Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The biggest driver of income inequality is single motherhood

Welfare and out-of-wedlock births

Welfare and out-of-wedlock births

Indian economist Aparna Mathur, whose work I’ve featured here before, writes about it in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

The fabric of our society is changing. In 1980, approximately 78 percent of families with children were headed by married parents. In 2012, married parents headed only 66 percent of families with children. In a new report, Bradford Wilcox and Robert Lerman explore the role of family structure with new data and analysis, and document how this retreat from marriage is not simply a social and cultural phenomenon. It has important economic implications for, amongst others, men’s labor force participation rates, children’s high school dropout rates and teen pregnancy rates. Since these factors are highly correlated with economic opportunity and the ability to move up the income ladder, this suggests that income inequality and economic mobility across generations are critically influenced by people’s decisions and attitudes towards marriage. Understanding the role of family structure is therefore key to understanding the big economic challenges of our time.

[...]Wilcox and Lerman document how the shift away from marriage and traditional family structures has had important consequences for family incomes, and has been correlated with rising family-income inequality and declines in men’s labor force participation rates. Using data from the Current Population Survey, the authors find that between 1980 and 2012, median family income rose 30 percent for married parent families, For unmarried parents, family incomes rose only 14 percent.

These differential patterns of changes in family income have exacerbated family-income inequality. Since unmarried parent families generally expand the ranks of low-income families, while high-income, high-education adults increasingly marry partners from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, inequality trends are worsened. Comparing the 90th percentile families to the 10th percentile families in 2012, the top 10 percent had incomes that were more than 11 times higher than the bottom 10 percent. However, if we restrict the sample to married families with children, the ratio drops to nearly 7, suggesting that within married families, income inequality is less stark. The authors estimate that approximately 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality between 1979 and 2012 is associated with changes in family structure. Other research, studying the period 1968-2000, finds that the changing family structure, accounted for 11 percent of the rise widening of the income gap between the bottom and top deciles.

Another interesting observation relates to the trends in employment participation by men. The Wilcox-Lerman study finds that for married fathers, employment and participation rates have remained consistently higher than for married men with no children and unmarried men with no children. The authors speculate that between 1980 and 2008, about 51 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates can be associated with the retreat from marriage.

And why is single motherhood so ascendant today? Well, part of it is the loss of morality caused by secularism. If there is no God, then there is no way we ought to be, so let’s just do whatever makes us feel good, and pass the bill to the taxpayers. That only works, though, if we elect politicians who want taxpayers who are responsible to pay for the ones who are irresponsible.

So have we done that? Yes – Robert Rector explains in The Daily Signal.

He writes:

It is no accident that the collapse of marriage in America largely began with the War on Poverty and the proliferation of means-tested welfare programs that it fostered.

When the War on Poverty began, only a single welfare program—Aid to Families with Dependent Children —assisted single parents.

Today, dozens of programs provide benefits to families with children, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Women, Infants and Children food program, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, child nutrition programs, public housing and Section 8 housing, and Medicaid.

Although married couples with children can also receive aid through these programs, the overwhelming majority of assistance to families with children goes to single-parent households.

The burgeoning welfare state has promoted single parenthood in two ways. First, means-tested welfare programs such as those described above financially enable single parenthood. It is difficult for single mothers with a high school degree or less to support children without the aid of another parent.

Means-tested welfare programs substantially reduce this difficulty by providing extensive support to single parents. Welfare thereby reduces the financial need for marriage. Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, less-educated mothers have increasingly become married to the welfare state and to the U.S. taxpayer rather than to the fathers of their children.

As means-tested benefits expanded, welfare began to serve as a substitute for a husband in the home, and low-income marriage began to disappear. As husbands left the home, the need for more welfare to support single mothers increased. The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare promoted the decline of marriage, which generated a need for more welfare.

