[Hpn] WELFARE: Should providers push single moms to marry? [Keith Vick replies]

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 19 Feb 2001 23:48:58 -0800 (PST)

FWD   Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 via Food Not Bombs list [FNB list-info at end]
      CC REPLIES TO AUTHOR: "Keith Vick" <keith_v@yahoo.com>

[FNB-L] Re: WELFARE: Should providers push single moms to marry?

comments inline:

--- Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> wrote:
Pres - AP Wire Service - Feb 11 2001
> Should welfare providers push single mothers to marry?
> If poor single mothers marry, will they & their children be better off?
> Will they be better off under a US government which defines
> "single parenthood" as an "immmoral choice"?

[Tom questions were followed by the Forwarded news article below:]
> Associated Press Writer
> WASHINGTON (AP) _ Conservatives who successfully argued that the
> nation's welfare system must aggressively push poor people into
> jobs are preparing to push something more personal: marriage.
> They argue that the breakdown of the two-parent family is the
> root cause of welfare dependence, and that millions of Americans
> will remain trapped in poverty unless the nation fosters a culture
> of marriage in poor communities.

the ROOT cause? i hardly think so.

> ``All the data we have says that kids do best when they grow up
> in two-parent families,'' said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.,
> chairman of the House Ways and Means welfare subcommittee, who
> plans hearings on the issue. ``We'd like to see a return to the
> family unit and to family values.''

statistics that i've seen from all sorts of sources actually seem to bear this
out. whether we may like to admit it or not, two parents in a household means
that expenses can be shared. and it means that a child has twice as much
attention given to them through life. i think that two is better than one.

> Nationally, one in three babies is born to unmarried parents.
> And among women with less than a high school education, 60 percent
> were unmarried when they gave birth.

it seems to me that age and education are the MOST important factor. i think
that the REAL answer would be improving sexual education and family planning
classes in schools. giving women opportunities to realize themselves and to
think about long-term goals would be the best. classes should encourage young
women to delay having children until they are older, have careers and actually
are married first. but then that would mean perhaps talking about things like
condoms and possibly even abortion...both straight from the devil.
conservatives hate the phrase "family planning".

> One of the 1996 welfare law's central purposes was to encourage
> formation of two-parent families, but so far states have spent
> little time, energy or money to this end. That is partly because it
> raises sensitive questions about the role of government and partly
> because there is little evidence about what works.
> Now debate is beginning over what changes are needed to that
> law, which must be renewed by next year, and conservatives are
> laying the groundwork for a stronger focus on marriage. Liberals
> have concerns, but are not rejecting their ideas out of hand.

probably because the public itself has been brainwashed into all the marriage
hullabaloo. fact is that women that put off marriage, go for higher education,
and have children later in life will be more successful and so will their

> Among them:
> _requiring states to spend part of their welfare money on
> pro-marriage activities.

what the hell is a "pro-marriage activity" anyway? is that like where you do
wedding recitals or something first before they dole out your welfare money? or
do you just thumb through a copy of Bride magazine?

> _encouraging caseworkers to talk to pregnant women about
> marrying the fathers of their unborn babies.

well, as long as the fellow isn't a jerk then i suppose that's OK. but i'm sure
quite a few unwed mothers have already thought about this wouldn't you think?

> _judging state success based on reductions in out-of-wedlock
> births.

ahhh, quotas for marriage. :-) perhaps large mass marriages?

> _teaching about the value of marriage in high school.

good idea...if they point out other things like perhaps getting a good job or
career first, waiting for marriage and such stuff.

> _sponsoring experiments to see what programs might produce more
> marriages.

why not just experiment to find out what welfare programs work the best? how
about raising wages so women both married and unmarried can get reasonable

> The role of marriage in social policy has been a contentious,
> painful debate since 1965, when a future senator, Daniel Patrick
> Moynihan, prompted charges of racism with his report on the
> breakdown of black family. Pointing to the rising number of black
> babies born to unmarried parents, he suggested that the absence of
> fathers and male role models _ along with the income they provide _
> explained myriad social problems.

like 100 years of apartheid didn't have something to do with a great deal of
those social ills or something?

