16 February 2009


At the core of most enduring traditions there is a practical rationale that is beneficial to society. Out-of-wedlock births have traditionally been frowned upon as immoral, but more practically because this places the burden of support on other family members, or in modern times, on society. Unfortunately as the state has become the provider for fatherless children the moral sanction has dissipated. It is perfectly acceptable in today’s western world to have children without regard to the consequences.

The stimulus bill contains a stealth provision undoing welfare reform passed in the 90s which discouraged such behavior somewhat, so we may now see yet more of it. It takes an extreme case to bring on any indignation these days, such as the woman in California who had octuplets without a father while already having six other children. A condition of social support in this case should be that she be prevented from having any more children. Out of wedlock births are the principal cause of poverty and social dysfunction, and why over recent generations there has been little social improvement despite progress in other areas. This can only change when there is some sanction and a significant social cost for irresponsible behavior rather than considering it simply a “lifestyle choice,” Marriage is the most effective way to reduce poverty and welfare dependency. Thus there are good reasons for traditional moral principles that transcend their basis in faith and it is time to bring them back.

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