THEY SAID IT
"I believe the lawless social anarchy which we saw [in Los Angeles] is directly related to the breakdown of family structure, personal responsibility and social order in too many areas of our society. For the poor the situation is compounded by a welfare ethos that impedes individual efforts to move ahead in society, and hampers their ability to take advantage of the opportunities America offers. If we don't succeed in addressing these fundamental problems, and in restoring basic values, any attempt to fix what's broken will fail. . . .
"There is no question that this country has had a terrible problem with race and racism. The evil of slavery has left a long legacy. But . . . the America of 1992 is more egalitarian, more integrated, and offers more opportunities to black Americans than the America of 1964. . . .
"During this period of progress, we have also developed a culture of poverty -- some call it an underclass -- that is far more violent and harder to escape than it was a generation ago. . . .
"It would be overly simplistic to blame this social breakdown on the programs of the Great Society alone. It would be absolutely wrong to blame it on the growth and success most Americans enjoyed during the 1980s. Rather, we are . . . reaping the whirlwind of decades of changes in social mores. . . .
"The intergenerational poverty that troubles us so much today is predominantly a poverty of values. . . . Unless we change the basic rules of society in our inner cities, we cannot expect anything else to change. We will simply get more of what we saw three weeks ago. New thinking, new strategies are needed. . . .
"We can start by dismantling a welfare system that encourages dependency and subsidizes broken families. . . . Bearing babies irresponsibly is, simply, wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong. . . .
"It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown -- a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman -- mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice.'
"I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do it. Even though our cultural leaders in Hollywood, network TV, the national newspapers routinely jeer at them, I think that most of us in this room know that some things are good, and other things are wrong."
Vice President Dan Quayle,
at the Commonwealth Club
of San Francisco