A long time ago, a President of the United States declared a “War on Poverty.” Hopefully the current war on Ebola will not last as long and not spend as much money as the war on poverty, not to mention the “War on Drugs.” Let’s just talk about the “War on Poverty,” (we are losing all the wars) but the one on poverty marks the 50th anniversary this year of Pres. Johnson’s launching the “War on Poverty.”
The “War on Poverty” has spent in round numbers now $22 trillion in constant 2012. We have spent $22 trillion trying to eradicate poverty since 1967. In that amount of time, the problem is that more people today are categorized as poor by the federal government then there were in 1967. So let me see if we have got that right, we spent $22 trillion and there are more poor people than ever before according to the federal statistics that’s the outcome. I would prefer to think it’s a colossal flop.
That is not the total story, of course, the Federal statistics never are. You have to drill down to the facts underlying the numbers. The current federal poverty statistics do not track, do not account for, do not count money from the federal government in various anti-poverty programs. The federal government runs today at least 80 means tested welfare programs, cash ,food, housing, medical care, refrigerators Obama phones, everything to low income Americans. Federal and state spending on these 80+ programs last year was $943 billion, nearly a trillion in one year.
This does not include Social Security or Medicare or unemployment checks, we are just talking about means tested welfare programs- that means you qualify if you prove you’re poor. Then when you get the money, cash, food, housing, health, food stamps, none of that is counted as income and none of it is counted when deciding whether not the person is poor. So if you actually counted the $22 trillion here’s what poor people in the United States look like: poor people in the United States, according to government surveys, the typical family that the census identifies as poor has air-conditioning, cable or satellite TV and the computer. 40% have a widescreen HDTV, 40% have Internet access, three quarters of the “poor” own a car, roughly a third of the ‘poor” after two or more cars, only one in 10 lives in a mobile home, less than 2% of the “poor” are homeless.
The average or typical house or apartment of the American “poor” larger then the average dwelling of middle-class French, Germans or English. Let’s dwell on this a little, nearly 67% have cable or satellite television, 43% have Internet access, 75% of the “poor” have a car or truck they own, 31% have two or more vehicles, 50% have a personal computer, one in seven have two or more computers, more than half of the poor families with children have a videogame system such as Xbox or PlayStation, 25% have a digital video recorder, DVR or TiVo, 92% of poor households have a microwave, 40% have a widescreen plasma or LCD TV. Ladies and gentlemen, the war on poverty has been won!
The intake of protein, vitamins and minerals by “poor” children is virtually identical with upper-middle-class kids according to US Department of Agriculture. The overwhelming majority of the so-called poor report they were not hungry even for a single day during the prior year. Living standards of all Americans, including the poor, have been rising in the past half-century but and this is a significant point. While the material part of the war on poverty has worked, it has produced an entirely different America. According the Lyndon Johnson, the war on poverty was actually was designed to shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from “tax eaters” as he put it into taxpayers. It was supposed to be a ladder up to opportunity, because according to liberals of the 1960’s, the poor were trapped. There was no way out. There was no upward mobility. You could not get the American dream if you did not have these things.
For people who study human beings and human behavior if these things are in effect given to you, in a $22 trillion transfer of wealth from producing people to people who are not you’re not going to get off that welfare stream , that is your income, that is your wealth. Being professionally poor is who you are, that is your job. In other words, the war on poverty has been a colossal flop, and it has proven beyond any reasonable doubt, that handouts produce a dependent class that demands more and more because they’re entitled to more and more free stuff, and pretty soon after decades of free stuff they have pretty much a lower middle-class. They’ve achieved it, but they have no desire to achieve anymore. No opportunity, no exploiting any the opportunities all these things give them, not to mention the free education that they get.
What has been drummed out of America is that incentive to do better by your own efforts, by your own hard work, by your own achievement. It has been completely turned upside down. It’s completely the opposite of what you would hope to see. About a third of the US population now receives aid from at least one of these welfare programs, the average is $9000 per recipient in 2013