Saturday, January 11, 2014
The War on Poverty is a Failure, But it Spends On
President Johnson in his State of the Union Address on January 8, 1963 declared an “unconditional war on poverty.” The richest nation on earth should be able to lift its poor out of poverty. He intended for the government to create the opportunity for Americans in his Great Society to rise out of poverty. President Johnson, who rose from poverty, overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress, and an optimistic American public signed up for the war. The War on Poverty is 50 years old. Where are the celebrations? The parades? The speeches? the deification of President Johnson? Where are the success stories? Where is President Obama touting the success of the War on Poverty? President Reagan claimed poverty won the war, but the spending continued. Individuals have risen from poverty, as they have throughout American history, but the War on Poverty, like its overlapping War on Drugs, has been a failure, but we fight on. We spend almost a trillion a year on the War on Poverty - more than the Defense Budget. The states are now partially abandoning the War on Drugs, at least with marijuana, refocusing on the deadly drugs. We continue to finance the War on Poverty though. We know that the War on Poverty failed because President Obama, New York Mayor de Blasio, Democrats everywhere, and the mainstream media are unleashing a War on Inequality. From their perspective the rich are getting richer and the poor and middle class poorer. The amazing thing about Democrats is that they cannot admit one of their spending programs failed. Therefore, they rename it and double down. How can it be that inequality is growing after the federal government has spent $20.7 trillion on the War on Poverty? The War on Poverty is financed by the government’s national debt of $17.3 trillion The War on Poverty may not have ended poverty, but it has created a safety net for the fairly steady 15% of the American population living below the poverty line. Many of America’s poor have cars, HD TV’s, cable or satellite TV, the internet, “Obama phones,” food stamps, and often government assisted living. The programs continue because it allows Congress to spend money. Only a political fool would seek to end popular programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The War on Poverty was doomed from the start for several reasons. First is the naive belief that government can create jobs. The government can facilitate private investment, but can finance it only by taxing other private sector endeavors, activities and individuals, borrowing from private interests, or inflating money. The jobs created by the War on Poverty are in the federal, state, and local bureaucracies. The second reason for the failure is that most of the programs were not job creating, but simply redistributionist schemes, of which the latest is ObamaCare, which drain money from private consumers to benefit the government’s chosen ones. The War on Poverty is based on transfer payments. A related reason is that the government is inefficient in transferring wealth. The fourth reason is that the government is not good at picking winners and users. The fifth reason is the breakdown of traditional families, often caused by the federal programs. Too many children are raised by single, low income mothers. 41% of the current births in America are by unwed mothers. 4 our of ten African American children and 3 out of ten Hispanic babies live in poverty. The unemployment rate for African American teenagers is rising. The South Bronx, Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant, South Central LA, ghettos and barrios throughout America remain economically distressed. The District of Columbia is an economic disgrace as the nation’s capitol. Detroit is an American tragedy. A government, which cannot defeat poverty in its capitol, is not going to succeed elsewhere in the country.