Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Nicholas Kristof: Where the GOP gets it right

By
From page A12 | April 13, 2014 |

Republicans may seem like ultimate Scrooges. Many want to slash food stamps, unemployment benefits and just about any program that helps the needy.

So they know nothing about poverty, right?

Wrong. Actually, conservatives have been proved right about three big ideas of social policy. Liberals may grimace, but hear me out on these points:

* Strong families: Conservatives highlight the primacy of family and argue that family breakdown exacerbates poverty, and they’re right. Children raised by single parents are three times as likely to live in poverty as kids in two-parent homes.

One historic mistake by liberals in social policy was the condemnation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s warning in 1965 of the breakdown of the African-American family. He wasn’t racist; he was prescient, for the same breakdown has since occurred in white working-class families as well.

Yet if Republicans were shown to be right in their diagnosis of family breakdown as a central problem, they have mostly been proved wrong in their prescriptions. Particularly under President George W. Bush, millions of dollars were spent on marriage promotion initiatives, and follow-up studies show that overwhelmingly they failed to have an effect. Abstinence-only sex education is another demonstrated failure.

What does work to strengthen families and reduce out-of-wedlock births?

There are no magic wands, but family-planning programs have reduced unplanned births — and 70 percent of pregnancies among unmarried women under 30 are unplanned. The Guttmacher Institute calculates that without family-planning services, the rate of unintended teen pregnancies would be 73 percent higher.

So it’s hard to think of a more anti-family policy than the closure of family-planning clinics in states like Texas, or the two-thirds cut (after inflation) in the main federal family-planning program since 1980. That’s a national shame.

One landmark initiative to help in this area is the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to offer free long-acting contraceptives to all women. Research suggests strongly that this will reduce abortions and out-of-wedlock births, while strengthening marriage, yet Republicans are fighting this mandate.

* Job creation: President Ronald Reagan was right when he said that the best social program is a job. Good jobs also strengthen families. Evidence has grown that jobs are important not only to our economic well-being but also to self-esteem. Indeed, long-term unemployment seems to lead to shortened life expectancy.

Two decades ago, President Bill Clinton pushed to “end welfare as we know it.” Liberals protested that the poor would be devastated, while conservatives hailed this as an avenue out of poverty. In retrospect, neither prediction was right. Welfare reform pushed the poor into jobs, but mostly marginal jobs that rarely offered an escalator to the middle class.

So how do we get good jobs? Expansion of the earned-income tax credit. Job training for people coming out of prison. Reduced incarceration, since a prison record makes people less employable. Subsidies to hire the long-term unemployed. Vocational programs like Career Academies.

Yet these are the kinds of social policies that Democrats tend to embrace and Republicans are leery of.

* School reform: Republicans were right to blow the whistle on broken school systems, for education in inner-city schools is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Democrats, in cahoots with teachers’ unions and protective of a dysfunctional system, were long part of the problem.

Bravo to Republicans for protesting that teachers’ unions were sometimes protecting disastrous teachers (including, in New York City, one who passed out drunk in her classroom, with even the principal unable to rouse her). Likewise, some of the most successful schools in the inner cities have been charters in the Knowledge Is Power Program, showing what is possible even in troubled cities.

Yet Democrats, led by President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, are coming around, and teachers’ unions have moderated. Republicans sometimes suggest that our biggest educational problem is teachers’ unions themselves. That’s absurd. States with strong teachers’ unions in the North like Massachusetts have better schools than states in the South with weak unions.

Meanwhile, one of the most important evidence-backed school reforms is public preschool and home visitation for disadvantaged kids, yet Republicans are blocking any national move to universal pre-kindergarten (even though Republican-led states like Oklahoma are leaders in pre-K).

So, come on, Republicans! You’ve highlighted enduring truths about the importance of family, jobs and school reform. But, while your diagnoses deserve respectful consideration, your prescriptions have mostly been proved wrong.

One more thing: These aren’t just abstract policies. These are ethical issues, touching on our obligations to fellow humans.

If we offer the needy nothing but slogans and reprimands — “Strengthen your family! Get a job! Get an education!” — then our anti-poverty programs are a cruel joke, as bankrupt as Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake.”

— The New York Times

Comments

comments

Nicholas Kristof

.

News

Mother arrested for death of baby Justice Rees

By Lauren Keene | From Page:

 
 
New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Fire damages South Davis home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Gerber nominations close Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Explorit: Humming right along

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

 
Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Spring sing-along is March 4

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Two free yoga classes offered March 12

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Take a night walk at Cache Creek

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Learn about your brain on March 14

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

A fill-up mishap

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
.

Forum

Tired of all of this

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Oral Health Project launches

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

Here an H, there an H

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

 
Cavalier attitude about bike safety

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

Start early to build healthy dental habits

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

 
No extra cost for containers

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
.

Features

.

Arts

International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Monticello announces March schedule

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Business

Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

 
Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
.

Obituaries

Dieter W. Gruenwedel

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
George Miller Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Vernon E. Burton

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B5