Politics, popular culture and Reagan conservatism spewed maybe once a week...or less
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.