George Will: ‘Family Structure is the Best Predictor of Life Chances’

Monday Night’s The Factor. After the clip of Paul Ryan, guest George Will lists reasons that Ryan is a threat to liberal orthodoxy, then closes in on the relevant one:

“…but most important, they’re terrified of his fundamental message, which the President himself has said, and social scientists have documented, that the fundamental problem is cultural. That’s the word.”

Will hits his stride when speaking in universal terms, on a subject which honest people on both the right and the left have already mostly agreed: The steep decline of the two-parent family, and its direct role in poverty.

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“The family is the primary transmitter of social capital. By social capital I mean the habits, mores, customs, dispositions, values that enable you to take advantage of opportunities.”

The tragedy of America is that just as the Civil Rights Movement was heroically removing barriers, legal and other barriers to opportunity, a social regression set in. As a result of the fact that the attitudes, aptitudes, and dispositions necessary to seize opportunities were not being developed among a large cohort of children who did not have intact families.”

As conservatives have long emphasized, it’s not political, it’s not racial, it’s not economic, it’s cultural. 

Here’s the lengthier exchange. Will’s comments are condensed, almost pre-written (perhaps explicitly pre-written and carefully rehearsed) characteristic of his habit of public speaking, but the points he makes involve statistics, discussing a racially-charged topic.

George Will: Until the 1960s, we had this serene hope, that in Jack Kennedy’s words, ‘a rising economic tide will raise all boats’. But we found that a lot of boats were stuck on the bottom. And we tried to figure out why. Pat Moynihan and others looked into it, and came to the conclusion that family structure is the best predictor of life chances. That is, growing up in a two-parent family. When Pat Moynihan published his report, 49 years ago, this month, saying that there’s a crisis among African Americans because, 23.6% of African American children were born to unmarried women, he was called a racist. Today the figure is 72%. 54% for Hispanics, 41% for all American children. This isn’t a white-black problem. This is a cultural problem, across the board.”

Bill O’Reilly: And that’s what Ryan was pointing out, he wasn’t saying saying anything about color…

George Will: The family is the primary transmitter of social capital. By social capital I mean the habits, mores, customs, dispositions, values that enable you to take advantage of opportunities.The tragedy of America is that just as the Civil Rights Movement was heroically removing barriers, legal and other barriers to opportunity, a social regression set in. As a result of the fact that the attitudes, aptitudes, and dispositions necessary to seize opportunities were not being developed among a large cohort of children who did not have intact families.”

[Note: Congressman Paul Ryan is O’Reilly‘s guest on the current edition of The Factor, Tuesday night, continuing the discussion of the same topic]

Paul Ryan Attacked Over Poverty Remark – YouTube


2 Comments on “George Will: ‘Family Structure is the Best Predictor of Life Chances’”

  1. Gunny G says:

    Reblogged this on CLINGERS… BLOGGING BAD ~ DICK.G: AMERICAN ! and commented:
    GYG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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