"the War on Poverty", Acheivement, compassion, dependency, fdr, general-welfare-clause, government freebies, great-depression, handouts, Individual rights, Indoctrination, limitations, limitless, Personal responsibility, The "New Deal", The Other America
All the images that pass before our eyes … starving babies, homeless Veterans or single moms, so many struggling to make it … No, not in some remote third world country RIGHT HERE, in America – the wealthiest nation ever! It’s virtually impossible to wrap our heads around it. It’s overwhelming and heart wrenching. Surely, we can do better! Something more has to be done, right? No question! But what?
In response to those who hold that the”General Welfare clause” of the Constitution means taking care of the people, America, as a government, has tried several different programs over the past few decades to help those in need to find their way to the American Dream and alleviate suffering. “The New Deal,” inspired by the Great Depression, opened the hearts and minds of Americans under FDR (D), way back in 1933–1937.But did it solve the problem of poverty in America? Short answer, no!
Neither was the “War on Poverty” initiated under President Johnson a success. More recently, the policies and programs of President Obama have done exactly the opposite of their so-called intent. They have found more people, not fewer, in the unemployment lines, applying for food stamps and other social programs.
In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.
It’s a funny thing about human nature that philosophers seldom seem to consider well … There are specific things that motivate humans to productivity and achievement, and certain things which subdue those inclinations. The “war on poverty was a costly, tragic mistake,” the article, “Why the War on Poverty Failed: Handouts Provide the Wrong Incentives,” begins. “Possibly the most influential policy book in history, The Other America Michael Harrington’s The Other America, published in 1962. (Harrington died in 1989.) was cited again and again by the politicians, activists, and administrators who set up welfare programs in the 1960s. In it we find the fallacies that sent reformers down dark and tangled paths into today’s social tragedies.”
The tragic error of this thinking is in the assumption poverty is strictly a lack of material goods. “While the state of neediness we call poverty does involve a lack of material resources, it also involves a mass of psychological and moral problems, including weak motivation, lack of trust in others, ignorance, irresponsibility, self-destructiveness, short-sightedness, alcoholism, drug addiction, promiscuity, and violence.” The article continues, “It was a perspective that led to intolerance. Since poverty was so simple to remedy—the activists reasoned—it was unethical not to act. “In a nation with a technology that could provide every citizen with a decent life,” Harrington thundered, “it is an outrage and a scandal that there should be such social misery.”4 For the activists, welfare programs did not involve complex relationships and intractable problems about which honest people could disagree. They were simple moral imperatives, and anyone who opposed them was seen as selfish and insensitive. (This dogmatic view has by no means disappeared from so-called liberal circles.)”
Yes, poverty is wretched wherever it appears, but the rational answer (contrary to the sentimental response) is not handouts or “freebies.” The answer is the proverbial “hand up,” instead of the “hand out!”
- Basic education and training, which sadly is no longer flourishing in our public schools, does more to cripple our children than prepare them for a productive adult life.
- Trade schools, long hidden by some pseudo-intellectual pride, hunger for eager students, but are shunned by a populace who want to start as CEO’s, rather than work their way up the ladder.
- Food banks, soup kitchens, and clothing closets are a great start to elp the hurting and many communities have such things, but more are needed, not from government, but from us … you and me.
The Biblical concept of compassion isn’t issued to the government, but to the individual. The Golden Rule (you remember, Do unto others …?) is not for governments, but people, whether people of faith or not … people helping people. Governments have no idea how to help as evidenced by 80 years of welfare programs initiated in an vain attempt to curtail poverty. The secret to overcoming poverty, in most cases, is personal responsibility, we all ought
Now, we have an avowed “democrat socialist”(whatever that is) asking for our votes so he can increase taxes on the wager-earner so he can also increase the number of programs handing out “stuff”to those now trapped in a unemployment and dependency on the government programs that were supposed to free them from poverty.
Isn’t 80 years of failure enough to make a statement to try another tact? It isn’t the rich that are the bad guys here. It is our own greed that as crippled the most successful, productive, innovative, creative, and compassionate culture it the world, and ALL of us are guilty of the same greed, both the have’s and the have not’s!
America, use your HEAD to choose our next president. Use your HEART to make a personal investment in your neighborhood and your neighbors. Vote for individual rights and personal responsibility!
Paul wrote, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:1–2)
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