February 24, 2008

Evolving Corruption

Justin Katz

Part 2 of Kenneth Payne's series on the evolution of political corruption in Rhode Island is worth a read (emphasis added):

The forms of government were familiar. For those in control, the system worked. The Yankee establishment held the reins of power.

The State House was an expression of that power — political and economic. Rhode Island was urbanizing, industrializing and generating wealth. Cities were burgeoning with immigrants. Together Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket held more than half of the people in Rhode Island. Yet in 1901, political power was consolidated and effectively placed beyond popular control. ...

Three sections at the end of Chapter 809 became infamous and merit a full reading. While their tone is matter of fact and lawyerly, their effect was a stark fixing of undemocratic power.

It might be interesting also to keep an eye on the Projo's advice columns for submissions by despairing readers of Payne's series.

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Interesting stuff here--another reason to support Mike Huckabee for president

Scott Haltzman: Rhode Island should support marriage education

01:00 AM EST on Friday, February 15, 2008


IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS, Governor Carcieri has proposed a dizzying number of plans to respond to Rhode Island’s current budget crisis, and folks are worried, rightfully, that some entitlements will be taken away. But if you pay close attention, you’ll see that the governor recommends adding one new service for the citizens of Rhode Island: marriage education.

In his Jan 30 news conference, he spoke of discouraging out-of-wedlock births while encouraging two-parent families to have healthy relationships, stating: “You can set a tone and you try to teach people as to what’s best.” Those simple words of common sense should be great news for the people of Rhode Island. When the state supports healthy marriages, everyone benefits.

There’s a good reason why marriage support is suddenly on the agenda in Rhode Island: because the Feds will pay for it. A decade ago, when President Bill Clinton (and a Republican Congress) passed welfare reform, the law sought to move control of money from the federal government to the states. This change in policy was a good thing for most states; they were given the funds that the Feds would have used to pay for welfare, along with guidelines about what was to be done with the money.

Most people knew about the “welfare-to-work” demands of the federal grants to the states, but few people paid much attention to one of the other goals of this law: improving the health of marriages. In the first half decade since the welfare-reform act was passed, only one state, Oklahoma — which had the highest divorce rate in the nation — channeled this money into marriage education. In the last two years, eight more states followed suit, including Texas, Arizona, Georgia, even Ohio and New York. Until now, no state government in New England has set aside the money for marriage education.

Our governor now reports he wishes to support healthy marriages. The good news is that most (if not all) of the funds to pay for these programs will come from federal money already allocated for Rhode Islanders to use for this purpose. This is a great opportunity for the state, and we ought to take it.

Does marriage matter?

As we forge ahead into the new millennium, some people may believe that there’s no place for supporting marriage. They may consider marriage an antiquated idea. There are so many forms of connections, they say, why should we be thinking about giving special recognition to this one particular mode of bonding?

The answer is simple: marriage is the only social arrangement that statistically 1) improves the health and well being of children, and 2) decreases the poverty of adults and children. You’ll note I use the word “statistically,” because there are many children — 60 percent, according to the 2000 Census — growing up in homes without both of their biological parents, and many of these children live rich and full lives.

Moreover, there are, no doubt, more than a few children who reside with both parents, yet live in destitution. But according to the “Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study” (2003), when two parents choose not to marry or stay married, the chance of a child’s living in poverty increases three-fold. Poverty isn’t the only unintended consequence of divorce for children; the risk of teen pregnancy, emotional problems, substance abuse, school truancy and dropping out increase 2 1/2-fold once parents split apart.

Kids who are raised by married parents are two-thirds less likely to be victims of crime or incarcerated for committing a crime. Through their behavior, often through their words, our children are telling us that growing up without their two biological parents takes its toll. But sadly, kids can’t make parents marry, or stay married; only their parents can. Not only does marriage protect children, it tends to make life better for adults too. Joining — and staying joined — together in matrimony not only increases health and wealth, it actually reduces the incidence of domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse and premature deaths of the individuals in the marriage. Marriage education is not about forcing people to marry who don’t wish to do so. It’s about giving couples access to learn how to make a relationship work.

Studies show that most individuals — even individuals in poverty or of minority status — say that they believe in marriage, and wish it for themselves. Many marriages start out great, but just don’t meet expectations. For some individuals, marital problems arise because they don’t have good role models of how to have a happy union. Some just don’t know where to go for help when relationship problems arise.

If these men and women knew how to have great marriages, they’d be much more likely to take the plunge, or, if already wed, find support to keep their marriage thriving. If government programs are set up to help support healthy, happy and stable marriages with effective researched-based programs, then we all get more of what we are looking for, and our children — and the future of the state — would be better off for it.

The governor recognizes how healthy marriages help children and the community as a whole. When it comes to having our legislature support marriage education, let’s insist that they say: “I do!”

Scott Haltzman, M.D., is a clinical assistant in the Brown Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and medical director of NRI Community Services, in Woonsocket. He is author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife’s Heart Forever.

Posted by: mt at February 24, 2008 11:06 PM
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