Commentary: Blame the Great Society for out-of-wedlock births

It has been 50 years since Lyndon Johnson signed the Great Society program into law. Ten trillion dollars later, the effects have been the very antithesis of his stated aims. This single piece of public policy has destroyed the family, caused a marked increase in illegitimacy, crime, illiteracy and drug abuse and turned traditional America into a culture of fatherlessness.

In 1960, the rate of illegitimacy was 5%. In 2012, the rate of mothers having children out of wedlock stood at 34% for whites, 53% for Latinos and 80% for African Americans, according to USA Today. Unwed mothers make up a high number of welfare recipients and many of the juveniles behind bars came from single moms. Dropout rates are also dismal.

Children growing up in public housing, exposed to violence and drugs in the absence of a stable, two-parent home are essentially condemned to a life of poverty and failure. They have a far greater chance of winding up behind bars, pregnant, on skid row or dead than in a nice home with a family and a good job.

Life is never fair. That’s just reality. Not everyone is born wealthy or beautiful or brilliant. The refusal to accept this reality is the arrogance of liberalism. Their taxpayer-funded political un-reality has been a costly delusion that has resisted repeated revisions in SAT and IQ tests or Head Start and the more than 80 other government programs for the disadvantaged to make reality more fair.

What is missing in these senseless federal programs is an understanding of the importance of marriage and the role of mothers and fathers in the development of intelligence, morality and social values in infants and young children. The failure to do so has been incalculably costly in terms of wasted human potential and monies.

What can be done that might be helpful? Christelyn Karazin suggests resurrecting the shotgun marriage to legitimize children. It’s a good idea. The time-honored practice exists in most cultures. A glance at Vanity Fair or People confirms it is still a time-honored tradition in our very own.

The two-parent family is the backbone and strength of any civilized society. Viewed from that perspective, Americans were better off 100 years ago. Is one answer to what ails our country not enough marriage licenses?

Marriage awakens a new sense of responsibility in men. Husbands work to support their families with a new-found zeal. A marriage license costs 25 bucks. Could it really be that simple?

R. CLAIRE FRIEND is a medical doctor who lives in Newport Beach.