After fighting the War on Poverty for 50 years I think it’s long past time we demanded the president formulate an exit strategy for this losing struggle. What’s more, the collateral damage from this well intentioned, but misguided war has done infinitely more damage to the public than all the drone strikes ever ordered.
As Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., points out, we’ve spent $20 trillion over the past 5 decades and the nation, and its taxpayers, have nothing to show for it. It takes an electron microscope to detect any difference in the poverty rate today and the poverty rate in 1964.
An all-time record 47 million Americans are collecting food stamps — 13 million added under President Obama alone — which is a dependency cohort that’s larger than the entire population of Canada.
And it’s much more accurate to describe the War on Poverty as the War on the Family. Stable, intact nuclear families are the single most important factor in determining whether or not a group of individuals will be above or below the poverty line. When the first bureaucrat was hired to lead the assault that kicked off the War on Poverty the out-of-wedlock birthrate was 6 percent, not too far off from the rate during Victorian days.
Today after a half century of fighting poverty, the out-of-wedlock birthrate is 41 percent overall and the rate is 72 percent for blacks. This is a societal and cultural catastrophe and will take decades to reverse, assuming that’s even possible. What’s more, it means the effort to fight poverty is essentially a perpetual poverty creation machine.
More out-of-wedlock births mean more single mothers and fatherless children who in turn require more expensive federal intervention and federal bureaucrats to take the place of the income, discipline, and even child care that intact families provide.
Poverty fighters keep losing the battle and losing the war, but their only response is to demand taxpayers allow them to spend even more money and start more programs.
It’s like the CIA invading Cuba again and again and again.
If the government were serious about fighting poverty and not about expanding the size and scope of the federal government the strategy would change. The best exit strategy would be one that stopped emphasizing welfare, which only increases and perpetuates dependency, and start emphasizing marriage, responsibility, and jobs.
Because the most effective and efficient weapon in the War on Poverty is not a welfare check, it’s a paycheck.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
© Mike Reagan