Via Doug Ross

THE WAR ON POVERTY: $21 Trillion Later, Government Has Only Made Things Worse

Guest post by Matthew Vadum
The War on Poverty has barely made a dent in actual poverty, states the 205-page report unveiled last month by the House Budget Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).

The paper, created in the hope of starting a discussion in Congress about reforming America’s bungled poor-relief programs, came out before Ryan released the GOP’s new budgetary blueprint yesterday that lays out how to balance the budget in 10 years. That document calls for reducing federal government spending by $5.1 trillion over a decade largely by getting a grip on out-of-control social programs. The House Budget Committee could vote on the fiscal plan as soon as Friday. Leadership in the Democrat-dominated Senate, which hasn’t even tried to adopt a budget in recent years, isn’t planning to craft a fiscal blueprint this year, either.The heart of the War on Poverty report is its observation that most federal poverty-alleviation programs are essentially useless or incapable of having their impact measured in the real world.

The study observes that in 1965, the poverty rate was 17.3 percent. In 2012, it was 15 percent. This means taxpayers blew a staggering $20.7 trillion over the last half century in order to achieve a paltry 2.3 percentage point decrease in poverty.

The War on Poverty has barely made a dent in actual poverty

Broken down into less mind-blowing, easier-to-grasp figures, between 1965 and 2012 the average family of four spent roughly $146,000 per percentage-point drop in poverty, or $335,000 per family for the whole 2.3 percentage-point reduction.

Only the most blinkered or jaded among us in the body politic believe that sucking $9 trillion out of the private, productive economy for each single percentage-point reduction in the poverty rate constitutes an acceptable return on investment.

Which brings us to the modern “progressive” Left.

Those on the Left consider the gentle statistical dip in poverty over five decades to be social progress achieved by way of holy coercive redistribution. Mere results have always been less important to the Left than intentions.

Although a sane person would consider the extremely modest reduction in poverty a humiliating defeat, left-wingers have successfully been changing the subject, hurling epithets, smearing opponents, and intimidating adversaries, all in an effort to move the discussion away from their 50 years of human misery-generating policy failures.

The Obama White House self-servingly slices and dices the statistics to portray the War on Poverty as a smashing, if flawed, success.

While the Obama administration admits that some of the government’s poverty-fighting approaches are less than optimal, President’s Obama Council of Economic Advisers issued a ringing endorsement of the War on Poverty.

According to that body, poverty has declined by more than one-third since 1967. “The percent of the population in poverty when measured to include tax credits and other benefits has declined from 25.8 percent in 1967 to 16.0 percent in 2012.” Predictably, the council opines that “[d]espite real progress in the War on Poverty, there is more work to do.”

The council also obsequiously slaps President Obama on the back, praising him for taking steps to “further increase opportunity and economic security by improving key programs while ensuring greater efficiency and integrity.”

It then moves from servile flattery to outright revisionism, claiming that Obama’s actions have “prevented millions of hardworking Americans from slipping into poverty during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

OBAMA: Big government, a lawless administration, and radical attacks on civil society aren’t worth worrying about

Ever the class warrior, in a December address on income inequality, Obama showed just how much a prisoner he is of his own self-imposed ideological bubble. Without mentioning the devastating impact that the high tax rates and runaway social spending he ardently supports have had on American society, the president argued that it’s all deterministic, all the fault of capitalism. He said:

“But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles—to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were.”

Big government, a lawless administration, and radical attacks on civil society aren’t worth worrying about, according to Obama.

It is “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain—that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.”

This is “the defining challenge of our time,” he said, even though Americans don’t give a farthing’s cuss about economic inequality.

That challenge consists of “making sure our economy works for every working American,” Obama declared, slyly anthropomorphizing the economy, an intangible abstraction, in order to push the illusion that markets, like animals or streams, can somehow be controlled and centrally managed.

All of this rhetorical blatherskite had its heyday in the awful 1960s, an era historian Paul Johnson correctly described as “America’s suicide attempt.” Instead of being satisfied with New Deal-era programs like Social Security, left-wingers resolved to move America even farther away from its founding ideals, fundamentally changing the country by erecting a supremely sclerotic behemoth welfare state answerable to no one.

