Matt Forney
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Save the Economy: Tax Single Mothers!

NOTE: This article was originally published at The Spearhead on June 24, 2013. I’m re-posting it here as the site is now defunct.

America is in crisis. The federal deficit is spiraling out of control. State governments are turning over every couch cushion they can find just so they can make payroll. Whole cities are falling apart due to lack of funds. Close to a quarter of the nation’s workforce is jobless and another quarter is massively underemployed, waiting tables and ringing up groceries despite having college degrees. There’s no way out of this financial clusterfuck… or is there?

I’ve got a solution: a sin tax on single motherhood.

Sin taxes are so-called because they’re an attempt to mitigate the negative consequences of certain behaviors. We tax cigarettes because tobacco smoke causes emphysema and lung cancer; we tax alcohol because drunk people have a reputation for being violent and getting in car crashes; we tax casinos because they encourage crime and because gambling addiction destroys lives.

So why shouldn’t we tax single motherhood, given the massively destructive effects it has on society?

I’m not just talking about how much single mothers cost the government in terms of welfare: single motherhood itself is a net negative. When I speak of “single mothers,” I’m including both poor, welfare-dependent “single mothers by choice” as well as divorced and widowed women. Here are the facts:

  • Single mothers are on average poorer than married households, with an annual income of only $25,353, compared to married households’ income of $78,699. The poverty rate for single mother households is 40.9 percent, compared to married households’ 8.8 percent.
  • Children of single mothers are 63 percent more likely to commit suicide, 75 percent more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, and are 50 percent more likely to become criminals. They are also more likely to engage in these activities at a younger age.
  • Nearly half of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers alone.
  • Children of single mothers are less intelligent than those of married mothers and consistently score lower on IQ tests. They are more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders, more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to earn college degrees.
  • Finally, children of single mothers are more likely to have children out of wedlock themselves, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and misery.

Put simply, any woman who has children out of wedlock—or divorces her husband without justifiable cause—is committing an enormously selfish and immoral act. She’s not only damning her children to a wretched existence, she’s placing a huge financial burden on society and the government. Single mothers aren’t heroes, they’re villains, crippling their children for life and saddling everyone else with the bill.

Ergo, the only justifiable solution is to make single motherhood as financially painful as possible.

I envision the Single Motherhood Tax as a highly progressive income tax, levied on all unmarried women with children. A single mother with one child automatically loses 15 percent of her yearly income, with the tax increasing by 15 percent with each additional child—30 percent for two, 45 percent for three, 60 percent for four—up to a maximum of 75 percent for five kids. For the tax’s purposes, any child support, alimony, and gimmedats (WIC, SNAP, Oregon Trail Cards etc.) the woman is receiving will be considered part of her income.

1. “But Matt, why do we need a new tax? Why can’t we just cut government aid to single mothers?”

Because welfare usage is just one of the ways that single mothers harm everyone around them. Even if an unmarried woman is completely self-sufficient, her children are still more likely to become criminals, drug addicts or otherwise a drain on society. The ultimate problem with single mothers isn’t that they’re dependent on the government, it’s that they’re single mothers. Taxing them all equally, from LaQuisha the Welfare Queen to a high-powered attorney having a deformed in vitro baby, is the only way to combat the problem.

2. “What about divorced/widowed mothers? Should they be punished too?”

In the case of divorced women, absolutely. Given that women initiate the vast majority of divorces—and the vast majority of divorces are for frivolous and stupid reasons—exempting them from the Single Motherhood Tax would defeat the purpose of implementing it. I had thought about adding an exemption for women who divorce for a good reason—their husband was beating them or committing some other major infraction—but realized that it would lead to a wave of women falsely accusing their husbands of abuse. By financially punishing divorced women, we’ll force wives to think twice before they end their marriages and encourage those who do get divorced to remarry relatively quickly. It might even incentivize women to vet potential husbands a little more carefully.

Widowed mothers should be exempt from the tax, but only for a short duration: two or three years. This is more than enough time for them to find a new husband. Since less than ten percent of single mothers are widows, they aren’t a huge deal.

3. “This tax is a double standard! Why don’t we punish single fathers, or men who impregnate women out of wedlock?”

Because single fathers are extremely rare: virtually all “single-parent” households are single mother households. Because our family court system advantages women over men, single and divorced fathers have far less involvement with raising their children than their mothers, and in many cases no involvement at all. Thus, it’s almost entirely single mothers’ fault for spawning a generation of deadbeat criminals.

4. “What about girls who don’t know about or can’t afford birth control? Should they be taxed as well?”

Let me explode this leftist lie right now: there are no girls who don’t know how to use birth control, or can’t afford it. Condoms are $6 a pack at Rite Aid, and most major cities have a Planned Parenthood office or similar clinic that offers free birth control. Given the ubiquity of sex education in public schools and information on the Internet, Amish women are probably the only ones in America who have no idea how birth control works.

In my experience working with poor single mothers in upstate New York, all of them knew perfectly how to have safe sex. The reason they had had children out of wedlock was not ignorance, but desire. They wanted to have a baby because they are so low on the socioeconomic totem pole that having a kid gives them power, someone to boss around; or more charitably, because they think caring for a child will be fun. Because of government programs, this sort of stupidity isn’t only tolerated, it’s encouraged.

The only way to cure stupidity is to punish it. The Christian/conservative solution of discouraging people from having premarital sex hasn’t worked because it doesn’t address the root of the problem. Having sex in and of itself isn’t an issue: it’s the byproducts of sex—namely, children—that strain public resources and tear apart communities. By hitting unmarried mothers in the purse, we’ll remove the incentives they have to crank out bastards and/or divorce their husbands because they’re not haaaaaappppppy.

Single mothers are the moral equivalent of crack dealers or alcoholics. It’s time to take out the trash.

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