A second major problem is that the means-tested welfare system actively penalizes low-income parents who do marry. All means-tested welfare programs are designed so that a family’s benefits are reduced as earnings rise. In practice, this means that, if a low-income single mother marries an employed father, her welfare benefits will generally be substantially reduced. The mother can maximize welfare by remaining unmarried and keeping the father’s income “off the books.”

For example, a single mother with two children who earns $15,000 per year would generally receive around $5,200 per year of food stamp benefits. However, if she marries a father with the same earnings level, her food stamps would be cut to zero.

So you see, the thing the left complains about the most is actually the thing they do the most to cause. They are all about taxpayer-funded welfare programs and growing government to make more and more people dependent. They are causing the income inequality and then complaining about what they cause.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , ,

Who thinks that it’s OK to buy and sell human beings?

From The Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

Having children is currently our only legal path to achieving both genetic and memetic immortality. But having kids isn’t easy. You have to find a mate. You have to look outside yourself and into the eyes of another person and convince him or her of your decency, your desirability.

[...]There are two categories of infertility: clinical and social. Clinical infertility arises from physical medical problems. Social infertility occurs when someone is unwilling or unable to attract someone of the opposite sex to procreate with.

Studies indicate that up to 15 percent of couples of childbearing age are clinically infertile. Much of this is due to our toxic environment, pollution, and unsafe chemicals, but there is also something to be said about our toxic behavior. At least one quarter of female infertility is a direct result of sexually transmitted infections.

The sperm bank industry initially began as a mission in eugenics, but ballooned due to our unspoken epidemic in low sperm count. Clinically infertile heterosexual couples began quietly using donated sperm. After a while, they began to be open about using donated sperm and insisted that biology doesn’t make a difference for the child’s well-being.

Then lesbian couples began using sperm donors. They argued, if biology doesn’t matter for a child’s well-being, then why should a parent’s gender? They declared that parenting is a set of tasks and obligations, and women can fulfill those tasks just as well as men can. Single-moms-by-choice followed, saying if biology and gender don’t matter, why should the number of caretakers?

So what happens when fathers become disposable? Public Discourse readers are well aware that fatherlessness invites a stark range of social ills. For instance, 90 percent of homeless and runaway youth come from fatherless homes, as do over 80 percent of rapists with anger problems. Now, those who promote fatherlessness via sperm donation are celebrating motherlessness via egg vending and surrogacy.

Think motherhood is sacred? One surrogate pregnancy can generate $100-300,000. Today, the motherless child has become the fertility industry’s most lucrative enterprise.

Because this is an industry, we shouldn’t be surprised that fertility industry professionals are trying to industrialize the process and do things more efficiently. Surrogacy attorney Theresa Erickson was an “industry sweetheart” until she was convicted of baby-selling. Rather than waiting for commissioning parents to sign a contract before conception, Theresa expedited the process. She shopped for egg and sperm donors on her own and found surrogates to impregnate. Then, after the baby reached the second trimester, she would find parents, lie to them and tell them the original couple had backed out, and charge up to $180,000 per child. She created thirteen babies this way.

The only thing illegal about what Erickson did—the only reason she was put in jail for baby-selling—is that the paperwork was done after conception rather than before.

At a workshop where I once was on a panel with Theresa, she justified separating children from their parents by commenting that her mother was adopted, so what’s the difference? Most people I speak to relate third-party reproduction to adoption just as she did.

We’ve accepted adoption as a good. And adoption can often be very good; it is an institution that finds parents for helpless children who desperately need a decent home. But, at some point, our concept of adoption slid. Many people now think of it primarily as a way of “getting” kids. We know that adoption is made possible by the fact that the relationship between biological parent and child has been severed. So if adoption is good, some reason, then the severing of that relationship must at least be neutral.

But it is not neutral. It’s actually very sad.

Adoption is only morally sound as an institution that provides a loving home for existing children who—for some uncontrollable reason—cannot be raised by their biological parents. Third-party reproduction is inherently unethical, because it serves as a market to manufacture children for any adult who wants them, purposely severing the biological parent-child relationship for the sake of profit.

