men outnumber the women on a given campus, the more likely the women are to be in committed, monogamous relationships. Older studies show that high rates of incarceration and the decimation of blue-collar jobs in low-income communities skews gender ratios and depress marriage rates. (See William J. Wilson‘s book, The Truly Disadvantaged.) And, as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett further detail in their book The Spirit Level, higher rates of income inequality (which are directly related to conservative economic policies) increase the rates of alcoholism, depression and criminality and do so even more for men than women. All of these factors tend to remove a large number of low-income men from the marriage market.

At the height of what economists have called the”Great Compression” of the ’50s and ’60s — a time of increasing security for ordinary Americans produced by progressive policies of very high marginal tax rates and a reduction in income inequality — marriage rates soared. On the flip side, what Timothy Noah has described as the “Great Divergence“– a period starting in the 1970s characterized by ever higher rates of income inequality valorized by the right — has weakened the institution of marriage for many.

Who, then, is waging the real war? ”

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn are the co-authors of ‘Red Families v. Blue Families’ (OUP 2010) and ‘Family Classes’ (OUP forthcoming 2012).

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/155414/5_ways_conservatives_are_destroying_the_institution_of_marriage?page=entire