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  • Understanding Illegitimacy

    The press has rushed to report a minuscule drop in “teen births” based on data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As usual, the mainstream media are focusing on a trivial, politically correct story while ignoring the real story buried in the data.

    Here’s the real story: According to CDC, a record 40.6 percent of children born in 2008 were born outside marriage — a total of 1.72 million children. The overwhelming majority of the unwed mothers were young adults with low education levels, precisely the kind of individuals who have the greatest difficulty going it alone in our society.

    Only about 7.5 percent of these out-of-wedlock births, 130,000, were to girls under 18. Of course, these births can be disastrous for the girls involved. But as a social problem, teen pregnancies and births are of quite limited importance. By contrast, 1.72 million out-of-wedlock births amount to an overwhelming catastrophe for taxpayers and society.

    The steady growth of childbearing by single women and the general collapse of marriage, especially among the poor, lie at the heart of the mushrooming welfare state. This year, taxpayers will spend over $300 billion providing means-tested welfare aid to single parents. The average single mother receives nearly three dollars in government benefits for each dollar she pays in taxes. These subsidies are funded largely by the heavy taxes paid by higher-income married couples.

    America is rapidly becoming a two-caste society, with marriage and education at the dividing line. Children born to married couples with a college education are mostly in the top half of the population; children born to single mothers with high-school degrees or less are mostly in the bottom half.

    The disappearance of marriage in low-income communities is the predominant cause of child poverty in the U.S. today. If poor single mothers were married to the fathers of their children, two-thirds of them would not be poor. The absence of a husband and father from the home also is a strong contributing factor to failure in school, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance, and a host of other social problems.

    In 1963, as Pres. Lyndon Johnson was launching the War on Poverty, 7 percent of American children were born outside marriage. White House staffer Daniel Patrick Moynihan, later U.S. Senator from New York, warned the nation of the calamities associated with the growing number of out-of-wedlock births. For more than 40 years, our society has ignored Moynihan’s warnings. Despite the transparent linkages among poverty, social problems, and disintegration of the family, the liberal intelligentsia has watched the steady collapse of marriage in low-income communities with silent indifference.

    The reason? Most liberal academics regard marriage as an outdated, socially backward institution; they have shed no tears over its demise. Even worse, liberal politicians and anonymous government bureaucrats have a vested interest in the growth of the welfare state, and nothing grows the welfare state like the disappearance of marriage.

    Single mothers are inherently in far greater need of government support than married couples, so an increase in single parenthood leads almost inevitably to an increase in government benefits and services and a thriving welfare industry to supply them. Marital collapse creates a burgeoning new clientele dependent on government services and political patrons. When liberals refuse to talk about marriage and the poor in the same breath, they are guilty of willful neglect of the major source of poverty.

    For the statist, the collapse of marriage is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s no accident that the modern welfare system rewards single parents and penalizes married couples.

    The Left, with the complicity of the liberal media, hypes the issue of “teen pregnancy” — partly because feminists think girls should attend college for a few years before becoming single mothers, partly in order to strengthen their agenda of promoting condom use and permissive sex ed in the schools. (In reality, condom proselytizing is a bogus answer to actual social problems. Contrary to conventional wisdom, lack of access to birth control isn’t a significant contributor to non-marital pregnancy among teens or non-teens.)

    Liberal journalists and pundits deliberately remain silent on the far larger issue of out-of-wedlock childbearing among adults because they believe the collapse of marriage is irrelevant, if not benign. From their perspective, concern about marriage is a mere red-state superstition; the important task is to increase government subsidies as we build a post-marriage society.

    It should, thus, be no surprise that President Obama’s new budget proposes to eliminate the only government program aimed at strengthening marriage in low-income communities. If Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have their way, the tiny, recently created “healthy marriage initiative” ($100 million annually) will be abolished next year.

    The statist Left is not content to merely watch marriage die; it seeks to nail the coffin lid tightly shut.

    Cross-posted at National Review Online.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Understanding Illegitimacy

    1. Brad The Socialist R says:

      Such hypocrisy. You are pro back alley abortion, think just say no to sex is birth control and you wonder why teens get pregnant.

    2. Mary, Washington says:

      Liberals like illegitimate births because it makes more people dependent on government and the welfare state. In most cases, its not good for the mothers or children involved, but its good for government jobs and thats what's important to them.

    3. Billie says:

      And in contrast, keep the government abortion clinics available.

      The males responsible for impregnating females will have to participate in government indoctrination of beadad.gov. A more accurate title would read "beadadinfluencedbygov.gov." Government of all power and control leave nothing out. The government insists on wasting money on "what the people can do for themselves," government programs paid by government thievery of tax dollars.