I hate to write about these things without offering some solutions, but it’s hard to come up with solutions when there are so many powerful, wealthy people wanting to buy and sell other human beings. How am I supposed to stop that? But I actually do have a course of action, even if it’s just a shot in the dark.

My thinking is that we need to be focused on courting properly and having strong marriages, and being more open about showing off the love in our marriages and homes. I think that Christians need to take courting and marrying more seriously as a witness to the watching world. We need to be more serious about how our partnerships can influence the outside world by setting a standard for love of spouse and love of children. If people knew that there was a real difference if you do marriage right – the right pre-marital behaviors, the right courting, the right commitment - then maybe they would learn to be more careful and less selfish with children. It might help people to think more carefully about their own plans and focus on making decisions that will allow them to welcome children into the world and give them what they need.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , ,

Obama on stay-at-home moms: “that’s not a choice we want them to make”

Breitbart reports:

During a speech in Rhode Island today, President Obama stressed the importance of public pre-school in America, pointing out that the cost of daycare was getting too high.

“Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg,” Obama stated. “We need better child care, day care, early child education policies.”

Obama explained that in many states it cost parents more money to put their kids in day care than it cost to put them in a public university.

“Too often parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper day care that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development,” he said.

Because America lacks public pre-school, Obama said, women often earned less money than men.

“Sometimes, someone, usually Mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result,” he said. “That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

Creating public pre-school, Obama explained, was not only “good for families” but “good for the children.”

So I watched this video in which Obama flat out says that he favors having the government spend more money on social programs for children, despite the fact that we know that mothers are best for young children. He is not the first to push this, Nancy Pelosi did the same in 2013. This is the view championed by Democrats.

These programs are a boon to the government workers who vote for Obama, because they will be run by secular leftist social workers. This is how they earn their living – by separating mothers from their children. They want to avoid having to please customers in the private sector – that’s too risky. They prefer to take over the job of mothering from a child’s biological mother. That’s safe. You don’t get fired from the government, and you don’t have the pressure of having to care about what customers think of you. This is attractive to people on the left – they want work to be like this, even if it means a child’s misery.

How will he achieve this?

Well, he will raise taxes on the husband, so that the husband can no longer support the family on his own. This will cause the wife to have to leave the children and go to work in order to make ends meet. This way, Obama can separate the child from her parents, and from the worldview of the parents. Instead of having parents working to raise their own child, you have the government raising children to believe what the government wants them to believe. For a secular government, this will probably be that family is bad, that religion is bad, that traditional morality is bad, that the free market system is bad, and that bigger government is good. Think of examples like sex education (abortion advocacy) and global warming (anti-capitalism), if you doubt this anti-family, anti-free-market angle exists.

Does it excite me, as a single chaste man, to get married and be a husband in a world run by feminist socialist leftists like Obama? No.

I am getting up every morning and going to work so that I and my future wife can run my family our way – to promote our worldview and our values. We would be doing the work of raising a family, so we should be allowed to pass on our values. But thanks to feminism and socialism, we have these bloated parasites in government who steal our children from us and then charge us money in order to pay for imposing their disgusting, immoral values on them. The American people somewhere along the line decided that even though I earn the money, that someone else ought to be passing on their values to my children. And this would be all the people who traditionally vote Democrat. They decided that. There are many young, unmarried Christian women who vote Democrat. They decided that. They “feel” that more powerful government is more desirable than more powerful families. Nothing they hear in church teaches them not to vote for stronger government over stronger families.

I would like more Christian leaders to be telling the young, unmarried women to stop voting for bigger secular government. Someone has to get that through their heads – that men do not like sharing the duty of leadership with anyone – especially not with clowns who have degrees in the humanities and could not find private sector jobs serving customers. Unfortunately, my friends tell me that the most common books being read by young Christian women on dating sites are books by A.W. Tozer, Francis Chan, Harry Potter, Left Behind, Phillip Yancey, Beth Moore, Nancy Leigh Demoss, Joyce Meyer, Elizabeth George, Stasi Eldgredge and so on. There is a complete lack of seriousness among many Christian women about marriage and family as it relates to economics, politics and education. It’s not just apologetics that is lacking. Everything is focused on feelings, but the attraction and feasibility of the marriage/family plan is diminishing after each election right under our noses. It is diminishing for men. And there is no marriage and parenting without a man, however much Christians seem to be turning toward and celebrating single motherhood – i.e. – marriage to the secular state.

