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How Moral Failure Causes Child Poverty

The largest predictor of child poverty is living in a single parent home. Those who deal with child poverty rarely address this, as Manhattan Institute fellow Heather MacDonald complains.

As Charles Murray explained a while back and continues to address, poverty is less an “access” or “prejudice” problem than a structural problem—in other words, people who have less money than the average family can usually easily even the score with public funds, but the largest reason they are poor in the first place is because they live in fractured relationships and/or haven’t developed the character traits necessary to stay out of poverty (good work ethic, personal responsibility, etc.). So the largest problem with social programs is that they do not address these underlying needs—i.e., the old “teach to fish” vs. “give a free fish” proverb.

How do all these poor kids not have daddies (women head the vast majority of single-parent households)? Of course, there are three options: Daddy died, mom and dad divorced, or mom and dad never married. The first option is relatively rare, leaving us with two major contributors to child poverty: divorce and premarital sex.

A simple figuring, really; but few people want to discuss this because divorce and premarital sex have become veritable constitutional rights. “It’s a personal decision,” many people will say, and that ends it.

Except that this decision often creates a vulnerable human being.

This, of course, is why poverty is not just a social problem—it’s a moral problem. This, too, is hard to take, because in a misguided interest of “fairness” or twanging backward to avoid seeming “prejudiced,” it’s much more politically correct to tell people in poverty that this problem is probably someone else’s fault, or no one’s, when, quite obviously in this case, poverty is the direct result of immoral decisions. (For those of you who haven’t heard, Christianity has for centuries said adultery, divorce and premarital sex are wrong. Looks like that standard isn’t random.)

Postmodernism—“Every choice is valid”—has some ugly consequences.