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By Mr. Curmudgeon:
Remember President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty”? In a 1964 speech before a joint-session of Congress, Johnson declared “unconditional war on poverty in America,” urging “Congress and all Americans” to join him “in that effort.”
Johnson insisted his escalated war – on poverty, not in Vietnam – would turn “one thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth” into “$40,000 or more in his lifetime.” He further stated that for the program to work required massive social programs “organized at the State and the local level … supported and directed by State and local efforts.”
“For my part,” said Johnson, “I pledge a Progressive administration which is efficient, and honest and frugal. The budget to be submitted to the Congress shortly is in full accord with this pledge.” He further pledged to “cut our federal deficit in half.”
At the time, poverty in America stood at 19%. Since the enactment of Johnson’s Great Society programs (and others), poverty has hovered between 11 and 15.2% – mitigating the misery by no more than 8% after trillions of dollars in government spending.
Then came the government-sponsored housing bubble and crash, followed by President Obama’s “transformative” economic “change.”
Now, the Associated Press reports the nation’s poverty rate will climb to a staggering 17.7%. “Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups,” said the AP, “from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty …”
“Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.” No, that is not the usual Progressive pabulum uttered by Obama at campaign rallies, that’s a portion of Johnson’s ’64 speech.
Johnson’s war on poverty, coupled with Obama’s stimulus and health-care spending, is proving to be as wildly successful as was America’s 1960s military escalation in Southeast Asia … a no-win war.
The more things “change,” the more they stay the same in Progressive America.
It is worth remembering that Johnson’s war buildup in Vietnam fractured his party, with an anti-war faction disrupting the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where violence erupted in the streets of Obama’s Chicago. It marked the beginning of that party’s leftward tilt, culminating in the Obama presidency.
The Tea Party is a peaceful expression of the nation’s discontent with Johnson’s big-government war on poverty and its recent massive and pointless escalation under Obama.
In 2011, the Gallup organization reported that 40% of American voters identified themselves as independents. Gallup noted that 31% were Democrats to the Republican’s 27%.
This clearly indicates a growing number of Americans are disenchanted with the bipartisan Progressive no-win-war on poverty and its debilitating effects on future economic growth.
Like Greece, America is reaching (may have already reached) a tipping point beyond which growth is impossible due to the heavy burden placed upon the economy by a government more interested in wealth redistribution than allowing a once free people to thrive and prosper.
An anti-war-on-poverty movement is growing. They understand that too much government threatens political and economic freedom.
As Obama demands, like Johnson did in Vietnam, that Americans redouble their efforts fighting and endless war with no clear objective or end in sight, he shouldn’t be surprised to hear a deafening chant this November – “Hell no, we won’t go!”
Mr. Curmudgeon is a freelance writer living in Florida