DEMOCRATS DEMAGOGUE POVERTY AGAIN
By Alan Caruba
Predictably, the government, i.e., the taxpayers, will be expected to underwrite a raft a new programs to alleviate the problems of the poor. Those of us old enough to remember President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” also recall that there were poor then and there are poor now.
On March 16, 1964, LBJ launched his War on Poverty with his Economic Opportunity Act, saying that “It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences, of poverty,” but we all know the causes.
Some poor people, born into poverty because their parents are poor, often exacerbate the problem by dropping out of school, insuring that they lack an adequate education to secure jobs that pay well for real knowledge and skills. Others use drugs to escape the pain of poverty and often become part of the revolving door of the prison system. Some women become pregnant early in life without a husband and incur poverty as a result. Some are just lazy and think work is for suckers.
A 2004 article in the Christian Science Monitor noting the 40th anniversary of the War on Poverty stated that, as LBJ was announcing his plans, the poverty rate in America was actually in decline, from 22.4 percent to about 19 percent. The rate would fall to about 11 percent by 1973.
By the 1990s, public opinion about what should be done to reduce poverty and its cost to the nation had changed. Republicans advocated welfare reform, passed in 1996, and recipients were expected to get a job. The welfare rolls have since declined in most, if not all, states.
Johnson’s War on Poverty predictably expanded the federal bureaucracy, creating a job corps, a work-training program, and a work-study program. LBJ championed Medicare and Medicaid, which later were enacted into law. Both, like Social Security, are tottering on bankruptcy in the near future and, of course, Congress has its head in the sand hoping the problem will go away.
The Democrats have always been seen as the party that has the greatest concern for the poor, while Republicans have been portrayed as largely indifferent as well as home to the nation’s richest citizens. Considering how closely the divide is in terms of voters, it would seem that both major parties have an equal number of rich and poor. There are lots of millionaires in the Democratic Party, and some like Bill Gates, the quintessential example of a self-made billionaire, are forever bleating about the poor. He is free to give away as much of his wealth as he wants, but many of the middle class are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
A Washington Post article in August, 2007, noted that, “The nation’s poverty rate declined last year for the first time this decade, but the number of Americans without health insurance rose to a record 47 million, according to annual census figures released yesterday.”
It should be noted that the decline in General Motor’s fortunes are closely tied to the health insurance demands of its unions. Across America, businesses sought to divest themselves of their employer-sponsored insurance coverage, thus accounting for the rise in the uninsured. Health insurance and poverty should be treated as separate issues.
In general, about 12 percent of the nation’s population has always been ranked as below the poverty line established to determine what it costs to live in America. This figure rises and falls with the cycles of employment and is affected often by events well beyond the control of the government. Globalization continues to have an impact.
The government, of course, plays a role when it raises the minimum wage requirements for businesses, small and large. The utter indifference to the annual flow of a million illegal immigrants taking jobs that would otherwise be available to low income Americans is yet another factor for any rise in poverty.
The rich whom U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to resent pay the vast majority of the taxes the government collects. “The rich have gotten richer, but every other income group under the Bush administration has lost ground,” laments Speaker Pelosi, ignoring the fact that she and her husband are very much among those rich Americans, as are all the members of Congress. This ignores the fact that America is all about getting rich.
Indeed, the failure of Sen. John Edwards’ candidacy, based on his “Two Americas” theme, pitting the rich, i.e. the middle class, against the poor, is a good indicator that most Americans understand the fundamentals of what causes poverty and what alleviates it.
Now the nation’s economy is suffering from the failure of the government to exercise oversight over the mortgage lending industry and Wall Street’s inventive schemes to bundle subprime mortgage vulnerability into new ways to make money. The failure to rein in the credit card industry will no doubt create a similar problem.
America has a portion of its population that is below the poverty line and someone should point out that America has always had this problem. The failure to address the invasion of millions of illegal aliens has put hospitals into bankruptcy, burdened school systems with millions more in property taxes to educate their children, and added millions to the cost of crime, law enforcement, and incarceration.
LBJ’s War on Poverty barely made a dent in it. Current proposals of Democrats will also fail. Listening to Democratic Party candidates for President bleat about the poor should raise a note of caution, because the Democrats clearly do not want to address the real problems facing the nation. In his farewell message, Senator John Edwards said that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had pledged to make “ending poverty” central to their campaigns. It has never been done because it cannot be done.
There will always be poor Americans. Among the answers to solve the problem will be measures to encourage the creation of new jobs, reducing regulations that strangle growth, and reforming a poorly performing educational system.
American Government & the U.S. Presidency:
Presidential Politics & National Leadership
The American Political System:
Politics & Government in the U.S.A.
Political Economy -- Philosophies, Systems, & Public Policies:
Government, the Economy, & Economic Prosperity
Social Welfare Policy -- The Modern Welfare State
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
Caruba has a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.
Caruba’s new book, Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy, has been published by Merril Press.
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor