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Marriage: A Social Justice Issue?

The solution to reducing inequality isn't more government, but more marriage.

by
La Shawn Barber

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July 23, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Liberal politicians divide and conquer through class warfare. They pontificate about how the “rich” don’t pay their fair share of taxes or how that nice, safe neighborhood isn’t diverse enough, so the government ought to build low-income housing to mix things up.

So-called social justice, the impetus behind government policies like racial preferences, drives the Democratic platform. But no matter how level the proverbial playing field, individuals will always possess different levels of drive, initiative, intelligence, motivation, skill, and talent. Individuals will never have equal amounts of stuff. Equality of outcome cannot exist. We are equal where it counts in a free, pursuit-of-happiness kind of country: under the law.

One factor driving the inequality liberals claim they’re concerned about is family instability. As research and common sense have borne out, marriage benefits the whole of society, the adults who made the vows, and the products of the union — the children. An article in the New York Times making the rounds, “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,’” compares and contrasts two women with several similarities and one important difference, especially where children are concerned: one has a husband and the other doesn’t.

Mrs. Faulkner lives in a house with her husband and children. Miss Schairer lives in an apartment with her children and no husband. The married woman’s children do lots of activities. The unmarried woman’s children don’t, because she can’t afford it and doesn’t have the time. Although the married woman works outside the home, her children still are better off.

The unmarried woman grew up with married parents, but her kids don’t have that good fortune. Miss Schairer had three children out of wedlock with a man who didn’t marry her and sounds as though he didn’t like to work. Now she’s struggling alone, with three children. She’s also received cancer treatment. Life can be difficult even with a spouse, but life’s problems are exacerbated when the family is unstable. An excerpt:

[S]triking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

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