In 1977, I was scheduled to get an appointment for a nob with newly elected Congressman Dan Quayle. His Administrative Assistant did not want me on the staff — too much competition, I think. He was your standard government-issue gray sludge A.A. So, he told Quayle I had never come in. That was one of better things that ever happened to me. Within two years, I owned a highly successful publishing business. I have told the story of my non-encounter with Quayle here.
In 1992, Quayle was Vice President. He was the butt of many jokes in the media. He caught a lot of criticism for his remarks about a T.V. sitcom, Murphy Brown. Brown was a journalist. She decided to have a child out of wedlock. Quayle gave a speech in which he criticized the concept. He said out-of-wedlock births placed children at a disadvantage.
Two decades later, his remarks seem mainstream. Research conducted since 1992 confirms his criticisms. This comes from the Washington Post.
He called unwed motherhood wrong. He targeted the show for its positive spin on unwed motherhood. The mainstream media pounced on him.
The Post comments:
Twenty years later, Quayle’s words seem less controversial than prophetic. The number of single parents in America has increased dramatically: The proportion of children born outside marriage has risen from roughly 30 percent in 1992 to 41 percent in 2009. For women under age 30, more than half of babies are born out of wedlock. A lifestyle once associated with poverty has become mainstream. The only group of parents for whom marriage continues to be the norm is the college-educated.
This is also one of the observations of the recent best-seller by Charles Murray, Coming Apart.
The Post article praises marriage as a commitment. Cohabitation is not. Marriage has vows: shared responsibility. Second, marriage is good for children. They do better in school. They have lower rates of suicide. Third, marriage brings economic benefits. There are usually two breadwinners, or one well-paid one.
The author of the article points out that three factors together reduce the likelihood of being poor from 1% to 2%. These three factors are: (1) finishing high school; (2) getting a full-time job; (3) marry before having children.
The government plays little role in all this.
But in the end, Dan Quayle was right. Unless the media, parents and other influential leaders celebrate marriage as the best environment for raising children, the new trend — bringing up baby alone — may be irreversible.