March 27, 2006


'Marriage Is for White People' (Joy Jones, Washington Post, 3/26/06)

And that's when the other boy chimed in, speaking as if the words left a nasty taste in his mouth: "Marriage is for white people."

He's right. At least statistically. The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent. Such statistics have caused Howard University relationship therapist Audrey Chapman to point out that African Americans are the most uncoupled people in the country....

Although slavery was an atrocious social system, men and women back then nonetheless often succeeded in establishing working families. In his account of slave life and culture, "Roll, Jordan, Roll," historian Eugene D. Genovese wrote: "A slave in Georgia prevailed on his master to sell him to Jamaica so that he could find his wife, despite warnings that his chances of finding her on so large an island were remote. . . . Another slave in Virginia chopped his left hand off with a hatchet to prevent being sold away from his son." I was stunned to learn that a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today, according to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin. [Emphasis added]

The War on Poverty has been the war on the black family, and has arguably been worse for African Americans than slavery.

Posted by David Cohen at March 27, 2006 12:25 PM

Never underestimate the amount of damage that the well-intentioned can do...

Posted by: M. Murcek at March 27, 2006 12:45 PM

Combine Pat Moynihan's 1965 study on the declining African American family structures with his comment 30 years later about the dangers of defining deviancy down, and you get a situation where people try to rationalize the disolution of the family structure by claiming it's a normal situation for African Americans (and in both cases, the actions got their support from white American liberals, who believe that because they were on the right side of the civil rights issue in the early 1960s, they're automatically right about all over racial issues for the past 41 years).

Posted by: John at March 27, 2006 12:59 PM

The democrats entertained the poor for years in the USA, to thier detriment and humiliation. Apparently the republicans are just as desultory. Slavery and racism are corrosive of all the positive rituals of life, making centuries of poverty predictable. At enourmous cost, the civil war was won. To free the slave we like to say, but debilitating policies of the north and south garnered no great advantage from the war. Because of course the war was not fought to free the slaves, it was fought to save the union.

Americans don't like underdogs. But they like to think they do. Its a feature which unites the left and right and make distintion pointless.

America succeeds in part because its hate the poor. The condition is so socially degrading that people naturally want to get out of it. Americans like to forget that very often it is the poorly paid that make thier life good. Any social legislation is based on emotions and reaction. Another trope that unites the left and the right. It is almost never based on an acceptance of what creates poverty, capitalism, and a committed effort to eleviate and moderate those effects.

In the US you either love capitalism and hate the poor, want to cut funding, and justly deride the democrats for thier lousy policies.. Or you hate capitalism ( while driving your car and taking those medicines ) and assuage guilt by throwing money at poverty. Neither works.

Add to this situation a knea-jerk president, who hasn't got a clue what any of this means and you have a real problem. But it won't get solved. There is absolutely no will on the hill or the white house to actually access the role of government in the alleviating poverty.

Oddly Moynihan was a person who could make this intellectual leap, as could Gingrich in his own bizarre way. Two men who have been heartily ignored at crucial times in US history.

Exclab's first rule of politics -

In politics, talent is loathed.

Posted by: exclab at March 27, 2006 1:43 PM

Doctor Shockley, where are you now that we need you?

Do we see where resentment takes people? Marriage is "white" the way not having 3-foot worms crawling out of your eye-sockets is "white."

What is so tragic about it all is that, as the writer points out, black people were not always so.

It is not racial, then. Of course not: culture never is. Only it is where race-hatred and resentment take you.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 27, 2006 2:02 PM

America doesn't hate the poor. America has no time for perpetuating poverty. Which is why the economy is structured in such a way that the poor find it easy to find jobs and climb up the economic ladder if they have the discipline to do so.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at March 27, 2006 2:10 PM


Why is it a proper American virtue to "alleviate poverty?" You are aware that someone has to sit at the bottom, no?

