By M. Catharine Evans
All women -- conservative, liberal, black and white -- should take the time to download the latest Shriver Report on women and poverty.
In partnership with left-wing Center for American Progress, Maria Shriver's "A Woman's Nation Pushes Back From the Brink" is a self-inflicted indictment of five decades of radical feminism.
The damage caused by an all-out assault on what radical female professors considered the greatest threat to women, the nuclear family, are cited in the Shriver study:
�-� Nearly 70% of single mothers and their children are either living in poverty or teetering on the edge.
�-� Women are two-thirds of the primary and co-breadwinners in American families.
�-� Women are nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers.
�-� 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income.
�-� Out of a "groundbreaking bipartisan poll" of 3,500 adults only 37% of the women polled living on or over the brink of poverty were married.
�-� Only a fifth of our families have a male breadwinner and a female homemaker.
�-� More than half of babies born to women under 30 are born to unmarried women.
�-� Women are three times more likely to be raising a family on teir own, without a partner.
The report was released in time for the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. A year after LBJ launched the defining program, the Moynihan Report linked illegitimacy rates in the black community to poverty. Moynihan noted that the out-of-wedlock birth rate in the black community was steadily rising. By 1970, it was 38% up from 26% in 1965. Almost 50 years later the white out-of-wedlock rate is 30% and the black out-of-wedlock rate has skyrocketed to 70%.
Despite the fact that Moynihan worked for the Labor Department and had based his findings on solid statistics, politicians at the time ended up caving to cries of 'racism and sexism' and buried the report. Today, a similar situation exists. Any attempt to blame the rotten economic condition of women and children on the breakup of the traditional family is met with the same resistance. Feminists cry 'foul' if something other than poverty is blamed for the wrecked lives of so many women and their offspring.
Spending over $20 trillion to date on government handouts to the poor in areas such as health, education, and job training have failed miserably with regard to lifting them out of poverty. Nevertheless, breaking down family structures has been successful.
After five decades, the War on Poverty has managed to double the rate of poverty for blacks --double the national average -- and to leave their families in tatters [see video]. Listed in the video are several failed anti-poverty programs:
�-� "Urban Renewal" 1949
�-� "Community Action Program" 1964
�-� "Model Cities" 1966
�-� "Community Development Block Grants" 1974
�-� "Urban Development Action Grants" 1977
�-� "Enterprise Zones" 1980
�-� "Empowerment Zones" 1993
Now, two weeks before the next State of the Union speech, Obama is getting ready to promote yet another dead-end but costly government program named "Promise Zones" in order "to improve economic opportunity by partnering distressed local communities and businesses." When will the broken record of broken promises end?
Shriver's Report touts the success of other poverty programs like Head Start, VISTA, and Job Corps, but in a 346-page study released last year,Health and Human Services Department researchers followed toddlers who took part in the Head Start program, and those who didn't, through third grade. $40 billion later, they found no measurable differences between the groups across 47 outcome measures.
Incredibly, Shriver and CAP enlist many of the men and women whose radical ideas helped create these dismal statistics to come up with a "new social contract." Among the far left essayists are Neera Tanden, the President of Center for American Progress and Hillary Clinton's former policy director, Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed author Peter Edelman, Sr. Joan Chittister, Hillary Clinton, and Professors Carol Gilligan and Stephanie Coontz.
Sprinkled between this group of elite one-percenters are stories of financially vulnerable women "living in poverty or teetering on the edge... with no father to pitch in a paycheck," says Ms. Tanden.
So far removed from reality are women like the CAP president that soon after she laments the poor, single mother's plight of trying to live without an extra paycheck, she cheerfully describes her own good fortune:
I have a wonderful husband who truly believes in co-parenting, but I was able to be successful because I had an amazing boss... I remember changing my son's diapers during morning conference calls, but I also remember Hillary reorganizing her schedule so I could get to my daughter's pre-K graduation.
