In looking at the recent election returns, one thing is certain: Republicans don’t need to worry about the gender gap. They need to worry about the marriage gap.
We often hear about Soccer Moms and gender gaps, and there is a difference between voting preferences between married men and married women. But the real gap is between married people and single people. Exit polls from the Nov. 6 election show that Mitt Romney won a majority of both married men and married women, taking 60 and 53 respectively. Single men only gave Romney 40 percent of the vote and only 31 percent of single women voted for Romney.
Single people just occupy a different space from the Ward and June Cleaver world experienced by most married couples. And women who insist on becoming single mothers find the job is a difficult one. They invariably want lots and lots of government aid and support financed through taxation.
There was a time when single parenthood was an accident – a mistake where a young mother misjudged a young man – either through an unwed pregnancy or through an ill-advised and brief marriage – and decided to turn lemons into lemonade.
What used to happen by accident now happens on purpose. Unwed pregnancy is no longer an accident; it’s become a lifestyle choice. Regardless of income level, children raised by single parents have a higher risk of a host of poor life outcomes.
We’re now to the point that 40 percent of all children born in this country are born out-of-wedlock. Some economists say nearly half of the economic inequality in the United States is due to the negative consequences of single parenthood. It’s not tax policy causing inequality; it’s a failure of women to marry before having kids. And I suspect this inequality grows over time.
How did we get here? Obviously welfare got us here, but it was the welfare state combined with our reluctance to provide any benefits to families where there was a man about the house. A good look at our various relief programs illustrates that the only way to qualify for help is to make oneself a failure.
If we want to turn this ship around, we have to stop punishing people for being married and stop punishing people for working. As much as I hate Obamacare, we need to recognize that the reason many women don’t get married is so they can qualify for Medicaid. We need to find a way to provide free medical care and maternity care to all American women who are pregnant or who have young children, regardless of income level, regardless of whether there is a man in the house.
We need to provide every American child with a free lunch at school. No more paying people to see if the children qualify. Just serve every child a free lunch regardless of income. It wouldn’t cost that much.
A study was released recently that said the various branches of government spent $60,000 per year per household caring for the 16.8 million American households in poverty. Obviously the bulk of this money goes to overhead. Instead of means testing for welfare, we need to just adopt some modest, across-the-board payroll taxes and then make each and every welfare program universal.
If one citizen gets a free lunch, everybody gets a free lunch. If one citizen gets a housing subsidy, every citizen gets one for the same amount. If one citizen gets food stamps, every citizen gets food stamps.
With universality, there is no more incentive to fail. Low-income women can marry without being punished, and if they get a job, they still keep their benefits. So let’s stop rewarding failure and punishing success, and hopefully put an end to the “marriage gap.”