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Jewish World Review
Oct. 14, 2013/ 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5774
Budget crisis has its roots in erosion of values
We ought to think about the cultural roots of the budget crisis in Washington.
The political left says the shutdown is all about an ideological tantrum of a handful of Republicans.
Certainly, tea partiers have an ideology and vision about what ground rules would produce a more prosperous, freer and fairer America.
But let's be honest. The gentleman in the White House, our president, is as hard core in his ideological dispositions as any tea partier.
Each side believes America would be better off if it were run according to their vision.
What's the crucial difference?
As a tea partier, I'd like my neighbors to agree with me that personal responsibility, traditional values and limited government is the best way to build a healthy and prosperous personal life and nation. If they don't agree, they can do what they want
But the world according to the big-government, morally relative left is much different. In this view, yes, nobody is forcing me to agree that personal responsibility and traditional values don't matter. But in their view, it's also only fair that I pick up the massive costs of their failures.
Take, for instance, poverty.
We all agree that we want to get as many people out of poverty as possible.
The evidence abounds that a lifestyle that reflects personal responsibility and traditional values -- like traditional sexual attitudes and marriage and family -- reduces dramatically chances that an individual will wind up in poverty.
I hope people live according to these values. But if they don't want to, that's their business.
But those on the left don't think so. They want to foster a culture that says do what you want. They think to promote traditional values in schools and popular culture is inappropriate and small-minded and at times even unconstitutional.
Then they say it is only fair that everyone pay the costs of the mess this culture of moral relativism makes.
According to Ron Haskins, who co-directs the Brookings Institution's Center on Children and Families, the rate of child poverty in 2009 was 11 percent in homes with married parents and 44.3 percent in homes headed by single mothers.
The incidence of homes headed by a single mother has gone from 6.3 percent of all households in 1950 to 23.9 percent in 2010.
In a Gallup poll done this year, 71 percent of respondents between 18 and 34 years old said having a baby outside of marriage was morally acceptable.
So we have promoted a culture, a culture fostered by the political left, that sanctions behavior in which poverty is more likely to occur. And then those who promote this culture say it is only fair that everybody pay the costs.
Worse, the evidence is overwhelming that government spending on poverty has little or no impact on the incidence of poverty.
Again, according to Haskins, spending in constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars on means-tested anti-poverty programs increased $500 billion from 1980 to 2011, with a tripling of the amount spent per person in poverty. Over the same period, the poverty rate was virtually unchanged.
Also worth noting is that over this same period, the percent of babies born to unwed mothers went from 18 percent in 1980 to over 40 percent in 2011.
In the first three years of the Obama administration, spending on these means-tested programs increased almost $150 billion, or 31 percent.
Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is popularly known, will add up to 20 million more individuals to the almost 60 million already covered by Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor. Medicaid now pays for 40 percent of all babies born in the country.
Price tag of big government, moral relativism -- hundreds of billions. Price tag of limited government, personal responsibility -- zero.
Is this an ideological battle? Of course it is.
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Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education.
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