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Race to the Bottom: The Growth of a Dangerous New Class

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America has finally crossed the rubicon. According to Child Trends, a public policy group analyzing government statistics, now more than half of all children born to mothers under thirty are what would have been called illegitimate not too long ago. Even more troubling is that, for women with low incomes and little to no post-secondary education, the situation becomes increasingly dire.

This has huge implications for the future of our nation’s sociopolitical climate. The jump in unwed births transcends racial barriers and points toward a bourgeoning cultural phenomenon. The New York Times did a fairly comprehensive write-up about said baby boom, interviewing unmarried mothers in the economically depressed Ohio rust belt. To make a long story short, financially downtrodden females no longer see much value in marriage due to its better than even chance of failure. They also feared the ball and chain’s prohibitively high set of costs.

Once again, I return to my argument of all politics being rooted in economics. A solid case can be made that out of wedlock mothers would not be if their respective fiscal houses were in order. With America’s manufacturing sector being shipped overseas, and the service industry drying up because of this, however, such a wish will remain exactly that for a long time to come. Some might say that young blue collar women should receive a utilizable education, but these people tend to clam up when the reality of bankruptcy-proof student loans rears its ugly head.

It appears many in the United States’ pre-thirtysomething maternal majority are bringing new definition to the concept of downward mobility. As their children are born into generational poverty, this is sure to introduce a host of new problems down the line. From my perspective, a permanent sub-labor class is being established. Thirty to forty years ago, its members would have been part of the productive working class, but our 21st century global economy has no place for them.

Sad as this is, it serves a profound example of what overpopulation is doing to America. The lower classes are having a greater amount of children than the upper classes, creating a staggering surplus. Since the sub-labor class’ supply is not in demand, where does this leave society as a whole? What will the underprivileged do with themselves? Pursue the career of a professional welfare artist? Resort to a life of thievery? Who knows.

It would be imagined that those of less than optimal means choose to take birth control, use prophylactics, practice abstinence, or not carry their pregnancies to full term. However, as responsible intercourse is obviously not in style among these folks, those who are struggling to get ahead, or have already made it, will have to foot the enormous bill. Because many sub-labor class individuals see nothing worthwhile on the horizon, one cannot expect to teach them about rational self-interest. Many of those forgotten by the almighty market long ago forgot themselves.

No aspiring politician, incumbent public officeholder, partisan organization, or special interest group can be expected to fix a problem of this magnitude. It is not so much the downfall of the American dream as it is of the America we used to know. Just accepting our new sociological paradigm is probably the best idea.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joseph –

    Two things –

    (1) America’s not overpopulated – not by a long shot. Of course you see it differently, but then you and I are working with different paradigms. After seeing firsthand the continuing success of nations here in Southeast Asia despite their population density that is far higher than America’s, I know that our own overpopulation…isn’t overpopulation. Furthermore, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a European nation that has a lower population density than our own. So…no, we’re not overpopulated – not by a long shot.

    (2) But why the tragic rise in illegitimate births? I’ve given it some thought (which phrase some here will consider an oxymoron), and I don’t yet see the answer – but I do have a few suggestions. One is the fact that back in the 1950’s it was normal for one person – usually the man – to have a job that provided for the whole household. Nowadays, a single job that provides for the wife/two-point-five kids/dog/house with two-car garage is more and more of a rarity. Now it is normal that both parents work and the kids are ‘latchkey’ kids – and unsupervised kids equals lots of trouble, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Furthermore, we’ve seen the rise of women – studies have shown that they are generally more intelligent than men (as any teacher can agree that the girls do better schoolwork than the boys). Not only that, but more women than men work in America…

    …and we men can’t handle it. We feel threatened because the women are adapting to this world better than we are.

    Another factor that is every bit as important is progress itself – time was when there were only a few (in my case only one) television channels, and magazines and newspapers were the rule. With the explosion of cable TV (remember MTV?) and the internet came exposure for our kids to things undreamt in all human history’s long sweep.

    And you can’t really lay the blame that much on the ‘sexual revolution’, because most Europeans will tell you how anal and sexually-repressed Americans tend to be…and I think the same thing also explains our problems with drugs and alcohol. Because we’ve made (and continue to make) access to such ‘dirty’ and ‘verboten’, the more attractive such are to our kids.

    After all, when our ships pull into overseas ports and the sailors are told that such-and-such places are strictly off-limits, where do you think is the first place a lot of the sailors go? Yep! I do speak from personal experience on that one….

    No, I don’t know the whole answer to the conundrum you present – but the way to mitigate some of its effects cannot be to try to remake America into an earlier, kinder, more innocent age. No, you can’t go home again. I strongly suspect that the best we can hope for is to stop looking back, to embrace our progress, dive straight forward, and trust that our children will adapt and thrive as humankind has done with most grand social upheavals in the past…but with one caveat – we must not let them forget the past, the lessons we’ve learned along the way!

  • Igor

    Puritanical America cannot let go of the big stick of punishment. We seem to think everyone must be punished, over and over, and that it helps to exaggerate the consequences of the Original Sin, which is most often SEX!

    In the USA we have an intricate and punishing system of family law that punishes fathers and mothers, and, most of all, children. We suffer under the delusion that somehow these punishments will make people behave better, but it doesn’t work!

    In Europe they have effective family law systems whose purpose is NOT to punish, but to Do The Right Thing by every family member. Thus, when a young man and woman cohabit and have a child and then break up, if the child stays with the mother the father goes to City Hall and registers himself as the father!

    This is so contrary to American thinking that it must be explained. A child is NOT an economic burden as in America, because it’s education and healthcare will be provided by the state and is not dependent on the parents. But, at the same time, the family court will intercede on the childs behalf to assure that both parents are doing their duty to the child as regards both financial support and family and social welfare.

    Even so, why would a young man, after leaving his girlfriend and child, volunteer himself as the father in the public records? For at least two reasons: one, that guarantees him access to his own child, especially for family gatherings and it extends the childs family in ways that are useful to socialization. Two, the other side of family law is that NO parent can be abandoned by his children. If that parent ends in a sad and forlorn state the family courts will intercede with his children to provide for him.

    Family is the most important unit in European culture (as it is in most human cultures) and every effort is focused on family success.


    Have you lost your mind. Just accept that corporations have become bad citizens by shipping jobs over seas and stifling wages at home all in the name of greed. Just accept that with the ill gotten gains of the financial industry’s engineered collapse of the American economy that said corporations are buying more and more influence on capital hill. Guaranteeing they will never be punished for the crimes they commit. Such as the out right theft of homes. Or that those who have the most will pay into our governmental system the least. Just accept that our system is moving ever so dangerously close to Fascism buy blaming the victims of corporate greed and by creating more and ever more potent mechanisms to prevent people from being able to achieve a decent standard of living in this country. Just accept that? You sir have lost your mind if you think that is going to happen.