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50 Years and Over $20 Trillion Later, How the War on Poverty Was Lost

ED-AR697_Rector_DV_20140107134254On Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson used his State of the Union address to announce an ambitious government undertaking. “This administration today, here and now,” he thundered, “declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”

Fifty years later, we’re losing that war. Fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official census poverty report for 2012, unchanged since the mid-1960s. Liberals argue that we aren’t spending enough money on poverty-fighting programs, but that’s not the problem. In reality, we’re losing the war on poverty because we have forgotten the original goal, as LBJ stated it half a century ago: “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.”

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans. Government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012 alone, and roughly 100 million Americans received aid from at least one of them, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. (That figure doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare benefits.) Federal and state welfare spending, adjusted for inflation, is 16 times greater than it was in 1964. If converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.

LBJ promised that the war on poverty would be an “investment” that would “return its cost manifold to the entire economy.” But the country has invested $20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars over the past 50 years. What does America have to show for its investment? Apparently, almost nothing: The official poverty rate persists with little improvement.

That is in part because the government’s poverty figures are misleading. Census defines a family as poor based on income level but doesn’t count welfare benefits as a form of income. Thus, government means-tested spending can grow infinitely while the poverty rate remains stagnant.

Read more from this story HERE.

Boomtown 2: Taxpayers Have Spent $15 Trillion on 'War on Poverty'

Photo Credit: Breitbart

Since President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared “war on poverty,” U.S. taxpayers have spent $15 trillion on so-called anti-poverty programs—a figure slightly less than the national debt.

Sean Hannity, Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer, and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon explored the explosive growth of the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in a one-hour Fox News special tonight titled “Boomtown 2: The Business of Food Stamps.”

In 1969, just 2.8 million Americans received food stamps. Today, over 47 million Americans are on food stamps. The Fox News special explained that one contributing factor to the massive expansion of the food stamp program is the crony capitalism that has cropped up around the anti-poverty program.

Soda makers, for example, bag an estimated $4 billion a year in taxpayer money through the food stamp program. Efforts to kill the so-called “soda subsidy” have been met with fierce resistance and lobbying by the soda industry.

In Florida, State Senator Ronda Storms (R-Valrico) introduced a bill last year that would keep taxpayer-funded SNAP benefits from being spent on non-essential items like sodas, candy, chips, ice cream, and other junk foods.

Read more from this story HERE.

Obama’s Failures Mount: Ranks of US poor highest in 50 years

The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections.

The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965.

Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, 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, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.

“I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I’m here, applying for assistance because it’s hard to make ends meet. It’s very hard to adjust,” said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.

Read more from this story HERE.

Related to the increasing US poverty rate, Paul Wiseman of the Associated Press also reported today that the world is suffering the worst economic slowdown since “the dark days of 2009”:

Six of the 17 countries that use the euro currency are in recession. The U.S. economy is struggling again. And the economic superstars of the developing world – China, India and Brazil – are in no position to come to the rescue. They’re slowing, too.

The lengthening shadow over the world’s economy illustrates one of the consequences of globalization: There’s nowhere to hide.

Economies around the world have never been so tightly linked – which means that as one region weakens, others do, too. That’s why Europe’s slowdown is hurting factories in China. And why those Chinese factories are buying less iron ore from Brazil.

As a result of this global economic slowdown, the International Monetary Fund has reduced its forecast for world growth this year to 3.5 percent, the slowest since a 0.6 percent drop in 2009. Some economists predict the global economy will grow a full percentage point less.

For now, few foresee another global recession. Central banks in China, Britain, Brazil, South Korea and Europe have cut interest rates in the past month to try to jolt growth. European leaders have begun to focus more on promoting growth, not just shrinking debt and cutting budgets.

Read more from this story HERE.

News Room Honest Three Minutes

Why the “most honest 3 minutes on TV ever” is a lie (+video)

Have you seen this video yet?  You’ve got to check out the clip below.  It’s of a new show “The Newsroom”, on HBO, staring Jeff Daniels, and written and directed by the guy who gave us the idealized version of a democratic administration in “The West Wing,” Aaron Sorkin.

