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It’s The Family, Stupid

October 13, 2011

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Democratic advisor James Carville described the electorate’s focus with the now famous line, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  Today, it’s income inequality that gets a lot of press.  To which I say, it’s the family, stupid.

Three years ago, in an article for “The American”, Arnold King and Nick Shulz laid out what the causes of income inequality in America are.  Relying on scholarly research, the authors point out that there’s actually two divisions in American income: an upper – lower division and an upper – upper division.  The upper – upper inequality occurs because hitting a home run in today’s technological economy can make you super rich.  Google and Apple come to mind as examples.  But what separates the lower from the upper?  One word: Family.

As our economy becomes more advanced and grows more reliant on technology, brains and knowledge are what’s valued in the labor market much more so than physical labor.  The income gap we should be concerned with is not the 99% vs the 1% but the gap between college graduates and non college workers.  This is the gap that causes poverty and economic stagnation.

As that gap widens it stands to reason that we should see more college grads enter the labor force competing for those jobs, but instead we’re faced with steadily declining high school graduation rates.  And why are kids not finishing school?  Because of the breakdown of the family.  80% of kids in families which earn less than $15,000 a year only have one parent in the home.  Families making over $75,000 are the mirror opposite.  And research suggests our school systems are no match for the disadvantages these kids are faced with in terms of cognitive skills not developed because of poor early childhood experiences.

So when we pull back the curtain on the unemployment numbers and see that they’re far worse for the less educated, we need to ask ourselves, what’s holding them back?  In nearly every case, it’s the destruction of the family.

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From → Economy, Politics

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