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Republicans were able to gain power during the mid 90’s in part by promising to abolish welfare as we know it. However, as these reformers once motivated by the idealism of their convictions have grown accustomed to the perks of public office, they are no longer quite so eager to bring about the abolition of these programs as they are to expand entitlement programs to create whole new levels of dependency.
One of the surest ways to maintain one’s hold on power, to extend the scope of government, and to minimize criticism of one’s pet projects is to couch these in terms of defending some venerable institution. Environmentalists have so mastered the technique that now those daring to question this movement are characterized as being in favor of dirty water and bunny massacres.
As a nation founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, most Americans view marriage and family as one of the building blocks of a stable social order. Thus, those brave enough to question a proposal being introduced by Kansas Senator Sam Brownback will no doubt be cast as enemies of children and families. But the things these critics are really standing up for are just as important and perhaps even more fundamental values such as self-reliance and a sense of personal sobriety that one does not always get the things one wants especially if one is not patient enough to follow the proper steps in their own time to acquire them.
The plan promoted by Brownback would give low income residents of the District of Columbia Marriage and Pre-marriage Accounts where the government would match $3.00 for every dollar contributed by the account holder up to $4500. The theory is that encouraging marriage is good for children.
But if we are now considering dishing out what amounts to what could be rightly construed as a marriage subsidy, doesn’t this amount to yet another form of welfare? Furthermore, such handouts would do little to actually strengthen marriage since such funds would most likely go to those that don’t value marriage all that much to begin with.
This was evident with the couple profiled in a July 31, 2005 Washington Post story detailing the Brownback proposal. The couple chronicled has not yet gotten married because the couple is strapped for cash because he is unemployed and disabled with a back injury and to her it’s simply not enough to bask in the joy and pleasure of solemnizing the couple’s love before God and man as this woman already on a number of government assistance programs demands a storybook wedding.
Yet despite claiming to delay matrimony because of economic excuses, this has not stopped them from playing house by shacking up and having a baby on top of the fact she already has another child by another dude. Apparently the baby’s daddy isn’t too disabled; he might not be suffering so much from a bad back as he is a lazy rear-end.
This couple made their own decision to do things out of order after sitting in a tree, skipping the first comes love and then comes marriage stage going straight to the baby carriage. Frankly, why should the rest of us have to dig deeper into our pockets to buffer the consequences of their actions?
If couples such as this are not going to get married and (as most Americans possessed the moral courage to say in eras with a bit more class) “live in sin”, doesn’t it prove they do not value marriage to begin with? Why do some such as Senator Brownback insist throwing more public money at the problem is going to resolve the issue?
This is pretty much the approach that has been taken in regards to public education and look at the sorry state the public schools are in. Do we really want to endanger marriage further through additional government handouts and interference?
Those defending Marriage Saving Accounts insist that the “downtrodden” and “underprivileged” need public assistance in establishing their homes and families. However, according to the specifics of the proposal, beneficiaries can make up to $25,000 if they have no dependents and up to $50,000 if one has dependents and a total net worth of less than $10,000. Thus in plain language, what these programs do is reward those refusing to exercise a little self control or willingness to delay gratification by saving for a rainy day.
Why should others have to have what they have worked for taken and given to someone that could theoretically be making more than they do but lacks character so that the less frugal can enjoy many of the things those with the integrity to lead productive lives apart from the patronage of the state cannot afford and must delay acquiring until later down the road? Why shouldn’t the same be expected of the indolent and licentious?
It’s not like the highlighted couple is living on the streets. According to the Post, they have a roof over their heads. Since this is the case, their living arrangements are no concern of the government or even the church to much of a degree.
In the Washington, DC area where the average house is now pushing between $300,000 and $500,000, if subsidies were dished out to all of those unable to afford real estate prices, just about everybody would be suckling off the government teat.
Marriage and family are indeed a fundamental building block of a stable social order. However, these will falter unless composed of individuals that value these institutions more than any bribe to entice them into them and realize no one is responsible for their success and happiness other than themselves.
Copyright 2005 by Frederick Meekins