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As people get older, their health costs rise, which eat away at bank accounts, making it harder to make ends meet. While wider access to health insurance has made a difference due to the Affordable Care Act, rapid increases in costs for coverage and medications can severely strain household budgets. A recent report found that middle-aged adults have the fastest-growing rate of bankruptcy — and one of the leading reasons is rising costs of health insurance coverage and medications.

But parents who co-sign the student loans of their children have also created another bankruptcy risk factor. Although it may seem like doom and gloom for middle-aged adults, there is hope. Workplace and policy changes can alleviate their struggles. Extensive research has documented the effectiveness of training programs to help adults who are caring for their parents.

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Meanwhile, studies have found that workplaces that give employees more control over their schedules can lead to better health, workplace performance and retention. As for broader policy, the U. European nations have generous family leave policies that include long periods of paid time off following childbirth or for caregiving.

Recently, several bills about family leave have been introduced in the U. Midlife is arguably one of the least understood, appreciated and studied life stages. Unfortunately, without changes to social support or public policy, the problems facing middle-aged Americans will only exacerbate due to the sheer number of baby boomers entering old age. Conversation Hijacker Power-Hungry Hosts Jewish Mother Family Newsletter Publisher Family E-mail Forwarder Glory Days Dad The Computer-Illiterate Generation Great-Aunt Mary Kay Brother Who Beat the Crap out of You Power Couple Maunt The Early Leavers Slutty First Cousin Religious Zealots The Force Feeder Cheek Pincher Resume-Padding Parents Monopoly Bank Thief The Holiday Drunk The Martha Wannabe Shrimp Ring Bringer The Vegan David Copperfieldstein Inappropriate Uncle Psychic Twins He believed that an undue optimism about the pending passage of civil-rights legislation was obscuring a pressing problem: a deficit of employed black men of strong character.

Moynihan began searching for a way to press the point within the Johnson administration.

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That price was clear to Moynihan. Moynihan believed that at the core of all these problems lay a black family structure mutated by white oppression:. In what would become the most famous passage in the report, Moynihan equated the black community with a diseased patient:. This was intentional. Moynihan had lots of ideas about what government could do—provide a guaranteed minimum income, establish a government jobs program, bring more black men into the military, enable better access to birth control, integrate the suburbs—but none of these ideas made it into the report.

In the quest to understand the politics around the Moynihan Report, and how it was written, Lee Rainwater and William L. It has the advantage of being both well-researched and contemporaneous—the book was published two years after the Moynihan Report. It was a rich source of primary documents, collecting the responses to the report for and against around the time of publication.

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It flows from the long years of degradation and discrimination, which have attacked his dignity and assaulted his ability to produce for his family. This interpretation was reinforced as second- and thirdhand accounts of the Moynihan Report, which had not been made public, began making the rounds.

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A week earlier, the drunk-driving arrest of Marquette Frye, an African American man in Los Angeles, had sparked six days of rioting in the city, which killed 34 people, injured 1, more, and caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage. Meanwhile, crime rates had begun to rise.


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Instead his report was portrayed as an argument for leaving the black family to fend for itself. Moynihan himself was partly to blame for this. Moynihan had left the Johnson administration in the summer to run for president of the New York City Council.

The bid failed, and liberal repudiations of the report kept raining down. In fact, the controversy transformed Moynihan into one of the most celebrated public intellectuals of his era. Meanwhile, the civil-rights movement was fading and the radical New Left was rising. Moynihan was, by then, embittered by the attacks launched against him Two books proved helpful in understanding Moynihan in his post-Johnson years.

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The first is a compilation of primary sources on Moynihan that allows one to get past the rhetoric and get to the man, himself. But Moynihan still professed concern for the family, and for the black family in particular. He began pushing for a minimum income for all American families. This was a personal victory for Moynihan—a triumph in an argument he had been waging since the War on Poverty began, over the need to help families, not individuals.

The people you would most want to admire you detesting you. Being anathematized and stigmatized. But he was not rid of it. The Family Assistance Plan died in the Senate.

He pointed out that his pessimistic predictions were now becoming reality. Crime was increasing. So were the number of children in poor, female-headed families. By , it had reached a historic high of people per ,, before registering a modest decline to people per , in In , one in 10 black males between the ages of 20 and 40 was incarcerated—10 times the rate of their white peers.

In , a third of all black male high-school dropouts between the ages of 20 and 39 were imprisoned, compared with only 13 percent of their white peers. Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens. And banishment was not simply a well-intended response to rising crime. As the civil-rights movement wound down, Moynihan looked out and saw a black population reeling under the effects of years of bondage and plunder. He believed that these effects could be addressed through state action.

They were—through the mass incarceration of millions of black people. The Gray Wastes—our carceral state, a sprawling netherworld of prisons and jails—are a relatively recent invention. What caused this? Crime would seem the obvious culprit: Between and , the murder rate doubled, the robbery rate quadrupled, and the aggravated-assault rate nearly quintupled. But the relationship between crime and incarceration is more discordant than it appears. The incarceration rate rose independent of crime—but not of criminal-justice policy. Derek Neal, an economist at the University of Chicago, has found that by the early s, a suite of tough-on-crime laws had made prison sentences much more likely than in the past.

Examining a sample of states, Neal found that from to , the likelihood of a long prison sentence nearly doubled for drug possession, tripled for drug trafficking, and quintupled for nonaggravated assault. That explosion in rates and duration of imprisonment might be justified on grounds of cold pragmatism if a policy of mass incarceration actually caused crime to decline.

History has not been kind to this conclusion.

50 Relatives Worse Than Yours

For more see Michael Tonry and David P. The rise and fall in crime in the late 20th century was an international phenomenon. Crime rates rose and fell in the United States and Canada at roughly the same clip—but in Canada, imprisonment rates held steady. In the latter half of the 20th century, crime rose and then fell in Nordic countries as well. During the period of rising crime, incarceration rates held steady in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden—but declined in Finland. This bloating of the prison population may not have reduced crime much, but it increased misery among the group that so concerned Moynihan.

Among all black males born since the late s, one in four went to prison by their mids; among those who dropped out of high school, seven in 10 did. The emergence of the carceral state has had far-reaching consequences for the economic viability of black families. Employment and poverty statistics traditionally omit the incarcerated from the official numbers. When Western recalculated the jobless rates for the year to include incarcerated young black men, he found that joblessness among all young black men went from 24 to 32 percent; among those who never went to college, it went from 30 to 42 percent.

The upshot is stark.

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