Larry Elder

Economist Walter Williams says that census reports from 1890 to 1940 show that blacks were actually slightly (SET ITAL) more (END ITAL) likely to marry than whites -? therefore their children were slightly more likely than whites to be born into a nuclear, intact family.

Enter President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty." Johnson established "neighborhood centers," whose workers went door-to-door, apprising people of their welfare "rights and benefits." Welfare rolls exploded -- increasing 110 percent during one three-year period in the '60s. Instead of helping the needy, the "war" helped turn the needy into welfare dependents.

How do we know that the well-intentioned but misguided "war on poverty" actually increased welfare dependency? We asked the poor. In 1985, the Los Angeles Times published the findings of a poll that asked both poor and non-poor people the following question: Do young, poor mothers "often" have children to get additional benefits? Most non-poor people (44 percent) said no. But 64 percent of poor respondents agreed that young poor women "often" have children to get additional welfare benefits!

What does Juan Williams propose? Well, "dialogue." He encourages President Barack Obama to "speak out" on the issue: "When President Obama tried to speak to this crippling dynamic (of black fatherlessness and violence) in 2008, he was basically told to shut up by Rev. Jesse Jackson. ... The moment revealed the high cost of speaking honestly about social breakdown in black America."

Getting Obama to "speak out"?

Obama, then a community organizer, lawyer and part-time law lecturer, opposed the welfare reform act of 1996. Never mind that it caused welfare rolls to decline by 50 percent, without a corresponding increase in abortion. The reform induced able-bodied people, previously on welfare, to get into the workforce. As president, Obama watered down the major component of the '96 reform, the work requirement.

Years ago, the late liberal Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., held hearings on the impact of federal government anti-poverty programs known as "urban renewal." One resident after another testified about government waste, indifference, corrupt politics, over-taxation and the negative consequences of bulldozing old neighborhoods to make way for what became public housing. An exasperated Proxmire finally said to one witness, "You would probably have better neighborhoods today if there had been no federal programs at all!"

The question is not whether to help the needy, but how to do so in the most humane, effective way, which gives kids the best possible chance to succeed. Government does a rotten job of this. Now that thoughtful lefties like Williams understand the what, when and how, will they address the "why"?

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit