If the War on Poverty were an NFL team the coach would have been fired
President Johnson spoke to the nation about a Great Society on this day back in 1965:
"Following Johnson's lead, Congress enacted sweeping legislation in the areas of civil rights, health care, education and the environment. The 1965 State of the Union address heralded the creation of Medicare/Medicaid, Head Start, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the White House Conference on Natural Beauty. Johnson also signed the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act, out of which emerged the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through the Economic Opportunity Act, Johnson fought a War on Poverty by implementing improvements in early childhood education and fair employment policies. He was also a strong advocate for conservation, proposing the creation of a green legacy through preserving natural areas, open spaces and shorelines and building more urban parks. In addition, Johnson stepped up research and legislation regarding air- and water-pollution control measures."
The biggest battle was "The War on Poverty," a war that we have not won despite huge expenditures and the best of intentions, according to this extensive report from The NY Times:
"The poverty rate has fallen only to 15 percent from 19 percent in two generations, and 46 million Americans live in households where the government considers their income scarcely adequate."
"About four in 10 black children live in poverty; for Hispanic children, that figure is about three in 10.
According to one recent study, as of mid-2011, in any given month, 1.7 million households were living on cash income of less than $2 a person a day, with the prevalence of the kind of deep poverty commonly associated with developing nations increasing since the mid-1990s.
Both economic and sociological trends help explain why so many children and adults remain poor, even putting the effects of the recession aside. More parents are raising a child alone, with more infants born out of wedlock.
High incarceration rates, especially among black men, keep many families apart.
About 30 percent of single mothers live in poverty."
Despite the best of intentions, or lots of government programs, you can not fight a war on poverty with so many single mothers and kids growing up without fathers.
In my case, I did not graduate from high school because I was required to do so by law. On the contrary, it was my parents beating in my brain the value of an education and behaving responsibly.
Add to the above the current economy, or lackluster job creation:
"The more important driver of the still-high poverty rate, researchers said, is the poor state of the labor market for low-wage workers and spiraling inequality. Over the last 30 years, growth has generally failed to translate into income gains for workers - even as the American labor force has become better educated and more skilled. About 40 percent of low-wage workers have attended or completed college, and 80 percent have completed high school."
Maybe we should try something different, such as promoting marriage, blowing up the teachers' union monopoly on public education, holding fathers accountable for kids and bringing jobs not "hope and change" to our inner cities, where a lot of this poverty resides.
P. S. You can hear my chat with Bill Katz of Urgent Agenda about The War on Poverty & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.