With the New Year approaching great change will undoubtedly accompany the new millennium. Changes in technology and the arts will emerge naturally but as the times change it is our responsibility to ensure that social policies are designed to best benefit society. Drugs, crime, violence, poverty, and illiteracy are all rising at amazing speeds and this indicates a problem in our current social policy. While there are many possible reasons for these problems the corresponding rise in white illegitimacy is the largest factor.
Charles Murray identified this problem in an article in the Wall Street Journal. He came up with possible solutions that he felt would cure this societal illness. His suggestions were good but unreasonable. He touches on both societal and governmental reform and although many of his suggestions are valid they would cause more harm then good. His recommendations include ending governmental economic support such as welfare, subsidized housing and food stamps, increasing social stigma, and returning to the ideals held in the mid 20th century. Although these suggestions do contain some validity in theory, I don’t believe that implementation would have the desired effect.
Murray’s opinion is that some women go through with pregnancy because they know the government will support them through the Welfare system. Therefore Murray feels this economic policy should be abolished. To understand his theory you must look at illegitimacy as a circle: It is a fact that women, especially teenage women, are more sexually active today than in the past. One reason for this increase is that they know the government has systems designed to support them if they become pregnant. This serves as a safety net for the women therefore they are more sexually active.
Murray feels that by cutting out this policy women won’t have that safety net. This will cause them to be less sexually active in turn cutting down the number of illegitimate births. This may work for some women, but Murray doesn’t stipulate as to what happens to the women it does not work for. Cutting out the welfare system will leave those who use, rather than abuse, the system out in the cold. It may help decrease the number of illegitimate births but it will also bring great harm to many babies and children. Welfare checks are often used to put clothing on the baby’s backs and help to support their needs as they grow. Without that money the baby’s health is put into great jeopardy. Undoubtedly the current welfare system isn’t flawless but abolishing it would have much worse effects on children then what is already in place. Instead of using Murray’s solution of downright ending welfare simply altering the system could solve many of the problems.
Another of Murray’s possible solutions for decreasing white illegitimacy is ending the food stamp program. No food stamps means no food, and no food means death for thousands of babies. He makes this suggestion for the same reasons he feels welfare should be done away with. It’s a source of governmental aid. He feels that without the aid of the Government women will be less likely to engage in sex. With less sex comes less pregnancy. Although this point may be true it is not valid. The end just doesn’t justify the means in this situation. Castration of all men in the world will stop illegitimate pregnancy, but like the elimination of food stamps, that just isn’t a possibility. Babies need to eat otherwise they will die. If a woman has a baby that she can not support then that baby will most likely die is someone doesn’t intervene. The government is the only institution that can be depended on to take care of such a problem. Murray’s suggestion would have more credibility if babies could feed themselves but since they can not it is the mother’s responsibility.
If Murray were a little less extreme then his point would have more validity. One reason food stamps don’t always work is because they are sold on the black market for cash instead of being used to buy the baby food and diapers. Fix the solution in order to fix the problem. Lobby for more legislation against the sale of food stamps on the black market. Increase penalties for those caught engaging in those activities and take away the children from the neglectful parents.
Another of Murray’s ideas to cut down on illegitimate births is to instill on society that people who have illegitimate children should be looked down upon. This Scarlet Letter approach is wrong and has no place in our society today. No one is in the position to judge another human being and this suggestion is absurd. Turning single mothers and their babies into outcasts will produce many of the same effects that are already taking place. If you look down on a single mother then how will her baby be viewed when he ages? I fear a day when our society looks down on people for such reasons because it will be the beginning of a horrible time in history.
Lastly is the idea to reinforce the ideals of the mid 20th century. This would include reinstating the values of marriage and family and the morals of the 1950’s. Murray want to repaint the picture of the mom and dad with 2.75 kids and a dog named Lassie. Murray makes this suggestion because the 1950’s were a time when a white underclass was unheard of. He figures that by rewinding society through an old ‘Leave it to Beaver’; episode everything will be back in shape. Well, this view is utterly out of touch. As times change so does society. This is the reason that we don’t leave as they did back in the 1950’s in the first place. Children of the 90’s couldn’t be any farther from those in the middle of the century. Children today are forced to grow up much faster then in the past because they are exposed to entirely too much, too soon.
Rather then going backwards in history we need to take steps forward. America’s youth must be educated about the problems in society so that they won’t relive them as they grow. The key to cutting down on illegitimacy is through the education of youth. Expose teens to the hardships of raising a child so that they think before they act. Get to the core of the problem by reaching young Americans in their prime. The young people of today are the future of tomorrow and they possess the key to all societal change. Reach them when they are young and you will see a dramatic decrease in societies ills.
Although Charles Murray correctly diagnosed a great problem in our society his prescription for change was slightly off. He attacks the institutions that are helping many babies make it through to the next day. The focus needs to be less on the mother and more on the baby because, after all, the illegitimate children are the ones driving up the crime rates not their mothers. Granted, the system isn’t perfect but what we need is alteration rather then destruction. Attack the children through positive education rather then by asking society to look at them as a lowly being. Educate rather than humiliate and watch that underclass disappear.