Young unmarried women, if you expect to get married, you’d better start voting for small government. Small government means bigger individuals and bigger families, and that’s exactly what men who consider marriage and families want. Wake up.

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Jennifer Roback Morse on the injustice of the American family court system

Here is an article by marriage-defender Jennifer Roback Morse about one of the biggest challenges to life-long married love.

Excerpt:

Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen BaskervilleWith penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family in America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

She explains who is really behind the attempt to destroy marriage, and the answer might shock you.

It’s important for people to understand the real reasons why people are not getting married, so that we can do something to encourage them to marry that really fixes the problem. If you don’t understand the threats that men are seeing with respect to marriage, it might be a good idea to take a look at this essay by Stephen Baskerville, hosted by the Christian Touchstone magazine. It’s a summary of the book that Dr. Morse reviewed. I consider that book “Taken Into Custody” to be a must-read for anyone contemplating marriage.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UK social policies undermine work and family while rewarding hedonism and sloth

Dina tweeted this article by Jill Kirby from the UK Daily Mail, which helps to show how government can punish good behavior, and reward destructive behavior – simply by transferring wealth.

Look:

Over recent decades, the British state has been engaged in a huge social experiment in which traditional family structures and moral values have been deliberately undermined by official policy.

In the name of progress, hard work and self-reliance have been punished through excessive taxation, while irresponsibility and idleness have been rewarded through unconditional welfare payments.

The destructive consequences of this approach are now becoming ever more apparent.

Britain now has a huge underclass of benefit-dependent, dysfunctional families who know far more about crime, drugs and alcohol than the world of work. Figures published yesterday revealed there are half a million problem households who, in total, cost taxpayers more than £30 billion a year through the colossal burden they impose on the welfare state, police forces and social services.

The scale of this social disaster is much worse than previously estimated. A Government study in 2011 reported there were around 120,000 troubled families — four times fewer than was revealed this week.

The cost is not just financial. With their self-centredness and disdain for the bonds that glue together civilised society, many of these families also bring misery to their neighbourhoods.

[...]When social reformer Sir William Beveridge first proposed the creation of the modern social security system in 1942, he explicitly stated that benefits should to be based on contributions through taxes and national insurance, otherwise they would simply discourage people from working and taking responsibility for their families.

But his contributory principle has long since disappeared, and we now have a ‘something for nothing’ system where those who give the least to society receive the most. Indeed, according to one official calculation, every ‘problem household’ costs the taxpayer at least £75,000 — which is more than three times average earnings.

So we have the grotesque situation where people who try to do the right thing — who go to work and bring their children up in a stable family — are punished twice over: first through the punitive income tax rates which contribute to paying for the welfare state, and second, through subsidising again the dysfunctional families that are produced by unconditional social security.

If the Government was serious about dealing with the problem, it would have the courage to introduce proper welfare sanctions to end the incentives to fecklessness. It would also provide real support through the tax system for the institution of marriage.

Sadly, the Coalition has done nothing to reverse the bias of the fiscal system against married couples, whereby married families are ruthlessly penalised by withdrawal of tax allowances and benefits, whereas support is lavished on lone parents.

And the cycle continues, because children of “lone parents” are going to be far less likely, on average, to be able to be net contributors in the society – to pay in more than they take out. It sounds so nice to redistribute wealth from people who have something to people who don’t, until you have too few people doing the right things, and too many people doing the wrong things. What happens then? I think that the responsible, hard working people will either leave the UK or curtail their productive activities. What else do you do when the government punishes you for your success and rewards other people for failure?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

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