One thing I’ve always found remarkable about the War on Poverty, declared 50 years ago this week by Lyndon Johnson, is that poverty today is right where it was when Johnson’s Great Society programs kicked in.
Here’s the graph. I reprint it from NPR, not the National Review.
The truth of the chart is simply undeniable. The poverty rate, as expressed by the percentage of people in poverty in the light blue line, was declining sharply until the Johnson programs – the largest increase in welfare EVER in this country – kicked in. At that point, the rate leveled off. And at 15 percent in 2013, it’s right where it was in 1965.
In fact, it’s been at 15 percent the last three years running, the worst performance since 1965. Bush’s fault, right? Well, we’re talking not about the first, second, and third years of the Obama presidency. We’re talking about the third, fourth and fifth.
Imagine the howling sound we’d hear if this were Bush’s record following the recession he inherited from Clinton in 2001.
Here’s part of the statement Obama offered up Wednesday marking the anniversary:
As Americans, we believe that everyone who works hard deserves a chance at opportunity, and that all our citizens deserve some basic measure of security. And so, 50 years ago, President Johnson declared a War on Poverty to help each and every American fulfill his or her basic hopes.
The White House made the case this week that, if you include all the free stuff, poverty has declined. And that is certainly true. What is certainly not true is that the War on Poverty was about, as Obama states, helping each and every American fulfill his or her basic hopes.
It was, rather, about alleviating the pain of poverty. The problem is, though, that by making welfare too generous, the government is using the money of hard working Americans to pay people to be poor. It has created a dependent class that is making the rational decision that work and struggle are not worth it.
Not to mention that, with our debt endlessly rising, the whole project is completely unaffordable.
Nothing can lift Americans out of poverty like a booming economy. Like the success of striving capitalists who provide goods, services, and jobs to the nation.
Yeah, Trickle Down Economics. Like it.
Nothing has fettered the underclass like the growth in government control and the decline of moral values that has occurred since the early 1960s, particularly the ruination of the family.
We need to always provide a minimum safety net in this country. Whatever the cause of one’s failure, people should not be starving in the United States. But replacing private initiative and community charity with government comes at a cost.
And the cost is destroying all of us.