I yield to none in my admiration of the Becker-Posner blog, which tackles important themes with an earnestness almost terrifying in its intensity. Becker is a world-class economist. Posner is a judge and brilliant legal mind. That they take the time to post on the growing power of China or legalization of controlled substances is a marvel.
But really – the sexual revolution? One might as well have forced Casanova to elucidate the finer points of macroeconomics, or Don Juan to pontificate about Roe v. Wade. It’s breaking character.
Sex, I am told, happens, but I have never heard it successfully talked about. Lewd or prude, one comes across sounding like a bore. Curiously, in this case, Posner, the judge, takes an entirely consumerist approach to the subject, while Becker, the economist, makes a valiant attempt to squeeze in a few bits about “norms.”
Even more curiously, the substance of what has changed in our behavior, and the impact of these changes, seems to escape the notice of the two blogging eggheads. The real revolution in our country has been the One-Parent Revolution. (In Europe, of course, it’s the No-Children Implosion.)
What has been the impact of the One-Parent Revolution? From a purely material standpoint, it’s been great for men, since by “one parent” we mean, 90 percent of the time, “mother.” Men can raise a family if they choose to, and help support it if they choose to; but if not, not. Dads are now free to be deadbeats, which if one gets past the ugly label, is a very enjoyable life condition.
Naturally, for the same reason, the One-Parent Revolution has been less than a boon for women, and an unmixed disaster for kids. Here’s an interesting statistic: in 1998, families headed by single women raising children had a poverty rate of 39 percent; the corresponding rate for married couples was 2.5 percent. Practically all the increase in child poverty since the 1970’s can be accounted for by the disappearance of good old Dad from the family scene. In fact, the most accurate predictor of poverty today isn’t race or gender – it’s marital status.
So the odds are that most sexual revolutionaries, male persuasion, are whooping it up deep intoViagra age, while female revolutionaries wonder, as they wait in line at Family Assistance, what on earth the revolution was about. Becker and Posner, being male and, one suspects, not the barricade-storming type in such matters, treat the question with all the insight of blind men stumbling in the dark.