Common sense dictates that becoming dependent on others for one’s sustenance is a risky business for all involved. This is not to say that short-term assistance is not beneficial, or that long-term assistance for those in need is unnecessary. But to create economic dependency in able workers disrupts the economy and can hurt those it purports to help. COVID “relief” funds for “nonessential workers” under the touchy-feely “CARES Act” is a case in point.
Many people did not receive weekly government benefits during COVID-19 (all of which is borrowed/printed money yet to be repaid). Dividing humans between so-called “essentials” and “nonessentials” was an exercise in absurdity, the definition of “arbitrary and capricious.” Some nurses were furloughed; others served with inadequate mask protections through the pandemic and are now being fired for refusing vaccinations. Local restaurants were devastated, while national franchises like McDonald’s got extra business. And many idled workers bought X-Boxes and other consumer toys while they refused to seek “essential” work — many made more money sitting home than when employed full-time pre-COVID.
This state of affairs further hurt businesses, whose “help wanted” pleas are ubiquitous. Yet this has been the situation in Vermont for years — many able workers make more money collecting welfare and other benefits than if they took a private job position. There is no incentive to change that dependency, and it hardly gives most people a sense of worth — and the public resents people not working who could. Many people receiving benefits object equally strongly — they want a leg up, not an economic enslavement.
This is how good intentions create bad results. An example that the left would like to sweep aside is the dependency in poor urban black families created by welfare programs in the War on Poverty. Under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, unmarried women with children received funds unavailable to married women — the government essentially paid the poorest black women to remain unwed. I am fully aware that there are those on the left who will angrily protest this claim, but the common sense of it is matched by the statistics — black rates of marriage plummeted, while the number of inner city children raised fatherless skyrocketed.
The fact is, fathers matter — more than the money that social justice warriors seek to heap onto the problem they have compounded by heaping money on it. One cannot eliminate economic disparities with money — only by improving those structures that result in improved outcomes. If more money caused more fatherlessness, the opposite of the desired outcome for inner city blacks was achieved with AFDC. Yet the widening wealth disparities caused by being raised without a father is now being labeled the product of white systemic oppression. This is an interesting parallel to the Vermont progressive absurdity of relocating poor blacks to Vermont and then claiming the resultant wealth disparity this statistically creates between black and white Vermonters is “caused” by historic white supremacy. They have literally done exactly that in Vermont).
The social sciences have affirmed that welfare dependency undermined marriage:
We find that welfare participation reduces the likelihood of transitioning to marriage (hazard ratio is .67, p < .01), but only while the mother is receiving benefits. Once the mother leaves welfare, past receipt has little effect on marriage. We infer that the negative association between welfare participation and subsequent marriage reflects temporary economic disincentives rather than an erosion of values.
This is understandable. Other research shows that “social and economic impediments to marriage matter more than value orientations.” Common sense again intrudes on academic distraction: might the fatherlessness of the children paid during that “transitional” phase have an impact on their ability to be future fathers? To argue that welfare dependency “has little effect on marriage” is a silly apologetic to distract from the obvious impact on child development, and their social and emotional learning.
Larry Elder tried to alert Americans to this travesty:
For blacks, out-of-wedlock births have gone from 25 percent in 1965 to 73 percent in 2015. For whites, from less than 5 percent to over 25 percent. … From 1965 until now, the government has spent over $20 trillion to fight poverty. The poverty rate has remained unchanged, but the relationship between poor men and women has changed — dramatically. That’s because our generous welfare system allows women, in effect, to marry the government. And this makes it all too easy for men to abandon their traditional moral and financial responsibilities. Psychologists call such dependency ‘learned helplessness.’ … Fathers matter. Until we have a government policy that makes that its first priority, nothing will change.
