For 20 years, Americans have fiercely debated whether gays — who constitute maybe 3% of the population — should be allowed to marry each other. Meanwhile, Americans have given short shrift to what is happening to the 97% of the population that is allowed to marry, but increasingly opts not to do so.
One reason we’ve given the single-parenthood problem short shrift is that we lack good ideas about how to address it. The core of the problem seems to be the decline of male wages relative to female wages. The New York Times this week quoted an MIT economist, Michael Greenstone:
“I think the greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not. And it’s very, very scary for economists because people should be responding to price signals. And men are not. It’s a fact in need of an explanation.”
As men (on average) finish less education, as male wages (on average) decline, men become less attractive as marital partners. As Harvard’s Christopher Jencks — a left-leaning academic, it should be stressed — said in that same New York Times piece: “Single-parent families tend to emerge in places where the men already are a mess.”
It is within moments like this, surrounded by utter darkness and the warmth of blankets and the comfort of your very home, that I allow my thoughts to wander. I tend to find myself thinking about the past. It is incredulous how tremendous the impact that choices you make, intentional or not, have upon your life. They truly shape your perspective. I am jot the naive girl I once was, nor am I the most objective woman either. I tend to dwell upon those or whom I’ve hurt immensely and those who have hurt me. I, at times, cannot handle that. Especially approaching a crossroads next year with graduation from college and q step towards the next stage in my life, I cannot help but ponder over all that has affected me. It grieves me to no avail how much pain that I have caused, but that has become the very catalyst by which I strive to prevent any other from being hurt by myself. It is an extremely peculiar blessing to have had my flaws surfaced when they did. For, it was only within those moments of weakness and failure that I was able to see them myself. I can only thank Yah for allowing these hurtful experiences to happen. I would be an extremely apathetic, narrow-minded person if I never lost my brother to death, made my mistakes with my friendships, idealized those guys who were just kind to me out of kindness. I have a bittersweet gratefulness towards these instances. The artwork that my life becomes needs these memories as the framework towards supporting my life’s purpose.
With money you can buy a house, but not a home.
With money you can buy a clock, but not time.
With money you can buy a bed, but not sleep.
With money you can buy a book, but not knowledge.
With money you can buy a doctor, but not good health.
With money you can buy a position, but not respect.
With money you can buy blood, but not life.
With money you can buy sex, but not love.