One of the tragic legacies of the Great Society is the violence inflicted upon the family as an institution. Through a series actions, calculated or not, the family has been devalued as the bedrock of civil society and replaced with the government acting in loco parentis for not only the children it comes into contact with but also for the parents.
While we are all familiar with the incentives provided by the government to discourage marriage by women living in poverty through the provision of various allowances and services so long as they are unemployed and unmarried and have children, fewer are aware of the incentives provided to the people living at the poverty level (though evidence indicates that 199% of federal poverty line may be the real ceiling) to have their children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in order to boost their family income by about $8400 per year.
What makes this even more shocking is that the New York Times’ leftist columnist Nicholas Kristof has noticed it:
THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.
Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.
“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”
This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.