October 13, 2011
Marriage Is The Answer
The most important statement
made in the recent Presidential debate was by former Sen. Rick
Santorum, who pointed to the economic importance of marriage –
an issue mentioned by no one else. It could become a fresh
issue for conservatives.
He said “The biggest problem
with poverty in America…is the breakdown of the American
family. Look at the poverty rate among families that have a
husband and wife. It’s five percent today. A family that’s
headed by one person? It’s 30 percent today.”
“We need to do something. “The
word `home’ in Greek is the basis of the word `economy.’ It is
the foundation of our country. We need to have a policy that
supports families, that encourages marriage… that has fathers
take responsibility for their children. You can't have limited
government--you can't have a wealthy society if the family
breaks down, that basic unit of society.”
Santorum is right. According
to Pat Fagan at the Family Research Council, only 45% of
American teenagers are living with their married parents. More
than half of teens “live in families where their biological
parents have rejected each other.”
Census reports that in 2008, of
12.8 million teenagers aged 15-17, only 5.8 million lived with
their married parents and 7 million were living with one birth
parent only, though some may have stepparents, or with
cohabiting parents, or with grandparents.
Asian kids have the most
cohesive homes, with 62% living with married parents. But that
is not high.
Slightly more than
half of white kids (54%) have married parents, but only 40% of
Hispanics and a dismal 17% of African-American youth.
David Usher, President of a new
Center for Marriage Policy in St. Louis asserts, “Marriage
absence is the primary driver of poverty, the shrinking middle
class, growing tax burdens and fewer taxpayers, high
incarceration rates, high taxes on business and subsequent
exodus of jobs and factories to foreign soil, and many problems
of children: poor school performance, involvement in gangs and
the drug culture, teen pregnancy and incarceration.
marriage as the social norm is the necessary structural
foundation for successful American socioeconomic
reconstruction.” (See marriagepolicy.org)
Unemployment is often seen as
the nation’s top economic problem. However, when joblessness
doubled in recent years from 5% to 10%, the poverty rate only
As illegitimacy soared from 5%
in 1960 to 41% in 2010, the percentage of households receiving
government benefits soared along the same path. Census reported
that the percentage of people living in households getting
government benefits rose from 28% in 1983 to 48.5% in 2010.
Nearly half of Americans are
getting government subsidies!
The lack of marriage is the
primary reason. For the first time, Census reports that only
48% of American adults are married – a drop of 30% in recent
How can that trend
be reversed, and marriage rates be increased?
If I were a panelist with
Republican candidates, here are three questions I’d ask, with
the answers I would most like to hear:
Should government stop subsidizing cohabitation, and
Answer: Yes. If elected, I would tell cohabiting
couples, many of whom are getting Medicaid, housing and day care
subsidies, that if they marry, the benefits would continue for
two years and then taper off. Marriage rates would rise, and
government costs would drop in time.
Should cohabiting couples who have babies get welfare,
Answer: No. More than half of unwed births are to women
living with men, who benefit from his salary as if they were
married. Government has assumed that if a woman has an unwed
birth that she will bring up the child alone.
Should states require parents considering divorce to take
a course on the impact of divorce on children before filing, and
then be required to wait a year during which the couple takes
classes to improve their conflict resolution skills?
Answer: Yes, I support the Parental
Divorce Reduction Act that is being considered by a dozen states
with those provisions which it calls a “One
Year Reconciliation and Reflection Period.”
At present 25
“Hot Head States” have no waiting period, or only 20-60 days,
which allows no time for reconciliation. Maryland, Pennsylvania
and Illinois require up to two years, if the divorce is
contested. Their divorce rates are 34% lower than 10 Hot Head
States such as Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Alabama, Maine,
Arizona, and Kansas.
It should not be
even controversial for states like North and South Carolina
that already require a year to add the educational components.
Marriage is the