Thursday, August 25, 2016

The “Condition of America” Question

Are you sick of hearing about how America is going to the dogs in lots of ways? Well…so am I. But…the fact that it actually is doing just that must still be faced and dealt with in a constructive way.

An article in the Weekly Standard of 8-15-16 by Matthew Continetti under the title I have given above accurately points out the problems and suggests some workable, but secular, solutions. Death rates among middle-aged non-Hispanic White Americans between 1999 and 2013 have been increasing. The increase in death in this population has been positively correlated with suicide, liver disease and cirrhosis, drug and alcohol poisoning, and other related effects of drug and alcohol abuse. These correlations are all caused by behavioral practices in our population. The disturbing increases in the death rate have mostly been among those men who have had no college education. It has also been noted that real family income of people in the bottom half of the income distribution has not increased since the late 1960’s, further adding to the general discouragement in this population.

It seems to me, as well as to Mr. Continetti, that the distress being experienced in this poor population of White males is largely due to deterioration in the four character-building institutions of our society, i.e., the family, vocations, community, and faith.

FAMILY: More than 25% of our population lives alone. Men and women marry later in life and have fewer children. The percentage of children living at home with two married parents in their first marriage has fallen from 73% in 1960 to 46% in 2014. The explosion of single parenthood has coincided with the growth of means-tested welfare spending such as food stamps, housing assistance, cash payments, the earned income tax credit, disability insurance, and Medicaid.

VOCATION: For more than 60 years, the share of White American men between the ages of 25 to 54, or “prime-age men,” in the labor force has declined from 96% in 1968 to 79% in 2015. This fall has been most pronounced among men without college degrees. The fall in workforce participation rates has been even more marked among African-American men.

The White House has ignored the obvious positive correlation between this fall in workforce participation and the diminution of the work requirement for welfare, as well as the relation between policies the government supports—increases in the minimum wage, unionization, and low-skilled immigration.

COMMUNITY: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that deaths from heroin overdoses increased 286% between 2002 and 2013, with a nearly 40% increase between 2012 and 2013.

The percentage of adults who volunteer for various community services dropped four points over the last decade.

Our citizens trust one another less and less. The Boston Globe reports “The greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work in community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings.”  

FAITH: The number of Americans with no religious affiliation is increasing rapidly.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO THESE PROBLEMS? Continetti points out that one approach is more New Deal programs, but without overreach by the government. That is a pipe dream and nothing less than a myth. A recent book by Jay Cost, “A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption,” strongly implies that there is no governmental program which does not predispose to corruption. Politicians will always figure out some way to get around the interests of the people to line their own pockets with cash and insure their personal increase in political power.

The answers to the “Condition of America” is nothing other than the infusion of Christian principles and true Christian religion into our society. Without faith, America will continue on its same path. Christians need to have more influence in government and social affairs. Our government is doing everything possible to squelch Christian principles; and our two candidates for presidential office do not epitomize any Christian character. They are both godless power seekers. Our job at the present is unfortunately to pick out the one who is the least unrighteous and vote for him/her. If we elect to vote for neither, we will be effectively voting for the one most unrighteous.




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