The real value of fathers
By Jack Markowitz
Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
We ought to make Father's Day the most important American holiday.
And not just so retailers can put more neckties, power tools and golf clubs on sale.
The gift market is trivial alongside the more basic economic lifting power of Dad. There's no comparison with the weight he pulls for the total economy — when he's around.
His employment keeps most families out of poverty.
His children do better at school. They're also more apt to stay off drugs and out of prison. And to be gainfully employed — and married — when they in turn grow up.
How many billions all of this saves the taxpayers defies calculation. It might dwarf the national debt. In fact, maybe we've got such a nightmarish debt for the very reason that too many fathers aren't around. Government keeps trying to pick up after them.
In 1960, less than 10 percent of America's children were born out of wedlock. Today, it's more than 40 percent, and for African Americans, 70 percent.
How did a destructive trend like that ever get started? Where did the nonsense come from that kids don't need a father?
The statistics couldn't be clearer.
Single-parent families are nearly six times likelier to live in poverty than traditional two-parent homes. Imagine a room containing all the poor families with kids in America. Seventy-one out of 100 will be headed by an unmarried parent, usually a struggling Mom. Only 29 percent will have a Mr. and Mrs. in charge. Everybody in poor neighborhoods knows this. It's a secret only to intellectuals and bureaucrats.
Children without a father are five times likelier to commit a crime, President Obama has pointed out. And also that the fatherless child is nine times likelier to drop out of school, 20 times more apt to be in prison.
The average long-term lockup is filled with a huge population that never had a father, married, present and accounted for, helping to teach the next generation to behave — and likelier to grow into literate, employed, taxpaying citizens.
“I want to break that cycle where a father is not at home, not helping to raise that son or daughter,” Mr. Obama said in a graduation speech May 19 at Morehouse College, a traditionally black men's institution in Atlanta. Strangely, most news media missed or downplayed this theme.
Strangely, too, government policy and political correctness tend to sentimentalize and subsidize that modern icon, the “single Mom.” Yet solid economic data show the dollars-and-cents importance of her AWOL mate.
The government is speed-spending toward bankruptcy for schools, preschools, welfare and the criminal justice system, program after program to repair what fathers ought to be accomplishing in their homes, for free. Teachers unions, feminists, civic groups and the American Civil Liberties Union ought to be cheering get-married and stay-married Dads.
The family is the foundation stone of society. Yet America does “little or nothing to discourage unwed births and nothing to encourage and strengthen healthy marriages,” the Heritage Foundation has noted. “Most welfare programs actively penalize low-income couples who do marry.”
And with Father's Day coming, too.
Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist of Trib Total media. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
- Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
- Pair of Braun homers spells defeat for Pirates
- 1 dead, 1 wounded in shooting at Chartiers party
- NFL notebook: Pryor will be cut if he’s not traded
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- Biertempfel: Kendall’s book offers inside look at life in majors
- North Versailles, Murrysville families still waiting for report on 2011 chopper crash that killed couple
- Patients denied as donor organs discarded