William Bennett: 'Leading Cultural Indicators' on Rebound

Image: William Bennett: 'Leading Cultural Indicators' on Rebound

Monday, 23 Dec 2013 07:35 AM

By Elliot Jager

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While the economy is struggling and the political system may be in disarray, evidence shows the country is regaining its moral compass, Bloomberg analyst Albert Hunt writes in The New York Times.

In the 1990s, William Bennett, Reagan administration education secretary and President George H.W. Bush's anti-drug czar, formulated an "Index of Leading Cultural Indicators" out of concern that social pathologies were driving America toward moral decline.

Bennett tells Hunt that progress is being made and that the country is not headed for moral "catastrophe" after all.

Among the encouraging indicators are falling violent crime rates — murder is down by almost 50 percent — fewer abortions and fewer teenage pregnancies.

On the negative side, writes Hunt, out-of-wedlock births continue to spike: for African-Americans, the rate stands at 72 percent, while it's 53 percent for Hispanics and 29 percent for whites; children raised in one-parent homes have a harder time educationally and economically; and Americans divorce more than people elsewhere in the industrialized world.

Another moral negative, Hunt says, is the vast prison population.

"The United States remains beset by difficulties, political, economic, and cultural. Some of the key social trends, however, are more positive. To study them provides hope that the country isn't, as one doomsayer declared in the 1990s, slouching toward Gomorrah," Hunt says.

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