      Without government programs all people of all nationalities, would innately be more responsible to themselves and their own. The peoples' business would be their own and not government's.

    4. Roy Eappen, Montreal says:

      I agree with most of what you say, however children are never illegitimate. It is not their fault that their parents make bad choices. As someone who opposes abortion, I prefer that these children not be conceived in the first place, but once they are conceived they should be born and hopefully given up for adoption.

      Marriage is the way to success. That must be taught in schools and by example.

    5. AWB56 PA says:

      I throughly agree that Government is more than happy to play Daddy to these unwed girls. Our daughter had a child single too and the Government rewarded her for it as well. While, our Daughter did work, I her mother, baby sat our grand daughter to school age. I was happy to do it, when they lived with us, because I knew they were both safe until they got on their feet. Seven years later, Our daughter is now happily married with two children.

      It's not just the willingness of government to play Daddy, it's the mindset of todays generation. The entitlement generation. and The complete break down of the family unit. What we have today is a "me" society and it's been going on far too long. These wet behind ears kids get married and think their going to ride off into the sunset with their prince and live happily ever after, and never have to work at staying together. Let me tell you something, after being married for 35 years, I'm here to tell ya, you have to work at it. Then these Kids, have kids, and in a few years are crying the blues, "I don't love you anymore" they take off and leave, while whole families & the kids lives are just splintered. These children that are left are just shattered and no one gives a damn. My mother used to tell me "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Rules The World", , And people wonder why our youth has no concept of right and wrong. It's because alot of women won't sacrifice some monetary & worldly things and stay home and raise the kids. Old Fashioned you bet'cha! Even Being a stay at home Mom, we still had our share of problems. But the Kids are now grown, they are stable hard working kids and I was glad to say, I was there for them. I never ever regretted it!

      God bless you Heritage for what you are doing here, I'm on your mailing list. I don't usually post anything, but it's high time I start.___ABW

    6. Billie says:

      God bless you, ABW!

    7. Darryl Simmons, Virg says:

      This article has caused me to consider its claims.

      1. Illegitimacy is on the rise

      2. Mainstream media ignores the detrimental impact of illegitimacy

      3. Liberals need illegitimacy in order to further their anti-marriage agenda

      4. Illegitimate children and their mothers suffer greater social deprivations such as poverty, poor health, poor educational achievement, high crime rates, substance abuse, etc.

      Ultimately, there need not be a conspiracy per se, to achieve these kinds of egregious results. Despite its disparate occurrence among Blacks in the U. S., it has no racial cause. It has always been a part of every culture among both rich and poor. Whereas it is seemingly accepted as an inevitability among the poor, its Hollywood style practice has given it an almost exotic appeal among the more well to do. Moreover, statistics reveal its entrenchment in the society as a whole.

      All this notwithstanding, both rich and poor, educated and uneducated, black and white have one thing in common. It is our human nature. Despite those things correctly identified in this article, this aspect was not considered; perhaps due to the article’s limited scope. Or, perhaps it is taken for granted and therefore not expounded upon. Nevertheless, it has great ability to explain why this phenomenon is occurring so regularly in a nation which is the only one to define itself as Judeo Christian.

      Familial disintegration is self-perpetuating among human beings. Why? Because our nature is such, that our children learn parenting skills largely by being parented. Unlike less sentient beings, our basic instincts only provide us with nominal survival skills. Humans have souls, and parenting requires the care of the soul, not just the feeding of the body. To whatever degree the concept of the Imago Dei (Image of God) in man is omitted from our education, knowledge and wisdom suffer accordingly. To whatever degree the practice of its reality is removed from human relationships, our children suffer the lack of guidance. What better way to advance an agenda which defaults there beliefs and affections to the imago publica (image of the state).

      With due respect to you Mr. Roy Eappen of Montreal, I must wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment that “children are never illegitimate”. ‘Illegitimacy’ bears witness to the fact that there is a higher purpose to child bearing and rearing than the continuation of the species. It is more than a legal designation or cultural faux pas. It is an unintended yet unavoidably indirect homage to divine purpose and intent in regard to our children. Children are illegitimate when born outside of a very specific familial context, aka marriage; marriage, being the intentional direct homage to the Imago Dei. The Imago Dei is the ultimate reason why we can conceptualize illegitimacy. Outside of this framework we have no logical or moral reason to believe that being born to an unwed mother should be unacceptable by any measure.

      Humbly submitted

    8. Pingback: The Spiritual Quest of Mother’s Day | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    9. Pingback: First Comes the Baby Carriage | Conservative Principles Now

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