Advertisements

Jason L. Riley: Will Liberals Ever Forgive Daniel Patrick Moynihan for Being Right?

MOYNIHAN

Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years 

Jason L. RileyJason L. Riley writes: Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the future senator’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

“History has proved that Moynihan was onto something. When the report was released, about 25% of black children and 5% of white children lived in a household headed by a single mother. During the next 20 years the black percentage would double and the racial gap would widen. Today more than 70% of all black births are to unmarried women, twice the white percentage.”

“The fundamental problem is that of family structure,” wrote Moynihan, who had a doctorate in sociology. “The evidence—not final but powerfully persuasive—is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling.”

[Check out Jason Riley’s book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” at Amazon]

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the civil-rights movement. Even worse, writes Harvard’s Paul Peterson in the current issue of the journal Education Next, Moynihan’s “findings were totally ignored by those who designed public policies at the time.” The Great Society architects would go on to expand old programs or formulate new ones that exacerbated the problems Moynihan identified. Marriage was penalized and single parenting was subsidized. In effect, the government paid mothers to keep fathers out of the home—and paid them well.

“Economists and policy analysts of the day worried about the negative incentives that had been created,” writes Mr. Peterson. “Analysts estimated that in 1975 a household head would have to earn $20,000”—or an inflation-adjusted $88,000 today—“to have more resources than what could be obtained from Great Society programs.”

“The most critical factor affecting the prospect that a male youth will encounter the criminal justice system is the presence of his father in the home.”

— William Comanor and Llad Phillips

History has proved that Moynihan was onto something. When the report was released, about 25% of black children and 5% of white children lived in a household headed by a single mother. During the next 20 years the black percentage would double and the racial gap would widen. Today more than 70% of all black births are to unmarried women, twice the white percentage.

moynihan1-articleLarge

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, right, an urban affairs adviser to President Richard M. Nixon, left, in 1970.

For decades research has shown that the likelihood of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, dropping out of school and many other social problems grew dramatically when fathers were absent. One of the most comprehensive studies ever done on juvenile delinquency—by William Comanor and Llad Phillips of the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2002—concluded that “the most critical factor affecting the prospect that a male youth will encounter the criminal justice system is the presence of his father in the home.”

[Also see – Moynihan in His Own Words New York Times, September 19, 2010]

Ultimately, the Moynihan report was an attempt to have an honest conversation about family breakdown and black pathology, one that most liberals still refuse to join. Faulting ghetto culture for ghetto outcomes remains largely taboo among those who have turned bad behavior into a symbol of racial authenticity. Moynihan noted that his goal was to better define a problem that many thought—mistakenly, in his view—was no big deal and would solve itself in the wake of civil-rights gains. The author’s skepticism was warranted.

Later this year the nation also will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which some consider the most significant achievement of the modern-day civil-rights movement…. (read more)

WSJ

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).

 

Advertisements

5 Comments on “Jason L. Riley: Will Liberals Ever Forgive Daniel Patrick Moynihan for Being Right?”

  1. […] The Butcher Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years Jason L. Riley writes: Next month marks the […]

  2. alli says:

    Does Riley have any concept that 1. Moynihan was a “white liberal” and his ideas were thought of as “white liberal” ideas that the black civil rights leaders were criticizing?
    also 2. that oscar lewis, the anthro on which Moynihan’s theories are based (culture of poverty) was also a “white liberal” who said that the theory could not be applied to black families in the US? Riley needs to go to the library.

    • The Butcher says:

      The ideas were unworthy because they didn’t come from a person with dark skin? Moynihan’s ideas were damaged because they came from the research of someone with the incorrect epidermal pigmentation? What good would it be for Riley to go to the library? Wouldn’t it depend on the skin color of the administrator of the library?

  3. […] [Jason L. Riley: Will Liberals Ever Forgive Daniel Patrick Moynihan for Being Right?] […]

  4. […] “Will Liberals ever forgive Patrick Moynihan for being right?” — by Jason […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s