Tuesday, July 17, 2012
[I]f one reads past the headline, the picture becomes significantly more complex, and Garnett’s takeaway: “It’s not just that marriage might be ‘confined’ to the fortunate classes; it’s also, it seems, that mobility into those classes (or not) is connected to the decisions that people make — and that people’s parents make — about marriage and childrearing,” becomes less tenable (to the extent that it is not meant to be trivial).
I did, of course, "read the past the headline" and appreciate that the "picture" is "complex", and I am confident that my short reaction is both tenable and nontrivial. Bugyis seems to have assumed quickly that I was offering a "values-oriented" interpretation of the stories described in the piece, perhaps in an exercise of "sanctimonious" or "self-congratulatory affirmation." While I admit to thinking that "values" are implicated in the choices people make about marriage and child-rearing, I think his assumption here is unfair and uncharitable, and, in any event, unfounded.
My point -- which I certainly didn't hold out as the only "takeaway" from DeParle's piece and which I don't think was too hard to get -- was that (we know that) it is a good thing for children to be raised in intact, two-parent families, and therefore (here's the relevance of the "Dan Quayle" reference) it is not a good thing for us to celebrate the kids-without-marriage choices of celebrities and others who are able, by virtue of their economic advantages, to protect themselves and their children from the consequences that often attend, for those who lack such advantages, those choices. (To say this is not to imagine that educational and economic opportunities and situations do not put some people in a better position to make the better -- i.e., better-results-yielding -- choices instead of the worse -- i.e., worse-outcomes-yielding -- ones.) I would not have thought that this was more an empirical claim -- coupled with a critique of the more fortunate sector to which, I admit, I belong -- than a "sanctimonious" or "self-congratulatory" point.