From Cradle to Grave: Government Dependency Hurts Families

Written by Linda Chavez


There is much to warrant optimism about the future of the United
States, given the nation’s history of resilience in the face of adversity.  But
one social trend, the supplanting of the American family by government
as the major source of economic security from cradle to grave, may prove
more destructive to America’s future than our current economic woes.

The problem begins with the dramatic change that has taken place
in the family. An estimated 60 percent of all American children will spend
at least some of their childhood in a single-parent household primarily
as a result of divorce and rising out-of-wedlock births. The most recent
figures show that, overall, 4 in 10 children in the U.S. are now born to single
mothers. But among blacks the number is more than 7 in 10; and among
Hispanics, fully half of all births occur out of wedlock.

In 1965, the late scholar and senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned
that the rate of illegitimate births among blacks was responsible for “a tangle
of pathology” that included high crime rates, poor performance in school,
and high unemployment, especially among black men. At the time, 24
percent of black births were to single women, a rate lower than the current
28 percent illegitimacy rate for white women. “There is one unmistakable
lesson in American history,” he said, “a community that allows a large
number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women,
never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring
rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets
chaos.” But as trenchant as his analysis of the problem was, his solution—
more government programs—did not alleviate the disaster taking place
in the black family but  only accelerated it. Worse, dependence on government
assistance spread to ever-larger segments of the American population.

Uncle Sam has largely replaced fathers in poor, single-mother-headed
households, providing for the food on the table, the roof over the family’s
head, and the income to put clothes on their backs. And the expansion of the
welfare state is no longer confined to the indigent but has now extended to
the middle class as well. Middle-class parents have less incentive to save for
their children’s college educations when the federal government makes low-
interest loans and grants available. Adult children, even those who are well
off, are less likely to help support their elderly parents when government
programs take on that responsibility. A University of California Davis study
of welfare use among elderly Chinese immigrants in California in the 1990s,
for example, showed that, despite cultural traditions that encourage children
to provide for elderly parents, 55 percent of elderly Chinese were receiving
welfare; and the great majority of these lived in households whose income
was above the national average, often substantially so.

Families made up of responsible, self-sufficient individuals who pay their own way and save
for the future are fast disappearing. Unless we can reverse this cultural shift,
the future of America is at risk.

Post By divo4776 (62 Posts)


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