Scholars Shine New Light on Old Truths for Fighting Poverty

protect marriageTwo of the oldest and most venerated public policy institutes in Washington, D.C., the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, have produced a new joint report dealing with the issue of fighting poverty in America.

The report, “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream,” is noteworthy for a number of reasons. One is that it reflects a consensus view between long established Washington institutions representing opposite sides of the political spectrum, with AEI being right of center and the Brooking Institution left of center.

But also noteworthy is the nature of this consensus. The report focuses on three pillars that need attention: family, work, and education.

That scholars from these two institutions — one on the left and one on the right — agree that the state of the American family is of critical importance to the economic well-being of Americans is news. It drives home a point I have been making for years — that so-called values issues, often called “social issues,” are indeed economic issues. The popularly accepted dichotomy between economic issues and social issues is invalid. They are of the same cloth.

Poverty became a major focus of attention in Washington in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson announced his program known as the “War on Poverty.”

Like in this new report, Johnson’s program emphasized the importance of education, the development of work skills and the availability of jobs and employment in hard-hit communities.

But unlike this new report, in Johnson’s war on poverty there was zero focus on the importance of the traditional American family to fighting poverty and enhancing economic vitality.


Because in 1965 the state of the American family was healthy compared to today and no one would have dreamed where things would go. The traditional values so critical to the nation’s welfare were largely taken for granted.

As the AEI/Brookings report points out, in 1970, 61.2 percent of women ages 20-24 were married compared to 15.9 percent in 2010.

In 1970, 79.7 percent of women ages 30-34 were married compared to 40.4 percent in 2010.

In 1970, 5.7 percent of white babies and 37.6 percent of black babies were born to unwed mothers. By 2010, white out-of-wedlock births rose to 35.9 percent and black out-of-wedlock births rose to 72.1 percent.

“By 2013,” the report states, “at nearly $107,000, the average married family with children had nearly three times the income of the average single-mother family with children ($35,654). Similarly, between 1974 and 2013, the average poverty rate of single-mother families was usually between four and five times higher that the poverty rate of married-couple families.”

The conclusion: “There now appears to be widespread and growing agreement among scholars that the best environment to rear children is the stable, two-parent family.”

In other words, the great new insight of modern scholars is that the Judeo-Christian traditions on which our nation was built work!

Johnson’s war on poverty followed the civil rights movement and the social unrest of the 1960s. Rather than concluding that it was necessary to bring what was working in America — traditional values, limited government, personal responsibility — to those parts of the nation that were not working, we ushered in a new era of big-government solutions.

These big-government solutions undermined the traditionally successful values and institutions of the country. Little was done to eradicate poverty but much was done to break down the American family and add hundreds of billions in new spending to the federal budget.

Fortunately, as this new AEI/Brookings report shows, many are now waking up.

New young leaders, particularly in the Republican Party, are breaking through to shine new light that family, ownership, and personal initiative and responsibility pave the promising path to rebuilding the broken parts of America.



Photo credit: Elvert Barnes (Creative Commons) – Some Rights Reserved

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One comment

  1. The democrats want black people to be poor as poor people are easier to control. Obama used to teach the work of Saul Alinsky when he was a community organizer. Alinsky was a devout communist who did not believe in freedom for anybody. Here is a list of things Alinsky wrote that he said were required in order to push a country into communist rule:

    1) Healthcare– Control healthcare and you control the people

    2) Poverty – Increase the poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.

    3) Debt – Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.

    4) Gun Control– Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.

    5) Welfare – Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income)

    6) Education – Take control of what people read and listen to – take control of what children learn in school.

    7) RELIGION – Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools

    8) Class Warfare – Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take (Tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.

    I think you get the picture. Everything in the list has been accomplished except for gun control which Obama is now working on.

    Now for the big surprise. Hillary Clinton was a big friend of Saul Alinsky. She used to visit him in his hotel when he was in town. Hillary wrote her college thesis on Alinsky and his work. He was her hero.
    Now God help us, she wants to be our president!!!!