Guest

My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Thu Jan 04, 2001 3:15 pm

The war on poverty was a costly mistake.

I've known this for a long time (as well as many conservatives), but the New York Times recently decided this news was fit to print. A front page story on poverty in rural Kentucky detailed the failure of the effort. "Federal and state agencies have plowed billions of dollars into Appalachia," it wrote, yet the area "looks much as it did 30 years ago, when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, taking special aim at the rural decay."

When the journalist, Michael Janofsky, visited Owsley County, Kentucky, he found over half of the adults illiterate, half unemployed, and a poverty rate of nearly 50 percent. The government has been trying to treat the despair with welfare programs for years: 66 percent of the inhabitants receive federal assistance including food stamps and SSI disability payments. This is part of the area's problem.

"The war on poverty was the worst thing that ever happened to Appalachia," Janofsky quoted one resident as saying. "It gave people a way to get by without having to do any work." Local officials told Janofsky that "many parents urge their children to try to go to special education classes at school as a way to prove they are eligible for [SSI] disability benefits." Terrible.

Now why did the war on poverty fail, my fellow forum members? What was wrong with the programs that the nation spent over $5 TRILLION attempting to solve the problems of the poor, only to come up empty?

The economic theory of poverty led to a single underlying principle for welfare programs...since the needy just lacked goods and services to become productive members of the community, all you had to do was give them these things. You didn't need to see that they stopped engaging in the behavior that plunged them into poverty. You didn't need to ask them to apply themselves or to work or to save or to stop using drugs or to stop having babies that they can't support or to make any other kind of effort to improve themselves. No, of course not- why would we want to do that?! So these welfare programs embodied something-for-nothing giving... HANDOUTS!

The handout feature didn't just give away cash and materials like food and housing, but it was also incorporated in programs that provided training, rehabilitation, and education. So, recipients did not have to make ANY significant sacrifices to be admitted and didn't have to make ANY significant effort to stay in them! The program organizers figured that all these people needed was opportunity. Nope. The VERY FIRST thing that they need is MOTIVATION (what a concept!)...they lack the ability to sacrifice and to discipline themselves. So what do the program administrators do? Lower standards, of course! If you can't meet the standards, lower them (A prinicple applied in our public schools as well)! That'll make everything better. This let education/training programs to become more giveaways and wastes of tax dollars. (Disclaimer: I know some of you on the forum have used these programs and I doubt you fit the above discription. What I am talking about is the people who seem to be "stuck" in poverty, not those that actually seem to get out of it.)

Another example of a handout approach applied to a welfare program, you ask? Head Start. The idea behind HS is to give poverty-level preschoolers a social and educational environment that would help them succeed in school later on. In HS, it is vital that anything learned be reinforced at home by the children's parents (or parent in most cases). HS's promoters insist that parent participation is CRUCIAL to the success of early intervention(1). So, shouldn't parental involvement be a REQUIREMENT of the program? Well, the idea of a requirement goes against the handout principle... Most parents have NO involvement with the HS program and they use it mainly for a baby-sitting service- funded by TAX DOLLARS! APALLING!

For using the handout method, the war on poverty activists fail to notice (or fail to CARE, which is probably more accurate) that they were ignoring over a century of experience in social welfare. 19th century charities analyzed the effects of different types of aid (funny, our government hasn't ever done that...). What did they find? They found that giving handouts hurts the poor. It weakens them by undermining their motivation to improve themselves and encourages self-destructive vices (we all know which ones those are...) by softening penalties for irresponsible behavior! Also they found that handouts are self-defeating- people became dependant on them and new people were attracted by them.

So what was the correct way to help the needy? Ask something in return for what is given to them. They didn't give them money, rather they helped them get a job. Really the teach-a-man-how-to-fish theory that has been mentioned here before.

