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 . . .

Are We Raising the Next Generation of Criminals?

Picture of a Prison

Recently, I read a fascinating account from a career federal prosecutor, Margaret McGaughey, in Maine who details her understanding of “How to Raise a Dangerous Criminal.” In her words:

During my 35 years as a federal prosecutor, I have been exposed to biographical information about some of the most dangerous drug and violent defendants in the American criminal justice system. What has consistently struck me is how similar these offenders’ backgrounds are. My experience has suggested that four features commonly combine in lethal fashion to create a dangerous criminal. They are:

* families that have fractured and re-configured repeatedly and consider criminal behavior to be an accepted element of family life;

* childhoods that are dominated by drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, verbal mistreatment, sexual predation, or all of those forms of abuse;

* upbringings that reflect no respect for education; and

* the absence of any influence of, or involvement in, religion.

Wow, I really appreciate such brutal honesty from someone who has been in the trenches.  What really surprised me was that she would even mention religion since that seems to be, in today’s world, irrelevant. Her article is rather lengthy so I encourage you to take the time tor read the whole thing.

Instead, I have a different purpose for this blog post. I will take everything that Margaret McGaughey says at face value–and I certainly have no reason not to–and analyze her suppositions through the lens of her home-state’s current socioeconomic status. The data is stunning in that it shows Maine may be heading for a dramatic rise in crime. Keep in mind, however, that while I’m discussing Maine, this analysis could easily apply to all of the New England states.

Currently, Maine is one of the safest states in America. According to the 2012 crime statistics complied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Maine has the lowest violent crime rate in the country (includes murder and non-negligent homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and the 16th lowest property crime rate in the country (includes burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). However, a look at data suggests that Maine’s pristine criminal record may begin tarnishing.

While not all of the points made by Margaret McGaughey can be quantified, here is what we know. First, the institution of marriage has seriously eroded in Maine, especially among the lower and middle class. Of course, this is not unique to Maine as I pointed out in a previous post that marriage has been declining in American society. Nonetheless, the rate of declines is stunning.

I like using data from the Internal Revenue Service because compliance is mandatory, under criminal penalties, which makes it a “harder” source of data vis-a-vis survey data. IRS data for Maine in Chart 1 shows that overall between 1997 and 2011 the number of married tax filers as a percent of all filers fell by -8.5 percent to 40.5 percent from 44.2 percent.

Chart Showing Married Tax Returns as a Percent of All Tax Returns in Maine 1997 and 2011

However, the overall data hides the more distressing news that appears when looking at the data by income group. While marriage declined in all income groups, it dropped by a whopping 33 percent for those earning between $1 and $50,000 to a mere 22.7 percent in 2011 from 33.9 percent in 1997. In stark contrast, marriage hardly declined at all for taxpayers earning more than $100,000.

This steep decline in marriage particularly impacts children because 50 percent of all dependents (mostly children) are claimed by those earning between $1 and $50,000 as shown in Chart 2. Chart 2 also shows a small ray of sunshine in that the percentage of dependents in the upper income brackets have grown tremendously, albeit starting at very low levels, meaning more children growing up in married households (though this isn’t proof that they are stable, married households).

Chart Showing Percent of Dependents by Income Group

Overall, this marriage data suggests that the stability that marriage brings to a child is severely lacking. If 50 percent of Maine’s children are being raised in marriage-less, lower income households then the odds are high that there is a lot of fracturing and re-configuring of their family life. Even if it is only a small percentage of children that are exposed to this environment, that would still amount to tens of thousands of children.

Additionally, it does not appear that this dynamic will be changing anytime soon. According to data from the The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 39 percent of all births in 2009 in Maine were paid for by Medicaid. This situation exists on top of the fact that Maine is only one of two states where there were more deaths than births (xls) (West Virginia is the other). So, there are not only fewer children being born in Maine, but a significant number of them are being born right into the welfare system–a system that has already trapped 1 in 3 Mainers on welfare.

In terms of religion, Maine is one of the least religious states in the country. According to the Pew Research Center, only 42 percent of Mainers say that religion is very important to their lives–as it is in all of New England. So, statistically speaking, Maine children are less likely to be exposed to morality and religion which help curb criminal behavior.

The data paints a pretty bleak future in Maine and suggests that crime will be on the rise in the state that bills itself as “the way life should be.” This does not bode well economically either as a large part of Maine’s economy is centered around tourism. A spate of bad news on the crime front would do little to encourage tourism.

The one point I would disagree with Margaret McGaughey on is her solution to this problem. Naturally, since she is part of the institutional criminal justice system, her solution is very institutional. Put succinctly, she advocates for a more active judiciary which would remove children from abusive/negligent parents and put them into an institutional group homes–though she likens them more to “boarding schools.”

Unfortunately, she neglects to see the bigger picture as her solution is really more of a band-aid. Ultimately, the social status of the family unit will have to return to the loftier status it enjoyed in decades past. A stable, strong family will be one that emphasizes education and religion with positive feedbacks of education and religion stabilizing and strengthening families.

Yet, Maine is going through a spasm of negative family feedbacks. Maine has recently legalized same-sex marriage, expanded gambling (doc), and legalized marijuana in Portland–the state’s largest city. All of these developments only serve to weaken the family.

Instead, Maine needs to chart a very different course. Perhaps a solution can be found in Maine’s agrarian past–hint, hint. There are some ideas I’ve been tossing around, but this blog post is long enough already. Please stay tuned 🙂

photo by: Corey Leopold