> At the time, about one in four black babies was born to
> unmarried parents. By 1999, it was 69 percent.

well...that's a pretty lame figure. i would think SOMETHING should be done
about that. but it looks a problem with education and getting the word out
about what really works best.

> Still, 35 years later, there is little agreement on how to put
> families together.
> ``Until we get more evidence, I'm not so sure we should be
> spending huge sums of money here,'' said Wendell Primus, a welfare
> authority at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, who left
> a top welfare job in the Clinton administration to protest the
> president's decision to sign the 1996 overhaul.
> ``There are clearly some marriages that aren't going to work,''
> Primus added. ``Government can't force two people to love each
> other when their relationship has broken apart.''

the issue doesn't really seem to be about marriage so much as it is about
having children out of wedlock and the costs. after all, about everyone gets
married sooner or later. so the problem isn't that people aren't getting
married...it's that their having kids when they're not married.

> Sandra Robertson, an advocate for the poor in Georgia, suggests
> that poor women are perfectly capable of deciding when marriage is
> right for them.

but aren't apparently bright enough to figure out the right time to have a kid,
eh? :-) sorry for the non-PC remark...but that one was begging for it.

> ``I'm especially surprised that the party that talks about
> wanting government out of our lives, of wanting government to stay
> away from social engineering, seems to have a desire to do that for
> poor people,'' Robertson said.
> Others worry that women may wind up pressured to stay in
> unhealthy _ even abusive _ relationships.
> Robert Rector, a leading conservative welfare expert, argues
> that government should not coerce anyone into marriage but should
> suggest and encourage it. With a push, he says, some couples are
> bound to succeed.

rather than just talking about how great marriage is, any successful program
should really be geared towards relationships & communication. it should be
geared towards helping young couples talk to each other and respect each other
and to take relationships seriously. what we want is young folks who realize
that kids, marriages and families are serious issues. most people are going to
marry sooner or later so they might as well have the skills to make those
things  last.

> ``You could say, `Here's a mentoring group. You don't have to do
> this. But it's a free group to try and improve a relationship that
> can lead you to a lifetime of love and commitment,''' he said. ``I
> think it's absolutely tragic that we don't do anything like that
> now.''

i could buy that.

> Talking about marriage would be a giant departure for welfare
> caseworkers, who used to simply calculate whether an applicant was
> eligible for benefits, said Susan Golonka, welfare expert at the
> National Governors Association. Caseworkers have already expanded
> their duties to include job counseling, and adding marriage
> counseling would be another big step.

uhhh...it'd be nice if that stuff happened in school first. i suppose offering
marriage workshops would be ok.

> ``There would be a lot of people who would be uncomfortable,''
> she said.
> There is little pro-marriage activity in social policy today.
> Some fatherhood programs work to help fathers find jobs _ partly so
> they can pay child support _ and to participate in their children's
> lives. But co-parenting, not marriage, is the focus.
> Primus, Robertson and other liberals are not rejecting the
> marriage push wholesale, suggesting Rector may be right when he
> predicts a growing consensus for a stronger focus on marriage.
> ``I don't think progressives should be scared of this issue,''
> Primus said. ``We also believe in marriage and two-parent
> families.''
> And Robertson, who directs the Georgia Citizens' Coalition on
> Hunger, says: ``It's clear when a child is wanted, and when a child
> has two parents ... that child has a better chance.''

overall, i think some of this stuff is OK, but it definitely needs a wide range
of input from lots of people...not just the conservatives. overall, it sounds
like the sort of things cultures have always done...providing information to
each fellow members of the tribe to help them out. lots of tribal systems also
provide someone or some group to go to when it comes to making marriages work
and trying to keep couples together. i don't have a problem with these things.

i personally am opposed to marriage and the institution. it seems to be worse
for women than men. i think love (which i am personally also skeptical of)
doesn't need a ring to be a real thing.

on the other hand, high-falutin ideas like mine don't mean shit. most people
think a lot about marriage and desire it and even end up there. so, given those
facts, i say that we try to make it a functioning thing that works.

anyone with some different ideas on this?
"Keith Vick" <keith_v@yahoo.com>

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