Capitalism Destroys the Family, Admits BUSINESS WEEK Magazine


Capitalism Destroys the Family, Admits BUSINESS WEEK Magazine
reprinted from
The People
March 25, 1995

Capitalism Destroys the Family, Admits BUSINESS WEEK Magazine

"Politicians like to fix the blame on government policies, but economists argue that free-market forces, not welfare, are largely responsible for the breakup of the traditional American family," BUSINESS WEEK commented after the January annual meeting of the American Economic Association. It's not often that such an admission comes from the horse's mouth -- a mouthpiece for capitalist-class interests like BUSINESS WEEK. Followed to its logical conclusion, such an admission is, after all, an indictment of the "free-market" system of capitalism from which "free-market forces" emanate.

Of course, a logical conclusion wasn't what was sought by BUSINESS WEEK in its recent article entitled, "Welfare Reform Won't Patch Up Poor Families." Rather, BUSINESS WEEK here aligned itself with capitalist-class elements who would preserve more of the "social safety net" than the reactionary welfare "reformers" presently stewarding the political state. No doubt BUSINESS WEEK took the position for the same reasons U.S. capitalism has historically relied upon such programs: it sees a potential need to pacify popular discontent arising from the effects of capitalism on the working-class majority.

As though its own columns are free from such propaganda, the article decried "...Plans that would sharply curtail Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, and other benefits as a way of forcing people off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs " (as if there were paying jobs for everyone) whose objective was "to restore 'family values' and reduce illegitimacy that, according to Charles Murray in his 1980 book LOSING GROUND, welfare has fostered."

The Economic Facts

"Murray's popular argument," said BUSINESS WEEK, "that generous [sic] welfare benefits have had the effect of increasing single motherhood doesn't stand up to scrutiny." The economic data show that "a change in benefits has only a slight impact on family structure," and "illegitimacy rates don't often correlate with [welfare] payment levels," according to BUSINESS WEEK.

"The weight of economic evidence points in an entirely different direction: It's primarily free-market forces that have driven a wedge through families," BUSINESS WEEK admitted. "Trends in labor markets have played a big role. Technology and global competition...have displaced many low-wage workers and driven down the incomes of other less-skilled workers, with young black men hit harder than any other group." Further, "The rise in women's relative wages [from 73 percent in 1980 to 98 percent in 1990 for the wages of black women relative to those of black men and from 53 percent to 80 percent for those of white women relative to those of white men] -- an indisputably positive development -- nonetheless is having some negative effects," BUSINESS WEEK wrote. "...One reason for getting married is undermined -- financial support."

BUSINESS WEEK is right, as far as it goes. The evidence shows that working-class families are crumbling as a direct result of "free-market forces" -- the forces of capitalism. Studies over the last five years have shown that:

* In 1970, only 12 percent of U.S. families were headed by the mother alone. By 1993 the figure had grown to 26 percent. More than half of all marriages now end in divorce. More than 1 million babies will be born this year to unwed mothers.

* With average real wages having sunk by 20 percent since 1972, it takes more than one income today for the average American family to live significantly above the poverty level. Most single-parent families therefore live in poverty. Single-parent families headed by women, victimized by capitalism's reinforcement of sexism and paid generally lower wages, prevail among the poorest families. More than half of all children in female-headed families are poor. One in every five U.S. children lives below the poverty line. Every 53 minutes, an American child dies because of poverty. Families with children make up 36 percent of the homeless population nationwide.

* Child abuse and other domestic violence, largely the consequence of the frustration and hopelessness of unemployment and poverty, are on the rise.

* Subjected to such misery and stress, drug abuse -- providing an illusory escape from such conditions -- is understandably more common among children and the poor in general. Crime is increasingly pursued as a material means of escaping the same conditions. Homicide ranks fourth as the cause of death of U.S. children under 14, and is the number one cause of death among black teen-age boys. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among U.S. youth.

Band-Aids for Disease

The figures are shocking -- though they have been building for decades -- and they are worsening. Yet to the ugly disease that afflicts children and the family, BUSINESS WEEK would merely apply band-aids, favoring "a wage subsidy or a newly designed employer tax credit" for hiring workers who are "at the bottom end of the hiring queue." True, not many workers read BUSINESS WEEK. But the position reflected in this article is shared by many bourgeois politicians and commentators who would have workers believe that it represents a real alternative to the antiwelfare schemes of today's reactionary welfare "reformers."

This is plain opportunism at a time when capitalist government would deny even band-aids, in order that it might save the profits of those who benefit from the disease. The disease is capitalism itself, the current basis of U.S. society. As a mouthpiece of capitalist-class interests, it is hardly surprising that BUSINESS WEEK could not follow the facts to such a logical conclusion and would close its commentary on welfare "reform" by proposing what amounts to the same thing its adversaries contend: that government policies are ultimately responsible for the health of the family.

What the facts really show is that America's families are increasingly cracking under the strain of a FAILED ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SYSTEM. Those least able to cope with the consequences -- America's children -- are suffering the most. The abuses they are suffering today will spell greater crime and social turmoil in the future if a fundamental social change is not forthcoming.

The working-class majority, the unemployed included, can no longer afford to waste time looking to Congress for answers. Congress cannot solve a problem that is inherent in the economic system. The fact that -- because of the "expense" involved -- it presently balks at the barest measures to even ease the economic burdens of workers further indicts the capitalist system. The failing family and the poverty, unemployment and hopelessness that engender it cannot be prevented under capitalism. Capitalism is the family's destroyer.

American workers must look to themselves for a solution, for the solution lies in making a basic change to a new social system: a change that only an organized working class can make -- a change to a socialist system.

Socialism alone -- with democratic, social control of industry in place of the dictatorial control of a parasitical capitalist minority, with production for human wants and needs in place of production for the profit of a few -- can provide economic security and material abundance for all. Socialism alone can give leisure time back to workers and their families so that they may nurture each other and spur the advancement of humankind. It alone can establish the social and economic conditions for a new era of relations between the sexes, liberated from the pressures and constraints of archaic capitalism.

The serious nature of the problems facing our families and our children is clear. The economic causes of these problems are clear. The failure of our present form of government to solve them is a matter of record and is being demonstrated once again. It is high time that U.S. workers begin taking matters into their own hands and begin building a movement for socialism -- to save our families, our children and society's future.