Posted by: Brad S at March 27, 2006 2:21 PM

Interesting that the moral and cultural decay that afflicts so large a swath of the black community resembles the human wreckage left after the attempt to create the New Socialist Man in Russia and eastern Europe.

The deforming effect of grand schemes based on the anti-human axioms of Leftism is striking.

And the first step toward remediating the soul-sick casualties would be to prohibit the perpetrators of the debacle to have a hand in any remedy.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 27, 2006 2:26 PM

Following up Luciferous' thread, it is really depressing to realize how long it can take a culture to find any reliency after a couple of generations of submisssion to marxism or, in this case, welfare dependency. Eastern Europeans became so adrift morally that it is taking many of them a long time to re-learn baseline values like fidelity to family, self-reliance, work, etc. I find it very hard to believe the majority of blacks think it is perfectly ok to father kids and do nothing for them but there is seems to be some dynamic here that makes marriage seem like a heroic sacrifice for a very few of uncommon virtue. Is it possible huge numbers are losing any capacity to live together successfully and, if so, are whites headed in the same direction? And why are black women so long-suffering?

Posted by: Peter B at March 27, 2006 2:59 PM


You lose the thread when you think that loving capitalism and hating the poor are related. Nothing in the history of mankind has done more to improve the condition of the poor than capitalism. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to say that is those who hate capitalism that also hate the poor.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 27, 2006 3:08 PM

The strange thing is that Moynihan made a leap intellectually but not politically. His vote against Welfare Reform was a vote for the pathologies he'd done so much to publicize. In the end he preferred Democrats in power to blacks out of poverty.

People make politics more complexz than it needs to be--all you have to know is that married people with jobs are Republicans to understand the fight.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2006 3:17 PM

Actually i don't think that capitalist hate the poor. Capitalists think whatever they like. Thier activity produces poverty. Some capitalists realize this. Sometimes politicians do to. But that is rare. The appalling conditions described by Engels would be damning of England if it weren't for a group of successful capitalists who were aware of the problem and worked hard to stop it. The mommy state that is so rightly decried on the right, has noble roots in companies like Krupp who invented things like affordable housing allowances and day care.

Americans don't like the poor because it reminds them that they don't deal with these problems. The government does a terrible job. In fact the more effective work is often done in the business arena.

yes, wierd dude that moynihan. A lot of potential. No execution. I am going to read that bio one day. He was a tutor of Stockman - one of the ignored Reagan whistle blowers. Along with Oliver north and hey! Moynihan himself - also an ignored Reagan whistle blower.

As for married republicans. There are lots of not so wonderful statistical details about republicans too. It doesn't make a good arguement. Or a fair one in either direction.

Posted by: exclab at March 27, 2006 5:01 PM

Congrats, exclab, you're finally getting it. Government is not the solution.

BTW - the poor in the US are living the 1970s middle-class lifestyle.

BTW - if capitalism causes poverty, how do you explain Nike and Viet Nam?

Posted by: Sandy P at March 27, 2006 5:57 PM


i don't think that capitalist hate the poor
In the US you either love capitalism and hate the poor [...] Or you hate capitalism

Can you reconcile these two statements of yours for me?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 27, 2006 6:26 PM

exclab, I've asked this question of you before. Which system of government has eliminated the poor?

Posted by: erp at March 27, 2006 7:25 PM


How nice of Krupp. Weren't they one of those companies that used Jewish slave labor during WWII?

Still waiting for you to clearly explain why "alleviating poverty" is such a desirable goal, given what we see above:)

Posted by: Brad S at March 27, 2006 7:42 PM


I haven't believed in government since Reagan. Carter set me up for my final break. Reagan finished me off.

First of all, capitalism also causes immense wealth. Its' like water. Treat it right, drink it, and it will help you live. But too much and you drown. Its not a blessing from heaven. It is a tool. It has its bad side. There can be no question of this. Capitalism has ruined many countries. It has also made incredible things possible. Capitalism is not good or bad. It simply is. It is organic if you like. Communism was an abstraction. People see them as opposites. I see them as being much more different. One is an existential reality - market economy. The other is an social invention - communism.


