Why is it that whenever politicians declare war on anything, we usually get more of that thing they declared war on? Ever since the “war on drugs” was declared, we’ve gotten more drug users and drug-related violent crimes. Ever since the “war on cancer” was declared, cancer cases have been rising. The “war on terror” has bred more terrorism. Maybe some politician should declare “war on fiscal responsibility,” and we’d be solvent in 5 years.
In 1964, Lyndon Johnson declared “war on poverty.” He declared it when the poverty rate was already going down. It was at 19%, down from over 22% in 1959. The war on poverty was supposed to eradicate poverty and produce a “Great Society,” a society that John Lennon dreamed about in his “Imagine” song: no possessions, no nations, no religion. A society dependent on government welfare and social programs and that looked up affectionately to the government as a protective and compassionate “big brother.” A society where everybody was equal. No one would be more successful than another, and there would be no incentive for class envy and greed. Of course, in that kind of society, there would be no incentive to succeed in the first place.
Government programs over the last several decades have only made people poorer and have been incrementally destroying the middle class by overtaxing and overregulating them. All that will be left are 2 classes: the super rich and the super poor, similar to the lord and the serfs in a manorial society. This is their “great society” because it means they get to “lord” over us.
More and more Americans are falling out of the middle class and below the poverty line. Guardian had a piece about those in Colorado who had previously held profitable jobs, had big houses and led comfortable lives. Now, they find themselves out of work, subjected to home foreclosures and standing in line at the food bank:
Four years earlier, [Michelle had] been a homeowner in a $75,000 a year job. She’d donated to the food bank’s fundraising drives. Now she was there to pick up food she couldn’t afford to buy… Mark Weaver, 54, the former chairman of nearby Loveland chamber of commerce, tried to avoid the gaze of acquaintances he’d met when he attended the food bank’s galas. “It was very humiliating,” he says. “I used to take clients to their events, and all of a sudden I’m living below the poverty line.” He used to earn a six-figure salary plus commission plus benefits, and also chaired the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, which lobbied local politicians on behalf of the business community.
About the time Obama took office, a group of people in similar circumstances to those in Colorado above decided to make a homeless resort in Lakeland, New Jersey called Tent City. About 70 people live there and live in makeshift tents in the woods with no electricity. They live off local donations from churches and charities that bring the homeless community about $1,000 a month.
The war on poverty is creating “tent cities” and longer lines at food banks and soup kitchens. A record 46.2 million people (about 16%) are now below the poverty line, and many used to be successful employees or business owners. The Great Society that LBJ dreamed of is turning out to be a nightmare come true.