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Sunday, September 22, 2013

A winning strategy for the war that LBJ declared half-a-century ago

The War on Poverty is the unofficial name for legislation first introduced by United States President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. This legislation was proposed by Johnson in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.
The United States Census Bureau had the following information: "In 2012, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent. There were 46.5 million people in poverty." As of 2011 according to the USDA's website SNAP, 47 years since that war on poverty was first declared, we've spent $803,303,430,000.00 on food stamps alone. If you add the nearly two hundred billion dollars added to that total since 2011, we've spent a trillion dollars on food stamps. That trend is soaring upward with no limits in sight. Look at this chart I generated with SNAP's data:

If you add in everything else from state and federal welfare, subsidies, housing, educational assistance, the gamut, we could've paid off over half the national debt! Nevertheless, after eleven trillion dollars, we still haven't won that long-declared war. Our eleven trillion dollars has succeeded in reducing a 19 percent poverty level to 15 percent. A four percent decrease. There are 313 million people in America. Four percent is 12.5 million. It has cost us $880,000.00 per person—taking half-a-century—to lift 12.5 million people out of poverty. I don't think this is the way it was supposed to work.

If you subsidize a thing you get more of it. The more cash you throw at a problem, the bigger the problem gets. It's not solving the problem it's exacerbating it. You feed the pigeons at the park, you get more pigeons, whole flocks of pigeons. If you had sufficient bread to throw at the problem of too many hungry pigeons at the park...why I'd venture to say that in a few years everyone in the city would wear galoshes as they waded knee-deep through a veritable ocean of bird poo! You solve problems by solving them.

Why is a person hungry? He has no money. Why hasn't he got any money? He has no job. Why hasn't he got a job? He has no salable skills. Why no skills? He slept his way through high-school, or skipped it altogether. Why no unskilled labor job like grocery bagger, lawn maintenance, ditch digger? He hasn't got the self-discipline required to show up on time every day. He joined a gang. He got a girl pregnant. He got several girls pregnant. He grew up to be a sorry excuse for a human-being just like his parents were. There I've identified the problem. The poor person's parents were in the vast majority of cases entirely inadequate to the task of properly raising a child, much less several.

The solution then to the massively growing problem of poverty in America is requiring a license to have children. The way it looks to me is that there are at least 40,000,000 Americans who couldn't pass the written exam much less the road test. Sorry Charlie, pull your pants back up. You're not allowed to operate that equipment without a license.

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