No government elimates the poor. As Christ said, the poor are always with us. Not everything he said was that good, but this was one of the zingers. It is however beneficial to the public of a government to address poverty because poverty is expensive. Until you can accept that capitalism causes poverty, you can make those decisions, that without guilt or agony, that will lessen it. Are we going to get rid of capitalism? Certainly not. But we have to manage it. And I say this is where the democrats went wrong. They funded poverty instead of wealth. The ironic thing is it's cheaper to fund wealth. You positively help people to move up. But it takes a lot more thinking. It takes a social acceptance of affluence, a belief in the capital system, to make it something that raises as many boats as possible.

No, the only place poverty doesn't exist is in primitive cultures and perhaps under the anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. I am not saying primitive cultures are better. Christ's remark is particularly astute in the context of what he was, not a primitive but a man living in a sophisticated vasal state.

Annoying Old Guy
I am merely saying these are the two camps of thought in the US. I don't agree with it but i think i have outlined the principle.

Brad S
You are right about Krupp but way before the Nazis, in the 1800's, ( Krupp is a company that is almost 300 years old ) Krupp was changing the whole way it related to its work force. Much like companies today it was cultivating talent and making its work force content. This worked extremely well as all the best people wanted to work there. Krupp built the cannon that blasted the French back to Paris in 1870. Krupp is a catalogue of good and bad capitalism. An excellent book on Krupp Corp. was written by William Manchester. It is called "Krupp".

Alleviating poverty is good because poverty is expensive. OJ will probably not agree because he believes that instability is the mother of inovation. I am not going to fight him on that in this post. IMO the longer a family remains in poverty, over a series of generations, the more rooted it becomes. This is not good for capital. Capital creates its opposite as it were, its own nemisis: poverty. But if capital is aware, it can alleviate this pressure. Its been done, albeit clumsly, in various places, including the US. And it has worked.

I think the time has come to think about poverty much more clinically. Poor people deserve compassion but they also don't deserve self-serving do-gooders and guilt-trippers who are thinking with their feelings and not with thier brains.

And I am now on the brink of my education speil, but I don't think I will. If you got this far - thanks.

Posted by: exclab at March 27, 2006 8:52 PM

Capitalism is just another word for freedom.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 27, 2006 9:01 PM

The War on Poverty [...] has arguably been worse for African Americans than slavery.

Is that conscious hyperbole ?

'Cause the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2004, 43% of black households were in the top 60% with regard to household income, and 25% were in the top 40%.
Almost 2% were in the top 5%.

Whether blacks are well- or ill-served by American society in 2006 is debatable, but that slavery was much worse than any negative effects of the War on Poverty is not.

Besides, couldn't we reasonably assume that part of the problem is the "culture of cool" that was posted about yesterday ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 27, 2006 9:04 PM


You obviously speak like someone who worships at the feet of the bumper sticker "Education Expensive? Try Ignorance." The idea that society is to pay for anything involving poverty/ignorance is a joke. These are clearly optional costs, as any cursory glance at even US History shows.

Posted by: Brad S at March 27, 2006 9:06 PM

Exclab tells us that poverty does not exist in primitive cultures.

Of course, poverty is all that exists in primitive cultures.

Oh, the primitive might not appreciate his poverty; he might even have pet names for his parasitic worms. Nevertheless, a standard of living beneath the reasonable living standard available to humanity under the circumstances is objective poverty.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 27, 2006 9:13 PM

"But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse"

William Blake, "Songs of Experience"
Nothing new here folks. Move along.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 27, 2006 9:23 PM

Pardon me, 1794. Really nothing new here.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 27, 2006 9:26 PM

Michael: Obviously, I'm not saying that blacks are worse off now than they were after emancipation. I am saying that, arguably, the effect of the War on Poverty on black social structure, most notably the black family, has been worse than the effect of slavery, which in fact left a fairly strong social structure that endured for 100 years in the face of far worse poverty and far worse racism than can be found today.

