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Unfortunately, it is a level of promiscuity, despite the prevalence of birth control, that has been handled much better by middle and upper class women: between the years 1994 and 2006, the number of unintended pregnancies among higher-income women fell by 29 percent. Lower income women? A 50 percent increase. And since single motherhood produces children six times more likely to live in poverty–and 80 percent of long-term poverty occurs in single-parent homes–the same class divide denounced by Democrats is the one they are simultaneously promoting.
Such promotion has reached absurd levels. A 17-year-old girl at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, R.I. painted a mural depicting the progression of a boy from childhood to adulthood that ends with a man and woman wearing wedding rings, and standing hand-in-hand with child. She was forced to paint it over when school officials contended that it might be offensive to students who don’t come from a “traditional” family. Perhaps he should have been depicted dropping the woman and child off at the social services department and skipping town. Last May, when Texas decided to bar Women’s Health Program funding from abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration retaliated in March, deciding to withhold $40,000,000 the state received for its Medicaid program. Liberals in general have disdain for the idea that marriage is one of the most reliable antidotes for poverty as evidenced here and here. Their solution? More government spending on anti-poverty programs.
Yet like much of their agenda, the necessity of “more government spending” is nothing more than an attempt to counteract both programs and a cultural ethos championed by Democrats themselves. A 2008 study led by Georgia State University economist Benjamin Scafidi conservatively estimated that single motherhood and male child abandonment cost the U.S. taxpayer $112 billion every year. While making no policy recommendations he further noted that reducing these costs “is a legitimate concern of government, policymakers and legislators.” Syracuse University economics professor Tim Smeeding countered that argument. “I have nothing against marriage–relationship-building is great. But alone it’s not going to do the job. A full-employment economy would probably be the best thing–decent, stable jobs,” he said.
Which argument makes more sense? Certainly higher levels of employment would help the nation. But as noted above, 70 percent of the children who drop out of high school are raised by single mothers. The less education one has, the higher one’s level of unemployment. In other words, Democrats have the argument exactly backwards.
Yet it remains viable. Despite the ravages engendered by the erosion of traditional values such as marriage and family, substantial numbers of American women remain convinced that government programs and policies are viable substitutes for responsible behavior. And while “alternative family lifestyles” are no doubt attractive to those who can afford them, the pathologies engendered by many of those lifestyles suggests the “anything goes” culture endorsed by liberals in general, and the Democrat party in particular, is far more destructive than advertised. And make no mistake: when 41 percent of women are having children out of wedlock, Democrats are not just waging a war against women.
It’s a war against children as well.
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