Yesterday, January 8th, was the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's declaration of a War on Poverty by the United States government. He told us that there were too many people living below the poverty level in our great country and it was the role of the federal government to do something about it.
In 1964 the poverty rate in America was about 19 percent, having declined from a rate of 22 percent in 1959 without the interference of the Great Society. Today after spending $15 trillion on federal social welfare programs, we have a poverty rate of 15 percent and a national debt of $17 trillion. By the way, the national debt in 1964 was about $250 billion.
Conservatives back then were concerned that the War on Poverty was nothing more than an excuse to spend money on social welfare programs that wouldn't help solve the problem. They were dismissed as being mean-spirited.
Let's look at the results. Poverty is still here. More people than ever before, both in numbers and by percentage, receive Food Stamps. Teen pregnancy is rampant as are the number of births of babies to single moms.
This is a result of the funding design that allows the woman to receive more government assistance if the father isn't in the home. Many liberals have admitted that while "well-intended," the programs have hurt the families a great deal and especially families in the black communities where some areas are seeing out of wedlock births nearing 75% of all births.
I grew up in Compton and my folks made it clear that the way out of a poor community was getting a good education and hard work when you got a job. My brother and I listened. He earned a Masters Degree from Ohio State University, served this country in the Air Force, taught handicapped students and has provided a good steady income to his family. I graduated from college, started teaching and have been able to provide a good income for the support of my family. My friends have done the same thing and so have you.
A few years ago I was chatting with a man I had just met. This man, who happened to be black, asked me why I was so strong in my conservative opinions. I shared a few examples but the one that touched him the most was when I referenced Teddy Kennedy's attitude toward people of his race.
I shared with that man that Teddy and his ilk believed in the most well-intended way that the only way a black man could succeed in America was to have the help of folks like Teddy providing program-after-program to assist those down-trodden souls.
I, on the other hand, believed that this man was equal to the challenge of meeting his needs and his family's needs without the help of Teddy and his pals. This new friend told me he was every bit as capable as I and I then asked him why he wouldn't resent Teddy's "bigotry of low expectations" which expounds the theory that the minorities just can't do it without the help of "whitey."
I have too much faith in each of us in this country that we are capable of providing for ourselves and those in our families. Granted, there are a few amongst us with serious health issues and physical restrictions, and I support having programs for them. The teenager who surfs all day, drinks all night and collects Food Stamps and a check ought not to be on a program of assistance. Churches used to provide great relief for those in need.
Getting back to the War on Poverty the Federal government doesn't do well in these large programs. Goals are not reached, fraud is rampant and money just is spent in a never-ending spiral down the drain. War on drugs failed. Tobacco usage they're still smoking. Teen pregnancy up, food stamp usage up, single parent homesup, unemployment in the Black community 25 percent, Project Head Start can't tell the difference in any student after third grade and yet Washington still spends on programs that fail.
But it has bought a loyal block of voters to those who spend on those who don't produce. Gee a $17 Trillion debt and the realization that we have spent $15 trillion on social spending coming out of Washington, most of which started as a result of LBJ's Great Society.
It seems his war only served to impoverish the rest of us.