By Tom Quiner

The best way to help the poor is to lead them from dependence to independence.

Congressman Ryan advocates program that encourage independence

Congressman Paul Ryan

This principle transcends partisanship.

America takes poverty seriously and launched a war on poverty that spent trillions in trying to eradicate it.

We didn’t. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked in some areas. It’s safe to say, though, that our efforts have been imperfect.

For example, back in 1960, 61 percent of black adults were married.

By 2008, that number was down to 32 percent.

Kids do better with married parents by every standard of measurement. Something’s wrong when we see the marriage rate plummet like this.

In 1960, just 2 percent of black children had a parent that had never been married.

By 2008, the number was up to 41 percent.

Our approach worked this way: to receive a welfare check, a poor mother had demonstrate that …

√ She’s single.

√ She’s not working.

√ She has no savings.

Is it possible that the prospect of a welfare check with these standards created a disincentive to get married, get a job, and to save? What kind of impact does this have on certain communities over the years?

Here’s the reaction of a black woman, Star Parker, who was once on welfare:

“I can speak from personal experience going back to my years on welfare. The intent of federal welfare programs might have been to help the poor, but they caused far more damage than benefit.”

Her remarks mirror those of Congressman Paul Ryan who has presented a budget that moderates the growth of some programs:

“…..don’t make people dependent on government so they stay stuck in their station in life, help people get out of poverty out onto life of independence.”

How do we help the poor? We need a societal safety net. The Left and the Right agree. The devil is in the details.

Is the safety net a reprieve and a springboard to eventual independence?

Or is it a lifestyle?

When we look at the breakdown of the family in the African-American community with our top-down, trillion dollar “war,” perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to criticize Congressman Ryan’s budget.

Perhaps our approach needs rethinking.


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