DIVORCE: THE CAUSE OF THE SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS
In 1992, my first major report titled “Generation One” was provided to then-Missouri Governor Ashcroft for inclusion in the 1993 Report of the National Commission on America’s Urban Families: Families First.”
“Generation One” provided a deep analysis of the costs of divorce, the structural drivers, and what we can do to painlessly reverse this trend by allowing marriage to replace the myriad of federal programs presently undermining it.
One principle thesis of my report was to demonstrate that divorce is perhaps the principle driver of the “disappearing middle class.” The average middle class family, which in 1991 required 1.4 median incomes to exist, cannot support two households (and two divorce attorneys) without falling out of the middle class.
Now, a new Harvard University study titled ”The Middle Class on the Precipice” has finally proved my point (and perhaps even adopted my words):
The study iterates other points I have made many times over the years. Divorce is making retirement impossible. Absent reforms, it will become perhaps the leading predictor of poverty in old age. Divorce also affects the affordability and availability of health care plans, both in the present and future sense. “Hillary Care” was essentially designed to resolve our divorce problem by turning the entire medical industry into yet another welfare state.
These are all problems that Republicans and Democrats have been unable to resolve within the existing beltway mindsets that pretend it is possible to put Humpty Dumpty together again by doing nothing except funding the same old “Great Society” programs that have been destroying families since the early 1960’s.
Voter angst is at an all-time high. A new Opinion Research poll shows that 74% of Americans believe that Congress is out of touch with average Americans. William F. Buckley, Jr. says that the two-party system is broken. It is not the parties that are broken: it is that Democrats and Republicans refuse to deal with the issues, while Libertarians are taking them on.
Pollsters have not yet begun asking Americans about their feelings about how Congress has not handled important social reforms that are long overdue, such as child support reforms (to end perverse incentives causing states to encourage divorce), Violence Against Women Act reforms, and elimination of the Parents As Teachers program (which is turning our children into little prescription drug addicts).
Do voters really like the costs of divorce and single-parentedness that so many of them bear, or would they prefer programs that reward and encourage marital responsibility and helps spouses work through the normal stages of marriage and aging? How many Americans have an alcoholic or drug-abusing spouse who can’t get them into treatment because Washington adamantly refuses to help them?
Pollsters and party political analysts cannot report what they do not ask. The items listed above are important questions of significant contemporary meaning.
Why is no-one asking them?
After pollsters and political analysts truly get a grip on the American reality, we must have a vigorous national debate on positive social reforms that many Americans want, so we can finally accomplish them.
When Washington does the right thing, it will free large sums of federal budgetary resources we desperately need for immigration control and the War on Terror.
Since everyone from Harvard to Peoria now knows this, there is no excuse for politicians and pollsters not knowing it and doing something about it.
Governor John Ashcroft and Honorable Annette Straus, Co-Chairs; National
Commission on America's Urban Families; "Families First" (GPO, January
1993 [ISBN 0-16-041600-0]
© 2006 David Usher - All
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David R. Usher is Legislative Analyst for the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Missouri Coalition And is a co-founder and past Secretary of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children
Do voters really like the costs of divorce and single-parentedness that so many of them bear, or would they prefer programs that reward and encourage marital responsibility and helps spouses work through the normal stages of marriage and aging?