The other night I was watching television, flipping back and forth between a documentary on Jack Nicklaus and the news coverage of the Baltimore riots.
Jack Nicklaus was somewhat of an enigma on tour. His fellow competitors often joked that golf was his part-time job. Unlike most touring pros, Nicklaus limited the number of tournaments he played in and centered his career around the Majors; The Masters, US Open, British Open and the PGA Championship. His Majors record of 18 first place finishes, and an equally impressive 19 seconds, will probably never be broken. However, Nicklaus’ real reason for limiting the number of tournaments in which he participated was his family.
Jack Nicklaus is a devoted husband, father of five, and grandfather of twenty-two. His family has always been his first priority. When he started his golf career, he promised his wife Barbra that he’d never be away from home for more than two weeks, and he’s never broken that promise. He would finish a tournament on the West Coast on Sunday evening at 7 PM, and fly through the night to attend one of his children’s baseball games or school plays. Jack Nicklaus was a father first and a golfer second.
Although Nicklaus may have been unique on tour, he wasn’t unique for the times. Growing up, most of the Fathers in my neighborhood were family first dads. My Father often worked two and sometimes three jobs, but was always there on the sidelines of my Pop Warner games. He’d get up at 5 AM to drive me on my paper route if it was raining, or too cold to ride my bike. He coached my basketball team, and picked me up at 1 AM when I got off work as a bus boy. He sat me down at the kitchen table before I started High School and laid out my curriculum ensuring that I took; four years of Math, Science, History, English and Literature, and at least two years of a Foreign Language. My Father was and still is, one of the most important and influential people in my life.
Flipping to the coverage of the riots in Baltimore the contrast to the Nicklaus documentary was striking. Watching the chaos, I couldn’t help wondering about the fathers of those young people burning down their own city. Where were they? Why weren’t they out there taking charge of their children? The sad truth, is that the fathers don’t exist. Obviously, there is a biological father somewhere, but a father in the sense of what I know to be a father, they don’t exist in those neighborhoods. Seventy percent of those children are born out-of-wedlock and grow up in a single-parent home raised by their mother or grandmother.
The number-one indicator that a child will drop out of school, get involved with drugs, participate in criminal activity, and end up in jail, isn’t race, income, or education. It’s being born out-of-wedlock. The simple truth is, that a child born to and raised by a single mother has a much harder time succeeding in life than a child born and raised in a home with both a mother and father.
What happened? How did we get to this point?
The disintegration of the family is not just an African American problem; it’s an American problem. Fifty years ago, the illegitimate birth rate in the United States was seven percent. Today, over forty-percent of all births are out-of-wedlock. For the first time in our history, less than half our children are being raised in a home with two parents. It’s more prevalent in the African-American community because for far too long they were forced to exist on the periphery of our society.
Every ethnic group that has immigrated to America has struggle to establish themselves. However, no group has faced more adversity than the African-Americans. For the first two hundred and fifty years, they were enslaved. For the next one hundred years, they were systematically and institutionally discriminated against. And when the country finally began to wake up to the injustice and started allowing them access to the opportunities that the rest of us enjoyed; they were blindsided by the rise of liberalism.
The basic premise of liberalism is that it is the role of government to interject itself into the lives of its citizens in order to improve those lives. It is the ideology that inspired the War on Poverty, and ushered in the largest expansion of the Federal Government in history. Today, there are 126 federal programs, staffed by thousands of bureaucrats, trying to eradicate poverty. However, no matter how well intentioned these programs may be, they will never succeed. Not because the government is incompetent or corrupt. They will never succeed simply because the bureaucrats who administer these programs are human beings.
Human nature dictates that human beings will always act in their own self-interest. The livelihoods of the people running these programs is dependent upon the growth and expansion of the bureaucracy, and not the successful completion of the mission. The unintended but inevitable consequence of these programs is that they encourage and promote the irresponsible and self-destructive behavior that keeps people in poverty. This is why the War on Poverty has been a complete and total failure.
The African-American community has been so adversely affective because they are the most vulnerable. They have existed on the edge of our society for decades. When the entitlement bureaucracy began to expand, they were the first ones pushed over the cliff into the abyss of dependence and dysfunction. If we don’t reverse course soon, our family structure, and society will collapse.
To those advocates of liberalism, who continue to insist that more government is the answer, “You don’t know Jack!”