As back to back world war champions, I feel the United States has an impressive track record when it comes to winning wars. However, when President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “War on Poverty” on this day in 1964, he was launching a war that even the United States has not been able to win.
America has fought and won many uphill battles, but Johnson had everything going for him and he still couldn’t eke out a victory. In 1964, the poverty rate had been in free-fall since the ‘50s. All Johnson had to do was not mess anything up. Instead, he launched his infamous “Great Society” programs, which introduced the cancer of modern welfare systems into American communities. The classic liberal solution to any problem is to throw more taxpayer money at it. Johnson reasoned that if only he could give poor people free money, free housing, free food, and other goodies, they would rise from poverty into a thriving middle class. Fifty-seven years later, let’s see what legacy Johnson’s War on Poverty left behind.
Welfare reform has been a hot-button issue for decades because we all see the problems in the system. As it turns out, when you give people free stuff as a reward for not working, they are actually less likely to want to go out and get a job. For those in poverty who do work, they carefully monitor their hours to ensure that they do not accidentally make enough money to lose government benefits. Not only is there no incentive to rise out of poverty, but there is actually an incentive to stay in poverty. In this sad way, the very weapons Johnson deployed in his war were turned against him.
Unfortunately, this tragic tale is not unique to LBJ. Socialism is always sold with the stated goal of helping the impoverished, and the very opposite always happens. No matter what income bracket you find yourself in, socialism is not a good deal for you. The only equality it offers is equal suffering. Don’t resort to leftist gimmicks to fix our nation’s problems. The free market still works!