The War on Poverty Has Cost $18 Trillion

When America goes to war, what do the people want to know? I don’t mean the military; I’m talking about average citizens.

How much is ti going to cost, how long will it take, what’s the goal, what does victory look like, and what is the exit strategy?

They might also ask what the justification for war might be and how to gauge if we are winning or losing.

Take our two most recent wars. Just a few months ago, the Huffington Post wrote that “the Iraq war cost $800 billion, and what do we have to show for it? The toll on the people of Iraq was even greater. A decade of war left chaos and impoverishment.”

Those are good points. Points you’ll want to recall as you read on.

That is a pretty hefty price, and if you add Afghanistan, it is estimated to be between $4 and $6 trillion before it’s all done.

Now money aside, one has to then decide whether it is/was worth it. Did we accomplish our goal? Did we win? Have we taught the Iraqis and Afghans these to “fish,” so when we leave, they can survive on their own?

I’ll leave all these questions about Iraq and Afghanistan to others for these are not the wars I’m concerned with.

I’m speaking about the War on Poverty,1  LBJ’s welfare boondoggle that has done more harm to our country than any terrorist organization.

So if the progressives wish to call it a war, let’s treat it that way.

First is cost. To date the War on Poverty has cost the American taxpayer an estimated $18 trillion since 1965. That’s more than twice the amount that we spent on guns, bullets, and bombs wars combined, from the War for Independence to Afghanistan.

Second, how long will it take? Answer: Forever or until we go broke. Politicians won’t allow it to end. It’s a great source of power to them.

What about the goal? Was the goal to end poverty in America? Yep, that’s what they said. That was the grand progressive goal. How have we done? In 1965 the poverty rate was about ten per cent. Today it’s about ten percent, maybe higher. Quite an achievement, although taking into account the political class’s true motivation of dependency on government, it is an achievement.

What about exit strategy? This one is particularly frustrating. What have we been hearing from the left? They’ve been asking, what’s the plan to leave Iraq and Afghanistan?

In 2006, Katie Couric asked President Bush, “When will it be time to let the Iraqi forces stand on their own?… At what point do we say to the Iraq government and Iraqi forces, it’s yours?”

The same has been asked of the war in Afghanistan. For years the American military has been teaching their forces “to fish,” as it were. When do we take the training wheels off?

Many on the left and right have for years asked this legitimate question, but has anyone ever asked it as it pertains to the War on Poverty?

So what is the exit strategy for the War on Poverty? How many have died or given up hope of a better life due to this war? Americans would never stand for a conventional war that has dragged on for almost 50 years.

None of the questions put forth has been answered, yet the “fight” continues. The cost: Who knows? Length of time: Who knows? The goal: Evidently unachievable. Exit strategy: None.

I asked you to recall the points made by the Huffington Post, so if I may paraphrase: “The ‘War on Poverty’ cost $18 trillion and counting. And what do we have to show for it? The toll on America has been great. Almost 50 years of war has left chaos and impoverishment…”

  1. See Clarence Carson’s 1969 book The War on the Poor who saw this golden train wreck coming before it left the station. []