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The War on Poverty is fifty years old. Observing the semi-centennial, liberals and conservatives are arguing if the hundreds of programs and the trillions of dollars have actually reduced poverty. Most of the statics and fallacies are merely continuing propaganda for incompetently formulated federal programs – conservative and liberal. What is certain and ingloriously ignored is the millions of children being neglected and destroyed by The War on Poverty. Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post correctly observes that the Federal government is good at writing checks and poor at changing lives.
“Government is fairly good at handing out money; it’s less good at changing behavior.”
Worse, the tragic failure of the War on Poverty is that “handing out money” has contributed to the destruction of the American family, which neglects and deprives children of necessary nurturing. A child with a single parent does worse socially, criminally, productively and financially. Yes, there are exceptions, but not for the overwhelming majority of children without an intact two-parent family. Again, Samuelson:
“From 1963 to 2012, the share of families with children under 18 headed by a single parent tripled to 32 percent. It’s 26 percent among whites, 34 percent among Hispanics and 59 percent among African Americans. Just why is murky. Low-income men may flunk as attractive marriage mates. Or, “women can live independently more easily rather than put up with less satisfactory marriages,” as Brookings’s Isabel Sawhill says. Regardless of the causes and despite many exceptions, children in single-parent households face a harder future. They’re more likely to drop out of school, get pregnant before age 20 or be unemployed. Poverty becomes self-perpetuating.”
This is child abuse by government. Inadvertent? Probably; but it is child abuse nevertheless. President Obama knows the devastation of being a child of a single parent. We know the statistics; children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are also more likely to have behavioral problems, run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. The foundations of our community are weaker because of these behaviors and actions.
A modest proposal to save neglected children: Empower counties, cities, towns, hamlets, churches, neighborhoods and community organizations to take control of Federal social services in their communities. The local community will be responsible for assisting and tending to their neighbors in need.
Why? Communities care. Members of the community know their neighbors. Family, churches, neighbors, charities and local government have more flexibility and diverse resources to discern the needs and methods of caring for people in their area. Assisting a person or family in need makes communities stronger and safer. Sending welfare check, food stamp cards and the rest of the government benefits does financially lift people out of poverty, but it also fosters the neglect of children.
Unfortunately, the Federal government lacks knowledge, discernment and compassion. People need loving care, and some people need a kick in the pants. In every relationship, the donor and the recipient must have reciprocal duties and obligations, which is a major reason why Federal government programs fail.
Federal government programs are governed and executed by rule and regulation; person-in-need either meets the qualifications for help or does not. True charity has respect and appreciation of a person's individual personality, interests, talents and need. True charity has reciprocal respect and obligations between the donor and recipient. As Samuelson noted, “Government is fairly good at handing out money; it’s less good at changing behavior.” Only the community will begin to reverse the destruction of the Federal government and repair the intact family and their neglected children.