Who Killed the American Family?
A great deal has been written about the decline in the percentage of Americans who are living in a traditional nuclear family. It was 21 years ago that the famous scholar Charles Murray pointed out that the shocking rate of illegitimate births is the most serious social and fiscal problem America faces because it is the factor that drives everything else. When mothers have no husband or father of their children to provide for them, they turn to Big Brother Government to give them the necessities of life.
This has brought about a tremendous demographic change in our American society and an enormous increase in our spending for the so-called welfare state. Nuclear families supported themselves. They didn’t need government busybodies to tell them how to raise their children or spend their money. Taxes were relatively low and we produced a prosperous Middle Class that was the envy of the world.
Those days seem to be gone. We now have a dramatic decline in the percentage of Americans who are living in traditional marriages and 41% illegitimacy. Even though the facts of this change in our society have been widely reported, nobody asks or answers the question, who killed the American family? My new book published by WorldNetDaily answers that fundamental question. You may be surprised at the answer to the question “Who killed the American family?” The perpetrators of this murder are not just the gays who have gotten so much publicity.
The killers of the American family parallel the famous murder mystery written long ago by Agatha Christie called Murder on the Orient Express. The question posed in that book was, “Who committed the murder?” The final answer was that everybody on the train had a motive for killing the victim.
Likewise, many groups had motives for wanting to abolish the American nuclear family, and in my new book I explain who they are. One major group is the feminists. You can prove this to yourself by reading any feminist literature. The feminists’ rallying cry from the start was “Liberation,” and that means liberation from home, husband, family, and care for children. The feminists persistently tried to get all fulltime homemakers out of the home, telling them that care of small children is a demeaning occupation for an educated woman. All homemakers are encouraged to get out of the home and go into the work force because that is supposedly the only lifestyle that is worthwhile. College women are even encouraged to take part in the so-called hookup lifestyle so they can avoid a commitment to marriage until they are moving up in a profitable career. They resent and oppose the idea that husbands should have a provider role and wives should have a homemaker role.
Who Decides ‘Best Interest of the Child’?
Who decides what is in the best interest of a child? That expression has been part of our legal system for centuries. When the great British lawyer, William Blackstone, codified English law in the 18th century, the expression clearly meant that the biological parents of a child were expected and authorized to make decisions in the best interest of their own children. Nobody ever made any convincing or scientific argument against that policy.
But in the 1970s, without any legislative approval, it became popular to say that the “village” should raise the child. The liberal establishment defined “village” to include all sorts of government busybodies such as public school officials, hired consultants, psychologists, and especially judges in family courts. Family court judges are the lowest in the pecking order of the Judiciary, but they have become the most powerful because their decisions are seldom appealed or overruled or published. This system of having judges make decisions about the care and raising of children has become so universal that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Family Court judges now control the private living arrangements of 46 million Americans and have the power to transfer $40 billion between households. Most of these parents have never committed any action that violates our laws.
To show you how intrusive these family court judges are, look at the Chicago case where the parents disagreed about which church their child should be raised in, and a judge took it upon himself to decide which religion the kid should adopt. How did we get to a situation whereby some judge can decide a child’s religion? Fortunately, that judge was overruled on appeal.
Incentives and Disincentives
Another factor that must be included in the list of enemies who helped to kill the American family is financial incentives and disincentives. The great economist Arthur Laffer has pointed out that these incentives are very powerful, especially among the poor.
Because of pressure from several activist groups, we have allowed powerful incentives to discourage marriage and actually favor women bearing children without marriage. Our income tax system used to advantage the traditional married couple raising their own children, but now it seems to be just the opposite.
Political strategists advise candidates not to talk about the social issues, but the fact is that you can’t talk about fiscal issues without addressing social issues because taxpayers’ money is spent mostly on 78 types of taxpayer handouts to deal with social problems, including food, housing, child care, school lunch, and even school breakfast. Other programs are incentives built into tax credits or tax reductions of various kinds. The public is almost totally unaware of the size and scope of taxpayer spending on poverty, and that’s why we call it the Hidden Welfare State.
The famous political scientist Larry Sabato once wrote a book called Feeding Frenzy, which describes the media’s habit of piling on redundant stories about one news item that suits their agenda until that one subject consumes all the news. One of the famous feeding frenzies happened over 20 years ago, when then Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the TV sitcom called Murphy Brown because it glamorized single mothers. Feminists were angry that the Vice President dared to suggest that children do better with a mother and a father. Their hysterics managed to drown out his voice and message. Years later, the Atlantic magazine published a “mea culpa” article titled simply, “Dan Quayle Was Right.” Of course, Dan Quayle was right, but don’t expect feminists to admit that.
Gay activists are always ready to join the media feeding frenzy. When the sociologist Mark Regnerus released a scientific study showing negative trends in children raised by same-sex parents, he was hounded as a bigot. Two hundred Ph.D.s and M.D.s demanded a rebuttal of Regnerus’s study, but they never provided any evidence that he was wrong. In all these cases, the Left pounced on defenders of the nuclear family structure, calling them names instead of producing evidence.
