Liberal NYT’s Writer Has An Epiphany: Maybe Conservatives Are Right About Welfare
If you give a lab rat a chunk of cheese every time it sits in a maze doing nothing, and then don’t reward it when it actually does manage to complete the maze, your rat is going to learn fairly quickly that the best thing it can do to ensure its continued survival is absolutely diddly squat:
NYT: Conservatives May Have a Point About Welfare Dependency
In an eyebrow raising article, liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof offered a startling concession: “This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.”
Writing from Jackson, Kentucky, Mr. Kristof reported that numerous poor parents in Appalachian hill country are yanking their kids out of literacy classes in order to bag a $689 monthly Supplemental Security Income (S.S.I.) check per kid. The checks continue until the child reaches 18 years of age.
“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Cornell University Economics Professor Richard V. Burkhauser says parents are inducing illiteracy to keep the taxpayer-funded welfare checks rolling in. “One of the ways you get on this program is having problems in school. If you do better in school, you threaten the income of the parents. It’s a terrible incentive,” said Professor Burkhauser.
Such government dependency, says local school district official Melanie Stevens, traps poor children and families in a cycle of taxpayer-funded dependency that replaces dreams with welfare checks: “The greatest challenge we face as educators is how to break that dependency on government. In second grade, they have a dream. In seventh grade, they have a plan.”
Conservatives have long advocated marriage as the best anti-poverty program going. The logic is simple: two paychecks are twice as much as one.
Radical feminists, however, have eschewed such economic logic, suggesting that the two-parent model is patriarchal and outmoded. As the former head of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Kim Gandy put it, “Marrying women off to get them out of poverty is not only backward, it is insulting to women.”
But the New York Times’ Kristof appears to have found religion on the economic and developmental virtues of marriage as well: “A growing body of careful research suggests that the most effective strategy is to work early on children and education, and to try to encourage and sustain marriage,” Kristof writes.
The New York Times is by no means changing its ideological stripes. But Mr. Kristof deserves a hat tip for acknowledging what conservatives have known for decades: marriage reduces poverty, and boundless welfare vaporizes human flourishing.Explore posts in the same categories: Family, journalism, Liberals, Obama Sucks, Parenting, politics, Welfare