The War on Poverty itself was a part of the massive left-wing social engineering and vote-buying scheme known as the Great Society

The War on Poverty itself was a part of the massive left-wing social engineering and vote-buying scheme known as the Great Society. This war really should have been called the war on American values. As a result of misguided government policies that grew out of the War on Poverty, social evils have not only been encouraged but subsidized with taxpayer dollars. For example, out-of-whack financial incentives have caused out-of-wedlock birthrates to mushroom, as David Horowitz and John Perazzo reported in “Government vs. the People.”Despite an orgy of federal spending, blacks and other minorities have suffered the most from big government poverty alleviation efforts. The anti-marriage, anti-family tilt of welfare policies has devastated black communities and society at large.

In his first State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson ushered in a half-century of government-incentivized sloth, indolence, dependency, and social decay. He exhorted Congress to launch a new belligerency against a perpetually ineradicable foe.

“Let this session of Congress be known,” Johnson exclaimed, “as the session which declared all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

The Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) of 1964 became the centerpiece of the new war.  It expanded the nation’s social safety hammock, turning government resources into war materiel to be used against the American system of constitutionally limited government.

The War on Poverty gave taxpayers’ money to so-called community groups like ACORN and Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation

The War on Poverty gave taxpayers’ money to so-called community groups like ACORN and Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation in order to encourage them to agitate against the status quo. This, in turn, stimulated demand for more government spending as taxpayer dollars became a kind of ever-increasing subsidy for pro-big government activism. The federal government still hands out significant grants to left-wing groups to subsidize their efforts to take away our economic freedoms. Many of the EOA-created programs still exist today, including VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), now known as AmeriCorps VISTA, Job Corps, and Head Start.

Many more excuses for handouts were created after the mid-1960s—so many, in fact, that it is difficult nowadays for poor people to tiptoe through the ever expanding minefield of government assistance unscathed.

Loud calls for yet more welfare spending continue unabated from the echo chambers of the Left every single day whether the national economy is good or bad.

These calls come even after the country has saturation-bombed poor people with welfare over the past 50 years, to the tune of $20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars, far exceeding what the U.S. has spent on every actual, non-figurative war it has fought. Federal and state welfare spending, adjusted for inflation, is now 16 times greater than when this phony war was declared, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation.

While millions of Americans remain stuck in poverty, the House Budget Committee’s white paper from March inventories a dizzying array of expensive failed programs on which mountains of money have been lavished.

The federal government now administers at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans. There are dozens of education and job-training programs, 17 different food-aid programs, and over 20 housing programs. The federal government spent $799 billion on these programs in fiscal 2012 alone, according to the report.

Among more than 15 programs, more than $100 billion was spent on food aid. More than $200 billion was spent on cash aid. Spread over more than 20 programs, more than $90 billion was spent on education and job training. Almost $300 billion was spent on health care and close to $50 billion was spent on housing.

Let’s look at some of the eye-popping numbers involved in the major aid category of cash aid.

There were three federal agencies involved in spending $220 billion on cash aid in fiscal 2012. They are the Social Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of the Treasury.

Created in 1974, the Supplemental Security Income program provides cash benefits to elderly, blind, or disabled persons with limited income and assets. It weighs in at $50 billion.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), created in 1935, provides assistance to needy families. In 2012 it weighed in at $16.7 billion.

The Earned Income Tax Credit, established in 1975, provides cash assistance to low-income working families. The EITC, which some analysts consider to be a rare federal anti-poverty success, is the largest measure in the tax code that is aimed at reducing poverty. In 2012, its budget was $59 billion.

The Child Tax Credit, enacted in 1997, provides assistance to families with children. The IRS spent a little over $57 billion on total child credits in 2013.

The Title IV-E Foster Care/Adoption Assistance program, created in 1997, helps states pay for arranging temporary homes for disadvantaged children or for facilitating their adoption. The federal government spent $6.8 billion on the program in 2012.

But most of the 92 federal poverty-alleviation programs have a mediocre to downright dreadful track record of helping people in need.

To make matters worse, over the past three years, “deep poverty” has reached its highest level on record and about 21.8 percent of children live below the poverty line, the report states. Although changing demographics and slow economic growth contribute to continued poverty, federal policies are also discouraging work. For example, a rapid increase in disability caseloads has shrunk the labor force.

“But a large problem is the ‘poverty trap,’” the report states. “There are so many anti-poverty programs—and there is so little coordination between them—that they often work at cross purposes and penalize families for getting ahead.”

