Culture Challenge of the Week: No Future for our Kids?
President Obama recently warned Americans that too many members of our society never climb the ladder to success—they’re defeated before they even begin. When children have no future, it poses “a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe.”
He actually got that right.
According to a recent Pew study, “[m]ore than 40 percent of Americans raised in the bottom quintile of the family income ladder remain stuck there as adults.”
It’s a tragedy to see human potential go to waste—young lives with talent, heart, and desire falling by the wayside, stuck in poverty and dysfunction.
The real question is we must ask is “why?”
Liberals like President Obama emphasize the factors that fit the Democrat narrative: income inequality, race segregation, and failing schools are to blame. Certainly those factors place obstacles in a child’s way. But the left ignores the most important factor relevant to a child’s success: an intact family. Our history is full of the stories of Americans who succeeded in spite of being born into poverty, suffering racial discrimination, and enduring sub-standard schools. Their success hinged not on government programs but on the people—the families—behind them.
If poor children are less likely to climb the ladder of success today, it’s because our society has failed to confront the cause: the American family has crumbled, particularly among the urban poor. Hollywood liberals and Manhattan elites glibly promote the secular autonomous lifestyle: serial sexual relationships, single parenthood, and irreligion. High incomes and privilege cushion them from the consequences of their choices. The poor are not so lucky. And the children born into poverty suffer the most.
The latest research shows that family instability produces the strongest correlation with lack of upward mobility.According to a study by researchers at Harvard and Berkeley, “family structure correlates with upward mobility not just at the individual level but also at the community level, perhaps because the stability of the social environment affects children's outcomes more broadly.”