Even given the immense progress made by blacks economically in the last four decades, this is very troubling. It would be troubling even if there weren't recent social science studies that indicate that even successful blacks are having trouble passing the habits that made them successful down to their children.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 27, 2006 9:51 PM

There simply are no material poor people in the United States today except for maybe a smuggled Mexican in the trunk of a Chevy somewhere and even that won't last for long.

Technology enabled productivity increases have made the richest men of a century ago, the Morgan’s and Rockefellers and Carnegies abject poverty cases when compared to any random Joe pulled off a street or out of a housing project, a suburb or even a jail.

Don’t believe me? Consider that JP Morgan, as rich as he was, and with all the resources he possed couldn’t protect his children from simply Pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea or syphilis, let alone big killers like polio or the flew. His money simply couldn’t buy the treatments or preventatives. Today, everyone has almost free assess to these material goods.

Carnegie couldn’t walk down the street and talk on a portable communication devise known as the cell phone. Today every self respecting black kid in the hood, (and they all are) wouldn’t be caught dead without theirs.

Rockefeller had to worry about his water supply. Today even the biggest do-nothings find it for free everywhere and it is of better quality.

A rich man driving down the road in a 1950 Cadillac had to be careful cause if he bumped into something at even 25 miles an hour his face could get peeled from his head as he bounced into and broke the windshield as he recoiled back. Technological progress has brought safety glass to the masses along with a much better value proposition of keeping your face attached to its head. That’s rich man

This list never ends folks. The bums in my neighbor hood, the supposedly poor homeless scoff and jeer at the offer of a sandwich. They all have so much food available they laugh at the notion. Besides they just go to McDonalds like everyone else and then go get there booze and cigs.

Leftism is nothing but an industry (like most things) and the “poor people” message is nothing but marketing.

The war on povrty has been won, it is over. Now we need a war on dumbshits.

Posted by: Perry at March 27, 2006 10:59 PM

David: there are other explanations for the data on felial regression, but we have already determined, months ago, that we do not want to admit them.

Better to attribute the phenomenon to cultural backsliding, wherein offspring are unwilling to drive themselves as hard as their parents had done.

Likewise we should not overlook the point of the article, namely the corrosive effect of racist resentment. Marriage is white, studying is white, obeying the law is white, and so it goes.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 27, 2006 11:00 PM

We've veered into poverty, which is not really the point. I do think that, by "poverty," exclab means income inequality, whereby other people's wealth defines our own poverty.

Lou: Except those things aren't white, as is historically obvious. How have we come to the point where adopting the habits that lead to stability, happiness and success are all defined as "white?" It is impossible not to be struck by the dissolution of the black family as the war on poverty gathered steam.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 27, 2006 11:16 PM

the black community in this country, from what i gather in polls and articles, is far more leftist than the population in general. given that, is it a surprise that they exhibit the european disease at higher levels than the population as a whole ?

Posted by: toe at March 27, 2006 11:51 PM

Joy Jones writes:

Among African Americans, the desire for marriage seems to have a different trajectory for women and men. My observation is that black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field. [...]

As the woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby. [...] [Then later, when men are ready to settle down, women have already formed the habits of lifelong singleness].

"Women's expectations have changed dramatically while men's have not changed much at all," said one well-paid working wife and mother. "Women now say, 'Providing is not enough. I need more partnership.' " [O]ne young single mother told me "Women don't want to marry because they don't want to lose their freedom." [...] "If Jesus Christ bought me an engagement ring, I wouldn't take it," a separated thirty-something friend told me. "I'd tell Jesus we could date, but we couldn't marry." [...]

