Robert Knight

When I was a copy editor at the Los Angeles Times, a young reporter submitted an article about a single mother having trouble obtaining government checks.

The story was designed to elicit outrage at callous bureaucrats who should be showering this poor woman with subsidies. I asked the reporter if she knew anything about the father. Was he providing any assistance? Was he a deadbeat dad?

The reporter, who has probably gone on to MSNBC, responded: “How dare you ask that question? How dare you be so judgmental? It’s nobody’s business.”

Well, given that the unfortunate woman was asking taxpayers to take the place of the man who sired her children, it was everybody’s business.

It’s no secret that the decline of marriage has contributed mightily to poverty, crime, abortion, drug and child abuse, alcoholism, school dropout rates, sexually transmitted diseases and virtually every known social ill while exponentially bloating state and federal budgets. Every liberal attack on marriage ensures more government jobs for liberals to pick up the pieces.

As the federal government lurches toward a $16 trillion national debt and the states face bankruptcy, the welfare state is strangling freedom and the economy while keeping millions in wretched dependency.

Every attempt to rein in the behemoth is met with threats by public employee unions, fusillades from left-wing think tanks, and media smears.

Exhibit A is unfolding in the City of Brotherly Love, where the welfare state works so well that Philadelphia is a perennial contender for murder capital of the U.S. There's something to be said for Philly, the home of Ben Franklin, Bill Cosby, Independence Hall and hoagie sandwiches. But Philadelphia is also awash in liberal bureaucracy and social pathologies unleashed by the collapse of minority families thanks to the Great Society’s vision of the Good Life.

Here’s the gist of the current drama:

At issue: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Secretary Gary Alexander’s attempts to reduce waste and fraud.

The real target: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

The goat: Robert W. Patterson, a DPW official. I worked with Mr. Patterson a few years back at the Family Research Council. He’s a good guy and a careful writer.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.