Entire liberal studies of the subject will ignore AFDC as a contributing cause of the decline of black families, but again the facts matter:
Although social scientists sometimes attribute racial differences in family patterns to long-run historical influences such as the legacy of slavery, marriage was common among black families in the early 20th century. Thus the racial divergence we see now in marriage formation is relatively recent. … No existing explanation alone can fully account for racial gaps in marriage patterns.
The bipartisan Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act eliminated the schism caused by AFDC, but the damage had been done for some 30 years. How many of today’s disadvantaged black women cannot find competent marital partners because generations of urban black men were left to the street for their creed and training, unguided by fathers? Broken families are a vicious cycle, and increase risk of poverty, crime, and substance abuse (ACEs).
The question going forward for urban blacks, Vermont welfare recipients and COVID fund recipients alike is, how may government benefit those in need without hurting them and those around them. In all three cases, liberal policies that ignore economic reality and common sense have been justified with feelings and simplistic panaceas that were bound to fail. All three create bigger long-term problems of dependency, reduced skill-sets and self-esteem, inequities toward others, and mounting debt for future generations. This is the core problem with government-designed utopias: They are impossible.
Yet Vermont’s progressive push during COVID is revealing all the wrong prescriptions: more spending for unaffordable housing; more regressive tax policies; proposals for universal childcare that will dismantle the family yet further, and (inequitably) disadvantage those who raise their own children. How about Vermont pays fathers and mothers to raise their own children (with tax credits, perhaps), returning their money rather than reallocating it from others who also must work? Indeed, given increasing revelations about the sexualized, anti-American, racist indoctrination being imposed on Vermont schoolchildren (with some of the highest per-pupil education costs in the nation), Vermont should provide income-sensitive subsidies to Vermont parents who wish to homeschool or place their children privately. Then the government won’t need to create more programs to take over raising the children from the families it has destroyed.
In order to achieve this, Vermonters must stand up and cast off dependency. As William Penn famously said, “Men don’t need government; government needs men.” Vermont’s bureaucracy is an opportunistic infection which must be cut away and incinerated like a deadly tumor, before it destroys its host in the name of “helping.”
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.
3 thoughts on “John Klar: The dangers of government dependency”
Your first two words “common sense” – as Greta Von Doom exclaims “how dare you!” No such a thing exists in the globist agenda here and across the world – the mantra is “obey and comply or else.”
Of ALL the new “programs” proffered today the most insidious is that allure of “Universal Pre-K”, where WE are to subsidize mothers who are paying 2/3 of their salary/income to ‘day care” while they work for some soul-less corporation or any job foisted on them to keep them “working”. Isn’t raising children the most IMPORTANT “job” of ANY and ALL mothers/fathers? Many universal studies have shown that kids NEED “unsupervised play time” vs. indoctrination before grade 1, aka “letting kids be kids”, to get outdoors, play with others, use their imagination, develop friendships on their OWN in a hands off setting. THEN they can “look forward” to some 12 YEARS being chained to a desk indoors under fluorescent lighting, and another 4 to 6 years of “free college” for some, hopefully we can route the “hands-on” learners into trades, if we ever have the sense to return manufacturing to the USA, but that would require an “America First” mindset & policies. Also required are parents willing to keep their kids away from “games” & phones & boot them outdoors, if “Free Range” is good for FARM animals maybe it’s a good idea for ALL “animals”, no? Klar’s right, and I think we should abolish “day care” except for those adverse to child-rearing (some folks just dislike kids) and either subsidize stay-home parents or, like the OLD days, MAKE things HERE in country and have wages that will support a one-earner family unit. Hell, it was ALL there WAS until the late 1960’s after all. Instead of “Let’s Grow Kids” maybe we should “Let Kids Be Kids” & leave them ALONE, a GREAT example would be re-introducing child-raising the way the Native Americans did, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject, look it up sometime.
The higher agenda is to break up families and create the communist ideal of ‘little wolves’ which will mindlessly do the bidding of the overlords in 16 years, Steve…aren’t you reading your Marx?
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