To Fight Poverty, Support Marriage
It’s not an accident or just good luck that America grew into the greatest, most prosperous nation in history. As I explain in my new book, called Who Killed the American Family?, the fact that the nuclear family was the standard way of life and the basis of our economic system had all sorts of good implications for our economy. A professor at the University of Virginia, W. Bradford Wilcox, explained some of these good results from his research. He says that “Adults are more likely to behave responsibly from a financial perspective when they get and stay married.” Married men work harder, longer, and smarter. The children of intact families are more likely to complete their educations and find employment.
If strong families are good for the economy, what happens when families are absent? The poverty rate for married couples with children is only 6.4%. The rate skyrockets to 36.5% for single parents with children. It’s easy to see the link between single parenthood and poverty. The prevalence of single parenthood means that the United States has much more poverty, and so the big-government liberals rush in with welfare programs. They don’t get rid of poverty; they make the problems worse. When women receive government cash handouts and other benefits from 78 different taxpayer-paid funds, that discourages them from looking for a job to support themselves. Republicans passed the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that imposed work requirements on people receiving welfare, but President Obama unilaterally banned the work requirement.
President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in the 1960s, but we’ve been losing the war ever since. We have now spent more taxpayers’ money fighting the War on Poverty than we have spent in all of America’s many wars.
‘Best Interest of the Child’ Serves the Liberals
When you see a judge use the phrase “the best interest of the child,” he is probably about to abuse his power. For most of our history, “the best interest of the child” was a matter for parents to decide. Now, supremacist judges and liberal politicians use the phrase to enact their favorite policies.
The recent surge of young Central American illegals across our border provides a perfect example. The unaccompanied alien children are clearly breaking our immigration laws. They even turn themselves in to the Border Patrol. If we had an immigration system based on the rule of law, these illegals would be promptly sent back to their home countries. Instead, the law lets judges and bureaucrats determine what is the “best interest of the child.” In practice, this means that many of the alien children are placed with remote relatives in the United States, many of whom are also illegal. In theory, these children are told to appear before immigration judges several years later. In reality, the government hands them notices to appear in court, and then it is up to the illegals to comply.
“The best interest of the child” makes a mockery of our legal system because it is a loose expression that is not defined by law. It also mocks our sovereignty. It makes our border security officials bend over backwards to satisfy the bureaucrats and judges instead of enforcing our laws. Meanwhile, the children are separated from their parents, far from their home. In this border crisis, the only interests served are those of the liberals, who now have admitted thousands of future voters.
‘Best Interest’ Leads to Same-Sex Marriage
A recent oral argument in the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court shows just how easy it is for judges to use the “best interest of the child” phrase to enact their personal preferences. In a case about the definition of marriage in Indiana and Wisconsin, Judge Richard Posner attacked the lawyers defending those laws by pointing to the children living with gay couples. The judge demanded: “These children would be better off if their parents could marry, no? It’s obvious.” Such a question shows how arrogant and out-of-touch judicial supremacists can be. Centuries of experience and scientific data show that children do best when they live with their own mom and dad.
With the phrase “the best interest of the child,” a judge’s power has no limit. He can remake laws, imprison people, and impose onerous penalties, based on his own personal preferences and prejudices, instead of on any law passed by our elected representatives. Instead of giving judges this invitation to abuse their power, we should return responsibility for a child’s best interests back to his own parents.
Benefits of the Nuclear Family
The Left is always ready to attack when somebody stands up for the nuclear family. In my new book, Who Killed the American Family?, I explain why. The truth is that the nuclear family helped make America into the greatest nation in history. If liberals want to transform our country, they have to undermine the source of its strength. A family made up of a mother, a father, and their own children maintained that strength for generations. Parents taught their children right and wrong, how to treat others, how to be good citizens. Virtues were handed down from one generation to the next. Children learned to make their way in life. When they became independent, they would start a family of their own, and the cycle would continue. A family that supports itself is less likely to depend on government for handouts, and a child with parents actively involved in his education is less likely to be controlled by a government-imposed curriculum.
The long-term goal of eroding personal freedom and limited government requires undermining the nuclear family and making people more dependent on government. Short-term political reasons are important, too. Single people are much more likely to vote Democratic, while married people are more likely to vote Republican. The next time you hear somebody attack the nuclear family, remember that they probably have a broader agenda in mind, maybe a political agenda.
Link Between Trade and Marriage
The policy called free trade has done tremendous damage to marriage, as I explain in my new book, Who Killed the American Family? For most of our history, the nuclear family (that is, a married mother and father living in one household with their own children), was widespread and highly respected. Even if they started from humble backgrounds, men could expect to find well-paying jobs in manufacturing that propeled them into the middle class. The expectation of a job that paid enough to support a fulltime homemaker was a lifestyle within reach of most Americans.
