The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its most recent rankings of the economic well-being of kids by state. The News & Observer notes that NC ranks 34th in the nation in term of kids' economic well-being. Should we be surprised?
I used data from the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org web site to run a simple OLS, regressing the percentage of kids from single family homes living in poverty (data here) the average percent of births in each state that were funded through Medicaid between 2003 - 2009. North Carolina is the eighth highest.
Here are the overall results.
Adjusted R-squared = .37627
What this says is that for every one percentage point increase in births funded by Medicaid in a sate, children from single-parent families living in poverty increased .424%. (Every state had data for at least one of the years, many of the states had data for all, or nearly all, years.)
This is not a truly scientific study in that first, the data is not complete since some states do not report every year what percentage of births in their state was paid for by Medicaid. And second, correlation does not imply causation. Causation probably goes both ways in this study, but that's the point - we subsidize women to have children who are poorly equipped to financially care for these children. A large number of them are teenagers younger than 18, they give birth and we then feign surprise that these women (almost all are women) cannot lift themselves out of poverty since they've never been taught skills and they now have an anchor hanging around their neck. Oh, and their children are unlikely to ever escape poverty.
This is the cruelest hoax we've played on children in this country. "We are going to make sure that your unwed teenage mother gets appropriate neonatal care, pay for your birth, and then watch in bewilderment as you grow up with little chance of ever having a socially productive life on your own."
My favorite line from a very good movie is when Tod, played by Keanu Reeves, says, "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any bu__-reaming a__hole be a father." I'm not calling for licensing births, but I'm also not for subsidizing children who cannot even care for theselves having children for whom they have no conceivable means of financial responsibility.
Throwing money at a problem is not solving a problem, in fact, it oftentimes makes a situation worse. This is one of those situations. Why is it we tax the things we want more of (i.e., more productive people) and subsidize the things we want less of (i.e., out-of-wedlock births that leads to more children living in poverty)?