| February 6, 2012

Concerned About People? Then Set Them Free

As we celebrate Black History Month this month, I can’t help but think of an e-mail OCPA recently received. “If you guys were more concerned about people and less about money,” our correspondent wrote, “this state would be further along.”

I think our friend might be surprised to learn that my concern for people is exactly why I came to work at OCPA.

I consider myself a blessed person—a Christian, and a citizen of the United States of America—who happens to be black. My life has been blessed because my parents daily demonstrated the principles of individual responsibility, individual initiative, and individual freedom.

My parents stayed committed to this path despite naysayers both black and white. They ignored the government-incentivized delusions that my birth within wedlock made no difference, and they ignored the lie that being raised by a single parent or a relative is no different than being raised by a mom and dad.

I am truly grateful for my mom and dad, who just celebrated 33 years of marriage. Like my grandparents before them, they persevered, gladly doing things like janitorial work at night (as did I), working both full- and part-time jobs at the same time.

My parents, and what my family has passed on to me, are the reason I am who I am today. Not a government program. Not a government handout. Not even a government school (my parents educated me at home).

The Author of true freedom Himself says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The truth that faces us today is that the individual and the family possess the answer to the problems we face today as a nation.

What is unfortunate is that both society and government have waged a war on the individual and the family, and have exchanged the overtly evil chains of physical slavery for the subtle (but just as evil) chains of mental slavery to the idea that government and society hold the keys to a desirable future.

Exhibit A is the so-called War on Poverty. “Despite spending almost $16 trillion since the War on Poverty began in 1964,” The Heritage Foundation points out, “welfare programs have failed to reduce the causes of poverty, and instead have hurt many of the people they were intended to help. Poverty in America is overwhelmingly linked to the absence of fathers and a lack of work, but welfare payments have had the destructive effects of eroding marriage and the work ethic in low-income communities.”

Incentivizing out-of-wedlock births, assailing work and thrift, and assaulting the preeminence of a mom and dad’s place as the incubator of the future has led to the challenges we face today. The consequences of such destruction are seen in all races, but are particularly pronounced for blacks. I have personally witnessed this destruction.

With an out-of-wedlock birth rate of more than 70 percent, the generational destruction and separation of the family bears most of the blame for the economic challenges facing blacks. As even the liberal Oklahoma Policy Institute has acknowledged, “families headed by single mothers are four and a half times more likely to be in poverty (45.5 percent) than families headed by married couples (9.9 percent).”

To those who believe $16 trillion worth of failure isn’t enough, and who remain committed to growing the welfare state in Oklahoma, one is almost tempted to say: “If you guys were more concerned about people and less about money, this state would be further along.”

Jonathan Small, a Certified Public Accountant, is OCPA’s fiscal policy director.

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