Will on Family Disintegration

An example of equivocation commonly used to cover up unpalatable political or social conditions comes from a leading expert in this genre, George F. Will, in his column on the disintegration of the family (Op-Ed Page, April 9). Here he tells us that "The intergenerational transmission of poverty is produced by the disintegration of the family structure." Feeling the need to back up this egregious piece of deception, he quotes Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's remark that " 'poverty had its origin in social behavior,' meaning, primarily, family structure." For emphasis he repeats, "Today, family disintegration is one of the principle correlates of poverty." Concluding that it "poses the most immense challenge to confront American social policy, a problem of unprecedented complexity. . . ."

After more than a century of vacant gazing into this "complexity," the high and mighty of this society are still at it, still searching for a plausible apologia for the scourge of poverty and the way it wrecks family life. In the distant past it was laid to improvidence and ignorance of the working class. Later, alcoholism was said to be the primary cause, but even while Prohibition was in effect poverty was as prevalent as ever. Currently, the crime and drug culture is alleged to be at fault. All of these tragic disorders are clearly derivative of insecurity, social alienation, family disintegration, and an unrelenting poverty that results from a morally reprehensible system of human exploitation.

Once regarded as the basic unit of society, the broken family is now the embodiment of a broken and corrupted social order. By covering it all with vague abstractions and "unprecedented complexities," Will and company admit that nothing can be done under the aegis of the status quo.



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