Monday, September 20, 2010

1 in 7 in poverty. The answer? Limited government and strong marriages.

A news report said the poverty rate nationally has risen to 14.3%, the highest rate in 16 years.

What's the answer? More government programs? Hardly. The key ingredients in my estimation are reducing government size and regulations so the private sector and economy can grow and strengthening marriage.

The reason for the first is poverty is reduced long term by wealth creation and that means getting the economy growing again. High taxes and government spending are ultimately a drag on economic growth. The government by and large is a consumer and doesn't produce much stuff.

Second, strengthen marriages because people are much less likely to be living in poverty if they are married. Kids are five to six times more likely to be raised in poverty if they live in a single parent household. Here the government can protect the definition of marriage and commitments people make when they get married. In other words reform our no fault divorce laws. Beyond that churches and private groups to get involved. And the media and entertainment industries need to affirm and support marriage not trash or ignore it as they so often do.

The Heritage Foundation points out how the government through its policies has often times weakened and harmed marriage. They note that out of wedlock births are a major reason for child poverty and marriage breakdown is linked to welfare spending.

Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, the U.S. has spent $15.9 trillion on means-tested welfare. And today, spending on welfare programs is 13 times greater than it was in 1964. By undermining intact families and eroding the work ethic in low-income communities, the welfare state has encouraged dependency and intergenerational poverty.

If the United States is serious about reducing poverty and reining in federal welfare spending, it must strengthen marriage. We can do this in several ways, including reducing anti-marriage penalties in current welfare programs and providing factual information about the benefits of marriage throughout low-income communities.

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