Saturday, September 13, 2014

Welfare and the destruction of fatherhood

Social welfare programs are some of the most divisive topics in American politics. That should be expected when one considers that 35.4% of all American households take some form of welfare which, by Census Bureau standards also includes Social Security, Medicare and unemployment. 

When discussing what most people consider classic welfare (food stamps, housing, Medicaid) – not the things that they pay into and ultimately receive benefit from like SSI -- single moms are regularly put in the crosshairs as they and their kids are recipients of vast amounts of it.

Their burden on the welfare rolls is an outcome of being among the most impoverished members of our society. 41% of single mother households are living in poverty, while only 9% of dual parent homes fall in that same category. When you look at specific races, the poverty rates for single moms are mind blowing across the board and invariably higher for minorities: 60% for Native Americans, 49% for Hispanics, and 33% for whites.

When you consider those circumstances, it’s no wonder that 38% of all children under the age of 5 get one or more kinds of welfare and single mother homes receive 90% of all TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

Because of the benefits they receive, they are often looked at in any number of derogatory terms. Leeches. Scum. Losers. Prostitutes.  

That’s unfair given that two-thirds of single moms work while being a mom is a full-time job unto itself. It’s not as if they aren’t trying.

On the other hand, those who actually deserve derisiveness, those who helped put them into that situation and helped to make a family but do absolutely nothing to maintain it – the so-called “fathers” – are left relatively unscathed when we address society’s woes.

In the good old days, a real man accepted his role in the development of a family. If he brought kids into this world, he was there for them. He married or stayed with the mother. As a functioning couple, through better or worse, they made the best life that they could for their children on their financial efforts alone --- not the taxpayers’. Men were men and families were stronger and healthier because of it.  

It just so happens that those “good old days” were 50 years ago. The abandonment of fatherly roles commenced in earnest with the War on Poverty. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of that war and you would think that after 5 decades we’d be winning the war. But, as made evident by the numbers above, we’re treading water, even losing it.

That’s because the very tools implemented in that war have contributed to today’s living conditions faced by young ladies and their kids. With Uncle Sam and state governments being able to provide to the women and children all of life’s requirements from food to shelter to heat to health, the dads-by-name-alone can shirk their duties to them and instead put it on the greater population to handle his responsibilities, no questions asked.

Welfare has been in complicit in the decay of the moral fiber of many a man and the destruction of many a family. The proof is in the pudding: In 1964, when the War on Poverty began, 93% of all American births were to women with marriage licenses. Today, 41% of all births are by unwed women; for mothers under the age of 30, that rate jumps to 53%.    

Single mother homes have become the norm because we’ve allowed it to happen by rewarding their men. But, are they really men? There’s little more disgusting that someone who claims to be a man but lives his life like a carefree boy. Yet, we as a society do little to change their ways and we make it too easy on them.

Doing what we need to do to right the ship won’t be easy. How do we change the modern man and encourage responsibility of fathers? It took 50 years to ruin him and the American family – will it take 50 years to bring them back?  

From the 15 September 2014 Lockport Union Sun and Journal

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