That is no longer the case. Globalization helped kill the American Dream, and with it, the American family. By pushing the United States into free trade agreements with poor countries in faraway corners of the world, globalists made American workers compete with very low-paid foreign workers. The high U.S. corporate tax rate also encouraged companies to look overseas for labor, and manufacturing jobs disappeared in America. From 2001 to 2011, we lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs every month, and working-class earnings plunged from the high we knew in the 1970s.
With good jobs harder to come by, the American Dream became harder to achieve. Men no longer earned enough to permit their wives to stay at home, and more women moved out to a minimum-wage job instead of staying by the cradle. Free trade failed American families, and it also failed to fulfill the promise of opening up markets for U.S. exports. The next time you hear a politician talking up free trade, remember what we have given up.
Is Same-Sex Marriage on the Side of History?
Only eleven years have passed since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. In the hundreds of years of American history, and in hundreds of years of Western civilization before that, there had been no question in mainstream society about the fact that marriage is for one man and one woman. Now we are told that to oppose same-sex marriage is to be on the wrong side of history.
Same-sex marriage didn’t come from a change in public opinion, but from the rulings of supremacist judges abusing their power. Massachusetts adopted gay marriage only because a majority of one on the state Supreme Court mandated it. Those judicial supremacists were inspired by Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court, who, in a previous case, drew on European rather than U.S. law and overturned precedent to throw out the Texas anti-sodomy law. Kennedy struck again with his decision tossing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Kennedy and the Massachusetts supremacist judges made the ridiculous assertion that there is no rational basis for marriage to be limited to a man and a woman. They ignored centuries of practice and the results of numerous studies that show how important traditional marriage is for the well-being of children.
How Divorced Parents Lose Their Rights
The New York Times published an article called “How Divorced Parents Lose Their Rights.” Married parents cannot sue each other when they have differences of opinion. They just have to work out their differences, but still, married parents are presumed to act in the best interest of their own children, and parents’ rights are respected.
However, divorced parents and parents who were never married have no parental rights at all; those rights have been transferred to family court judges and to so-called experts such as counselors, lawyers, psychologists, or custody evaluators who are chosen by the judges. According to the New York Times analysis, family court judges routinely decide such major issues such as where the children of divorced parents will live, what school they will attend (homeschooling is usually not approved), where the kids will go to church (even which denomination), and where and how they will receive medical care. These judges may even decide whether the kids can play soccer or must take piano lessons.
After divorce, usually one parent wins custody of the children and the other becomes just an occasional visitor. Even when unmarried parents agree on a plan, judges can overrule them. A judge can decide when the separated parents may spend time with their children and how much time. Any agreement divorced parents make with each other can be overruled by a family court judge.
The Radicalism of Feminism
The nuclear family and its traditional gender roles have always been a target of radicals. In the 19th century, Karl Marx called for the abolition of the family. Karl Marx and his partner Friedrich Engels understood how important the family is in creating liberty, civil order, and smaller government; that’s why they called for its destruction. When Communists took power in Russia in the early 20th century, they tried to carry out Marx’s wishes. The new Soviet government thought the “worker’s paradise” they were supposedly creating would take away any need for families. The government could take care of children and the elderly. Women wouldn’t need men, either, because everyone would be dependent on the government. We know now that these ideas didn’t work.
Most modern-day feminists do not wear the label “Marxist,” but some had Communist training in their younger days, and many share Marx’s hatred for the nuclear family and woman’s place in it. Feminists mock the idea that any woman would choose to stay home and raise her own children. Feminists seek to erase differences between men and women in every part of life, from the legal to the biological. In the 1970s, before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on the U.S. Supreme Court, she wrote that our laws needed a complete overhaul to get rid of the notion that men are the primary breadwinners and their wives took care of the children. Instead of equality, the feminists promote a rule of interchangeability of the genders. But sensible people know that there are many differences between male and female that cannot be erased by just passing laws.
Women Don’t Want What Feminists Are Selling
If you consider what feminists want versus what most women want, it is apparent that feminism offers terrible solutions to imaginary problems. In my new book, Who Killed the American Family?, I look in particular at how this relates to women in the economy.
College may lead to a well-paying job, but it also limits prospects for marriage. Polls now show that women often look for a husband who earns more than she does so she can drop out of the workforce without hurting the family’s economic standing. But with more women than men now attending college, higher-earning men are harder to find — and non-college educated men are reluctant to marry women with a college degree. This is one of the many reasons why marriage is on the decline.
As for the women, college-educated or not, who do find husbands, a 2013 Pew Research Center poll found that 61% of mothers would prefer to work part-time or not at all. Women who do take jobs tend to work for fewer hours than men. Even liberal publications such as the New York Times magazine run articles from time to time about high-powered women who leave their jobs for the more fulfilling tasks of motherhood. In contrast, the National Bureau of Economic Research reports about these women who stick with the feminist dogma, “As women have gained more freedom, more education, and more power, they have become less happy.” That’s a really devastating indictment of feminism.
Order extra copies of this report online!
Back Copies of Phyllis Schlafly Reports: FEMINISM