Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Causes and Consequences

Until the 1950's, black children were more likely to live with two parents than were white children.

Right before the passage of the War on Poverty legislation in 1964, 78% of black children lived with two parents. That number is only 34% today according to the most recent Census Bureau statistics.

Compare this to the fact that 76% of white children and 84% of Asian children in the United States live with both parents.

If you don't think it makes a difference, consider that 25% of black children are suspended from school for some disciplinary reason according to the most recent data (2013-2014). The comparable number for Asians---2%. For whites---7%.

In 2016 (the most recent data), 70% of all black children in this country were born out of wedlock.  In 1960, only 22% of black children were born out of wedlock.

Why is all of this important? Almost 38% of black children live in poverty.  However, the rate is only 8% for children living with married parents but soars to 46% if they are living with a single mother.

In 1959, 55% of all black families lived in poverty.  For black children living in two parent households today the rate is one-seventh of that number. If we had the same number of black children living with two parents as if we did in the 1950's you have to wonder what the overall black poverty rate would be?

However, in the 1960's, as we declared a "War on Poverty", did we actually sow the seeds of breaking up the black family? You have to ask what caused the out of wedlock rate for black children to rise from 22% to 70%?

If you look at it logically it should have declined with the introduction of oral contraceptives not to mention the legalization of abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970's.

How do you explain it?

Colbert King discussed the demise of the black family and its consequences in "Celebrating black history as the black family disintegrates" in a Washington Post column a few years ago that I thought nicely summarized the problem.

We know that most teenage mothers don't graduate from high school; that many of the youths in the juvenile justice system are born to unmarried teens; and that children of teenagers are twice as likely to be abused or neglected and more likely to wind up in foster care.
We know, too, that children of teenage parents are more likely to become teen parents themselves.
An intergenerational cycle of dysfunction is unfolding before our eyes, even as we spend time rhapsodizing about our past.
No less discouraging is the response that has become ingrained.
Sixteen, unmarried and having a baby? No problem. Here are your food stamps, cash assistance and medical coverage. Can't be bothered with the kid? No sweat, there's foster care.
Make the young father step up to his responsibilities?
Consider this statement I received from a sexual health coordinator and youth programs coordinator in the District concerning a teen mother she is counseling: "She recently had a child by a man who is 24 years old and has 5 other children. He is homeless and does not work, but knows how to work young girls very well. . . .This young man is still trying to have more children."
He's a cause. Our community deals with his consequences.

Of course, that guy in D.C. that has fathered 6 children has nothing on three guys from Tennessee who have 78 children with 64 different women as reported in a story from 2012. I dare to imagine what the total is today.
Terry Turnage has 23 children with 17 different women, while Richard M. Colbert has 25 children with 18 women. But Desmond Hatchett takes the record with 30 children with 11 women.

In the 1950's an illegitimate child was a problem for the immediate family of the unwed mother. It resulted in the single mother being totally dependent on her family to assist her. That dependency on the family has been replaced by a dependency on government. However, that dependency on the government also provides independence from the family which can be attractive to a young woman who wants to move out from under her family. That was not possible in the 1950's. It is today. As a result, women were much more careful in the choices they made in the 1950's. That does not appear to be the case today.

You have to ask whether the consequences of unwed black mothers are actually being caused by our well meaning policies?

If we are to make any progress in lowering the poverty rate for children, a key focus has to be on seeing more children living with two parents and fewer in homes with single mothers.  It is clearly more efficient economically when two parents can bring the potential for two incomes and can also share the costs of one household. This is true even without considering the emotional and psychological benefits for children in two-parent households.

If we want to make real progress on reducing poverty we need to start dealing with the causes rather than just spending money on the consequences.

I was disappointed with the Presidency of Barack Obama on many levels. However, there is nothing that was more disappointing than his total failure to address this issue as President.

Obama had a unique opportunity to address this problem. He could have made a real difference. He could have spoken forcefully and consistently about the causes. Instead, his policies actually made the problem worse.

We will likely continue to deal with the consequences rather than the causes of this problem for many more years. Political correctness guarantees it. No one wants to talk about the causes. Therefore, the cycle of poverty and its consequences will persist.

Many speeches will be made. Billions of dollars will be spent. It will all be about the consequences.

When is someone of consequence in the Democrat party going to start talking about the causes?

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