Dear Governor Huckabee,
In this clip, you claim that “two thirds of poverty in this country (would) disappear if the mothers of children marry the fathers of those kids.” I do not dispute that there is a statistic out there that says two thirds of families living in poverty are being raised by a single mother. But you’ve got the correlation and causality all kinds of twisted.
You make it seem like there are millions of baby daddys begging for marriage with single mothers who are just too promiscuous to commit, even though it is what’s best for their children. I’m sure that’s not the image you wanted to send. But even so, whether it is mothers choosing a life of poverty for their children over being tied down or some other causal tale, MARRIAGE IS NOT A CURE FOR POVERTY, and to say so illustrates a dire misunderstanding of statistical relationships.
To use a cliche example oft quoted to undergraduate classes: Whenever murder rates rise, so do ice cream sales. This is a statistical truth. So we ask ourselves does eating ice cream cause would-be murders to hit their breaking point and strike out in a dairy incited rage? Or after a good murder, do the perpetrators like to cool their palette with ice cream? Neither. The statistical relationship is real, but the causal relationship just isn’t there. Ice cream sales and murder rates are both higher in the summer, and even then we can’t really say that the summer causes increases in murder rates. Maybe its the fact that more people are outdoors that’s really to blame. It’s just hard to know causation in the real word. What I CAN tell you for sure is that single parenthood does not cause poverty and marriage does not cause wealth.
Now, Governor Huckabee, I really really like you. In fact, you are one of my favorite politicians. I think that you speak with conviction and integrity, and that you have measures of humility and sincerity that few in your profession display. Also, you make me laugh. But this stuff is “Being an Intellectual 101” and pretty insulting to women everywhere.
Girl From Ohio
PS. I have not read “A Simple Government,” but promise to over my spring break, and if in the context of your book this statement is explained with the correct relationships between correlation and causality, I will retract this statement.
PPS. To see the video that first made me think you were a candidate I could support click here.