Because these programs are means-tested—meaning that benefits fall as recipients earn more money—poor families face very high implicit marginal tax rates. The federal government, in effect, is discouraging them from making more money.

“Congress has taken a haphazard approach to this problem; it has expanded programs and created new ones with little regard to how these changes fit into the larger effort. Rather than provide a roadmap out of poverty, Washington has created a complex web of programs that are often difficult to navigate.”

Some programs work, some don’t, and with many of them, “[t]here’s little evidence either way.”

Federal programs are not only failing to address problems in society; in some ways they are making the problems worse

Federal programs are not only failing to address problems in society; in some ways they are making the problems worse. “Changes are clearly necessary, and the first step is to evaluate what the federal government is doing right now,” the report said.

But President Obama, neo-Marxist ideologue that he is, isn’t interested in making changes to anti-poverty programs. Obama is seeking $56 billion in new spending for a variety of programs expanding educational offerings for preschoolers and job training for laid-off workers. No doubt he’ll find a way to lard still more billions of dollars in so-called emergency spending onto the budget as the year progresses.

“The two sides have converged in terms of the problems they’re diagnosing,” said Alan D. Viard of the American Enterprise Institute. “But the solutions are very far apart.”

That is an understatement.
Matthew Vadum, matthewvadum.blogspot.com/, is an investigative reporter at a watchdog group in Washington, D.C. His new book Subversion Inc. can be bought at Amazon.com (US), Amazon.ca (Canada), and as an e-book at Kobo (Canada).

12 thoughts on “$21 TRILLION AND ALL I GOT WAS ……”

  1. Well ,I have been paying taxes all my adult life.From the age of 18 to now (52).I used to think paying taxes was good for the country now I hate making out those checks every quarter It’s just stealing my money so some body can sit on their ass and do nothing which is a direct result of the WAR ON POVERTY.I never get anything back .So I am one of those suckers that really pays taxes.

  2. Had lunch at a Korean place down the road from the shop yesterday, our waitress was 65ish. My wife mentioned her good service, she said she’s been a waitress for 37 years but not sure if she was going to make it 38 years. Said she may apply for her dead husbands social security, but she didn’t want to abuse the system.
    That got me talking, I wanted to know more.

    This is a woman we would all be proud to know and wish there were more of.

    She said she just can’t work seven days a week anymore, too hard on the old body, when asked why she had to work every day she told the story of her aunt who has been on government assistance her entire life. Five kids, three dads, when the money ran out on one, she just had another. Even with making around $50k a year auntie would still call this woman for money, for the kids ya know. Auntie spent her money on booze, drugs, gambling, not the kids, but depended on the waitress to help feed the kids.
    One of the kids auntie had suffered from cerebral palsy and the fucknut du jour was upset one day because the six year old girl could not get her pants down in time to use the bathroom, so he beat her, then he placed (held her) her on a heating pad to try and draw out the bruises, she had second degree burns on her buttocks from that.
    Then, because of the burns and her palsy, she could not get her pants down in time again. This time the asshole held her in the shower under scalding water along with another beating.
    The waitress went there to confront the asshole (can’t call him a man) without admitting to us she had a gun, she had a gun. Her intent was to draw him out of the house, out into the yard and piss him off enough to strike her, then she would have shot him dead. You could see it in her eyes, she would have gone to prison to rid the world of the worthless piece of human flesh.
    Her mistake, she told us, was she kept her hand behind her back and halfway to her he got a clue and scurried back into the house and threatened to call the copfucks.
    He did and the little girl was taken away and the waitress is not sure what will happen, foster family is the best guess.

    $21 Trillion eh? And this is what we breed with all that money, nothing more than fucking shit stains who can’t take care of their young, animals take care of their own young.
    These pieces of shit are less than animals, and we pay them, very well.

  3. One of the most important things I learned regarding the handling of livestock is that you can control a hungry animal far easier than you can one with a full belly. A simple shake of a can with a handful of grain in it will give you the power to lead a 2,300 pound bull wherever you want it to go. Animals in confinement are at a disadvantage because you can control their feed and once you’ve learned that, you’ve eliminated every problem associated with free will.

    I believe in the humane handling of livestock right up until the moment of slaughter. Until then the livestock should only associate you with positive experiences- leading them to greener pastures, occasional treats, gentle voice and movement around them that put them at ease.

