Encouraging Two Parent Households Key to Winning War on Poverty

January 7th, 2014

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.”  Today, President Obama will speak to that issue and continue to push for more government economic intervention in hopes of solving this problem. Democrats plan on keeping the message going by delivering fifty speeches over fifty days on the House floor calling for government action to address the issue.

What few if any of these people is likely to discuss is perhaps the biggest single factor in persistent poverty in America today, and that’s the breakdown of the family. Statistically, two parent households remain above the poverty line while single family households struggle to keep from falling below that line.

Back when LBJ declared his War on Poverty, the poverty rate in the United States was 19%.  Today, it’s 15%. That’s hardly a victory, although I did read one liberal columnist this week who tried to sugarcoat things by claiming that it actually would have been worse but for the decades of government spending designed to curb it.  Granted, the poverty rate has not increased since LBJ called for a fight to combat it, but the war is hardly won.

Today, President Obama will likely call for an extension of long term unemployment benefits and an increase in the minimum wage as means towards ending poverty in America. Putting this in medical terms, his offered solution is like fighting double pneumonia with over the counter medicine.  Sooner or later, you’re going to end up in intensive care anyway.

Until underlying problems are addressed, the war can’t possibly be won. If President Obama truly wants to effectively make a difference in ending poverty (and many other societal ills as well), he would make a speech calling for more efforts for families to stay together or for more people to save parenthood for marriage.

Likely, such a call for a move towards more traditional family arrangements would immediately be decried by the media as backwards.

That’s unfortunate because in addition to available statistics, basic common sense suggests it would work to help solve the problem or at least curb it dramatically.

Here’s why.

Statistically, heads of single parent households are less likely to be full-time than part-time workers.  The reason is pretty obvious.  Managing all the affairs necessary to successfully care for and raise children doesn’t leave a lot of time for successful full-time work. That means less money in the family coffers. Fewer dollars and increasing costs raise the likelihood of falling into poverty.

Obviously, the government can’t mandate everyone be married in order to have children.  I should correct that.  They could but they won’t.

What they can do is encourage behavior that leads to better societal results. Democrats wouldn’t even need to compromise their core philosophy that much to take up such a cause.  Clearly, they believe that full throated government involvement in personal behavior is okay because they constantly are not only encouraging but flat out imposing many of their views on society at large without blinking.  In fact, that idea is the basic glue that holds the Affordable Care Act together.  Without the individual mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance the whole system collapses.

If they can keep us from drinking Big Gulps and getting plastic bags when we buy groceries, why can’t they at least promote something that would keep us out of poverty—a two parent family?

While they may scoff at it as old-fashioned and not “progressive” enough, when it comes to curbing poverty, it’s a solution that should actually work.


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