I know we are probably of like minds on this, but let me vent here. Indulge me.

In the clip below, the Jeff Daniels character sits on a panel at college event, when a student asks the question: “Why do you think America is great?” The woman to the left of Daniels gives a drab, center-left answer and the man to his right (portrayed as the conservative) simply states, “Freedom and Freedom.”

But then, Jeff Daniel’s character shocks the audience and the moderator by challenging the question itself.  He goes into an aggressive monologue about why America isn’t great anymore.  The audience is left with the choice of the partisan vagaries uttered by the two panelists, or Jeff’s speech on why we are no longer great, but used to be.  Watch the clip (caution: it contains profanity) and then see what your take is:


Ok, did you watch it?  No seriously, watch it now.

So here’s my take.  Firstly, my vote on the best answer goes to the guy who said “Freedom” twice. Simple, and effective, he nailed it.  The problem, as is so often the case, the left, and Sorkin in this case, are so full of themselves, so intent on satisfying their own intellectual ego, that there can be no truth, no solution, no revelation, unless THEY thought of it.

So we get a demeaning of the word “Freedom,” and a lecture from Daniels on, ironically, all things moral?!

Jeff Daniels is woefully ignorant (or rather Aaron Sorkin who apparently wrote the monologue) of what Freedom actually means, and is completely oblivious to things like socialism, government regulation, personal liberty, etc. and what they mean relative to that word “Freedom.”  He also seems blissfully unaware of immigration statistics and the enormous number of people still desperate to come to the US, as opposed to Canada, Belgium, Australia, or other western countries.

“War on Poor People,” that’s what we have? If so, blame the class warfare and welfare state created by those that Sorkin supports and adores as heroes on the left.  You want to start a “War on Poverty,” then deregulate, and reduce the tax burden on those doing the work and those starting the businesses that employ people.  Make a competitive environment for business, instead of casting them as the enemy, and you will have jobs and prosperity, and sense of self worth instilled in your citizenry.

You don’t “fight” poverty anyway, you increase prosperity. There’s a real difference — but the significance of that difference is lost on left wing idealists who live in Hollywood and DC and have no comprehension of starting and running a small business, and don’t have the time in their egocentric lives to even take an academic interest in the beliefs of those who founded, and made this country great, or who fight for its greatness still today.

Sorkin may or may not fit into that category of Hollywood and DC liberal, but his portrayal of folks I know and have worked with — like those in the Tea Party, loving patriots who cherish the Constitution — his assertion that they are the “problem” only serves to point out how truly upside down this line of thinking is.

He uses the language, and speaks of “morality” through his surrogate, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels’ character), but has no idea what the word means.  There is no morality without God, and yet he scoffs at this notion and implies that America leads the world in ignorance because it has the most citizens per capita that believe in angels.

America may not be the greatest country in the world anymore — after the last presidential election, and in Alaska, the last senatorial election, I certainly have my doubts — but it’s not for any of the reasons that Sorkin sites. If Sorkin really wants to return to American greatness, maybe he should start at the start, and look at the men and words of its foundation, and search for the heart of what made us great, in the words and deeds of the men who fought and died creating and protecting it, instead of plying leftist propaganda in pseudo-intellectual elitist centrist wrapping, and calling it a return to the “good old days.”

The “good old days” weren’t always good, but their core values were: a country that cherished the rights of the individual over the rights of the state, that trusted God, not Government, as their ultimate arbiter of morality.  The people of that era weren’t great because they were informed, per se, as Sorkin asserts, they were great because they read the bible, feared God, and loved liberty.  It was those qualities that drove them to become informed.  But information without the will and the moral wisdom to act on it is useless.

Liberty gave them that will, and God that wisdom.  Sorkin can’t, or rather his intellectual elitist egotism won’t let him see that.

That’s my take. What do you think?

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Dr Walter Campbell is a lifelong Alaskan, former Marine, and physician.