The attack on the institution of marriage is not only the biggest cultural but also the biggest fiscal issue of our times. Political and judicial attacks by gays are only part of the problem. Forty-five years ago, a liberal in Lyndon Johnson' Labor Department, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, shocked the nation with a report called "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." The Great Society's welfare handouts to women were starting to break up black families by making husbands irrelevant. Since the Moynihan Report, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have grown to 72% for blacks, 52% for Hispanics, and 28% for whites. For the population as a whole, out-of-wedlock births rose from 6% in the 1960s to 41% today.
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation is sounding a Moynihan-style alarm today He has assembled figures from U.S. Census Bureau and they are downright scary. This is not just a culture problem as the fiscal conservatives, who disdain social issues, like to portray it. It's a very big money problem because the government is transferring nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer-funded handouts to the 40% of Americans who rely on government for all or part of their living expenses.
The reason for this problem and its high cost is that marriage absence causes poverty. The poverty rate for single parents with children is 36%, while it is only 6% for married couples with children. We just suffered the largest increase in government-designated poverty in our history; nearly 4 million more Americans moved into the "poor" column in 2009. The number of Americans now receiving food stamps rose to a record 42 million.
Obama's solution for the poverty problem is more redistribution of money from taxpayers to the poor. But there's no evidence that more money is the remedy. Tomorrow, we'll talk about the best solution to poverty.
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