Eight Million Americans Rescued From Poverty With Redefinition Of The Term...The Onion
- It was in the mid-1980's when the behavioral health care company I worked for sent me down to W. Virginia to do some new start-ups. At the time, I was responsible for the western half of Ohio for the company. We were in many states but not W. Virginia. And since I was the closest guy to the state, I was charged with developing the new program.
- As many of my regular readers know, I grew up in the South Bronx. I know how ugly poverty is. But even the South Bronx didn't prepare me for what I witnessed in W. Virginia. It was poverty entwined in poverty. Poverty was everywhere. Yet more than 50 years since LBJ started the War on Poverty and spending almost $20T to date, it appears we've lost that war in many areas of this great nation.
- We entered the war with a vast array of weapons from food stamps to Medicaid to Head Start and countless other anti-poverty programs. And while this current administration can't be blamed for the failures of the previous 6 or 7, it's policies only exasperated the problem. In the 1960's, about 1 in 5 lived in poverty. Today it's not much better. In fact, in the last two years, we've hit historical highs for the number of Americans living in poverty and using food stamp allocations.
- So how did we get to this place? One undeniable reason is that the federal bureaucracies don't have a good track record at least when it comes to dealing with this problem. The accountability is either lacking or simply doesn't exist. Again, we've seen that played out in just the last six years with the number of scandals in the government while few in government have been held responsible. In addition, one cannot be honest without mentioning the fact that many in poverty just made poor decisions.
- But the other side of this failed accountability coin is the creation of dependence on the government. Again, today we've seen this played out because of the poor economy and lack of jobs in addition to the lack of skilled workers for the good jobs that are available. For example, in many of the counties I saw in W. Virginia and Kentucky 25 years ago still have unemployment rates well over 40% with less than 10% of the population holding college degrees. As George Bush 1 said in his 1992 State of the Union Address: "Welfare was never meant to be a lifestyle, it was never meant to be a habit; it was never supposed to be passed from one generation to the next like a legacy." But that's exactly what it has become. Along with the failed progressive policies came false prophets, always promising the end to long-standing poverty only to have the programs fail---one after another.
- The progressive prophets also fail to mention another major reason for poverty. As the Brookings Institute reported recently, 70% of all poor families with children happen to be single-parent families. In fact, poverty rates are six times higher for single-parent families than two-parent families. And over the years, progressives want us to believe that economic inequality is always the result of injustice. The fact is and the record shows clearly progressive policies have done more harm than good. And another $20T in the next 30 or more years will not solve this problem.
- As I wrote in a piece last year entitled, "Is American Becoming A Nation Of Broken Windows?" until we see the political class embrace accountability in government, we're going to see a nation of more broken windows. In other words, before you replace the broken windows---repair the foundation first. And this can be done by lowering taxes, encouraging private enterprise, making wise investment decisions, strengthening the family, strengthening the local housing markets, getting a good education and involving the community. We know this can work. After all, we are America, not Cuba (at least, not yet).