    I know that no one wants to think of human beings in terms of livestock or animal behavior, but the truth of the matter is that no matter how intelligent, how spiritual, how ethereal we may think we are, our basest needs and desires are animal in nature. The thing that sets us most apart from all other creatures is that we are the only animal that possesses a duality of nature- both predator and prey. Most humans are herd-like in their behaviors, they care about what all the others think of them and behave in ways that minimize their standing apart from the herd and in that they seek safety. Some use this genetic predisposition towards herd-like behavior in order to manipulate the mass- they are the predatory members of our society and they use the exact same type of handling techniques on humans as a rancher or farmer uses on his livestock in order to get the results he wants- submission, docility, ease of handling, control.

    Anyone who thinks that this kind of information hasn’t been studied, understood, and implemented in order to more effectively control the populations of the various nations on earth is either incapable of this level of thought or deliberately lying to themselves. The purpose of providing trillions of dollars in subsidies, housing, food, etc. hasn’t been to help people become independent and self sufficient, it’s been to make the docile and controllable. This isn’t a failed program, it is a deliberately manipulative one with a completely opposite intention of the one stated. The problem is that because of our duality there are some people who remain “unherdlike” in their behavior. They crave independence and bridle at these base manipulations. When we encounter an animal that exhibits these kinds of traits within a herd- a skittish cow or an unpredictable boar- we cull them.

    This culling process is taking place in our society today and the reminder are being conscripted via these programs into a life of domestic complicity.

    This isn’t a failure of our government to create a nation of independent producers, it a success in creating a nation of docile consumers.

  4. HS hits it out of the park. Control of the masses is the key. Independent thinkers are discouraged. Why would we want to have our pre-schoolers 2,3,4, and 5 year olds entered into the indoctrination centers that are affectionately called schools because this is what our government wants. Key the “Ants” video. They understand that if enough people knew that they are being indoctrinated and used they might just turn on the government/big business overlords.

  5. I stopped reading the article right near the top when it talked about Paul Ryan and some plan of his to create a balanced budget in ten years by cutting entitlement programs. That lying cocksucker does not want to balance the budget or he would be cutting the Pentagon’s budget.

  6. Pretty amazing amount of money, incomprehensible really.

    If we had used 1/21 of this money to pay off student loans, imagine what that would do to the economy, to people lives, how much it would help the productive people in our society. But no, better to spend it on free cash, free food, free housing, free healthcare and meds, free phones to people that refuse to work for a living. And turn people trying to get educated and be productive into debt slaves for the rest of their lives.

  7. War on Poverty
    War on Drugs
    War on Illiteracy
    War on Terrorism

    Anybody see a pattern here??

    Meanwhile ..

    There IS a war on the American middle class … watch it disappear before your eyes. Watch as the grey squares, which illustrate the middle class that dominated the most of the city’s neighborhoods in 1970s, quickly vanish over 40 years.

    linky; http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/04/03/amazing-graphic-shows-chicagos-middle-class-disappear-before-your-eyes/

  8. Thanks for posting that, Stucky. I read it yesterday and could only think, THIS is what happens when liberal governments believe the way to “help” people is to make them dependent on the system, rather than themselves. The lack of educational attainment in Chicago is a primary driver of the enslavement of these at-risk groups. And, once enslaved, they propagate only future slaves; almost no one breaks the cycle.

  9. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that construction will begin on the new Navy Pier Flyover, a 32 foot tall bridge to enhance the city’s 18 mile lakefront bicycle trail.

    It’s only $61 million bucks. A bargain!!


    1. The following is a list of the most commonly held jobs in America according to the federal government. As you can see, 9 of the top 10 most commonly held occupations pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year…

      1.Retail salespersons, 4.48 million workers earning $25,370
      2.Cashiers 3.34 million workers earning $20,420
      3.Food prep and serving staff, 3.02 million workers earning $18,880
      4.General office clerk, 2.83 million working earning $29,990
      5.Registered nurses, 2.66 million workers earning $68,910
      6.Waiters and waitresses, 2.40 million workers earning $20,880
      7.Customer service representatives, 2.39 million workers earning $33,370
      8.Laborers, and freight and material movers, 2.28 million workers earning $26,690
      9.Secretaries and admins (not legal or medical), 2.16 million workers earning $34,000
      10.Janitors and cleaners (not maids), 2.10 million workers earning, $25,140

      Overall, an astounding 59 percent of all American workers bring home less than $35,000 a year in wages.


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