Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Marriage Inequality ... The Need for Truth Telling About the Importance of Education, Two Parent Families and Eradicating Poverty in America ... It's the Memes, Stupid!

(Meme: An idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture)

We know that a solid education is the best ticket to a good job and financial security.

But what else do we know but act as if we don't know? The role of a long and happy marriage.

My own view is that we need to do more to help those in need learn to become self sufficient and able to take care of themselves and their families financially. That said, I believe strongly that we're going about it the wrong way and only making the problem worse -- not better -- after a 50 year long 'War on Poverty.'

How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married is subtitled 'In families headed by married couples, the poverty level in 2012 was just 7.5%. Those with a single mother: 33.9%.'

And consider the following facts:

""Marriage inequality" should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don't. . . . among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.

And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.
Attitudes toward marriage and having children have changed in America over the past 50 years, and low-income children and their mothers are the ones who are paying the price. The statistics make clear what common sense tells us: Children who grow up in a home with married parents have an easier time becoming educated, wealthy and successful than children reared by one parent. As the Heritage study states: "The U.S. is steadily separating into a two-caste system with marriage and education as the dividing line. In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high-school diploma or less."

One of the differences between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves tend to marry and give birth, in that order. The have-nots tend to have babies and remain unmarried. Marriage makes a difference. Heritage reports that among white married couples, the poverty rate in 2009 was just 3.2%; for white nonmarried families, the rate was 22%. Among black married couples, the poverty rate was only 7%, but the rate for non-married black families was 35.6%.

Marriage inequality is a substantial reason why income inequality exists. For children, the problem begins the day they are born, and no government can redistribute enough money to fix it. If redistributing money could solve the problem, the $20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars the government has spent on welfare programs since 1964—when President Johnson declared the "war on poverty"—would have eliminated income inequality a long time ago.

The matter is influenced strongly by decisions and values. The majority of women who have children outside of marriage today are adult women in their 20s. (Teenagers under 18 represent less than 8% of out-of-wedlock births.) . . .

Given how deep the problem of poverty is, taking even more money from one citizen and handing it to another will only diminish one while doing very little to help the other. A better and more compassionate policy to fight income inequality would be helping the poor realize that the most important decision they can make is to stay in school, get married and have children—in that order."

Summing Up

My, how things have changed since LBJ announced America's 'War on Poverty' in 1964.

And now they clearly and unmistakably need to change again. And how!

We the People need to get a grip on our cultural memes (ideas or behaviors which spread from one person to another within a culture) and take the necessary steps to return to a set of values which will help fulfill the American Dream and enhance the well being of all Americans.

And to accomplish that, we have to get our government programs to refrain from, albeit unintentionally, encouraging people to do the wrong things.

Government knows best redistribution programs won't ever solve our problems with poverty and provide a satisfactory lifestyle or financial security for all Americans.

Only the ongoing and go-against-the-grain focused attention of We the People committing to communicate the truth about what really works can do that. Self-reliance, anyone?

Let's spend our taxpayer supplied and government administered money wisely and not wastefully when trying to keep America as the Land of Opportunity for one and all.

But to do that, wholesale change is needed in how individuals and government conduct their affairs. We must inform and incentivize people to do the right things to do instead of the wrong things. In the end, it's for the good of all Americans.

In other words, eradicating poverty is all about our memes and wrongheaded government incentives, Stupid!

At least that's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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