Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Changing the Fast-Growing Demographic

During my studies as a graduate student, I came across this interesting bit of information: more children that are being born into single-parent households are born into households where Mom was never married.  Let's stop and think about this.  Children in single-parent homes are generally the offspring of unwed mothers!  I  can guarantee that all of us can think of a single woman raising her child without a history of divorce.  Everyone has heard the most misconstrued statistic in the world "half of all marriages end in divorce."  (I won't go into why this quote enrages me in this post.)  If half of marriage partners really are getting divorced, then the single-parent homes should be, for the most part, accounted for.

I have also read that women are generally waiting until they are older to get married and have children-from their late twenties to early thirties range.  A growing number of women are starting to pursue education and careers before they settle down.  How can women be getting married later at the same time as single parent households are increasing at an all-time high?

Although divorce is rampant, I don't believe it accurately explains the single-parent phenomena.  Today, men and women are shamelessly having sexual intercourse outside of marriage.  Mechanically, sex has two sonsequences: creating babies or spreading STD's.   (Yes, people have sex for pleasure but I'm talking about producing a physical product- not a sensational feeling.  Think about sex as a factory assembly line where two workers making a product.)  If you know that you are not committed to the other person, then why would you risk creating a child?  When you have sex without any form of pregnancy prevention, you increase the probability of having a child 75%.  Let's be honest.  Females carry a pregnancy for forty weeks before the fetus becomes a child that Dad can help.  Forty weeks is a long time- long enough for someone to plan his or her escape from parenthood.  According to the statistics, Dads are most likely to bail once they know or displace their responsibilities once they are notified. 

Whether the relationship ended before she knew she was pregnant, he bailed, or someone got a divorce, the someone is now a single parent.  When I think of every kid's childhood, I cannot imagine a little girl or boy saying, "I can't wait to be a single-parent and raise my child or children alone!"  With the ideal of raising the child in a home with two loving parents and two incomes gone, life just got tougher. . . a lot tougher.

When one is living under less than ideal circumstances like those I just described, then one should focus on making the best of the situation.  Sleeping with Private Joe Snuffy or G.I. Jane without a condom right before he or she deployed was a bad idea.  Forgive yourself.  Adjust fire and continue on with your new mission of single-parenthood.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  If you need to get on welfare for a while, do it.

Let's talk about getting on welfare.  State aid, welfare, or whatever you call it is a temporary solution to your long-term issue.  Raising a child does NOT get cheaper with time.  (Everytime I compare my total at Wal-mart to amount of items in my cart, I want to riot.)  Providing for your child today will not be easier because you, the parent, will be faced with challenges everyday.  Inflation, the price of daycare, available housing, your level of education, outrageous costs of tuition, and the depreciation of the American dollar are just a few the issues you'll encounter.  While raising a child alone in this economy is difficult, it can be done.  Welfare can help with that, if you qualify.  If welfare does help you improve your circumstance, that is wonderful.  Don't count on it to always be there though.  Your state and federal governments are under some of the same pressures.  Funneling money at the rate that they do now may not be possible in the future.

Representative Kim Hammer (R-AK) understands these facts.  In order to encourage sustainable welfare programs and responsible behavior of welfare recipients, she is offering to reimburse  the costs to IUD or Norplant implantation to females on welfare.  Paraguard outlines the one-time fee to purchase their copper IUD on their website.  Although $932 is a initial out-of-pocket cost, it would be worth it when compared to what state governments are spending on welfare.  As a divorced parent, I was on welfare for 21 months and received $323 a month in foodstamps for my one child and myself.  In that time frame, I cost my state government $6,783.  *If the state government paid for a hypothetical IUD prior to my pregnancy, I theoretically could have saved taxpayers $5,851.  (*In reality, I cannot receive an IUD.  My child is five years old.  I am a taxpayer myself and I don't plan on getting on welfare ever again.)  I am one person.  In Kentucky, more than 900,000 people get government assistance, that's about 21% of the state. That does not include people on temporary state assistance, like K-TAP or TANF.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homelessness and Me

My own encounter with homelessnes is mild compared the realities that the currently homeless share.  I have recounted that unpleasant experience for you in a different blog post.*  I want to discuss homelessness in the United States and my proposed solution to it. 

While I hope everyone can glean something personally meaningful from this post, I want to reach out to the Universal Church- Christians.  As with every good finger-pointing, I am a Christian and I am just as much to blame as any other Christian.  Since I am indeed equally to blame, I feel as though the time has come to do something about it.  Before we Christians can fully address homelessness, we need to reflect upon our financial preparedness to answer God's calling to care for the poor.  Ultimately, God calls to be financially prepared to invest in His most precious and priceless asset- the souls of His creation.

We are called to serve God and live our lives as Christ lived His own.  We cannot be wholly free to serve God if we are chained to debt.  Figuratively, debt enslaves us and makes itself our master.   Debt and unnecessary financial obligations hinder us from fully serving God.  Matthew 6:24 NIV reminds us “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."  Christ wants us to be free in every aspect of our lives. John 8:36 NIV tells us that "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed."  Right now, examine your lives.  Are to able to freely respond to God's financial calling on your life?  Or are you slaving away to work off your debt which has made itself your master?

Eventually, I came to a point in my life where I was tired of serving Mammon.  The fight to free myself from this spirit brought me face to face with homelessness.  God was faithful even when my potential homelessness seemed inevitable.  He put me in a rental house.  This house had been for sale but had sat empty for six months.  The owners know me and were aware of my struggle.  God moved on my behalf and filled them with compassion.  They offered me their house to live in and decided to take it off the market.  I have lived in this same house since late 2012. 

Three years in a neighborhood isn't a long time to live somewhere but I believe I see a trend.  On my street alone, five houses are for sale.  They have sat empty for the last two months.  Then, three more empty houses sit without any signs of sale or potential occupation.  When one house is purchased, another is vacated.  This trend continues and my street continues to host multiple empty houses.  Driving around my suburb further validates my suspicions- empty houses on almost every street.  I can only speculate why these houses are empty.

Then I read this: "Homeless Man from Louisville Freezes to Death on the Steps of a Homeless Shelter."  You can read the whole article yourself here.  I see homeless people in my town, at my school, and in my church.  How is this possible?  I'm not so naive to think that every single homeless person wants to live in a house with expenses.**  I will say that young Kenneth Winfield didn't want to freeze to death.  How many more homeless people are going to die this way-exposed to the elements?  How long will we, Christians, allow this to happen?

Faced with homelessness in my community and a crappy housing market, I have decided to juxtapose these two issues against each other.  What if I were able to buy houses and give them to homeless people?  What if other people in my community, or even in my state, were able to do the same thing?  What if other people in other states found out and did the same thing??  We, the people of the United States, could collectively conquer both issues at once. 

This is my solution.  Is it lofy?  A bit.  Can I do it?  I believe I can.  I accept the possibility that my personal impact may be small.  I may only give away one house and to only one person.  If one soul is added to kindgom as a result of my efforts, I believe it's worth it.  I'm hoping that one person will be like the leper that Jesus healed and asked him to tell no one (Mark 1:40-45 NKJV.)  Verse 45 tells us "he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter. . .".  This ministry has reflections of Christ's ministry all over it.  I believe that God was faithful to me to show Himself through me.  Exodus 9:16 NKJV "But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."   

*I haven't written that post yet.  When I do, I will update this one.
**I have met homeless people that would rather couch surf with friends or live out of their cars than be tied down to a house with rules or expenses.