Sunday, May 6, 2012

"The War on Poverty:' Did we win or lose?

Back in LBJ's day, when he declared a "War on Poverty" on January 8th, 1964, the poverty rate of Americans was about 19%.  LBJ, being a rock solid social justice type liberal, thought that everybody should have a chicken in every pot and car in every garage.  Just like his socialist predecessor, FDR, whom coined the 'chicken in every pot' phrase, LBJ was bound and determined to see that nobody in the U.S. would be poor.

And in the following 47 years, the poverty level has remained relatively constant, as in 2009 the Bureau of Labor and Statistics put the rate at about 20%.  And also in those 47 years, approximately 15 TRILLION dollars has been taken from the American taxpayers and given to targeted groups of poor folks, and namely the elderly populations.

Although the relative poverty rate has remained stable, the groups who are in poverty have changed dramatically, specifically the oldsters among us.  In 1964, when the War on Poverty was declared, approx. 27% of all Americans over the age of 65 were living below the poverty line.  Now, in 2009, only about 10% of all Americans over the age of 65 are living in poverty.

So who are the ones who filled the vacuum created by all of the geezers moving on up in life over these last 47 years?  Without going into the BLS stats (of which I would rather have red hot pokers jammed into my eyeballs that stare at BLS stats for even 30 seconds), it's obvious: more younger Americans are as a percentage are living in poverty now than in 1964.

And the reason for that is also obvious: geezers vote, vote often, and they vote as a block.  Politicians, who have access to the confiscated gobs of money taken from taxpayers, promise these oldsters lots of money in exchange for votes.  It's that simple.   Younger folks don't have the political clout that geezers do, as they do not vote as regularly as the old farts.  Accordingly, promises made to geezers produce reliable results at the polls, and there you have the results on the 'War on Poverty.'

Geezers are now living large, sipping their Mai Tais in their condos in Boca Raton, while young Americans with children are the ones in the soup lines. 

But no so fast, however: in 1964, a family of four living under the poverty line (as defined by income of $3,104 annually or less) was truly poor: no car, no TV, no heat in the winter, no AC in the summer (but in fairness, NOBODY had AC in the summer back then, I know, I lived through 1964).  Life for poor folks in 1964 was miserable.

But those living under the poverty line in 2011 are hardly miserable: the poverty line for these folks is an annual income of $22,811 for that same family of four, and these 'down and out' folks have TWO cars on average, a wide screen TV, cable or satellite, microwaves, dishwashers, iPods, iPads, iPhones, and every other conceivable luxury known to mankind.

In other words, the War on Poverty is a success: for the non-producers in the U.S.  It is an unmitigated loss for the producers in our society.

And it's not arguable.


Hack said...

Love the last part about those "in poverty" today having all the luxurious imaginable. It's ridiculous. I don't consider anyone who even owns a car or TV to be in poverty. We can stop right there. Great post.

Fredd said...


Yeah, this post was a take off on your earlier post covering the 'poor' and their plight.

Not only do the average poor in the US own a car, they most likely own two of them.

Let them ask some truly poor people in Bangalor, India what it's like to be poor.

Silverfiddle said...

It never ends and can't be "won," kinda like Afghanistan, only grossly more expensive and wasteful...

Fredd said...


Why can't we declare victory, both in Afghanistan and the War on Poverty, close our accounts and be done with them?

Or am I just a dim bulb dreaming?

Kid said...

Agreed Fredd, The poor in America are KINGS in most other countries.

Here is another kicker. oblabber's administration got poverty defined as a percentage of income relative to the middle class. Therefore there will Always be a poverty class, even in an abstract stretch where the middle class would be rich, and the poor would otherwise be upper middle class, there will still be the poor.

Silverfiddle said...

Fredd, you should run for president. You've got my vote.

Fredd said...


...and I tap you as veep, Silver. The Fredd/Fiddle Ticket, and our slogan?

How 'bout 'A chicken in every pot?' Hmmmm. Nah. Besides, this one's kinda stale. That, and there's no bloody way in hell that every pot deserves a chicken in it without the pot owner earning the money to pay for it.

If they can't afford a chicken to put in their pot, then stick to the budget and put Top Ramen in the pot, rather than reaching into somebody else's pocket to make up the difference so that the chicken ends up in the pot....

Don't get me started....

Anonymous said...

Mexicans, what would America do without them?
We would do just fine. Most of us anyway. Some would actually have to pay a decent wage to their domestic help, others would have to contend with workers who might complain when exploited, and still more would have to do things that me and my neighbors do all the time for ourselves, like yard work, pumping the septic, cleaning the pool or growing our food.
Also our taxes would be less, there would be less criminal activity, less drunken drivers, much less drug trafficking less abuse of the system, fewer people driving with no insurance, there would be less disease, less peeing and defecating in our streets, less crime, more jobs, better educational system, more help for those Americans who really need it. It would be a better country and life would be better in every single way.
But, how on earth would Mexico survive without us?

The Conservative Lady said...

The Progressive plan was to never win the War on Poverty. How else would they get elected?