In the 1996 welfare reform, most lawmakers finally got the point that handouts are harmful and money-wasters. What they haven't grasped yet is that government agencies cannot provide the personal uplift these people need to get back on their feet. Going back to the 19th century charity workers, Mary Richmond, one of the founders of American social work, condemned public relief: "The most experienced charity workers regard it as a source of demoralization both to the poor and the charitable. No public agency can supply the devoted, friendly, and intensely personal relation so necessary in charity(2)." Basically these government agencies aren't good at much of anything except giving handouts.

We MUST put government welfare programs aside. There is no reason our government should be operating these silly and dangerous programs. No, we need to promote the personal and voluntary help that makes for a truly effective social assistance. If these people EVER want to get out of poverty, it isn't going to happen under our current government (unless, of course, one obtains a winning Powerball ticket).

What I propose: the repeal of ALL handout programs (welfare, food stamps and the like) by the government. Our tax dollars are being given away to people who don't apply themselves, work, save, stop using drugs, stop having babies that they can't support or make any other kind of effort to improve themselves... truly horrific. These people must go to private programs (as I have said before, the Catholic Church is only second to the government in social assistance programs here in Washington State) where something is expected of them. Get them back to responsibility, get them back to morality. And get them back on their feet. What if Mr. Jones doesn't meet the expectations put in place by the organization? He doesn't get help anymore. If Mr. Jones doesn't want to put any effort into helping himself, NO ONE else can help him. And he can continue the life of poverty he is so used to, except this time he can't expect a government check in the mail. Will that wake him up?


So what can we do? Write our Congressmen! Tell your Congressmen (House members, Senators, and state legislators as well) and our new president that you want these programs that promote irresponsibility and throw away our tax dollars repealed. Tell them you don't want to pay for something that isn't doing any good at all, except providing a day-care service in the case of Head Start. We CANNOT let our government give handouts. Its not fair to the taxpayers. Its not fair to the people receiving the handouts.


-----------------------------
(1) Edward Zigler, Sally J. Styfco, and Elizabeth Gilman, "The National Head Start Program for Disadvantaged Preschoolers," in Zigler and Styfco, eds., Head Start and Beyond: A National Plan for Extended Childhood Intervention (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), p. 4.

(2) Mary E. Richmond, Friendly Visiting Among the Poor: A Handbook for Charity Workers (Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith: 1969 [1899]), pp. 151-52
-----------------------------

To contact your US Representative, visit http://www.house.gov/writerep/.
To contact your Senator, visit http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm.
And, of course, contact President Bush after the 20th at www.whitehouse.gov.

 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 1:11 am

Or maybe it failed because selfish people like you weren't willing to give it a chance... just a thought.
 
747-451
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2000 5:50 am

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 7:04 am

We're Nut's--30 years an five billion dollars is more than enough time...just a thought from a taxpayer....
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 7:19 am

747-451, I hate to disappoint you- but you're wrong.

>30 years an five billion dollars is more than enough time

It was over 30 years and more than five TRILLION dollars!   Think of where that money could have gone instead of being wasted...
 
Greeneyes53787
Posts: 817
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2000 10:34 am

RE: I Am In SE KY.

Fri Jan 05, 2001 7:21 am

In response to the poster here I must say that I most heartily agree. My work in Lee County, just west of Owsley CO, was of the missionary type. I don't do it anymore (for now), but recently I did many things to help when I could. Being a Christian I brought a Christian message at a nursing home once a week. I also spoke at 2 other places weekly. I worked with all ages.

This work can be very satisfying but sometimes it isn't. As a note of clarity though- the people basically aren't as empoverished as is reported. Rural living is more a matter of simple living than it is of actual depravity. I like this kind of existence too albeit I have property in both the city (Lexington) and the country (Jackson County, near Owsley).

My beef is mostly with the church in this region. People are crying out for training and education that counts. They aren't looking for college or other forms of lofty education. And although I am Master Degreed I probably respect the basic trade school more than I do institutions of "higher education." The church, Baptists, Methodists and the Reformed Church of America-- in this region talks big about helping those in need. Their efforts still include thrift stores and food delivery. I even helped by loading up my 3/4 ton truck with potatoes for delivery to the poor.

