Are you concerned by signs of social disintegration of the past month? Is there injustice, inequity, racism, hatred and other evidence of sin in our world?


Absolutely. Does it help anyone of any group to allow, much less encourage willful rioting and looting? Absolutely not. Neither does it help for those whom we entrust to protect us to give blanket amnesty to those tearing up local neighborhoods.


What is the long-term answer? Strong nuclear families. Examine the writings of economist Walter E. Williams of George Mason University. Now 85 years of age, he often describes the strength of African-American families of the 1950s versus the plague of family disintegration in the past two generations since, with the relative consequences of each.


The Brookings Institute is no hotbed of conservatism, but Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow of its Center on Children and Families, gave the key to American financial success before the Senate Finance Committee, June 5, 2012. He said, "Young people can virtually assure that they and their families will avoid poverty if they follow three elementary rules for success – complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 and get married before having a baby."


How much difference could that make? Haskins’ research showed that those who followed all three had only a 2 percent chance of being in poverty and a 72 percent chance of joining the middle class (income of at least $55,000 at that time). Those who broke all three had a 77 percent probability of living in poverty with only a 4 percent chance of hitting that $55,000 income.


Who helps young people to hit those targets? Parents. Having spent 12 years as a school board member, we all knew parents are the single most important determinant in student success.


In the U.S., we don’t have major economic problems. We have a major family problem. It does not matter much if you are well educated, white, Black, Hispanic, Asian – if you are a mess in your personal life, you will not become or remain successful.


We can wish all we want about all the effects of poverty and social disintegration, but until our nation finds its social and cultural health, horrible consequences will remain. Let’s go back to the basics. This will save lives and help us all to get along much better.


(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is general in nature and not intended for specific situations)


– Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at rcfinke@stewcap.com.