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Friday Five: What Suffering Does

On Friday’s we bring you the best of the week from around the web. This week’s collection includes a reflection on suffering, the myth of the wage gap, discussion on social mobility, and more.

1. What Suffering Does: David Brooks discusses the redemptive and sanctifying role of suffering in our lives.

When people remember the past, they don’t only talk about happiness. It is often the ordeals that seem most significant. People shoot for happiness but feel formed through suffering… The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness… It means seeing life as a moral drama, placing the hard experiences in a moral context and trying to redeem something bad by turning it into something sacred.

2. Where Is the Virtue?: Personal virtue and moral living is the foundation of a healthy and cohesive society. But as virtue has become sidelined in many political and cultural spheres, Anthony Esolen explores what this means for America.

Now, we take most of the vice for granted. We hardly notice it. The president makes a flagrant show of breaking the law; we shrug, because everyone is a cheater nowadays. Students cheat on their exams; spouses regularly break their vows—its most radical form is called divorce—and no one cares. Lawyers trawl the airwaves for litigants. Doctors record the results of examinations they have not performed. Ministers wrest the Scripture for their purposes. Vice always finds its excuse.

3. Is Social Mobility a Farce?: In “The Son Also Rises,” Gregory Clark asserts that social status and privilege is “largely a product of the blind inheritance of talent, combined with a dose of pure chance.” Is the American Dream a myth and is social mobility non-existent, as Clark would have us believe? Michael Hendrix responds.

If Gregory Clark is to be believed, your gut was right all along. The American Dream is a lie. All of these studies are wrong. Mobility is low, slow, and cruel.

4. Should Government Have Its Hands in Family Matters?: Although stable, resilient families are a key component of human flourishing and a free society, traditional family structure is on the decline in America. In his post for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Tyler Castle discusses the steps lawmakers can take to encourage strong families through prudent public policy.

At its core, family formation is a cultural problem, so above all, we need to foster a culture—across socio-economic class lines—that places high value on the family… Public policy incentivizes people to behave in healthy, beneficial, and productive ways…We ought to craft policies that recognize the damage broken families have on our society.

5. The “77 Cent on the Dollar” Myth about Women’s Pay: Andrew Biggs and Mark Perry confront the common misconception that women in the labor force are paid only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their males colleagues.

The numbers bandied about to make the claim of widespread discrimination are fundamentally misleading and economically illogical… The supposed pay gap appears when marriage and children enter the picture…Education also matters… Males are [also] more likely to pursue occupations where compensation is risky from year to year, such as law and finance.