Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tearing Down the Safety Net

Democratic candidate for president Senator Bernie Sanders did a town hall event last Monday morning in Iowa Falls, Iowa at which he asked the crowd for testimonials about the difficulties of sustaining a life off of $12,000 a year, and a woman stood to tell her story. It was heartbreaking, but it was doubtless the story of many people, especially women, living in the 21st century.
One of the ironies of this sad video is that for the last one hundred years liberal progressives, like Sen. Sanders, have been pushing the government (i.e. the taxpayer) to create and maintain a social safety net for people like this woman, while at the same time promoting a culture which is guaranteed to produce many more like her. As their policies create millions of tragic lives progressives demand that the taxpayer give ever more of their own income to support their victims.

For two thousand years we have had a social safety net for women. It wasn't perfect, but it worked for millions of otherwise vulnerable women and children. They were protected from ruin and destitution by three institutions: marriage, family, and church.

Married women are far less likely to be poor than are single women, especially if they have children. Moreover, a woman with an extended family usually benefits from the security relatives provide and from the care available to her from her children as she gets older. And a woman who belongs to a thriving church has a community to support and sustain her in numerous ways as she suffers the vicissitudes of life.

The left, however, has always made it their mission to destroy the nuclear family (read Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto or any of the radical feminist tracts). Progressives like Irina Dunn and Gloria Steinem once argued that men were superfluous to women ("A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle"). A decadent entertainment culture, augmented by the legitimization of abortion-on-demand, degraded the significance of sex and marriage. Cohabitation and transient sexual "hook-ups" quickly morphed from scandalous to normal, and no-fault divorce became the law of the land, making a woman's position even more tenuous. Gay marriage broadened the definition of marriage and opened wide the gate to polyamory and other arrangements that will further erode the security of women.

Having embraced single motherhood and given it our stamp of approval, more and more children are now being raised in families which, instead of having two parents (and incomes) and four grandparents (often with substantial savings and inheritances to bestow upon their grandchildren), these children have only one frequently stressed-out parent like the mother in the video, and one grandmother who is herself often resource-poor. Little wonder that that poor mother was in tears.

Churches, too, traditionally afforded help to distressed families and were thus an essential element in the safety net for women, but the left is hostile to organized religion, and as this hostility has pervaded both academic and popular culture, especially since WWII, there has been a mass migration of young people from the church. This not only isolates women for whom religious community is no longer a live option from a major source of relief, but it also has left many churches bereft of the resources and manpower required to serve those who still remain within its ambit.

By rejecting the traditional values of marriage, family and church we've made life far more difficult for women like the lady in the Sanders video. That's tragic enough, but the tragedy is compounded by the fact that in her desperation she finds herself pleading for help from people - left-liberal-progressives like Senator Sanders - whose ideas, policies, and influence in the culture over the last three generations are largely, even if inadvertently, responsible for her plight.