Over the past 40 or so years, our nation has spent trillions of dollars fighting the “War on Poverty,” and poverty has won. We have the same problems we had 50 years ago, only now they have become intractable and institutionalized. We still have children going to sleep hungry, only now we have more of them. We still have a dilapidated housing stock, only now they are run by the government in lieu of the slumlords who ran the tenements of yore. The children of the poor are herded into public schools – which are objectively worse than they were 50 years ago – where the primary purpose appears to be to prepare them to operate within another government run institution – prison.
The usual “waste, abuse and fraud” plays a part in it; but even if every dollar of waste, abuse and fraud were eliminated, the dire poverty in the world’s richest economy wouldn’t abate.
The spectacular failure of the “War on Poverty” has a second more dire consequence: It creates resentment among those who pay the taxes to fund the monstrosity of social programs and the unintended social ills that they cause.
The “welfare queen” using the EBT cards to buy lobster, or the Section 8 housing recipients who bring the ghetto to the leafy oasis of middle class suburbia, are tales told to manifest the frustration and the dual resentments that working and middle classes have toward both the poor and their government benefactors.
There is a basic rule in economics, which is that “You create what you subsidize,” and its corollary, “You destroy what you tax.” In the case of our social programs, we have inadvertently done both, with the middle class further refusing to assist the poor, having delegated that responsibility to the government, or refusing to pay more taxes until the government can show results for the money it has already extracted from their paychecks.
The poor have essentially been written off, as non-participants in the economy, having become, in practice, wards of the state. Meanwhile, the poor continue to exist out of sight, essentially living from check to check, hand-out to hand-out, in a hopeless dreary cycle of monthly survival. Hope for a better tomorrow, self-empowerment, realization of self-potential, a healthy and nurturing environment for children – these were the first casualties of this War on Poverty.
There is no effort to impart life skills, basic literacy, or a quality education. The pool of talent – including artists, musicians and poets – lies untapped and unfulfilled as still another casualty of the war. Everything has a cost, and in this case, the cost in terms of contribution to our society is incalculable.
The money taken from our paychecks through the threat of force does not go to help the poor:
It is consumed instead by the self-perpetuating machinery of government and the corporations, which benefit from a large population of uneducated consumers to buy their products. (The largest lobbyists against reforming the welfare state are not civil rights groups or poverty advocates, but America’s largest processed food corporations, convenience store trade groups, and others who benefit mightily from a captive market.)
The real beneficiary of the largess is not the poor, but the state and government agencies, convenience stores, processed food merchants, slumlords collecting section 8 vouchers, and civil rights charlatans who rarely lose an election by mixing government aid programs with a mutant form of civil rights.
So the poor remain poor, only more so.
Children remain hungry, only there are more of them. The politicians promise more, the programs get larger, the poverty gets greater, and the middleman and his minions in the government grow fatter and richer in the process.
Having achieved success as the “middleman” in its war on poverty, the government has spent the bulk of the last 40 years making itself the middleman in every other possible transaction: housing, food, energy, banking; and now the government will come between you and your doctor.
The government is now the ultimate middleman:
It takes a cut, a percentage of the take, regardless of the outcome. Now it promises to do for your healthcare what it has done for the housing market, energy market, and poverty, and that is to get its cut. The government is the ultimate middleman.