Fatherless Day

Recently, the MMJ Board and Staff was sent an article written by Henry Payne of  The Michigan View. This article really resonated with us, and while it has already been linked to our Facebook page, we wanted to post it again and hear your thoughts!

“This is not the same as just the continuation of regular traditional district model,” said Governor Rick Snyder in Detroit Monday, announcing state-run school reform targeting Detroit’s worst-performing public schools. “The idea is how do you move as much of the resources into the school ­ really empowering the principal, the administration, the teachers, the parents right in that school to be successful. That has been what’s working across the country.”

What parents?

For the second time in a decade, a Republican Michigan governor has stepped up with a compassionate plan to help Michigan children overcome the dysfunction of city schools. And once again, that governor will encounter a tragically “compassionate” Washington welfare system that has destroyed Detroit families ­ 80 percent of Detroit births are out-of-wedlock ­ and put underclass children at an education disadvantage.

In a timely visit to Detroit, the Heritage Foundation’s brilliant poverty expert, Robert Rector, reminded Metro Detroiters at a Wednesday Birmingham luncheon that the federal welfare system has become not only a driver of unsustainable deficits ­ gulping down nearly a trillion dollars a year in federal funds ­ but a poison in the bloodstream of American culture.

I interviewed Rector in downtown Detroit before his Birmingham appearance. In the late 1990’s, Rector, Michigan Governor John Engler, and the Gingrich-led Republican Revolution played a pivotal role in reforming the most destructive welfare program ever invented: Aid Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

By paying mothers that had children out of wedlock, the Johnson-era program gutted the once-solid black family and began an anti-family welfare trend that has cleaved America into two economic classes: the nuclear-family middle class and the fatherless underclass.

“The number one cause of poverty,” says Rector, “even greater than the lack of a high school graduation, is the lack of a married couple at home. And for 50 years, the federal government has been telling Dads that they are not relevant.”

The late ’90s reform ­ ultimately signed by a triangulating President Bill Clinton ­ temporarily stalled underclass family dissolution by removing the direct cash incentive for illegitimate births and encouraging work. But the trend has resumed its relentless upward climb thanks to a buffet of other welfare polices – most significantly, Medicaid.

Today, 40 percent of all American births are out-of-wedlock, dooming children to lesser achievement than children from married families. This is what accounts for America’s growing income gap.

Briefly shocked by the ’90s welfare reform, the fatherless culture was revived by the realization by young mothers that – AFDC aside – there were still government incentives to have children outside of marriage.

Pregnancy? Paid for by Medicaid (a program that now accounts for 50 percent of federal welfare spending and 25 percent of Michigan’s General Fund budget). Housing? Paid for by federal housing assistance? Food? Paid for by food stamps.

Who needs a father? Papa Government is there.

Rector proposes reforming the welfare Leviathan as he and Engler did in the ’90s: cap spending, give block grants to the states, and attach work requirements.

But he adds one more crucial element to get the lower class out of poverty: Relentless promotion of marriage by political leadership.

Rector notes the unique opportunity that Barack Obama has in this regard as a successful, married, black father. But he laments Obama’s silence. While Candidate Obama’s book, “Audacity of Hope,” outlined the importance of the black male in the family, President Obama has gone mute on the subject.

Rector blames this in part on “the extreme anti-marriage rigidity in the rank and file” of social services bureaucrats. Indeed, says Rector, the Obama Administration actually tried to gut the Healthy Marriage Initiative – a $150 million program that Rector and the Bush Administration put in place to promote marriage in 2005.

“Once Obama was in office, marriage was never mentioned again,” says Rector. “He should give speeches talking unequivocally about the key role of fathers. The (inner city) culture doesn’t know marriage. They need to know how to build it.”

By freeing the underclass from welfare dependency, it could be Obama’s greatest legacy.

Original article posted on June 23, 2011. For the complete link to the article, click here.

So, what do YOU think? Agree? Disagree? We want to hear it!