Join Society’s elite: get married

According to the latest demographic statistics, it turns out that marriage is not for everybody anymore:

Punctuating a fundamental change in American family life, married
couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four
households — a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is
the lowest ever recorded by the census.

As marriage with children
becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is
also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and
the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly
steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children
out of wedlock.

I saw the headline to the article and thought about how virtually every couple I know is married.  A great example of why we should not generalize too much from our own experiences.  Being a college professor, most everybody I know socially is college-educated, affluent, or both– though you won't find this combination too often among professors :-).  Anyway, the article has a number of interesting observations, e.g.,

Marriage has declined across all income groups, but it has declined
far less among couples who make the most money and have the best
education. These couples are also less likely to divorce. Many
demographers peg the rise of a class-based marriage gap to the erosion
since 1970 of the broad-based economic prosperity that followed World
War II.

“We seem to be reverting to a much older pattern, when
elites marry and a great many others live together and have kids,” said
Peter Francese, demographic trends analyst for Ogilvy & Mather, an
advertising firm.

Due to “assortative mating” wealthy elites tend to marry other wealthy elites, etc., and society becomes more stratified.  I don't have any groundbreaking insights to add, just thought this was interesting.  The whole article is worth a quick read. 


Understanding the purge of the U.S. Attorneys

I recently wrote about the Bush administration's shameful and unprecedented firing of US Attorneys for purely partisan reasons.  One of my favorite columnists, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, nicely explains exactly what's going on.  If the case interests you, just read the whole thing.  For those only mildly interested, here's the conclusion:

Perhaps the most important lesson to be drawn from the purge isn't that
the Bush administration puts ideology above the rule of law. That isn't
exactly news. The real point may be that between inexperienced fumblers
at Justice, energized Democrats in Congress, and a public that seems
finally to have awoken from its slumber, it's just become harder for
the administration to get away with it.

Why good journalism matters

Presumably you have heard the news stories about the appalling conditions uncovered for outpatient care at Walter Reed Hospital, where many seriously wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are sent for long term care.  These problems were uncovered by some great, old-fashioned, hard-working journalism by Washington Post reporters, Dana Priest and Anne Hull.  They spent months at the facility interviewing dozens of patients, staff, and family members.  The result is an amazing and damning series of articles.  Turns out many in the Army hierarchy knew these problems existed, but did nothing about it.  Thanks to this intrepid reporting, something is being done and those to blame are being held accountable.  In an action utterly amazing for a Bush administration official, new Defense Secretary Robert Gates is demanding accountability and has forced the resignation of the Secretary of the Army (and the commander of Walter Reed is likely next).  Does make me wonder how things in Iraq might be better if Gates had been in charge of DoD instead of Rumsfeld (not that I'd be expecting a flourishing democracy).  Anyway, all this happened because some reporters took on an important issue that was, unfortunately, being ignored within the army.  This is a great example why an independent and aggressive press is so important.  Shame on conservatives who would try and write this off as the actions of “the liberal media.”  I suppose they would prefer that wounded veterans continue to suffer unnecessarily?

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