Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Get Hitched or Stay Poor say the Conservatives

Get Hitched, Young Woman
September 26, 2005

Read the entire article at: http://www.tompaine.com/print/get_hitched_young_woman.php

Ruth Rosen, professor emeritus at U.C. Davis and senior fellow at the Longview Institute is the author, most recently, of The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America.

Why have "out-of wedlock" pregnancies suddenly entered the national debate over President's Bush's astonishingly incompetent failure to rescue the poor in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina?

The answer is obvious: It's a great way to change the subject, and to remind us that in contemporary America, only unmarried mothers fail to demonstrate "personal responsibility."

Never mind that neither the Pentagon nor Congress can account for the $200 billion that have been spent waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Or that George W. Bush has saddled the nation with a monstrous national debt.  Never mind that he sent tens of thousands of young people to Iraq on cooked-up intelligence and that no government official has taken responsibility for the torture of prisoners.   Or that Afghanistan is once again the world's leading exporter of narcotics.  Never mind that Bush chose Michael D. Brown, an inexperienced and incompetent crony, to run FEMA, with disastrous consequences.

The Bush administration only believes in accountability and personal responsibility when it involves women's sexuality and their reproductive choices.

What a perfect moment to change the subject and blame poor African-American women for causing the poverty the world witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina.

Without skipping a beat, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, proclaimed that the "The root of it [the poverty exposed by Katrina] is the breakdown of the family.

Roughly 60 percent of births in New Orleans are out of wedlock."

Lowry then went on to propose a "grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the left in exchange for the right's support for more urban spending..."

As New York Times reporter Jason DeParle revealed in his book American Dream, it is poverty itself--- not a lack of personal responsibility---that is the main reason for single-parent families.

Don’t get me wrong. Stable two-parent families—absent violence, drugs or alcohol—usually offer children the best chance to escape poverty. But Lowry and his cheerleaders have it backwards. The decline in teenage pregnancies since the early 1990s, particularly among African-American girls, indicates that young women are, in fact, taking greater personal responsibility. As New York Times reporter Jason DeParle revealed in his book American Dream , it is poverty itself— not a lack of personal responsibility—that is the main reason for single-parent families.

With amazing gall, conservatives have shredded the safety net and then blamed unmarried mothers for their own neglect-the-poor policies.

Spending millions of dollars to promote marriage and sexual abstinence, for example, has not improved the "personal responsibility" of poor boys and men.

Ending welfare---without providing affordable child care and health care, paid family leave and a higher minimum wage----hasn't kept working women and their families from plunging below the poverty line.

Poor women, moreover, are not the only ones choosing to raise children by themselves. Single women—across all racial and class lines—are now the fastest growing demographic group in our population. One-third of American women are currently single, and growing numbers of them are choosing to bear and raise children alone. Despite conservatives’ glorification of “family values” and “the traditional family,” only one-quarter of American households now include two parents and children.
The fact is, women's lives have dramatically changed during the last 40 years, but neither our government nor our society have made the necessary changes that should have accompanied the entry of such huge numbers of women into the labor force.

Meanwhile, social conservatives gaze upon the human consequences of their policies, are embarrassed by what they see, and then attack unmarried mothers for their lack of personal responsibility---and condemn them for the poverty exposed by Katrina.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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