African American women aren't the only ones deciding that they can make do alone. Often what happens in black America is a sign of what the rest of America can eventually expect. In his 2003 book, "Mismatch: The Growing Gulf between Women and Men," Andrew Hacker noted that the structure of white families is evolving in the direction of that of black families of the 1960s.

In 1960, 67 percent of black families were headed by a husband and wife, compared to 90.9 percent for whites. By 2000, the figure for white families had dropped to 79.8 percent. Births to unwed white mothers were 22.5 percent in 2001, compared to 2.3 percent in 1960. So my student who thought marriage is for white people may have to rethink that in the future.

So Jones, a black woman, thinks that the situation is born of a combination of the ability of black women to support themselves, and a cynicism about the benefits of a committed marriage.
She also thinks that black culture is forerunning the larger white culture.


Blacks are also far more urban than the population in general, so maybe in part it's just a reflection of the urban/rural divide.


Actually, ignorance is very expensive for society, as Lou Gots and Perry point out.

It's mainly a matter of opportunity costs, instead of actual outlays, but their accumulated effects cannot be denied.
It's why information-based economies vastly outperform agricultural economies.

Some instances where actual expenditures attach to ignorance can be seen in Africa and Russia, where deaths due to AIDS will eventually claim between 10%, and in some African countries, 25% of the population.
There are some pretty strange myths floating around Africa as to the cause and effective prevention of AIDS.

Another example would be the Guinea worm, and the high toll in human suffering that it caused in years past, due to people not boiling or otherwise purifying their drinking water, despite the fact that there are at least three cheap and simple ways to do so.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2006 12:59 AM

toe: It's actually somewhat complex. Black opinion is "leftist" on lefty programs that disproportionately favor blacks (e.g., welfare, affirmative action). However, on a number of social issues (e.g., gay marriage) black opinion is well to the right of mainstream opinion. Blacks are also on the "right" where conservative programs would disproportionately favor blacks (e.g., vouchers and private social security accounts).

Posted by: David Cohen at March 28, 2006 8:17 AM

Blacks and Hispanics in the underclass believe Howard Zinn's “A people’s history of the united States” version of reality where white society is oppressing them and keeping them down while profiting from the status quo. Capitalism is the enemy.

Those believing this are about half right. White society is profiting but what they don't realize is it is mainly by white liberal’s piltching government money under the rubric of helping the poor. Many blacks have now joined this game at all levels of government and non profits.

Also, I notice many of the Hispanics where I live to be outright socialists in terms of political identity. The Blacks just seem angry.

Posted by: Perry at March 28, 2006 9:21 AM

BTW, in innercity public schools, Howard Zinn's message gets taught and is the only one getting through to black males.

This is what keeps the liberal franchise going.

I know many of the mostly white teachers who do this in my neigborhood. They think they are sophisticated and enlightened.

Posted by: Perry at March 28, 2006 9:36 AM

Michael H,

If you can prove to me an instance in which an "opportunity cost" was an actual, tangible cost on any social or economic group, I'll accept the expense of ignorance.

Otherwise, as long as there is a need for cheap labor, ignorance/poverty will always be cheap to overall society.

Posted by: Brad S at March 28, 2006 2:52 PM

Michael H,

If you can prove to me an instance in which an "opportunity cost" was an actual, tangible cost on any social or economic group, I'll accept the expense of ignorance.

Otherwise, as long as there is a need for cheap labor, ignorance/poverty will always be cheap to overall society.

Posted by: Brad S at March 28, 2006 2:52 PM

dc: unfortunately, when it comes time to pull the lever, it's the 'left" side that is in control. until AA's start voting in a more balanced way, they might as well all be wearing che t-shirts and watching george clooney movies.

Posted by: toe at March 28, 2006 3:52 PM

exclab, I'm sorry I can't supply the reference, but you positively stated that "capitalism causes poverty" in a comment perhaps a week or 10 days ago. As you've seemed to have learned since then, only capitalism allows the poverty stricken to escape their fate.

Posted by: erp at March 28, 2006 4:01 PM