Sunday, December 02, 2007

A conservative take on improving social conditions

This Commentary article (via Sullivan) talks about the dramatic improvement of a number of social indicators since the early 1990's:
But a strange thing happened on the way to Gomorrah. Just when it seemed as if the storm clouds were about to burst, they began to part. As if at once, things began to turn around. And now, a decade-and-a-half after these well-founded and unrelievedly dire warnings, improvements are visible in the vast majority of social indicators; in some areas, like crime and welfare, the progress has the dimensions of a sea-change. That this has happened should be a source of great encouragement; why it happened, and what we can learn from it, is a subject of no less importance.
The odd thing is, some indicators of family strength have not improved. Indeed, they have gotten worse. This challenges the conservative notion that the breakdown of the family is the primary driver of social ills in our society:
Murray may well have been correct about the importance of illegitimacy. But he—and not he alone—seems to have been incorrect that it would drive everything else. Over the past fifteen years, on balance, the American family has indeed grown weaker—but almost every other social indicator has improved.
(Remember that Commentary is a conservative publication, so their take on some things is different than that of the typical Internal Monologue reader. I don't endorse all the views expressed in it, but it's an interesting read.)

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