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September 18, 2012

The lost ethic of Fraser Robinson

(Continued)

As recently as 1982, just 13 percent of births to people with this level of education were out-of-wedlock. In the late 2000s, 44 percent were. Among blacks with a high school degree or some college, the figure was 75 percent.

Males with a high school education have been dropping out of the labor force for decades. One flip side is a drastic increase in the rolls of Social Security Disability Insurance, despite better medical care and less strenuous jobs. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute points out that many of the additions are for vague conditions like mood disorders. Forty years ago, Fraser Robinson left for work in pain every day - walking on two canes - and now a small army of his fellow Americans schemes to get paid for doing nothing.

Through his faithfulness, Fraser Robinson gave Michelle and her brother an incalculable gift. "The parental characteristics that employers value and are willing to pay for, such as skills, diligence, honesty, good health, and reliability, also improve children's life chances, independent of their effect on parents' income," Susan Mayer writes in her book What Money Can't Buy. "Children of parents with these attributes do well even when their parents do not have much income."

The tectonic plates of the culture and economy shifted since the 1960s to squeeze the likes of Fraser Robinson, at the same time the government has been subsidizing a version of the family - single-mother households - that makes him superfluous. The new norm that dispenses with duty-bound fathers is not good for families, and it is not good for men.

Michelle Obama powerfully described her father's pride. For him, to be a man was to be responsible, day after day. His quotidian courage was her windfall; that it is becoming increasingly rare is our tragedy.

(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate

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