In today’s Wall Street Journal, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation writes (link) about “How the War on Poverty Was Lost – Fifty years and $20 trillion later, LBJ's goal to help the poor become self-supporting has failed.”
Some of the points Rector makes; all quotes from his piece:
· On January 8, 1964, Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson used his State of the Union address to announce an ambitious government undertaking. "This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America."
· Fifty years later, we're losing that war. Fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official census poverty report for 2012, unchanged since the mid-1960s.
· The original goal [of the War on Poverty], as LBJ stated it half a century ago: "to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities."
· The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans. Government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012 alone, and roughly 100 million Americans received aid from at least one of them, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. Federal and state welfare spending, adjusted for inflation, is 16 times greater than it was in 1964. If converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.
· The official poverty rate persists with little improvement .... in part because the government's poverty figures are misleading. Census defines a family as poor based on income level but doesn't count welfare benefits as a form of income.
· Current poverty [as defined by the federal government] has little resemblance to poverty 50 years ago. According to a variety of government sources ... the typical American living below the poverty level in 2013 lives in a house or apartment that is in good repair, equipped with air conditioning and cable TV. His home is larger than the home of the average non-poor French, German or English man. He has a car, multiple color TVs and a DVD player. More than half the poor have computers and a third have wide, flat-screen TVs. The overwhelming majority of poor Americans are not undernourished and did not suffer from hunger for even one day of the previous year.
· ... LBJ's original aim .... sought to give poor Americans "opportunity not doles," planning to shrink welfare dependence not expand it. In his vision, the war on poverty would strengthen poor Americans' capacity to support themselves.... By that standard, the war on poverty has been a catastrophe.... A large segment of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than when the war on poverty began.
· The collapse of marriage in low-income communities has played a substantial role in the declining capacity for self-support. In 1963, 6% of American children were born out of wedlock. Today the number stands at 41% [and, not mentioned in Rector's piece, the figure among blacks is about 70%]. As benefits swelled, welfare increasingly served as a substitute for a bread-winning husband in the home. .... According to the Heritage Foundation's analysis, children raised in the growing number of single-parent homes are four times more likely to be living in poverty than children reared by married parents of the same education level.
If one properly and correctly understands that the central aim of the Democrat Party puppet-masters running the so-called “anti-poverty” programs was to create and maintain a large number of people dependent on and beholden to the Democrats as the party of government benefits, people who all would vote for Democrats as they in fact do, and as well to create tens of thousands of welfare program-related government jobs to be handed out by Democrats as patronage to workers beholden to the Democrat Party, jobsters who all would vote for Democrats as they in fact do, then the so-called “War on Poverty” has been a rip-roaring success. A success, that is, for the liberal elites and the patronage army of the Democrat Party, but certainly not, tragically and predictably, for those utterly dependent and truly hopeless people in the now-permanent underclass, created by and ever-entangled by the Democrat dependency strategy, which, to be successful, had to destroy the family structure and normalize the pathologies of the slum culture.