Sunday

Single Mothers, Absent Fathers, Pirates, Global Warming and All in Between, part deux

I found some inspirational material for this part deux (a continuation from this). I'm going to insert my commentary/objections/observations/2 cents, whenever the spirit hits me (in bold blue):

Testimony of
Michael Tanner
Director of Health and Welfare Studies
The Cato Institute

Before the:
Senate Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Youth Violence

June 7, 1995

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Committee:

My name is Michael Tanner and I am the director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee on an issue of extreme importance to the American people. There is no doubt that juvenile crime is a serious and continuing problem in this country. There are many factors contributing to the rise in juvenile violence and crime, from the glorification of violence in the media (and who, exactly controls this media?) to the failure of the "war on drugs." (the juveniles doing the drugs, or selling the drugs?) But, today, I would like to focus on a factor that has received far less attention -- the relationship between the welfare state and crime.

Last year, the Maryland NAACP released a report concluding that "the ready access to a lifetime of welfare and free social service programs is a major contributory factor to the crime problems we face today." (please tell me this is a sick joke) (1) Their conclusion appears to be confirmed by academic research (you mean "academic research"). For example, research by Dr. June O'Neill's and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (oh yeah, cha-ching, that good ol' DHHS money) showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men.(2)

Welfare contributes to crime in several ways. First, children from single-parent families are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. (single-parent? single mothers and single fathers? single grandmothers?) According to one study, children raised in single-parent families are one-third more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior.(3) Moreover, O'Neill found that, holding other variables constant, black children from single- parent households are twice as likely to commit crimes as black children from a family where the father is present. (Is that present 100% of the time, 75%, 50%, 25%? Does it matter? What kind of father?) Nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes, as do 43 percent of prison inmates. (What is a fatherless home? Is the father dead? In prison? Down the street? In the military? With his other babymama(s)? With his mama or grandma?) (4) Research indicates a direct correlation between crime rates and the number of single-parent families in a neighborhood.(5)

As Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (Barbara Dafoe Whitehead is co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey


Fiscal YearOPDIVGrantee NameAward TitleSum of Actions
2006 ACF RUTGERS THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY COHABITATION, MARRIAGE AND CHILD WELLBEING: A CROSS-NATIONAL AANALYSIS $ 86,308

)
noted in her seminal article for The Atlantic Monthly:

The relationship [between single-parent families and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. The nation's mayors, as well as police officers, social workers, probation officers, and court officials, consistently point to family break up as the most important source of rising rates of crime.(6) (Wait, is it family break-up, or single mothers? The first is an action/verb, or possible cause, the latter is a possible consequence of that action, or noun?)

At the same time, the evidence of a link between the availability of welfare and out-of-wedlock births is overwhelming. There have been 13 major studies of the relationship between the availability of welfare benefits and out-of-wedlock birth. Of these, 11 found a statistically significant correlation. Among the best of these studies is the work done by June O'Neill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Oh god, not them again). Holding constant a wide range of variables, including income, education, and urban vs. suburban setting, the study found that a 50 percent increase in the value of AFDC and foodstamp payments led to a 43 percent increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births.(7)(Okay, serious pause here. Can someone explain to me how the study controlled for all of those variables, when, only those at a certain poverty level can get AFDC and foodstamps...so how can you compare them to the non-poor? In fact, you have to be dirt poor--basically no child support income or any other income to get AFDC, now known as TANF) Likewise, research by Shelley Lundberg and Robert Plotnick of the University of Washington showed that an increase in welfare benefits of $200 per month per family increased the rate of out-of-wedlock births among teenagers by 150 percent.(8)

The same results can be seen from welfare systems in other countries. For example, a recent study of the impact of Canada's social-welfare system on family structure concluded that "providing additional benefits to single parents encourages births of children to unwed women."(9) (I'd like to know if providing additional income to anyone, "encourages" them to have more children.)

Of course women do not get pregnant just to get welfare benefits. It is also true that a wide array of other social factors has contributed to the growth in out-of-wedlock births. But, by removing the economic consequences of a 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 immediate consequences (the very real consequences of such behavior are often not immediately apparent), she is less inclined to modify her own behavior to prevent pregnancy. (Okay, so check this out, DHHS Child Support Enforcement, in cahoots with the family court system, and "encouraged" by fatherhood programs, is reducing child support amounts and waiving arrears for fathers in order to get them to take part of their children's lives aka shared parenting because they say that the "research" shows that men who take part in their children's lives, are more likely to pay their child support. Is this also effective in helping men to avoid future pregnancies? Especially poor men?)

