Save for Senator Lee, Republicans are Pretty Much Silent, Too

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was on CNN the other morning and I mentioned to my wife Diane that I liked him for several reasons, one being he’s among the very few people in Washington who talk bravely about family fragmentation, though his subject that morning (surprise) was a very different un-mating dance consuming DC.   Coincidentally, I was then reading Never Enough: Capitalism and the Progressive Spirit, by Neil Gilbert, an acutely insightful but insufficiently recognized book about inequality, among other things.

Later that same day I came upon what the book says about an immense study, led by Berkeley economist Raj Chetty and others, that looked at “709 geographic districts in the United States,” and why rates of social mobility are substantially higher in some rather than others.  Gilbert reports:

The four characteristics most significantly related to measures of social mobility were racial segregation, high school dropout rates, the percent of single mothers, and amounts of social capital.  And among these characteristics, the fraction of children in single-parent families was the strongest and most robust predictor of differences in mobility across all measures.

The rightly celebrated 2014 research was a joint project of the University of California-Berkeley, Harvard, and the U.S. Department of Treasury.  Gilbert, a professor of social welfare policy, is also at Berkeley.

I cite this passage for several reasons, including the fact I’ve been remiss in writing anything recently about family fragmentation.  But, also because there are no fewer than a score of Democrats running for president, with all of them stressing supposedly stunted mobility, exploding inequality, and stymied American Dreams.  Yet I’m willing to bet semi-big bucks that every single one of them will continue blaming Republican policies and conservative ideas rather than acknowledging what Chetty and his colleagues documented to be just one of many damaging results of huge numbers of American children living apart from their fathers, or often their mothers, often in chaos.

Save for Senator Lee, by the way, Republican politicians are pretty much silent on the issue, too.