George Will

     The senator is called a ``new kind of Democrat,'' which often means one with new ways of ignoring evidence discordant with old liberal orthodoxies about using cash -- much of it spent through liberalism's ``caring professions'' -- to cope with cultural collapse. He might, however, care to note three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal. 

     In 1960, John Kennedy of Choate, Harvard and Palm Beach campaigned in West Virginia's primary and American liberalism experienced one of its regularly recurring rediscoveries of poor people, an epiphany abetted three years later by Michael Harrington's book ``The Other America'' receiving a 50-page review where liberals would notice it, amidst The New Yorker magazine's advertisements for luxury goods. Between such rediscoveries, the poor are work for liberalism's constituencies among the ``caregiving'' professions.

     Liberalism's post-Katrina fearlessness in discovering the obvious -- if an inner city is inundated, the victims will be disproportionately minorities -- stopped short of indelicately noting how many of the victims were women with children but not husbands. Released during the post-Katrina debacle, scant attention was paid to the National Center for Health Statistics' pertinent report that in 2003, 34.6 percent of all American births were to unmarried women. The percentage among African-American women was 68.2.

     Given that most African-Americans are middle class and almost half live outside central cities, and that 76 percent of all births to Louisiana African-Americans were to unmarried women, it is a safe surmise that more than 80 percent of African-American births in inner-city New Orleans -- as in some other inner cities -- were to women without husbands. That translates into a large and constantly renewed cohort of lightly parented adolescent males, and that translates into chaos, in neighborhoods and schools, come rain or come shine.

     This will become of intense interest to the ``czar'' or ``czarina'' -- this republic has a fascinating reflex for cloaking improvised offices with the dignity, such as it was, of defunct Russian royalty -- who is charged with ``overseeing'' the ``rebuilding'' of New Orleans. He or she can exchange notes with our ``nation-builders'' in Iraq, now learning conservatism's core truths about the limits to government's abilities to know and control things. Or he or she can glance at Ground Zero in Manhattan where, four years later, the ``rebuilding'' of a few square blocks is not going well.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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