Tonight, 40 percent of children in America will go to sleep with just one parent in the home, and a report released in October of 2013 by the Congressional Research Service indicates that, at $745.84 billion per year, welfare programs have surpassed Medicare and Social Security as the largest federal budget item.
Alarming statistics. But perhaps more alarming is that 0 percent of the 537 elected federal officials in Washington D.C. fully understand the relationship between the fatherless child and government costs; that dedicated parenting is essential to the pursuit of happiness and the lack thereof is the common denominator of the runaway cost of government.
President Obama has at least acknowledged the plight of the fatherless child. In a 2008 speech on the subject of fatherhood, the president stated the following: Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. All of this burdens the economy and government by increasing the cost of education, law enforcement and prison incarceration.
Thankfully, no government program was introduced to solve this problem. A recent Rothenburg report found that 69 percent of Americans believe that no matter how bad things are, Washington will always find a way to make them worse. Perhaps the miserable failure of the “Great Society” can explain why Americans, tired of social programming, feel this way.
Conservatives tried fixes, but failed. In the early 1980’s, the Reagan administration was unsuccessful in an attempt to transfer failed social programs to the private sector. George W. Bush attempted to marry government to the private sector through his “compassionate conservatism” model. Even today, conservatives, the staunchest advocates of the private sector, can’t imagine the private sector changing this culture/government paradigm without the help of government.
The fact is, growth of government and the degradation of our culture are intertwined and limited government is no longer unattainable without reducing the welfare state. Additionally, we cannot reduce the welfare state without rebuilding the family and we cannot rebuild the family without reducing the ranks of fatherless children in our society.
History has proven that government is utterly incapable of reducing the ranks of the fatherless child. But, with its persuasive power, the private sector is.
In the loud clamor of the 24/7 talk world, where is the conservative proposing something other than myopic legislative fixes for an America gone astray from its original values? Where is the far-sighted proposal that would shift the focus out of the beltway and state capitols and into each and every community, and:
- Challenge community leaders to reduce fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce, each by 30 percent within ten years.
- Challenge donors and philanthropists to reserve funds for organizations that prove their ability to meet these goals.
- Challenge religious organizations to raise the standard for preparing, nourishing, strengthening, and restoring marriages by adopting a Community Marriage Policy, by Marriage Savers, Inc.
- Challenge all non-profits to make the reduction of fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce the highest and most visible community goal.
- Challenge political contributors to prioritize contributions to politicians who submit or support balanced budgets based on the economic benefits and government savings achieved by reducing fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce nationwide.
- Pursue these goals with the same fervor of a liberal activist college student of the ‘60s.
In baseball, a batter is only entitled to a home run "when he shall have touched all bases legally," and will never get the credit for the home run if he misses first base. In the same way, conservatives can never hope to restore our country and achieve limited government without first reducing the ranks of the fatherless child in every community in America. At first base is the fatherless child – the first step in the grand slam homerun of limited government.
Radanovich represented California's 19th Congressional District from 1995 to 2011. He recently established The Restore California Foundation (www.RestoreCalifornia123.com). He also published “The New World Order is the Old World Order."