As Murray and Putnam show, charts like this conceal an ocean of heartbreak. Kids and adults aren’t blank slates, possessing equal prospects for success regardless of family situation. Adults in broken families experience the pain of separation and the psychological challenge of uncertainty and conflict in the most important relationships of their lives. Kids in broken families are often traumatized in ways that linger with them throughout their adult lives. Government can’t fix trauma. Government can’t make a man and a woman stay together.
What does this all mean? In real terms, it means that our nation is changing. We’re producing a generation of poor and working-class young people who are less equipped to take advantage of economic opportunity and a generation of upper-middle-class kids who are fully prepared to enjoy the fruits of the world’s most potent and innovative economy. In other words, it’s a great time to be prosperous in America. It’s a terrible time to be poor or working-class.
It also means that Americans need to redouble their efforts to care for one another, to reach beyond class lines and intervene in individual lives. Which brings me back to Tim — and Tim’s church.