Ben Johnson

The New York Times reports marriage leads to economic prosperity

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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NEW YORK, July 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The definition of marriage has long been considered a religious or legal argument. However, a growing number of economists, journalists, and social researchers are concluding that getting and staying married is a key to economic prosperity and domestic tranquility.

This reality became the subject of a New York Times article entitled “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,’” which spanned nearly 3,900 words.

Citing a host of secular, liberal professors, the article came to the same conclusion as longtime apologists for traditional marriage: it’s not only good for the soul but also for one’s bank account.

Studies say skyrocketing rates of single parenthood account for some of the widening income gap between well-to-do and those who are struggling. Experts estimate new parenting trends account for anywhere from 10 percent (Harvard sociology professor Bruce Western) to 40 percent (Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute) of the differential.

Family marriage and childbirth patterns put families on “different trajectories,” according to Mindy Scott, a demographer with the research center Child Trends. Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist based at Johns Hopkins University, said, “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged.”

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One reason is that married men who must provide for their family have greater incentive to be conscientious about their vocation.

Married men “enjoy an income premium of about 19 percent in the United States compared to their similarly credentialed peers,” said Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. They “work about 160 hours more compared to their similarly credentialed peers after they transition into marriage in that first year of married life.”

“Men who get married and stay married tend to be better workers,” he said in a lecture delivered at Acton University, hosted by the Acton Institute in June. “They work harder; they work longer hours; they work more strategically; and as a consequence, they tend to earn more money.”

He added that marriage benefits both partners economically. “Women who get and stay married by the end of their lives have a lot more in the way of assets – whether it’s a home or some kind of retirement account.” 

Parents share other economic incentives, including differentiation of labor, and they “are able to pool their income and benefit from economies of scale, in part,” said Wilcox.

Some marriage supporters believe the free market rests upon the foundation of a stable home.

“The family is absolutely necessary for the market to function,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute, a think tank dedicated to understanding and defending the traditional family in all its aspects.

However, the article noted this foundation is crumbling under the weight of discarded social obligations. Some 41 percent of U.S. births take place out-of-wedlock. However, these are not evenly distributed: 60 percent of women with a high school education or less have illegitimate births.

Out-of-wedlock births among white women with some college education have tripled since 1990.

One-third of women with a high school education or less had children to more than one man by their late 20s. This instability has a deleterious effect on everyone in the household. Scott said, “Having men in the house for a short time with ambiguous parenting roles can be really disruptive for children.”

Yet the survey, conducted by Child Trends, found not a single woman who finished college before giving birth did.

Those in the top one-third of income are more likely to have intact families. According to Western and his Harvard colleague Tracey Shollenberger, 88 percent of children in that bracket grow up with both parents. 

Wilcox noted in a separate Times article that only two percent of children born to white, college-educated women are born out-of-wedlock.

Illegitimacy “varies by education more than by race,” said Scott.

Charles Murray documents the same pattern in his newest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

The most important impact of differing marriage trends is not economic but social and spiritual, and it is visited not on the parents but upon the children.

Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews that parents’ differences allow them to equip their children with a mix of skills and abilities beyond that available to either individual parent. Healthy socialization also increases the child’s opportunity to become a productive citizen.

On the other hand, those raised without family attachments fall victims to pathologies as widely divergent as gang recruitment and institutional autism. http://childsrighttothrive.org/topics/socioemotional-development/what-are-effects-early-severe-deprivation-attachment  

“The substitutes to the family are expensive and ineffective, and taxpayers end up paying the price,” she said during one of her own lectures at Acton University. A 2008 study found family breakdown cost taxpayers $112 billion a year, the equivalent of the GDP of New Zealand.

Statistics, though, cannot measure the human toll.

The Times story frames the statistics around the story of two daycare workers in Ann Arbor, Michigan – one married, the other unmarried.

The unmarried mother, Jessica, got pregnant her first year at William Penn University in Iowa. The New York Times reports, “her boyfriend, an African-American student from Arkansas, said they should start a family,” but they agreed to wait “until they could afford a big reception and a long gown.” Instead, they alternated between living with each set of parents, working on-and-off until their breakup. She was 25 and had three children.

Jessica “has trouble explaining, even to herself, why she stayed so long with a man who she said earned little, berated her often and did no parenting,” the reporter wrote.

Now working in a daycare, she sees her friend’s children “swimming and karate and baseball and Boy Scouts, and it seems like it’s always her or her husband who’s able to make it there,” she said. “That’s something I wish I could do for my kids. But number one, that stuff costs a lot of money and, two, I just don’t have the time.”

She was deprived even of the time to heal after a major surgical procedure. After treating cervical cancer last year, she was told to take six weeks off but went back to work after one week’s rest, because she could not afford to give up the paycheck.

Single mothers “have no back-up,” Morse told LifeSiteNews.

That leads to frayed nerves, guilt-tinged memories – and leaner pocketbooks.

Jessica’s exhaustion rings through the written word. “Two incomes would certainly help with the bills, but it’s parenting, too. I wish I could say, ‘Call your dad.’”

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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