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The Obama Administration has announced the latest desperate twist in the country’s nearly half-century-long evasion regarding the central truth of inner-city dysfunction.  Twenty-one social service organizations, schools, and universities have received $10 million to draw up plans for a cradle-to-grave social service network intended to close the achievement, crime, and civility gap between perpetually impoverished communities and the rest of the country.  This cradle-to-grave concept is modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone, a $77 million-a-year enterprise in a 97-block zone in Harlem that tries to surround black children with an inescapable web of social services and educational support that will accompany them all the way into college. 

The press release from the U.S. Department of Education announcing the so-called Promise Neighborhoods awards is full of the usual boilerplate about “collaboration among agencies” and “investments in children”: 

“As shown in Promise Neighborhoods and HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, transforming distressed neighborhoods into communities of opportunity means connecting housing and development resources to education and access to economic opportunity,” said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

“Strong communities start with healthy children who have safe places to live and play and high quality educational opportunities that put them on the road to success,” added Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “Creating these strong communities requires everyone, including the federal government, to work together.”

“Well-coordinated investments and actions at the local level can generate significant change and positively impact opportunities for children,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement. “To build communities of opportunity, residents must feel safe to live, learn and go about their business. We look forward to continuing working with our partners in support of this innovative initiative.

Promise Neighborhoods . . . is closely linked to the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which seeks to align federal housing, education, justice, and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.

Blah, blah, blah.  Nowhere in the various documents surrounding these initiatives is there a single mention of the only thing that will turn these communities around: marriage.  (more…)




Gee, thanks, Pro-Lifers

The just-negotiated Senate health care bill contains a big new pot of money to make it easier for pregnant teens to raise a child:

The federal government would provide $25 million a year for a “pregnancy assistance fund.” The money could be used for “maternity and baby clothing, baby food, baby furniture and similar items.”

The fund is supposed to encourage more teens to bring their children to term, rather than have an abortion.  I am not convinced that increasing the number of children raised by teen mothers represents a win for society.  But if pro-lifers want to make sure that every pregnant teen gives birth to a child–a moral position that I understand if not share–they would be far better off trying to revalorize adoption as a solution to pregnancies for which the mother is wholly unprepared.  (Of course this “pregnancy assistance fund” may be purely a Democratic ploy to expand both government and dependency, with no support among the Lifers.  But the goal of persuading teens to give birth is unquestionably a Lifer one.)   Public policy should not be enabling teen motherhood, it should be doing everything it can to discourage it, starting with turning off the money spigot that subsidizes it.  Teen motherhood should be made more, not less, onerous, since the evidence is indisputable that being raised by a single mother (regardless of her age) is a high-risk proposition both for the child and for society.  As Barack Obama himself noted in 2008, “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.” 

Obviously, this “pregnancy assistance fund” is hardly the first taxpayer subsidy to single-parenthood; garden-variety welfare, despite the 1996 welfare reform bill, still pumps massive sums into single-parenthood, treating it as a sort of unforeseeable act of nature deserving of social safety-net protection. 

Teen mothers don’t need more taxpayer-funded “maternity clothing and baby furniture.”  They need to learn that having  a child at their age is an irresponsible act for which they are emotionally unfit, however much saying so flies in the face of feminist “strong women” propaganda.  Adoption has virtually disappeared in the inner city as a response to teen pregnancy, gone into the same black hole as stigma.  Pro-lifers would do the country a service by bringing it back.

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Immaculate Conception: The Inner-city Version

Seven and a half months into Ta-Shai Pendleton’s first pregnancy, her child was stillborn. Then in early 2008, she bore a daughter prematurely.  Soon after, Ms. Pendleton moved from a community in Racine that was thick with poverty to a better neighborhood in Madison. Here, for the first time, she had a full-term pregnancy.
As she cradled her 2-month-old daughter recently, she described the fear and isolation she had experienced during her first two pregnancies, and the more embracing help she found 100 miles away with her third.

It is an iron-clad rule, presumably taught in journalism schools, that when discussing black single mothers and their children, one must never, ever ask: Who and where is the father, and how many fathers are there?  Tens of thousands of articles have been written about the struggles of black single mothers, and the appearance of their children is always treated as a virgin birth. Not only are there no fathers in sight in such articles, there is no curiosity about where the  fathers are and why they’re not stepping up to the plate.  Instead, the reader will learn in great detail either about the callous lack of taxpayer-funded social services or, as in the present article on black infant mortality, about the provisions that a wise and benevolent government has made available to the mothers and their miraculously-conceived children, who seem to appear with the same inevitability as the tides. 

When [Brandice Hatcher] learned last June that she was pregnant, Ms. Hatcher said, “I didn’t know how to be a parent and I didn’t know what services could help me.”
Over the summer she started receiving monthly visits from Laura Berger, a county nurse, who put her in touch with a dentist . . . . Ms. Hatcher had been living in a rooming house, but she was able to get help from a program that provided a security deposit for her apartment. . . . Under a state program, a social worker visits weekly and helps her look for jobs. And she receives her prenatal care from the community center’s nurse-midwives.

Very nice.  But no amount of government programs can possibly compensate for the wholesale exemption of males from the responsibility of caring for their children.   The fiction of the inner city virgin birth makes for a booming social service sector, but it otherwise spells disaster for a culture.

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