Thursday, September 16

Robert Rector is an Idiot

Robert Rector is an idiot. I've tried to think of a nicer way to say it, but there isn't one. Robert Rector is an idiot.

The big news of the day is that the poverty rate has jumped to its highest level since 1959. The poverty rate rose to 14.3% in 2009, compared to 13.2% in 2008. Long-term unemployment (unemployment for longer than 6 months) is at its highest level since the 1980s.

So why do I think that Robert Rector is an idiot? Earlier today, in an interview with the Washington Post, Robert Rector was asked:
What is the single most important thing the government could do now that would reduce the number of Americans living in poverty?  
Rector: The single most important thing it could do is articulate a clear and consistent message in low-income communities that it's best to be married before you have children. . . . These are not accidental births. They do not occur in high school. They occur among young adult women who very much want to have a child and don't see marriage as an important precondition. . . . It's likely to be harmful to you as an adult as well as to the child. . . . It's like trying to run an anti-smoking program before you've told people that smoking causes cancer first. . . .We have to create that underlying message first.

At first I thought, maybe this is out of context. The reporter asked him to list only one thing and then chopped up his quote. To give him the benefit of the doubt, I decided to google Rector and his economic perspective. Turns out Rector actually believes adult women who intentionally choose to get pregnant and then refuse to get married are hurting the economy. He wrote a post earlier today titled (and I'm not making this up): Poverty Explodes, Root Cause is the Collapse of Marriage. (And no, I will not be linking to his psycho-talk.) I literally laughed out loud when I read the heading. For a split second I thought it was another blogger mocking Rector, but no, it was Rector himself expanding on the point he made in the interview.

Silly me, I thought poverty slightly rose due to a rising unemployment rate and recession!

This is where I should go on and explain why Rector is wrong. (Poverty today is identical today to what it was in the late 1950s, when the average american family looked quite different from what it does today. And we all know that money troubles can kill relationships. Blah blah blah...)

But I'm not going to put any real effort into refuting what he said because its common sense. Saying anything here is saying too much. We all know the economy sucks. AND, to be completely honest, the cynic in me reads his response as 'all those promiscuous minority women on welfare sucking up our tax dollars...'. Yes, we have a serious problem with child poverty. And yes, shockingly enough, single mothers make less than families with two incomes. But the more I read Rector's interview and his blog post, all I can see is the racism and misogyny.

Does he really think this is what caused the rise in poverty? And does he really think that marriage is the best way to fix our economic troubles? I doubt it. There's something else going on.

What really really bothers me is that this guy gets attention from mainstream media outlets. The interview with the Washington Post was set up as an interview with both a liberal and a conservative on the recent poverty numbers. Why Couldn't the Washington Post come up with a saner conservative? And once they found out this guy was more interested in promoting a culture war than giving rational answers about the economy, couldn't the Washington Post have found someone else? I mean, I'm not a conservative, but I know the standard position is lowering taxes and deregulation. Aren't there a ton of conservatives out there who could have given an answer that actually made sense? I think this just makes the reporter look bad.

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