Democrats Have Not 'Evolved' Since 1964

One of the central tenets of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)'s "War on Poverty," declared on January 8, 1964 in his State of the Union speech, was that "[w]e must distribute more food to the needy through a broader food stamp program."  Sargent Shriver, in 1964, after being charged by LBJ to implement and administrate the "War on Poverty," said:

The simplest description of the War on Poverty is that it is a means of making life available for any and all pursuers.  It does not try to make men good -- because that is moralizing.  It does not try to give men what they want -- because that is catering.  It does not try to give men false hopes -- because that is deception.  Instead, the War on Poverty tries only to create the conditions by which the good life can be lived -- and that is humanism.

Where are we today?  In its war on poverty, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, as the food stamps program is now known), has implemented an "outreach" program to increase the number of people on the food stamp rolls.  Some states have even gone so far as to hire "food stamp recruiters" and have assigned them monthly enrollment quotas.  One recruiter, in her pitch to elderly prospects, says, "Help is available. You deserve it.  So, yes or no?"

The USDA has a web page explaining how states can establish their own outreach programs, and how the states can recover approximately 50 percent of their administrative costs.

The USDA even has grants available.  I'll bet that neither LBJ nor Shriver thought of those little wrinkles.

A May 16, 2013 article by Chad Stone entitled "The Facts About Food Stamps Conservatives Don't Want You to Hear," states that reports of "'waste, fraud, and abuse' and 'explosive' growth in enrollment and benefit costs have produced a [food stamps] program bloated well beyond what's needed to serve the truly needy" should not be believed.

But a May 27, 2013 article by Rachel Sheffield and T. Elliot Gaiser, entitled "The Facts about Food Stamps Everyone Should Hear," meant as a direct rebuttal to Stone's article, states that:

  • Over half of food stamp recipients performed no work during a given month in 2010, while another 1.5 million to 2 million performed fewer than 30 hours of work per week.

  • Government welfare spending has increased to nearly $1 trillion annually, a 1,600-percent increase since the 1960s.

  • Welfare is the fastest-growing part of government spending.

  • Total welfare spending will increase from 4.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 6 percent of GDP under Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama's FY 2013 budget.

The Heritage Foundation's welfare experts Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley, in July 2012, wrote, "[F]ood stamps has been transformed from a program for the truly needy to a routine bonus payment stacked on top of conventional unemployment benefits."

Gosh, Stone seems to have missed (on purpose?) those facts!

As Cato Institute researcher Michael Tanner, in 2012, concluded about the War on Poverty:

  • "The vast majority of current programs are focused on making poverty more comfortable - giving poor people more food, better shelter, health care, and so forth - rather than giving people the tools that will help them escape poverty."

  • "... the answer to poverty lies not in the expansion of the welfare state, but in building the habits and creating the conditions that lead to prosperity."

  • "Shouldn't we judge the success of our efforts to end poverty not by how much charity we provide to the poor but by how few people need such charity? By that measure, our current $1 trillion [per year] War on Poverty is a failure."

  • "Clearly, we have been doing something wrong."

Ironic, isn't it, that Shriver's words are exactly what Democrats are doing today?  They moralize, as Stone has, by self-congratulation and by declaring their efforts successful.  They cater by making those in poverty comfortable and uninterested in escaping.  They deceive by making the poor comfortable, by offering no alternatives to their programs, no means of escape.

So, after all is said and done, after $15 trillion of wealth has been "transferred," after the U.S. poverty rate has dropped from 19 percent (in 1964 and falling) to 15.5 percent (in 2012 and increasing), Democrats have not evolved.  They still think it's humanistic to support and expand giveaway programs, and to offer no alternatives or path of escape.  And let's not forget President George Walker Bush (a RINO if ever there was one)'s role in this fiasco, either.  "Compassionate conservatism," indeed!   But, as bad as Bush was, he's still much better than what we now have.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Dr. Warren Beatty (not the liberal actor) earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University.  He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making.  He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired.  Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years.  He blogs at