Mid-Day Wednesday Observations

So, the New York Times has issued a correction for a 26-year-old error.  Better late than never, but when are they going to get around to issuing a correction—though a full retraction would be more just—for Walter Duranty’s whitewashing of Stalin in the 1930s?  Hmmm?  (Now I know what some of you are thinking: get started down this road, and the Times might as well just issue a blanket correction for being the Times.  True, that.)

Second, perhaps the most significant story in today’s paper is not about the Eurozone crisis, or Obama’s latest idiocy, but the Pew Research Center study out yesterday that the number of married couples is at a record low in the American population.  The figure is down to 51 percent of the total population, and if the rate of decline continues, married couples will be a minority group before long (and therefore a protected class?).

This is important for many reasons, but high among them is one we don’t hear much about right now—the role of intact versus broken households in the whole income inequality and income mobility debate.  Obama never talks about it, and with the exception of Power Line’s great friend Mitch Pearlstein (see Mitch’s fine recent book, From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation) and Charles Murray (whose next book, due out in January, is entitled Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010), most conservatives don’t talk about family issues in their economic dimension.  Family formation and stability might well do more to improve the income dynamics story than any scheme of higher taxes, redistribution, or educational effort.  But its hard for the political class to talk about intelligently (even conservatives) because it is beyond the reach of simple legislation or regulation.

Third item: I like to say that the Law of Unintended Consequences is the most frequently enacted statute in Congress or state legislatures, and sure enough, the evidence was swift that Sen. Dick Durbin’s ill-considered attempt to crack down on credit card “swipe fees” on behalf of retailers has backfired.  Turns out the bank card companies have eliminated the discounts they used to give small retailers and small amounts.  Result: many small retailers are finding that their swipe fee costs are soaring.  Nice going Durbin.

Finally, with the endless fascination of altering Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” you knew this was inevitable:


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