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'America and Its Poor'

August 31, 1985

Your series on the poor prompted many letters concerning the children of poor parents. However, few of them asked the question that came to my mind. That is, "Whatever happened to parental responsibility?" Does it really take that much thinking to realize that providing decent clothes and adequate food and shelter for a child costs a lot of money these days?

I'm not saying the poor should not have children. But I am saying that parents must be put in a situation where they are forced to take a hard look at their own economic situation and an equally hard look at how responsible their spouse is before considering having a child. The father from West Virginia pictured in one article has decided to have five children (so far), yet he only makes $12,000 a year.

The article also points out that 1 million young girls become pregnant each year and thus many of them join the ranks of the poor because the father has run out.

But in both of these cases, the parents are spared the full responsibility of providing for their children by the government, which forces the American taxpayer to share in the burden of providing care for these children. If these people were not eligible for welfare, they might think twice before having a child. But as it stands now, they know they'll get help.

Anyone without a relatively stable economic situation or without a relatively reliable spouse should be forced to consider the economic realities of raising a child.

GARY SIEGEL

Los Angeles

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