Mainstream Social Science Awakens to the Importance of the Family

In her recent book The Two-Parent Privilege, the economist Melissa Kearney assembles a mass of data supporting a proposition that has long been argued for by right-leaning scholars, and seems self-evident to countless people: that marriage is beneficial to society, and children are better off when raised by a mother and father. Kay Hymowitz observes:

What makes The Two-Parent Privilege an event is not [its conclusions], but the author herself. Ever since the brouhaha following the 1965 Moynihan Report’s warnings about the rise in single motherhood among low-income blacks, the policy and social-science establishment has been loath to engage the issue. This has remained true even as the same family troubles spread to the white and Hispanic working class, and even as evidence mounted that the breakdown in marriage was not only bad for children but also worsened inequality. When a prominent scholar with impeccable center-left credentials like Kearney forthrightly makes that case, she is veering into policy quicksand.

This is a danger of which she is well aware. At professional conferences, her colleagues have reacted to her research with comments on the order of: “I tend to agree with you about all this but are you sure you want to be out there saying this publicly?” Others have told her that she sounded “socially conservative,” implying that she was “not academically serious.”

[Indeed], the research enumerated in The Two-Parent Privilege enriches our understanding of working-class decline and, more broadly, the nation’s political and cultural polarization. . . . Kearney only touches on another uncomfortable truth emerging from The Two-Parent Privilege. The subject of the choice of whether or not to marry—something most Americans, liberal and conservative, revere as a personal decision—remains largely off limits despite its profound social and economic impact.

“We should be clear-eyed about the reality,” Kearney writes. “Parents affect their children’s lives and shape their outcomes in ways that government cannot fully make up for.”

Read more at City Journal

More about: American family, Economics, Marriage

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security