Saturday, 10 February 2018

To Persist Indicates Insanity

Lyndon Johnson's Failed War

Historians have a nasty habit of analyzing pundits and politicians in the light of the outcomes and results cascading down from their policies, bills, laws, and prognostications.  It's quite unfair, we know, but who claimed the world to be perfect?

The Heritage Foundation in the United States has had the rudeness and temerity to adjudge President Lyndon Baines Johnson as a failure because he lost the war.  It was his war.  He was the first to declare the US at war--on poverty.  Long and resolute have been the serried ranks marching off to kill poverty in the United States stone dead.  Not only does this war show no sign of ending, but the casualties along the way have been almost beyond number.

In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.  [The Heritage Foundation.  Emphasis, ours.]
Those nit-picky historians.   Always complaining about someone or something.
  It's a bit unfair, though, to mutter about the failure of the War on Poverty since it has only been waged for fifty years.  When you are doing A Good Thing and you are engaged in a Noble Cause five hundred years would be just a beginning, right?  Or, maybe we are approaching the classic definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Ah, what a depraved world we live in.  How helplessly foolish is the Western liberal mind!  But the Heritage Foundation has some helpful suggestions to win the war, despite the past fifty years of failure.
1.  The lack of progress in building self-sufficiency since the beginning of the War on Poverty 50 years ago is due in major part to the welfare system itself.

2. By breaking down the habits and norms that lead to self-reliance, welfare generates a pattern of increasing intergenerational dependence.

3.  The anti-marriage penalties should be removed from welfare programs, and long-term steps should be taken to rebuild the family in lower-income communities.
Doubtless these arrogant attempts by historians to learn from past mistakes and craft a way out of the morass will get what they deserve from the inmates who run the asylum--silence.

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