- Oregonians flee in face of fast-moving wildfire as homes go up in blaze
- Eric Holder: ‘Racial animus’ fuels opposition to Obama and me
- Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to return to active duty at Fort Sam Houston
- Israel says it’s downed drone along southern coast
- Despite offensive, Gaza rockets still hit Israel
- Extra-time goal gives Germany World Cup title over Argentina
- Strong quake hits Japan, triggering tsunami
- Sniper heaven: Pentagon’s self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Violent gang taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Medicaid enrollment continues to soar under Obamacare, administration says
WETZSTEIN: Welfare roots led to a big problem
Question of the Day
It often takes decades for big social changes to reveal their most far-reaching consequences. Take welfare services for single mothers and their children. Who knew that efforts to solve one small problem in the 1930s would contribute to $100 billion a year in unintended costs 70 years later?
Let’s start with a little welfare history.
In the 1930s, when the Roosevelt administration was working to steer the nation out of the Great Depression, it faced the issue of how to help indigent widows with children, especially those whose husbands died in World War I.
Washington solved the problem with a tiny program called Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), which would give a monthly stipend to widows and their families.
But as the law was being processed, a question arose: What about women who hadn’t married but had children? Surely these unfortunate women were seduced by cads and then thrown aside with their bastards, I imagine the bureaucrats’ argument went.
Should we ignore them and consign those mothers to menial jobs and their children to workhouses instead of schools? Or should we write the rules to allow unwed mothers to get ADC?
The softhearted - some might say softheaded - bureaucrats’ choice, of course, was the latter.
For three decades, things looked fine. The bulk of ADC funding went, as planned, to poor widows and children.
But this changed in the 1960s. Widows were replaced by “expanding rolls of divorced, deserted and - more than ever over time - unmarried young mothers,” Hugh Helco wrote in the 2001 book “The New World of Welfare.”
The ADC program became a cornerstone of the Johnson administration’s “war on poverty.” Community activists explained to poor families that ADC, plus other new anti-poverty programs like food stamps and Medicaid, would keep the wolves from their doors.
But besides keeping wolves away, ADC ended up keeping men away.
Uncle Sam didn’t want to pay for a man’s family if he was there, so something called the “no man in the house” rule took shape.
As Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West wrote in their 1999 book, “The War Against Parents”: “[I]n the 1950s and 1960s, various states decided to crack down on unqualified ADC recipients; government agents staged announced midnight raids to make sure that mothers really had been deserted and that there was ‘no man in the house.’ If a man was found on the premises, the mother lost her ADC benefits.
“The effect of these raids,” they wrote, “was to further discourage fathers even more from living with their families.”
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Denver lawsuit accuses abortion clinic of not reporting rape of 13-year-old
- Fewer abortion clinics in minority communities: study
- Census: More first-time mothers give birth out of wedlock
- Activists sue to block New Hampshire abortion 'buffer zone' law
- Pace of state laws against abortion slows in 2014
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
By Robert N. Tracci
Congress must use its appropriations power to secure the border
- DOJ investigates Nebraska parade float critical of Obama
- Agency scrubs Malia Obama photos at White House's request: report
- A 'new Cold War': China's top paper warns of 'slippery slope' towards conflict with U.S.
- Violent gang MS-13 taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Emeryville, Calif., police chief: Guns aren't for defense
- Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi formerly a U.S. captive
- KUHNER: Will Russia-Ukraine be Europe's next war?
- Germany wins World Cup title on Mario Goetze goal in extra time
- Obama's 'blank check' rejected as border solution
- New York City creates ID card so 500K illegal immigrants can get services
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs