Rector's solution to the poverty problem is marriage. He urges government policies to promote and strengthen the institution of marriage instead of providing incentives to discourage it.
Marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 82 percent. Marriage has just as dramatic an effect as adding five to six years to the parents' level of education.
If single moms were to marry the fathers of their children, the children would immediately be lifted out of poverty. Eight out of 10 of these fathers were employed at the time of the births of their out-of-wedlock children.
Government should reduce or eliminate the marriage penalties in welfare programs, in tax law and even in Obamacare. Rector explains that marriage penalties occur in many means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, daycare and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
Ronald Reagan's advice is still pertinent. If we subsidize something, we'll get more of it; if we tax it, we'll get less of it.
Interviews with low-income single moms show that they are not hostile to marriage as an institution or as a life goal. In fact, they dream of having a husband, children, a minivan and a house in the suburbs "with a white picket fence," but nobody tells them they will probably always be poor if they have babies without getting married.
What about the guidance we give kids in school? We tell them they will be poor if they become school dropouts and that it's self-destructive to use illegal drugs, but it's just as important to warn them about the life of poverty ahead of them if they produce babies before they marry.
What about the moral guidance we expect from the churches? Do they tell young people not to pretend they can form a "family" without marriage and a father for the children?
What about the conservatives who limit their concerns to fiscal priorities? Do they identify what the taxpayers' money is being spent on and then urge cutting the taxpayer-paid incentives that encourage illegitimate births?
As far back as 1993, Charles Murray identified "illegitimacy as the single most important social problem of our time ... because it drives everything else." It's time we put it at the top of our agenda.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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