The War on Children

Picture of Crowd of Children in Keene New Hampshire

The last few decades in America have not been good ones for children. As a nation we have declared a “war on children” where the needs, wants, and desires of adults take precedence over those of children. Let’s take a brief tour of the battlefield.

First, in 1969, California became the first state to enact”no-fault” divorce into legislation and no-fault quickly spread to other states (pdf). Whether the old system of divorce was optimal or not, its dissolution had the effect of elevating the wants of adults over the needs of children. Even to this day, children generally have no legal voice in divorce proceedings–except as pawns to be fought over by the “adults.”

The story on the negative impact of divorce on children is being told in a new documentary called “Split.” This preview opens with some stunning statistics–over half of all children under the age of 16 will experience a divorce of their parents at a rate of 1 million children per year.

Second, the introduction of oral contraceptives, or “the pill,” in the 1960’s had two impacts on children–one direct and one indirect. The direct impact was that now children were no longer safe in the womb since the pill is an arbortificant–meaning that it doesn’t prevent the fertilization of an egg, it only prevents it from attaching to the mother. As such, the pill is really a chemical abortion.

The indirect impact of the pill was that casual sex was now possible on an unprecedented scale. Along with casual sex comes adultery and, consequently, divorce. The pill and divorce have proven to be a toxic pairing to American families.

Third, the war on children got even deadlier with the infamous Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout America. Now if chemical abortion wasn’t good enough, now you could legally hire a doctor to go in with the heavy artillery. This is the ultimate expression of putting the needs of adults over that of the children with the outright killing of the child. And, you thought government was suppose to help protect the innocent?!

Now we have moved into the nuclear age on the war on children with the arrival of same-sex marriage where children will be purposely created to serve the whims of adults. By definition, children can’t be born into a same-sex pairing, they have to “acquired” through adoption or a surrogate (be it a male sperm donor or female baby incubator).

The end result is the exploding of the legal system once designed to protect a child’s right to know their biological mother and father. Already, we are seeing bizarre cases such as three parents families. In essence, we have moved into the post-divorce world where a child can be born right into a step-parent situation. Historically, children involved in a step-parent situation received special care and attention.  Now, with same sex marriage, we have decided to impose it on them simply to cater to the perverse desires of adults.

Adding insult to injury, the war on children was greatly accelerated by an activist federal judge who recently ruled that the Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman in Utah is unconstitutional at the federal level. This act of Judicial Tyranny will have far-reaching consequences and as Jennifer Roback-Morse succinctly put it in her “77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage” (pdf): “Same-sex marriage amounts to a hostile takeover of civil society by the state.”

Now, decades since the war on children began, the socioeconomic consequences are coming home to roost in the form of Demographic Winter. More specifically, lets look at some demographic data in Maine. Why Maine? Maine is a very interesting case study since it is demographically-neutral over time.  In other words, since it is overwhelmingly white and has been since the founding of the state then changes in variables are more easily identifiable without the worry of a shifting base.

As shown in the chart below, Maine saw robust natural population growth in the 1950’s adding approximately 12,000 Mainers every year as births easily outnumbered deaths. But starting in 1960, something ominous began to take hold. As noted above, the introduction of the pill appears to have played a major role in the decline of births which cut the yearly natural population growth in half.

Roe v Wade and no-fault divorce arrived in Maine together in 1973 although the immediate impact was muted by the largest in-migration into Maine in recent history with net migration of 68,922 people that decade. Many of these people “from away” in the 1970s were young, back-to-the-earth types who eventually went on to have families in the 1980s helping create the echo-boom generation.

Chart Showing Maine Births vs Deaths 1950 to 2012

Maine Births vs Deaths 1950 to 2012

Despite continued in-migration, Roe v Wade and no-fault divorce eventually caught up creating another prolonged slump in the birth rate that continues today. In fact, the drop in the birth rate has fallen so low that in 2012 Maine became the second state to record more deaths than births (West Virginia being the first). This dubious distinction puts Maine firmly in the grip of Demographic Winter.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. In Maine, according to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 2,800 babies are aborted each and every year. If those babies were born instead, Demographic Winter would not yet exist as this would generate a net natural population growth of about 2,600. This would not put Maine back to the 1950s, but it would certainly buy some much needed time to put the other genies back in their respective bottles–the pill, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, the war on children rages on in Maine and in states throughout America. Until very recently, it appeared that the war might be reaching a turning point with 30 states having Constitutional protections on traditional man and woman marriage (not including the potential overturning of the Utah Amendment). The recent federal ruling in Utah now casts doubt on that.

America has been barreling down one of the largest social experiments in history on the most innocent of victims–children. If you are among the lucky to survive the trip down the birth canal and have an intact traditional family, you are now the exception. What are the consequences of this monumental frontal assault? No one knows, but we are all about to find out, ready or not . . .

Black Leaders Say Personal Responsibility Key to Economic Opportunity

Bill Cosby, Walter Williams, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

This is from my article published by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

What do Bill Cosby, Walter Williams, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter have in common?

They are all black men who grew up in Philadelphia. Williams and Cosby are a year apart in age. Both grew up in the Richard Allen housing projects in Philly and were raised by their mothers. Cosby attended Temple University in Philadelphia, where Williams later taught as an economics professor. As a former student of Williams, I remember him mentioning the funny kid his mom told him to stay away from. My husband (also a Williams student) and I wondered whether he was referring to Cosby—we never knew for sure.

Another similarity these very accomplished men have in common is their belief that intact families reduce dependency on government services.

Bill Cosby spends a significant amount of time talking to groups of black men, whether it be at a prison graduation ceremony for men receiving their GEDs or in a Detroit church closed to the media so that lawbreakers feel comfortable enough to attend. His message is harsh but the same wherever he goes: black men and women need to be responsible parents. In one of his most famous speeches, at a 2004 NAACP awards ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, he said: “No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the … child.”

In their book Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, Cosby and co-author Alvin Poussaint recall that blacks have always owned and operated any number of restaurants, laundries, hotels, theaters, grocery stores, clothing stores, life insurance companies, banks, funeral homes, and more. “Such successes provided jobs and strength to black economic well-being.”

Similarly, in his autobiography, Walter Williams described the thriving business community next to his housing project where the proprietors were both Jewish and black. A thriving business community meant jobs for any young person willing and able to work. Williams delivered hats, pressed hats, made hats, and picked fruit in New Jersey and sold it in Philly. He worked as a busboy and a dishwasher, delivered mail during Christmas, worked in a mail-order department, and delivered newspapers.

Cosby has a similar long list of jobs he worked during his teen years. Their early years clearly influenced their consistent and persistent call for personal responsibility as the solution to many of society’s ills.

Philadelphia’s current mayor, Michael Nutter, is a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business graduate whose message resonates in, and results are lauded in, both majority white and majority black districts. He is in his second term as mayor, with his first election garnering the largest percentage of white votes ever cast for an African-American mayor in Philadelphia. Four years later he won in landslides in both the primary and the general election. His winning message: parents can’t be outsourcing their responsibilities to the government if the city is to thrive.

In the summer of 2011, flash mobs of mostly black teenagers would gather suddenly and riot through popular tourist neighborhoods, assaulting pedestrians and robbing stores and people. Nutter took to the pulpit of Mount Carmel Baptist Church on August 7, 2011, and preached to teens and their absentee parents: “This nonsense must stop. If you want to act like a butthead, your butt is going to get locked up. And if you want to act like an idiot, move.” He lambasted absentee fathers, implying they were responsible for the crimes their children committed. “You’ve damaged your own race,” he declared.

He continued: “And if you’re not providing the guidance and you’re not sending any money, you’re just a sperm donor. You’re just a sperm donor. You’re what the girls call out in the street: ‘That’s my baby-daddy. That’s my baby-daddy.’ That’s not good enough.” He said he would speak plainly and he did: “That’s part of the problem in the black community. And many other communities, but a particular problem in the black communities: we have too many men making too many babies that they don’t want to take care of and then we end up dealing with your children. We’re not running a big babysitting service. We’re running a big government and a great city. Take care of your children. All of them. All of them.”

Cosby and Nutter have identified a pervasive problem leading to the decline of communities all over America: out-of-wedlock motherhood (absentee fathers). From a public policy perspective, there is a link between those poor women enrolled in Medicaid and increases in single motherhood. Medicaid provides states 90 percent reimbursement for contraception (birth control is a mandatory part of state Medicaid programs). Nobel Prize-winning economist George Ackerlof of the University of California, Berkeley, finds a causal relationship between widespread contraception and out-of-wedlock childbirth, suggesting a relationship between government funding of contraception and unmarried mothers. As economist Jennifer Roback Morse (PDF) rightly questions: “With the ability to prevent and terminate pregnancy increasing, why would low-cost or free contraception lead to more children being born to unmarried women?”

Morse then answers her question. “This occurs precisely because so many women actually want babies, more so than the estimates of so-called ‘unintended’ pregnancies and birth suggest. These women want their babies; they don’t want to have abortions. Not very long ago, these women would have had the support of the entire society in pressuring the father to marry them. But since having a baby is a ‘woman’s choice,’ that pressure is greatly attenuated. Consequently, the overall birth rate has declined, the proportion of women that are married has declined, and the proportion of babies born outside of wedlock has increased.”

A quick glance at SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) data shows that as of May 2013, of the 293,416 adults enrolled, 205,334 (or 70 percent) are women and 88,082 (or 30 percent) are men. Further, children represent nearly 65 percent of all enrollees. Although there are many factors that could help explain these enrollment data, one of them is assuredly single motherhood. These data surely warrant closer examination in a future OCPA study.

Furthermore, as my OCPA colleague Jonathan Small has pointed out, Oklahoma Health Care Authority data tell us that an astonishing 64 percent of births in Oklahoma are covered by the Medicaid program. That is not a misprint.

As a black man himself, Mayor Nutter can more credibly deliver the harsh message that might be needed for Philadelphia’s majority black population (43 percent black, 37 percent white, and 12 percent Hispanic) and not be accused of racism. Likewise, Cosby and Williams are extremely credible voices, having been raised by their mothers in the housing projects of Philadelphia. Although these men have many similarities and credibility, when it comes to public policy suggestions for Philadelphia’s population, they do not identify with the same political party. Walter Williams is an avowed libertarian, Bill Cosby doesn’t easily identify with either major party, and Michael Nutter is a Democrat. However, they are all conservatives to the extent that they all believe that the keys to social stability and economic opportunity are personal responsibility and intact families.