Rebuilding America's Social Infrastructure

by Mark Anthony

A profoundly important stage in American civilization has commenced with our fiscal, social and moral challenges converging, amplifying and feeding off one another. However, as we become increasingly more focused on dollars and cents, we have myopically lost sight of the root cause of our fiscal and cultural problems: the breakdown of the marriage-based family unit.

Man is a unique creature in that he has the ability to alter his personal or collective environment in ways superior to all other species. When faced with adversity, we Americans have achieved many of our greatest advances. The United States itself - the most brilliant concept of self-government human minds have ever created - was the product of visionary and courageous men and women whose efforts had been provoked by extreme adversity. That vision flowered, and for 150 years American civilization changed and evolved.

Man's resourcefulness under the strain of adversity is the very fiber of our existence. We have been given this nation as our birthright. What we do with it is up to us. How many times has a company closed its doors only to offer an enterprising former employee the opportunity to open his or her own business to profit and growth. Many others have failed, but that too is part of our American heritage.

Man has the opportunity to fail, so that he may learn and improve...ultimately to try again.

As America grew and prospered, people did what was essential in order to provide for their families so that they would have adequate food and shelter and clothing and education. It was no sin to take a second job or to work overtime if necessary. Hard work was a virtue in itself.

Historically, in time of great need a family sought assistance from its church. There, needs were administered with the love of the congregation, with no lasting ill-effects.

As American civilization evolved, its standard of living improved. The 19th century brought the Industrial Revolution, followed by the invention of the telephone, the automobile and the airplane. Then came the Great Depression - and the New Deal.

That was when everything changed.

The architects of big government played on the vulnerability of the American people. As gradualists and statists, they aimed to transfer rights and responsibilities away from the individual, family, church and community by consolidating unconstitutional power within government.

The progenitors of social utopianism fully understood human nature, knowing that a hungry man with an equally hungry family would accept a piece of bread, caring not what string was attached to the other end.

A process began. Eventually, the servant [government] would become the master.

Forevermore, government would be the nurturer, care-giver, protector and provider. If a man was hungry, he would be fed. If he needed shelter, he would be given a home. If he needed a job, one would be provided - not from the loving benevolence of his congregation but by the silent authority of an unseen hand. Not the hand of God. But the hand of Government.

The human spirit had been broken. Man no longer needed to strive. He needed only to ask.

The family unit began to erode. It was no longer necessary. The Church lost its influence. Its role of provider in time of need became less attractive than government largesse, as the Church asks for responsibility in exchange for its assistance. Unfortunately, government does not give without a price. Irresponsible behavior is often the product of the subsidy it bestows.

Can American Civilization continue to evolve if our social infrastructure - the American family, faith based organizations and private charities - continues to devolve?

Our temporal societal definition of compassion, as framed by the opposing viewpoints on welfare reform, clearly illustrates our choices as well as the attendant consequences of our actions.

Welfare lobbyists and their Congressional courtiers claim that the recently passed welfare reform legislation will plunge one million children deeper into poverty. They have conveniently forgotten why those children are living in poverty in the first place.

If we examine everyone in America who is living at or below the poverty level, we find one extraordinary commonality. Eighty percent of those living in poverty are living in single parent households.

The lesson is simple...

society gets more of that which it subsidizes.

For thirty years, America has subsidized illegitimacy and irresponsible behavior through the failed programs of the welfare state. Fathers have been replaced by welfare checks, and jobs have been replaced by welfare benefits. As a result, ninety percent of the households currently enrolled in the AFDC program are headed by a single, unmarried female. The children in these families, in turn, produce an illegitimacy rate 300% higher than the national average. If these children do marry, they are nearly twice as likely to get divorced, and they are three times more likely to be involved in drugs, criminal activity or commit suicide.

The Roman Scholar Pliny the Elder said, "What we do to our children, they will do to society." In response to the welfare lobby, it is appropriate to ask the following question: what kind of society can we expect these children to produce when through these programs we have condemned millions of them to generational poverty, growing up without a father, living in inner cities that look like war zones and attending public schools in which they must pass through metal detectors?

To answer that question we needn't look any further than our juvenile prison population. Seventy percent of juveniles serving time for committing serious offenses are also the products of single parent families.

This issue is not about dollars and cents. It is clear that the real threat to American Civilization is not the cost of the perpetuation of the welfare state but, rather, the lack of personal responsibility that it breeds.

It is profoundly dishonest for the leaders of social welfare permanence to assume that the motivation of conservatives is to take away someone's subsidy. On the contrary, it is our moral obligation to replace this cruel system of silent bondage with an opportunity for the dependent masses to restore their dignity and self-reliance.

Moreover, it is not in the best interests of "the children" to continue to use them as pawns to expand the size and scope of government while at the same time further subjugating the rights of the parent.

America has a choice:

We can build more prisons, or we can build more two-parent families.

Mark Anthony is a political analyst and the author of "Vanishing Republic, How Can We Save The American Dream?"

Copyright 1996, Mark Anthony Communications.

"History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has either been a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration to ultimate national disaster."

(General Douglas MacArthur)