Sunday, May 04, 2008

Moving into a Bifurcated Society

An interesting link from Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law, arguing that the middle class is vanishing away.

She's a very good, very clear lecturer.

Why is her thesis relevant? Well consider, for instance, one of her factoids: children this year, in fact since the late '90s, are morelikely to live in a household undergoing foreclosure than undergoing divorce. Is there a point to devloping an intentional pastoral response at the parish, diocesan, or provincial level? Is there any even implicitly relevant part of our liturgy?

I think there are many obviously relevant points of contact. To take just one example: dispute over what constitutes a genuine marriage is at least the occasion behind the current turmoil in the Anglican Communion. Behind the vitriol is a worry--among other worries--that marriage is weak and getting weaker, that the weakening of marriage weakens families and tends to damage their members, and that tolerating civil or ecclesial gay unions would add to a permissive social current, further weakening marriage: a downward spiral. At least that is one of the worries--I don't wish to take issue with it here, though I think the concern is misplaced.

Pace the question of whether there is some valid worry there, ask: which vectors contribute most to social chaos and the enervation of marriages and families? It seems to me we should be able to agree that economic stress and chaos do more damage than tolerating gay unions, and a communion genuinely concerned with marriage and the family should be able to manage a proper, proportional response.


At 2:53 PM, Blogger Perpetua said...

As I understood her lecture,
she is showing that the two parent family unit from 1970, with the wife/mother staying at home was more economically stable than the current two working parent system.

The discussion of the changes in spending were enlightening. The common wisdom is that we are spending more of food and clothes, when the data shows the opposite. She seems to suggest we are eating less meat and more pasta to save money. Are we obese from gluttony, or from the stress of the two parent lifestyle and too many cheap carbs?

The two big ticket items we spend more on are housing and cars. Well, the two working parent model tends to require two cars. And maybe people spend more for safer neighborhoods because when both parents are working, there aren't enough people around during the day to make the neighborhoods safe.

Also her discussion of health care was amazing -- how the responsibility to provide care has been shifted out of the hospitals and into the homes, except, who is home to provide the care?

Corollary to all this is the article by Kevin Phillips in the May Harper's, "Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know".

At 1:38 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Phillips is quite good, and has been doing good work for quite some time--since the '80s. That Harper's piece is a keeper.

It's altogether frightening to feel the weight of 30% food inflation & $4-a-gallon gas--and this may be in part a result of our losing international hegemony, a permanent deterioration of well-being.


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