Monday, July 21, 2008

Taking personal responsibility

Barbara Ehrenreich's new book 'Going to Extremes' includes my new favourite fact.

In America, as in Britain, lone parents are told by right-wing people that marriage is important for reducing poverty.

Now, except in the movies, most women in America in receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will end up marrying blue collar (working class) workers. But wages for blue collar workers have been falling in America for many years, and a single wage would not be enough to lift the family out of poverty.

So Ehrenreich calculated just how many blue collar workers a TANF recipient needs to marry in order to lift her family out of poverty. The answer turns out to be 2.3, which as she points out, is illegal.

So it turns out that marriage isn't a viable route out of poverty. And those moralists who preach that women ought to take personal responsibility for their lives would be the first to condemn any woman who married three men, or, heaven forbid, three women who were jointly married to seven men. It's quite literally a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.


At 7:23 am , Anonymous passer by said...

In the UK 38% of 16 year old don't know one of their birth parents, this group don't do as well educationally they get into more trouble, and they are more prone to struggle financially through their lives.

Yes of course its peer group that shapes children more than parents but what shapes the peer group? that would be the prevailing culture? And if that culture does not value the idea of marriage and its importance with then society than that devalues the culture...and the cycle continues

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