To the editor:
One of the greatest challenges facing America is the disintegration of nuclear families. The social decay that this trend, left unchecked, will effect could make our current financial woes pale in comparison.
According to an August 2012 report by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which analyzed census data from 2010, 40.8 percent of all children born in the United States were born to unwed mothers. According to the same report, the instances of children born to unmarried women is generally higher among minorities, with 73 percent of African-American children, 66 percent of Native American children, 53 percent of Hispanic children, 29 percent of non-Hispanic white children, and 17 percent of Asian-Pacific Islanders born out of wedlock.
Children from single-parent families exhibit greater instances of emotional or behavioral problems, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor academic achievement.
Since these problems affect society at large, I propose that the government has an interest in providing a "marriage bonus." This would be in the form of an increased income tax deduction when a couple is married, and then an additional deduction for every child born to that couple. An incentive of this type would encourage parents to commit to one another and their families.
Our current welfare system incentivizes unmarried women to have additional children in order to receive more government support. This perpetuates the problem. I propose that we eliminate welfare for children born out of wedlock. (I believe in adoption rather than abortion.) An increased "marriage bonus" would provide a positive incentive to bear and raise children in a two-parent home.
I also believe that performing weddings should be the exclusive domain of religious leaders. The government should not be able to perform weddings. When a couple participates in premarital counseling and then stands up in church before God and several hundred people to swear to stay together for the rest of their life, their commitment is hard to break - especially when people are taught to keep their word. My father taught me, "Your word is the only thing the world cannot take away from you. You have to give that away."
I sincerely believe that these steps could be instrumental in mending our society and benefiting children and families. Let's try to strengthen two-parent families.
John N. Dodgen