The message? "Family for me, but not for thee." Tanden then insists that more flexibility in the workplace along with government sponsored daycare and raising the minimum wage is the solution to "conflicts between work and family."
Maya Harris, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a civil rights lawyer, sees the "gender wage gap" as the civil rights issue for the 70 million poverty-stricken women. As a black, South Asian woman she states that "pay inequity is particularly salient for women of color... the wage gap is more like a wage gulf."
The fact that 70% of African-American children are growing up in households led by mothers and grandmothers, many of whom are on government assistance, has much more to do with the "wage gap," but that detail seems to elude the former Ford Foundation vice-president and Stanford graduate.
How about solving the two-parent gap? This may actually curtail the need for "adopting policies that increase access to affordable childcare, paid sick days and family leave." A traditional family might also lead to better educational, spiritual, emotional, and psychological outcomes for women and their children. Study after study has confirmed that children from nuclear families fare better in all these areas than children from single-parent households.
Because of the high numbers of single mothers at or below the poverty level, the Shriver report also deals with the chronic stress and trauma that puts their children at high risk for behavioral and learning problems.
In her essay, "The Chronic Stress of Poverty: Toxic to Children," Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. writes about treating children from the Bayview area of San Francisco. Bayview is "home to the highest density of children in the inner city, many of them in women-led households." In her clinic, she tries to provide "many single mothers with the appropriate counseling, social connections and community resources to help them overcome their own challenges for the sake of their kids' health." Dr. Harris sees patients as young as six with their physiology "overtaxed by repeated, intense or chronic stress."
It is a sure bet that most of the single women and children Dr. Harris treats at her clinic have not heard of Professor Stephanie Coontz. Yet, Coontz and her colleagues are responsible for the fix these women are in today. In her essay, "Evolution of the Modern American Family" Coontz couldn't be more explicit:
Many people believe that the problems facing women today are due to the breakdown of the "traditional" male breadwinner family. But the real problem facing women -- today and increasingly, the problem facing men as well -- is that the male breadwinner family was a short-lived historical anomaly that does not work as a model for 21st century gender norms and social policy.
Coontz describes the "heyday of the male breadwinner family" from the 1950's to the 1970's as coinciding with increases in real wages for men. Men, therefore, were able to support their families and women could stay at home and raise the children. However, this "economic expansion" excluded women, Coontz writes. "Their subordination within marriage" was a throwback to what Betty Friedan called an immersion in "The Feminine Mystique."
This male breadwinner/female homemaker family "reigned supreme for only about 25 years and now is gone for good," writes Coontz.
For Coontz and her omniscient allies, the economic and moral wasteland now spread out before us, which continues to take its toll on women and children as reported in the Shriver study, is just a bump in the road. In declaring the nuclear family defunct, never to return, Coontz has revealed what she and her idealogues have been after all along because if it is dead, it is surely they who helped to kill it.
Sr. Joan Chittister, like Coontz is adamant about not going backwards. In her essay, Chittister targets religion as an obstacle to income equality and upward mobility for women. She says, "Religion [has] defined women by their maternity" and as "secondary to men...When will religion call for the economic well-being of women, universal healthcare and more political opportunities?" she asks. Chittister calls "underpaying single women with children [a] sin." The nun, however, refuses to call a sin the willful destruction of the nuclear family by her fellow feminists.
Throughout the Shriver Report, there is a call to move forward. Returning to the traditional family, the authors say, is no longer an option. Businesses and the government must adjust and adapt to the "new American family." What does that mean?
�-� fairer wages for low-income workers
�-� universal preschool from birth to five
�-� equal pay
�-� "college before kids"
�-� more effective long-acting birth control
�-� fewer unplanned pregnancies
After a half century of progressive policies based largely on the efforts of Marxist-based feminists, the results are in. It looks as if Betty Friedan getting Mom out of her "concentration camp" home in the 1960's didn't work out so well for millions of women and children.
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