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White House calls for more work requirements for people on welfare
Children raised in fatherless homes are far more likely to grow up poor and to eventually engage in criminal behavior, than their peers who are raised in two-parent homes. Also as of , the black poverty rate was In a famous June speech, the president suggested that the problems plaguing black Americans could not be solved by self-help: Thus began an unprecedented commitment of federal funds to a wide range of measures aimed at redistributing wealth in the United States. The economic milieu in which the War on Poverty arose is noteworthy. As of , the number of Americans living below the official poverty line had been declining continuously since the beginning of the decade and was only about half of what it had been fifteen years earlier. The black poverty rate had been cut nearly in half between and In various skilled trades during the period of , the incomes of blacks relative to whites had more than doubled. Further, the representation of blacks in professional and other high-level occupations grew more quickly during the five years preceding the launch of the War on Poverty than during the five years thereafter. Despite these trends, the welfare state expanded dramatically after LBJ's statement. Between the mid-Sixties and the mid-Seventies, the dollar value of public housing quintupled and the amount spent on food stamps rose more than tenfold. From to , government-provided benefits increased by a factor of 8; by such benefits were an astounding 20 times higher than they had been in By the number of people receiving public assistance had more than doubled since For the next few decades , means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, day care, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families penalized marriage. A mother generally received far more money from welfare if she was single rather than married. Once she took a husband, her benefits were instantly reduced by roughly 10 to 20 percent. As a Cato Institute study noted , welfare programs for the poor incentivize the very behaviors that are most likely to perpetuate poverty. But, by removing the economic consequences of out-of-wedlock birth, welfare has removed a major incentive to avoid such pregnancies. A teenager looking around at her friends and neighbors is liable to see several who have given birth out-of- wedlock. When she sees that they have suffered few visible consequences Current welfare policies seem to be designed with an appalling lack of concern for their impact on out-of-wedlock births. Indeed, Medicaid programs in 11 states actually provide infertility treatments to single women on welfare. What all of this means is that the two most important routes out of poverty—marriage and work—are heavily taxed under the current U. The phenomenon that Murray describes has been in clear evidence for decades. Consider, for instance, a Harlem-based initiative in the s known as Project Redirection , whose aim was to persuade young women who had already borne one child out of wedlock to avoid repeating that mistake. According to the Manpower Development Research Corporation's evaluation report on this project: In , for the first time in the history of any American racial or ethnic group, the birth rate for unmarried black women surpassed that for married black women. June O'Neill and Anne Hill, comparing children who were identical in terms of such social and economic factors as race, family structure, neighborhood, family income, and mothers' IQ and education, found that the more years a child spent on welfare, the lower the child's IQ. A similar study by Mary Corcoran and Roger Gordon of the University of Michigan concluded that the more welfare income a family received while a boy was growing up, the lower the boy's earnings as an adult. The devastating societal consequences of family breakdown cannot be overstated. Father-absent families—black and white alike—generally occupy the bottom rung of America's economic ladder. According to the U. S Census , in the poverty rate for single parents with children was For white families in particular, the corresponding two-parent and single-parent poverty rates were Articulating a similar theme many years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. As a Heritage Foundation analysis notes, youngsters raised by single parents, as compared to those who grow up in intact married homes, are more likely to be physically abused; to be treated for emotional and behavioral disorders; to smoke, drink, and use drugs; to perform poorly in school; to be suspended or expelled from school; to drop out of high school; to behave aggressively and violently; to be arrested for a juvenile crime; to serve jail time before age 30; and to go on to experience poverty as adults. With regard to girls in particular, those raised by single mothers are more than twice as likely to give birth out-of-wedlock, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty for yet another generation. The calamitous breakdown of the black family is a comparatively recent phenomenon, coinciding precisely with the rise of the welfare state. Throughout the epoch of slavery and into the early decades of the twentieth century, most black children grew up in two-parent households. During the nine decades between the Emancipation Proclamation and the s, the black family remained a strong, stable institution. Its cataclysmic destruction was subsequently set in motion by such policies as the anti-marriage incentives that are built into the welfare system have served only to exacerbate the problem. And that is to destroy the black family. As Heritage Foundation scholar Michael Franc noted in In many cases, economists have calculated, welfare recipients who enter the work force or receive pay raises lose a dollar or more of benefits for each additional dollar they earn. The system makes fools of those who work hard. Gwen Moore D-Wisconsin —herself a former welfare recipient— acknowledged in her oral testimony: The War on Poverty represented the crowning triumph of the liberal vision of society—and of government programs as the solution to social problems.
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