Myron Magnet has been writing perceptively about this and related issues for years: check out his Amazon author’s page, https://www.amazon.com/Myron-Magnet/e/B001H6MRPW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 and this article in City Journal is another in an important contribution to the subject.
Several key Trump administration proposals, taken together, would help cure an absurdity so ingrained and ideology-caked in American society that almost no one discusses it anymore: while millions of unskilled immigrants sneak illegally into America to do jobs that Americans won’t do, Americans won’t do them because the government pays them as much for idleness as an honest day’s labor pays. The administration would gain a strong rhetorical advantage if it packaged these ideas together in one inspirational proposition: let President Trump say that, no, the federal government didn’t create the urban underclass, but it inadvertently nurtured and institutionalized it through a half-century’s worth of well-meaning measures that had the unforeseen result of constricting lives, shrinking opportunity, and worsening social pathologies from the family up to the community, from generation to generation. Now, though—and not only because of our improving economy and low unemployment rate—is a perfect time for Washington to stop making the mess worse and start reversing it. Give the package a stirring name, too: Project Freedom, say, or Civil Rights II. Its point, the administration should stress, is to help all citizens take full advantage of the equality of opportunity that is the fundamental American premise—to encourage every citizen to make the most of his life.
The vagaries of human nature guarantee that we’ll always have ne’er-do-wells. But in the 1960s, American elite culture multiplied them, by stripping the stigma from a wide swath of misbehavior, partly because elites hankered for their own fling with sex, drugs, and dropping out, and partly because they came to think that centuries of racial victimization made society, not the individual, responsible for dysfunctional black behavior. Society, the new orthodoxy claimed, was to blame for the supposed lack of opportunity that discouraged black Americans from working and learning, for the rage and resentment that fueled disproportionate black criminality, and for the despair that heroin and crack served to dull.
Moreover, once out-of-wedlock sex lost its shame in the elite worldview, so did out-of-wedlock childbearing, widespread enough among black Americans a century ago to trouble W. E. B. Du Bois deeply, but astronomically higher after the cultural changes of the 1960s. As public opinion normalized single-parent families, the elites’ belief that America owed some cash reparation for 300 years of slavery and Jim Crow found an outlet in the hefty enrichment of a Depression-era program meant to aid widows and orphans, for which unwed mothers were also eligible. No longer stigmatized, and financially enabled by fattened welfare benefits, illegitimate births in inner-city neighborhoods soon soared above 80 percent.
Almost no one stopped to consider how successful at raising children such families would be. The problem wasn’t just that the mothers, generally very young and lacking much education, sent their kids to school with vastly smaller vocabularies, stocks of knowledge, and social and cognitive abilities than kids from intact working- and middle-class families. It wasn’t just that, with rudimentary parenting skills, some of these mothers relied too often on yelling and slapping, as anyone who has spent much time in inner-city neighborhoods has seen regularly—resulting, Dr. Freud might theorize, in the misogyny so widespread in underclass men that it is a rap-music keynote. It wasn’t even that these women lacked husbands, in the sense of having a man in the house. They lacked the soul of a family—the long-term commitment to each other and to the flourishing of your children that makes families the building blocks of society, raising children able to be citizens. It is a particular outlook, a worldview, a sense of duty, striving, and shared life, even more than a marriage certificate or ceremony, that makes a family.
Not only that. Also for half a century, few thought to ask what would be the almost inevitable consequence of labeling such single-parent children as members of a victimized group with little opportunity and therefore diminished personal responsibility, a group for which anything goes. The result—unsurprising, in retrospect—proved to be a subculture of dysfunction, with a worldview and ethic that spawned generations of out-of-wedlock childbearing, nonwork, indifference to learning, social resentment, disorder, and criminality, so that the black murder rate is now eight times that of U.S. whites and Hispanics combined, and New York blacks, 23 percent of the city’s population, commit two-thirds of its violent crimes. Not infrequently, some mother or child, gifted morally or intellectually, has seen larger possibilities and escaped such a fate; but these are the exceptions, not the rule.
President Trump promised to reform welfare, and in August, he did so, reversing President Obama’s unlawful 2012 waiver of Congress’s 1996 work requirements for welfare recipients. These mandates, combined with the law’s five-year limit on welfare enrollment, had spectacularly succeeded in increasing independence, halving the welfare caseload within five years, by encouraging women to leave the program for jobs and prompting others to look for work instead of applying for welfare benefits in the first place. While the rolls shrank, the number of employed single mothers soared, and their wages shot up, too. Meanwhile, contrary to the gloomy warnings of even such wise observers as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who, by then, evidently had drunk the lack-of-opportunity Kool-Aid), child poverty notably declined, and black child poverty hit a historical low.
But President Trump, who loves to say the unsayable, might take welfare reform a step beyond workfare. Times have changed since 1996, and not just from an economic point of view. With the stigma on illegitimacy gone, probably forever—so much so that political correctness forbids even the word—if a woman wants to have a baby out of wedlock, and has the money or the talent to raise the child decently, Western culture no longer minds, hard as it is to raise a kid on one’s own. Conservatives have lost that battle of the culture wars, along with many others, and Trump is hardly the man to refight this one. But what does remain morally distasteful to most Americans, even if they vaguely support the idea of reparations for blacks, is to demand money from your neighbors to support a baby you knew you couldn’t afford to raise—holding him or her as a kind of hostage. “Pay me, or the baby starves!”
The answer should be no. Such a demand is flat-out wrong. Your neighbors have their own problems paying their own bills, and in the twenty-first century this is not the only option. With birth control cheap and universally available, getting pregnant is a choice, for which you are responsible. In an age when legal abortion (and Vladimir Putin’s ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian kids) has made adoptable babies scarce, and when the legalization of gay marriage and gay adoption has increased demand, babies face a large universe of potential adoptive parents able to raise and love them. A pregnant single woman who does not want an abortion but can’t afford to house, feed, and nurture a child, should give her baby up for adoption. In any event, she should not have the unjust alternative of dragooning her taxpaying neighbors into paying her a salary for having an out-of-wedlock child.
Retrieved April 23, 2018 from https://www.city-journal.org/html/project-freedom-15831.html