Without any doubt, America's biggest problem is not the debt. It's not "fiscal cliffs" or any other metaphorical geology. The biggest problem in America is family disintegration, families being the primary transmitter of "social capital."
In 1964, Pat Moynihan, then in Lyndon Johnson's labor department, produced a report called "Crisis in the Negro Family: The Case for National Action." He said, "there is a crisis in the negro family today, because 24% of African American [as we now say] children are being born to unmarried women."
Today it's 72%!
50-some percent hispanic.
The rate for all children in America, all races and ethnicities, is 1 in 3.
We know what this means. We know the social pathologies that correlate with this. Particularly, we know the problem of a constantly renewed cohort of essentially badly parented adolescent males without fathers in the home. We know what that means in terms of tumultuous neighborhoods and schools that can't teach.
We have no idea why it happened. We do not know why, in 1950, the out-of-wedlock birth rate was 5%, and today it's 33%.
We've seen family disintegration, historically, during war, famine and pestilence; this happened during peacetime. It didn't just happen here, it happened in Wales, Portugal, Spain, all over the world.
We don't know why, and hence we don't know what to do about it.
I will give an answer that will interest and amuse a few of you.
In the decade before the sexual revolution, there was no birth control pill. Hardly anyone used condoms, because they were thick and clumsy. Abortion was illegal in every state until the 60's and 70's.
Thus, sex came with some real risk of consequences; a woman engaged in premarital sex might get "knocked up." The threat of consequences instilled a habit of good behavior, for the most part, and, when done collectively, fashioned a culture that was conducive to success.
After the above technologies and legislation were instituted/invented, sex became viewed as consequence-free.
The wild 60's and 70's, in my opinion, were a knee-jerk response to this new found sexual freedom.
As a consequence, sexual permissiveness has now become engrained in American culture, leading in large part to the disintegration of the traditional family discussed earlier.
My question is: What is the future of the nuclear family?