What America Has Done To its Young People is Appalling

Critics are perhaps too quick to judge America’s young people, citing declining SAT scores, obesity, drug overdoses, addiction to smart phones, bizarre alterations of personal appearance and high rates of (alleged) mental illness.  It’s just too easy to be annoyed at how some of the cashiers at the local grocery store seem unable to carry on a conversation or have chosen to mutilate their faces with pieces of metal.  We are perhaps too quick to condemn the crazed behavior of young protesters in recent years without fully considering what our government, society and culture have done to these poor souls.

Let’s begin at the beginning.  Forty percent of Americans are now born out of wedlock.  Single parent families are associated with a long list of social maladies:

“Children who grow up with only one of their biological parents (nearly always the mother) are disadvantaged across a broad array of outcomes. . . . they are twice as likely to drop out of high school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen mothers, and 1.4 times as likely to be idle — out of school and out of work — as children who grow up with both parents. Children in one-parent families also have lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, and poorer attendance records. As adults, they have higher rates of divorce. These patterns persist even after adjusting for differences in race, parents’ education, number of siblings, and residential location.” Sara McLanahan, “The Consequences of Single Motherhood,” American Prospect (Summer 1994). Continue reading

What’s Behind Russia’s Revival of a Soviet-Era Song Contest?

Russia will revive the Cold War-era Intervision Song Contest this October, according to July 25 reports.

Intervision was first established back in 1977 as a direct rival to the Europe-oriented Eurovision Song Contest. Few people in the participating Soviet nations had private telephones, so Intervision’s television viewers would turn on their house lights if they liked a certain song, or off if they didn’t. The state energy company would then record the size of each power spike, and report the results to the television company to determine points for each contestant. As the Soviet Union began to weaken in the early 1980s, Intervision was discontinued.

Now, Putin is reviving this relic of the Soviet Union’s “glory days,” as he recently has with so many others including a military prep fitness program, the “Hero of Socialist Labor” award, and a grip on domestic media that would earn a hat tip from Comrade Stalin himself.

All these moves serve Putin’s general purpose of resuscitating the Soviet Empire. But this latest one—reviving the song contest—also serves another specific purpose. Continue reading