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Some years ago in a seminar on successful management principles, and then later in an article on successful management techniques, I learned of the management principle, “What gets rewarded gets done.” The essence of the message was, if you want something to be done/accomplished on a continuous basis, reward it.
President Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in the 1960s, and America has spent more than $15 trillion (a conservative estimate, as some reports are closer to $20 trillion) on anti-poverty programs. (Just FYI: $1 trillion is a thousand $1 billions.) I mean, by now shouldn’t the “war on poverty” have been won? The fact is, it’s exactly the other way around: Poverty is winning the war.
Despite all the money thrown at the problem, the so-called underclass has been steadily growing, not shrinking, over the past 30+ years. Not only that, but there has been a dramatic rise in teenage pregnancies and the illegitimacy rate, as well as a growing breakdown of the American family. You ever wonder why? Let me give you a scenario:
Suppose you are a young man about 19 years old and a distinguished-looking gentleman comes up to you and says, “I’m your rich uncle, have more money than you can count, and I will pay for every baby you can make, by as many different women as you like.”
You ask, “Really? What’s the catch?”
He says, “There’s no catch. All you have to do is make the babies, and I will support them until they are 18 years old. My only requirements are that you never live with any of those women, and you never contribute a dime of support to any of those babies. In fact, if you try to take any responsibility for them, I won’t help you. But as long as you don’t lift a finger to help the child, I will feed, clothe, house, and give them full health care until they’re 18.”
You ask, “How many times can I do that?”
Your uncle answers, “As often as you want!”
Someone might say, Ben, that’s just plain ridiculous! No one would make a stupid offer like that!
Au contraire, mon ami. That promise actually exists and is acted upon regularly by thousands of young men in this country. The rich relative is Uncle Sam, and the promise is welfare.
But your uncle didn’t stop there. He continued, “I’ll give you so much cash, food, medical and housing assistance that you won’t have to work (get off welfare), and if, for some reason, you don’t qualify for assistance, I’ll show you how to lie so that you can get your slice of the entitlement pie. Also, if you happen to have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, I can just declare you are disabled and you’ll get a disability check every month to enable your addiction help you pay for your drugs! There’s one caveat, though: If you try to get a job or any other additional help, I’ll cut off all your assistance.”
How successfully have the beneficiaries followed the rules? Check out the federal government’s latest figures on out-of-wedlock births in the United States:
72.3 percent of non-Hispanic blacks
66.2 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives
53.3 percent of Hispanics
29.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites
17.2 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data, a record-low 51 percent of adults aged 18 and older in the United States were married in 2010, compared with 72 percent in 1960, the most dramatic decline being among adults ages 18 to 29. Just 20 percent of them were married last year, compared with 59 percent in 1960.
The decline in marriage has been accompanied by an increase in cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood. Researchers say if current trends continue, the percentage of U.S. adults who are currently married will fall below half within a few years. They also found that the number of new marriages in the U.S. fell by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010.
“What gets rewarded gets done.” Does the principle work? Has it worked? Fifteen to 20 trillion dollars later, several reports put the poverty level at essentially the same level it was when the “war” was declared. You tell me.
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