The Way Jerzyk’s World Works
I’d like to, if I may, correct a couple of misconceptions on Matt Jerzyk’s part without thereby lending credence to the parts of his post to which I don’t think response merited:
… please provide me one woman in the entire state of Rhode Island who, when confronted with the reality of having a child and whether to have that child and the status of her relationship with the child’s father, stops and thinks, “Why am I worried?? I can get on Welfare and life will be alllll good!” That’s not how life works, folks. And I guess if Don Carcieri ever left his cushy East Greenwich neighborhood and visited the low-income areas of his state he would realize this!
The key flaw of Jerzyk’s rhetoric (or its key ploy, if you prefer) is the moment that he picks in the series of decisions that leads to out-of-wedlock children. Indeed, although I don’t wish to make presumptions as to his actual familiarity with such people, it seems to me that Jerzyk, despite his “visit[s] to low-income areas,” has a far too belittling view of their decision-making capabilities. Can’t low-income women, to wit, consider the possibility of children when they elevate their relationships with men such that they become potential fathers of their children? In the progressive world, it seems, low-income women can’t do otherwise than have sex first and ask questions later, the poor, dear, disadvantaged
Here’s how the world has appeared to work for the human beings (of all races and classes) whom I’ve known in every setting from an Ivy-League-in-all-but-name campus to the navy-blue-collar commercial fishing docks: Having frequent and direct contact with similarly situated people whose poor decisions have proven dramatically detrimental discourages like behavior. Observing that those people receive increased benefits — not to mention increased creds toward the coveted victim status — enables poor decisions, especially when the detriments are still hypothetical, and tangential to the action under scrutiny (as conception is, in the hyper-sexed modern mind, a tangential consequence to the perceived benefit of casual sex).
Generally speaking, women don’t expect to become pregnant from one-night stands or otherwise promiscuous behavior. When the consequences of that outcome are more dire, however, the pre-fling calculation is more likely to be made in terms of risk than of hypothetical possibility.
It is without a doubt a difficult balance to strike — that between raising up children who’ve had the misfortune to be born into such circumstances and easing the burden of adults’ loose behavior. I’m still haunted, however, by this article out of England a few years ago:
In Britain, surveys indicate that for many teenagers becoming pregnant is an aspiration: the benefits and cheap local authority housing available is seen by some as a reason to become pregnant – especially for teenagers from impoverished or broken homes. A recent poll by the Family Education Trust indicated that 45 per cent of single pregnant teenagers had either wanted to conceive or “didn’t mind” that they had. The introduction of £5,000 worth of free nursery care to enable pregnant teenagers to return to school is seen by many as a “perverse incentive” to attract young girls into parenthood.
As Robert Whelan, the director of the Family Education Trust, points out: “The scale of state help directed at young single parents is such that girls who do not have babies are losing out.”
Jerzyk’s fallacious reasoning with respect to the way the world actually works twists that very concern on its head with his notion of familial advantages:
Ask teenagers in Barrington what two parents got them. Two parents does not equal a nurturing family environment. Two parents can be working high-stress jobs as lawyers and doctors in Barrington and never be home for their kids. Or two parents can be working long-hours jobs as janitors and CNAs in Pawtucket and never be home for their kids.
Or two parents can construct a not-uncommon household (such as mine) in which one parent earns the predominant income, and the other stays home with the kids or takes on a decreased workload. It would seem that progressive families are all overworked and miserable, with two parents being hardly preferable to one. But a child with only one parent around, whether he or she is working as a janitor or a lawyer, has next to no chance of such a living arrangement. (And that’s letting Jerzyk slide on his assumptions that Barrington households are not nurturing and that they’re all two-parent.)
Between the progressive ideology of and the excessive “safety net” preferred by those who are driving this state into the ground, it becomes a moralist’s question to ask whether young women ought to be having sex with men whom their children would be better off without. It becomes a sign of an oppressor to expect too much of the poor things.