KNIGHT: Welfare wars: Anatomy of a smear

Liberals vilify any notion that religion could help build stronger families

When I was a copy editor at the Los Angeles Times, a young reporter submitted an article about a single mother having trouble obtaining government checks.

The story was designed to elicit outrage at callous bureaucrats who should have been showering the poor woman with subsidies. I asked the reporter if she knew anything about the father. Was he providing any assistance? Was he a deadbeat dad?

The reporter, who probably has gone on to MSNBC, responded: “How dare you ask that question? How dare you be so judgmental? It’s nobody’s business.”

Well, given that the unfortunate woman was asking taxpayers to take the place of the man who fathered her children, it was everybody’s business.

It’s no secret that the decline of marriage has contributed mightily to poverty, crime, abortion, drug and child abuse, alcoholism, school dropout rates, sexually transmitted diseases and virtually every known social ill while exponentially bloating state and federal budgets. Every liberal attack on marriage ensures more government jobs for liberals to pick up the pieces.

As the federal government lurches toward a $16 trillion national debt and states face bankruptcy, the welfare state is strangling freedom and the economy while keeping millions in wretched dependency.

Every attempt to rein in the behemoth is met with threats by public-employee unions, fusillades from left-wing think tanks, and media smears.

Exhibit A is unfolding in the City of Brotherly Love, where the welfare state works so well that Philadelphia is a perennial contender for murder capital of the United States. There’s something to be said for Philly, home of Ben Franklin, Bill Cosby, Independence Hall and hoagies. But Philadelphia is also awash in liberal bureaucracy and social pathologies unleashed by the collapse of minority families, thanks to the Great Society’s vision of the good life.

Here’s the gist of the current drama:

At issue: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Secretary Gary D. Alexander’s attempts to reduce waste and fraud.

The real target: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

The goat: Robert W. Patterson, a DPW official. I worked with Mr. Patterson a few years back at the Family Research Council. He’s a good guy and a careful writer.

Mr. Patterson, who was appointed policy adviser in October, came under fire in mid-January from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which “began asking about Patterson’s side job as editor of the Family in America, published by an Illinois-based research center that advocates for the ‘natural human family … established by the Creator.’ ” You know, the Creator that America’s Founding Fathers cited in the Declaration of Independence, which the Continental Congress adopted in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

The Family in America is not a faith-based journal but a scholarly compilation of articles and research summaries published by the Howard Center, whose president is Allan C. Carlson, arguably the nation’s leading social historian. To the Philly hit team, the journal is immediately suspect because it isn’t aggressively secular.

Here’s a snippet from a Philadelphia Daily News editorial:

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