A simple remark about poverty has created quite a hornet's nest of trouble amongst liberals for Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. He certainly had no idea that his short remark would be taken out of context and used by liberals to infer an insult to minority groups, something that he is absolutely incapable of doing. Regardless, that is exactly how the liberal left is interpreting the House budget chairman's remarks.
Syndicated columnist George Will recently wrote about the legendary Moynihan Report written nearly 50 years ago by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former senator and, at the time, assistant secretary of labor. Moynihan wrote about the exact problem Ryan was describing: the breakdown of the family unit would contribute to an ever-increasing dependency on social welfare programs.
Significantly, Moynihan noted that in 1965,the number of minorities born into single family homes was huge (23.6 percent of black children versus 3.07 percent of whites). Those numbers were huge in that day, but dwarfed by today's findings.
By last year, the results for minorities had tripled: 72 percent for blacks and 54 percent for Hispanics. This is a troubling number that speaks directly to the runaway spending required to sustain the vast number of social problems funded by the federal government. That spending is not discretionary and, therefore, is not subject to budget savings through sequestration or any other means other than a direct reduction in spending for the specific programs. That action would, of course, directly impact families who are receiving those benefits—something more elected officials are loathe to do in an election year or any other time.
Will opined that “the family structure is the primary predictor of an individual's life chances, and family disintegration is the principal cause of the inter-generational transmission of poverty.” There is no question about that. Ryan was not—and did not—portray anything other than the reality of today's world. He didn't invent the numbers, nor the problem. But, the liberal elites immediately pounced on him sensing an opportunity.
No mention has been made of President Barack Obama's recent initiative to create more jobs for men of color. That program made no effort to conceal that the targeted beneficiaries would be minorities. Could Obama—or anyone else—propose a similar program to benefit only whites? Only Native Americans? Only Asians?
This whole discussion invites the suggestion of a new round of discrimination in government policies—precisely the accusation the Obama team feared when they won the presidency in 2008. Rather than face accusations from the right, they managed to manufacture the problem on the own.
There is no easy solution for poverty in America—among whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians or Native Americans. Most realistic people would welcome a program geared at helping anyone lift themselves up to begin a better life. Any such program needs to focus on the needs of Americans, not a specific group of Americans. We need to help people who need help, and that begins at home.
Whether children are born out of wedlock or within the formal structure of a marriage is less important than how the child is raised. Marriage woes notwithstanding, a father has an obligation to be an integral part of raising his offspring. Otherwise, he is nothing more than a sperm donor feeding an ever enlarging welfare system.