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How the Welfare State Destroyed Black and Poor Families

July 27, 2013

Many new homeowners back in the 1960s and now were not ready to own homes. Single mothers, for instance, received some 20 percent of these mortgages in already vulnerable cities like Philadelphia and Detroit which is now in bankruptcy and I don’t see Philadelphia too far behind. Since roughly 1960, the federal government had been on an unwitting campaign to drive fathers from the home. That was the year that the Aid to Dependent Children Program became Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), or, more realistically, Aid to Moms with Dependent Children. A working dad in the home did not fit the state definition of family. In 1964, the Feds sweetened the pot for forsaken moms in the United States as well in Puerto Rico and those who would immigrate into this nation with food stamps and in 1965 with Medicaid. To this day, a young African-American woman has much more incentive to become pregnant, have her suitor take a hike, get him for child support and get an FHA secured loan, a welfare check, healthcare for her and her children and food stamps. What a deal. The good life on someone else’s dime trumped keeping the family struggling together.

Foreclosures followed in record numbers–Philadelphia had more in three years of this program than it had in the previous thirty-three with FHA loans. When foreclosures reached critical mass, neighborhoods turned into ghettoes and I can testify that they are still there today despite the Northern Liberties and Society Hill. When aspiring arsonists learned just how much fun it was to watch abandoned buildings burn, ghettoes like Detroit, Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey turned into kindling.

When a road to a particular hell is paved with good intentions, there is no turning back the hell-bound.

Single motherhood was not unique to the poor and/or black. As it often did, California was paving a new road, if not to hell, at least to purgatory. In 1953, when Harpers Magazine asked the young homemakers of Lakewood what they missed most in moving there, they usually replied, “My Mother.” So many of these young families were so removed from their roots that they did not have a close friend or relative in the same time zone. When familial tensions built, there was often no one to mediate it. All this artificial homebuilding and relocating people to areas they wouldn’t otherwise live is exactly what has happened with the housing market in China and yet investors such as Jim Rogers applauded what would be the economy of the future, but of course today he is singing a new tune as well as everyone else who didn’t see that the government intervention of building housing that there was no demand for in China and having the Chinese access more and more easy credit was no economic boom, but a repeat of our own past that we obviously have not learned from.

So in response to familial tension from young couples being so far from home in these artificial bedroom communities divorce began spreading like Continental dollars. In 1969, rather than stabilize the currency, the state abandoned the band-of-gold standard and introduced no-fault divorce.  Bad marriage promptly drove out good marriage. By 1975, the number of divorces had topped 1 million per year, and the national divorce rate peaked in 1980, where there were 1,189,000 divorces, or 22.6 for every 1,000 married women.

From 1960 to 1980, the divorce rate more than doubled — from 9.2 divorces per 1,000 married women to 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women. This meant that while less than 20% of couples who married in 1950 ended up divorced, about 50% of couples who married in 1970 did. And approximately half of the children born to married parents in the 1970s saw their parents part, compared to only about 11% of those born in the 1950s. By 1985, just about every state in the union had adopted no-fault divorce in one form or another, with predictable results. By 1980, the divorce rate in the United States had reached its peak and inspired such movies as Kramer versus Kramer. Embarrassed by its own divorce numbers California stopped tracking divorces after 1980. That is too bad, I believe if we could view the divorce rate of Lakewood in 2000 we would probably see only 50 percent of its homeowners as married couples.

The result of these trends were not immediately obvious. The effect of divorce and single motherhood on home owning was something the chattering classes chose not to chatter about. Like an unpaid debt, these were worries that would be passed down to the next generation.



From → Economics, Liberty

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