The things you learn when you farm news for pharmaceutical companies: Sunday is the 50th anniversary of FDA approval of the birth-control pill. (What? You say it’s in USA Today? Well, I saw that days ago.)
I also saw this about the same time. It’s an essay by Jonathan Rauch in the National Journal, which sets out to explain the seeming paradox of blue-state divorce rates — they’re the lowest in the nation — and ends up explaining a lot more about the so-called culture war. It does it without resorting to the usual accusatory and/or defensive language. And while you may have a different take on it, to my mind the nut graf was this:
For generations, American family life was premised on two facts. First, sex makes babies. Second, low-skilled men, if they apply themselves, can expect to get a job, make a living, and support a family.
It’s the third sentence that interests me, because it’s a truth that gets overlooked too often, especially by the chattering classes, because it doesn’t apply to them. But it’s at the heart of everything, and it boils down to this: The social contract is broken. The old deal used to be that if you had a great idea, you could get rich, but if all you could was work hard — and there was no shame in being nothing but a hard worker — you could still make a living, and that living could support your family. Not so much anymore.
But that’s not really what the essay is about. It’s about the two things that upended the apple cart — the global information economy and the birth-control pill — and how two groups of Americans, which you can call red and blue for lack of a better term — have dealt with it. It’s not perfect as social theory — it ignores religion, for the most part — but it gets the big things right, and it’s not a terribly long read.
And that is all I can leave you with today. I’m still midway through my food prep, and I have a meeting, a doctor’s appointment, a happy hour and a middle-school dance to fit in around a trip to Costco for the dessert. Sorry, Laura — while bread pudding is a splendid idea for dessert (and shows your growing NOLA attachment — it’s going to be a big mess of cookies made by someone else. At least that’s if the traditional wrap dessert in our little crew (PIE, GLORIOUS PIE) is going to happen.
Have a great weekend.