The War On Poverty Was Successful In Making More Poverty To Justify Expanding Government

Yesterday, the Washington Post’s blog, The Fix, posted typical regime propaganda about LBJ and his 1964 State of the Union address in which he declared “War on Poverty.” It posted a snip of the speech.

But only a snip.

Here is a part of the speech that was left out:

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper – in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

But whatever the cause, our joint Federal-local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists – in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas.

Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.

Here is what LBJ never said, “We want to give everyone extra government income so that they are officially above the poverty line rather than below it. As soon as we have boosted everyone’s income through government grants we can claim the war on poverty has succeeded.”

That was never supposed to be the definition of success for the War on Poverty, but it is precisely the only way that Liberals can avoid the truth about what they have done to the poor in this country.

As Thomas Sowell summarized the promises of the War on Poverty:

Its mission was not simply to prove that spending money on the poor led to some economic benefits to the poor. Nobody ever doubted that. How could they?

What the war on poverty was intended to end was mass dependency on government. President Kennedy said, “We must find ways of returning far more of our dependent people to independence.”

The same theme was repeated endlessly by President Johnson. The purpose of the “war on poverty,” he said, was to make “taxpayers out of taxeaters.” Its slogan was “Give a hand up, not a handout.” When Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark legislation into law, he declared: “The days of the dole in our country are numbered.”

So let’s remember what was happening before the War on Poverty and what happened after. As Sowell points out, from 1950 to 1965, the poverty rate without counting government benefits as income had sunk by a third.

That needed to be fixed? Why not just wait another fifteen years and see what happened?

Instead, we waged a war on poverty and destroyed the downward trend line. Sowell writes:

Nor was this pattern unique. Other beneficial social trends that were going on before the 1960s reversed after other bright ideas of that decade were put into effect.

Massive “sex education” programs were put into schools, claiming that this was urgently needed to reduce a “crisis” of teenage pregnancies and venereal diseases. But teenage pregnancies and venereal diseases had both been going down for years.

The rate of infection for gonorrhea, for example, declined every year from 1950 through 1959, and the rate of syphilis infection was, by 1960, less than half of what it had been in 1950. Both trends reversed and skyrocketed after “sex education” became pervasive.

The murder rate had been going down for decades, and in 1960 was only half of what it had been in 1934. That trend suddenly reversed after the liberal changes in criminal laws during the 1960s. By 1974, the murder rate was more than twice as high as it had been in 1961.

I think it is plain what happened. People in government realized that we were approaching a society without problems that required Big Government to save us. That was an intolerable prospect. So Liberals used Big Government to create a plethora of social and economic problems in order to play the rescuer for the foreseeable future.

Modern poverty is a government-made product.

So I guess the government really can produce something after all.