February 15, 2011

The Collapse of the Family Unit

A Few links here from Heritage on the family decay rate, which has increased faster than the deficit under the most recent Obama budget proposal. If I were asked what the two biggest crises America faced right now, I would have to say the family and education. We may have an economy crumbling all around us, but something much deeper is changing in America besides loosing her once held glorious wealth and power in the world. We've changed as a culture from reliance on the Divine, Church, and Faith to guide us to that of a secular society that relies on materialism and possessions to define us.

Community has been shattered, in large due to what Heritage points out--that 41% of children are born outside of wedlock in America including an astounding 75% of black children. (at least they will all vote democrat! How that continues still befuddles me.) The negative social and economic effects are tremendous. We may be able to sustain an unemployment rate of 10%, at least for a while, but I'm not sure we can sustain a culture with so many social ills. History is showing us as we speak the dangers of such a cultural decline. One only needs to look at Europe to see where we'll be in a few years as we continue down this path.

Heritage Morning Bell: The Benefits of Marriage

As millions of rose bouquets grace kitchen tables and office desks across America and dozens of chocolate delicacies are savored after candlelight dinners, card companies, jewelry stores and candy makers will be singing the praises of St. Valentine and raising their own glass of champagne to love.

But the economic benefits of celebrating lifelong love are not simply for card stores and florist shops once a year. Marriage not only pays emotional dividends as men and women commit themselves to each other, focus on their children, and face the challenges of life together. The institution that forges unique personalities and lives together in the hearth of loving commitment can also provide notable economic benefits. Married couples tend to have a higher average income, more assets, and a greater likelihood of owning their own home than families led by single adults.

Men and women aren’t the only ones to benefit from lifelong, married love. Children raised in families headed by a married couple have a greater chance of experiencing economic stability, high academic performance, and emotional maturity. Children living under the promise of marital commitment are six times less likely to experience poverty and can display the positive social effects of having both parents in the home, potentially avoiding the many hindrances to social mobility that tend to plague children raised in single-parent households.

Unfortunately, the personal joy and socioeconomic advantages of marriage are often lost on those who arguably need those benefits the most. With the national unwed birth rate reaching 41 percent in 2009 and almost three-quarters of African-American children alone born outside of marriage, millions of children are at risk of experiencing the financial difficulties and social challenges of living in single-parent households. The same children (and their parents) are also more likely to need government financial assistance. Of the nearly $400 billion in annual welfare funding spent on low-income families, three-quarters goes to those led by single parents.

Financial assistance alone will not help needy families avoid poverty and long-term dependence. Demonstrating the personal fulfillment of healthy relationships, which no government check can provide, and the economic benefits of marriage to low-income communities can increase the chance of self-dependency and more stable families.

Just as the greatest Valentine will not be the most expensive diamond or the richest three-course meal, the greatest gift of compassion and justice for poor families is not more money and federal handouts. It is the opportunity to learn about the emotional, social, and economic advantages of marriage and potentially share in the promises of lifelong, married love. Rather than continue a cycle of dependence with streams of anonymous government checks, policymakers can take steps to remove disincentives to marriage and demonstrate how healthy marital relationships can lead to self-sufficiency.

For example, lawmakers could remove penalties on marriage imposed by Obamacare by repealing the legislation once and for all. Obamacare could cost certain married couples upwards of $10,000 a year. Congress must immediately reduce or eliminate the welfare marriage penalties that punish low-income recipients who choose to marry. And they can work to ensure federal programs adequately explain the economic and social benefits of marriage to communities who have a high risk of having children out of wedlock.

If they do so—and President Obama’s budget released later today will offer some initial clues to the tenor of this year’s debate—our nation can experience a springtime of marriage. More personal happiness and smaller government will make a very attractive couple.

Making Federal Policy Marriage Friendly

The institution of marriage draws mothers and fathers together in the smallest of communities, reinforcing bonds with their children and cementing ties across generations. Marriage is the necessary foundation of the family and therefore essential for societal existence and well-being. The erosion of marriage thus affects communities both small and large, reducing human happiness, weakening civil society, producing negative social consequences, and imposing vast new costs on taxpayers. Federal tax, health, and welfare policy has often undervalued the benefits of forming married families and keeping them together.


  • Marriage Decline Is Due to Many Factors. Over the past 40 years, out-of-wedlock births have gone from 10 percent of all births to 40.6 percent in 2008. No-fault divorce, changes in social attitudes and religiosity, family-destructive welfare policies, and radical political movements have all contributed to the incremental weakening of marriage.
  • The Social Cost of Marriage Decline Is Enormous. Children raised in married households do better on every significant measurement of personal well-being and attainment. They perform better in school, commit fewer crimes, engage in fewer risky behaviors, experience less poverty, and have fewer marital problems as adults. The annual cost of means-tested welfare alone for single parents is $300 billion.
  • Divorce Rates Are Stabilizing but Still High. The U.S. divorce rate fell in 2009 for the first time in years, but the weakening economy puts more long-term stress on married households. Lower-income families and their children are hit harder by higher rates of marital breakdown and have fewer resources to cope with the effects of father absence.
Unwed Birth Rates Signals the Collapse of Marriage

It's hard to imagine the unemployment rate rising steeply for decades without public outcry. But that's exactly what's happened in the case of another significant indicator: the unwed birth rate.

Hardly anyone noticed this month when new data showed 40 percent of all births are to unmarried mothers. That's way up from 7 percent in the mid-1960s, when a young White House appointee named Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to sound the alarm.

Moynihan, then an assistant Labor secretary in the Johnson administration, issued a report in 1965 warning that disintegration of the black family in America threatened Johnson's War on Poverty.

"(D)ollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive. ... The fundamental problem is that of family structure. (The black) family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself."

Regrettably, history proved Moynihan - the future Democratic senator from New York - to be correct. When the Moynihan Report was released, one out of four black children was born to an unwed mother. Now, a staggering three out of four black children are born outside marriage.

That fact will cast a long shadow down the course of a child's life. As one prominent black author wrote....

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