The controversy over Mitt Romney’s comments about the 47 percent dependent on government coffers continues to heat up, with political pundits stunned that anyone running for president could be so insensitive.
“There are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it,” Romney told a small group of high dollar donors.
It’s abhorrent, liberals are saying, that Romney would berate those struggling through tough times while it’s laudable for the President to demand more from the nation’s wealthiest producers.
This year’s key issue has become the redistribution of wealth – when government intervenes to take from the rich and give to the poor.
The Holy Scriptures instruct believers to care for the widows and orphans and bring tithes into the storehouse. We are not to be greedy nor selfish with the blessings God has bestowed.
But when is enough enough? And when does our charity lead to a crippling, unhealthy dependency?
Illinois must face this urgent moral question because the state’s entitlement programs are on the path to bankruptcy. Illinois led the nation with 1 in 298 units in foreclosure proceedings in August. Our unemployment rate is among the highest and our poverty rate is rising.
Nationally, there are more looking to the government for assistance than ever before, the Heritage Foundation found in a recent study. Government dependency jumped 3.28 percent in 2011, with the largest increases in higher education loans and grants and in retirement spending. From 2007 to 2011, the rate rose by 31.73 percent.
There’s no question that everyone’s looking for an upsurge that produces jobs. An economic boost would, we assume, cause the government dependency rolls to shrink and states like Illinois would swing from being welfare providers to being revenue recipients.
But would an economic recovery and a job boon really fix Illinois’ revenue problem?
Those that resist discussing social issues this political season will be disappointed that jobs and the economy are only part of the solution. It’s only part because a dramatic rise in unwed births and the accompanying decline in marriage are the biggest cause of child poverty in Illinois, the Heritage Foundation said in a study released last week.
Heritage ran the numbers for Illinois and found that a staggering 73 percent of all poor families in Illinois are unmarried. Only one-quarter of poor families with children involve married couples.
Indeed, despite all the attempts to steer around this issue, marriage – yes, marriage – is the one crucial factor as to whether a child grows up dependent on Illinois’ welfare system. Marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 85 percent.
As Illinois nears economic calamity with its state treasury drowning in red ink, the only way to remedy the situation is to change public policy emphasis. Education reduces poverty, but so does marriage. In fact, Heritage Foundation found, a married family headed by a high school dropout in Illinois is actually less likely to be poor than a non-married family headed by an individual with a few years of college.
As traditional and old-fashioned as it may sound, the best economic environment for children is a two-parent household. When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.
Each of those negatives costs the state’s taxpayers more and more over time, not to mention the loss of talent and an overall missing contribution to the community.
Who would have imagined that Illinois’ public policy and decisions made at the State Capitol could make a difference on its families and its children’s futures in such a obvious manner? It’s not only best for our children, but it’s in the state’s best interests financially, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually to encourage traditional marriage in Illinois.
It is best for all – even that 47 percent who don’t pay federal taxes – to strive for independence from the state’s mercies.
As Ronald Reagan said, “The American people, the most generous on earth, who created the highest standard of living, are not going to accept the notion that we can only make a better world for others by moving backwards ourselves. Those who believe we can have no business leading the nation.”
This election, it’s crucial we choose leaders at state and national levels that recognize the value of traditional marriage, and determine to use that insight to lead us forward once again. With it, we can hope for a more fiscally-sound future.