Proof of this can be found in a study by Professor Ellen Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania, who surveyed black, never-pregnant females age 17 or younger. Only 40% of those surveyed said that they thought becoming pregnant in the next year "would make their situation worse."(10) Likewise, a study by Professor Laurie Schwab Zabin for the Journal of Research on Adolescence found that: "in a sample of inner-city black teens presenting for pregnancy tests, we reported that more than 31 percent of those who elected to carry their pregnancy to term told us, before their pregnancy was diagnosed, that they believed a baby would present a problem..."(11) In other words, 69 percent either did not believe having a baby out-of-wedlock would present a problem or were unsure (And what is wrong with that? This is merely a value assessment).

Until teenage girls, particularly those living in relative poverty, can be made to see real consequences from pregnancy, it will be impossible to gain control over the problem of out-of- wedlock births (So, the only ones that need to do anything are teenage girls? Did they get pregnant through immaculate conception?). By disguising those consequences, welfare makes it easier for these girls to make the decisions that will lead to unwed motherhood (And is "unwed motherhood" really the problem--because I see that the first sentence in this paragraph mentioned poverty . Which is it?).

Current welfare policies seem to be designed with an appallingly 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.(12)

I should also point out that, once the child is born, welfare also appears to discourage the mother from marrying in the future (Why should she get married? I thought we wanted to foster independence? And does it matter who she marries, or does it have to be the baby's daddy?). Research by Robert Hutchins of Cornell University shows that a 10 percent increase in AFDC benefits leads to an eight percent decrease in the marriage rate of single mothers.(13)

As welfare contributes to the rise in out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families, it concomitantly contributes to the associated increase in criminal activity.

Secondly, welfare leads to increased crime by contributing to the marginalization of young black men in society. There are certainly many factors contributing to the increasing alienation and marginalization of young black men, including racism, poverty, and the failure of our educational system. However, welfare contributes as well (And you know welfare is way more important than trying to change racism, economics, and education). The welfare culture tells the man he is not a necessary part of the family. They are in effect cuckolded by the state. Their role of father and breadwinner is supplanted by the welfare check. (I would think that a welfare check tells a woman that she doesn't need a man to provide for her; and the goal would be that, one day, she could provide for herself. If a man thinks he is supplanted by a check, then obviously he had nothing else of value to offer.)

The role of marriage and family as a civilizing influence on young men has long been discussed. (and it is an antiquated, disgusting, sexist viewpoint) Whether or not strict causation can be proven, it is certainly true that unwed fathers are more likely to use drugs and become involved in criminal behavior.(14)(And these are the men we want in the household?) Indeed, single men are five times more likely to commit violent crimes than married men. (Is this controlled for age, income, education, etc? And, more importantly, are these criminal men fathers?)(15)

Finally, in areas where there is a high concentration of welfare, there may be an almost total lack of male role models (Or, there is an abundance of bad male role models. Why are we acting like these men are missing? They are present in the community). This can lead to crime in two ways. First, as the Maryland NAACP puts it, "A child whose parents draw a welfare check without going to work does not understand that in this society at least one parent is expected to rise five days of each week to go to some type of job."(16) (Does a child who's parent gets a disability check not understand either? Or an inheritance check? Is it the type of check, or the situation?)

Second, boys growing up in mother only families naturally seek male influences (Is this a fact? Or do they seek people who have similar interests? And are boys seeking this because their father is absent, or because their mother is also "absent," given the circumstances surrounding surviving poverty?). Unfortunately, in many inner city neighborhoods, those male role models may not exist. As George Gilder, author of Wealth and Poverty, has noted, the typical inner-city today is "almost a matriarchy. The women receive all the income, dominate the social-worker classes, and most of the schools." (And I would say that this view is false, because it would mean that women hold the power--which is far from the truth) Thus, the boy in search of male guidance and companionship may end up in the company of gangs or other undesirable influences.(17) (because he needs more support, be it from a father, mother, extended family, after-school group, etc)

Given all of the above, I believe it is clear that our current social welfare system is a significant cause of juvenile crime and violence in America today (What is the cause of global warming, again?). Exactly how welfare should be reformed is undoubtedly beyond the scope of this hearing. The Cato Institute's position, however, is well known ("the mission of the Cato Institute is to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace") Our research indicates that the current federal welfare system cannot be reformed. Accordingly, we have suggested that federal funding of welfare should be ended and responsibility for charity should be shifted first to the states (Responsible Fatherhood) and eventually to the private sector (the church, and other agencies that get monies FROM THE GOVERNMENT).(18)

In conclusion, let me simple say that, whatever Congress eventually decides to do in the way of welfare reform, I hope that you will recognize the disastrous consequences of our current welfare system. The status quo is plainly and simply unacceptable. The relationship between our failed social welfare system and juvenile violence and crime is one more urgent reason for reform.

Thank you. I would be pleased to answer any questions.

You can see the full letter and citations here.

Anyone care to argue now?



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