But eventually I discovered that those receiving gifts were happy to get them but angry with us too. Humans in the face of the needs of others often overstep the solution by setting up "programs." These programs appear good but are mostly a mean to degeneration. We are showing our lack of respect of the needy by requiring nothing and by continuing to give instead of holding back a little bit.

Instead of continuing this conversation I'll just tell you about a small project I've started:

I bought some land and built a garage for restoring cars. I did it for me, but I also had some young people in mind wien I put it where I did. Hopefully I will be successfull in resoring some automobiles that have classic car value. And as this happens I plan to introduce this work to one or two young men that are unskilled and needing work. As they learn this skill of classic car restoration they can also learn how to buy, restore and sell their own cars. They'll profit from this experience and be able to duplicate this.

We've heard the old Chinese proverb, "Give a person a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a person to fish and feed him for life." And as good as this sounds it is missing a part- perhaps. I'd complete it with, "Teach them to teach and you feed the world forever..."

Too many of my collegues are embracing the local's efforts to weeve rugs and make crafts. To that I like to ask, "How would you like it if this were your future?" Do you really want to live your whole life sitting in a small cabin, burning wood in the winter and whittling tree branches into the likes of squrrels?

I say, teach em' about the internet and investing. Show them how to make serious money painting cars or installing guttering or something that pays well. Actually help people in need or stop pretending to help them.

We can show the love if God to our friends in need without making them feel second class.

Greeneyes
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 7:37 am

You are exactly correct... think of the change that that would make, even if just a small part of the people on these government programs did it. This nation would become even greater, both economically and morally.
 
N312RC
Posts: 2584
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2000 10:58 am

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 8:20 am

Praise you! You have made a conservative republican's day!
N/A
 
Guest

N766AS...

Fri Jan 05, 2001 8:51 am

Just a couple of responses here....


>Think of where that money could have gone instead of being wasted...

Oh yeah, not like the Clinton impeachment trial, right? Those millions were put to a good cause  Can you say "hypocrite"?


>government programs

Well rest assured that your buddy Bush will make sure that the military is the one and only program we put money towards.
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 9:37 am

I am not going to criticise anyones point of view on this thread.

What I am going to tell you is how our previous federal government started a program in the early 90's that made people on welfare participate in approved education programs. One of the largest components education part of this program was computer training and basic literacy. It also tied in industry with the training to help gurantee jobs for these people after they completed their courses.

It turned out to be a huge sucess and gave this nation a ready made "cheap" educated workforce which attracted a lot of business from o'seas to set up processing operations of their companies. It also gave many of the long term unemployed the skills and confidence to either return to the workforce or continue further study.

This exercise was very valuable to Australia and should have been continued. However, our current Federal government (Conservative) canned the project and bought in such delighful initiatives as "Work for the dole" which was a huge failure. Now the current government, having looked back over the figures now realise what a sucess the previous governments initiatives were and have decided to implement their own version.

There are always going to be dole cheats and a certain element of "welfare mentality" amongst the populous, however, with access to excellent education and encouragement it is possible to break the cycle for many.

One of the many problems with Rural communities is the fact they are isolated and probably rely on a single industry. The trick here is to educate people on basic business principles, show them different markets that may allow diversification and encourage them to create small co-ops. This has been done in some regional NSW centres and has been a sucess. I am unaware of the B.O.S figures but they have worked for many.

Unfortunately many of our farmers still look to the government in the bad times for money, whilst the ones who have taken initiaves have made sure their crops / business is diversified in times of drought / over supply etc. continue to thrive.

Incentive, encouragement & education.

mb
 
DG_pilot
Posts: 810
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 1999 10:21 am

Mx5_boy

Fri Jan 05, 2001 1:06 pm

I appreciated hearing another country's specific solution, but I have just one little comment.

You said:
""It also tied in industry with the training to help gurantee jobs for these people after they completed their courses.""

The reason I see this as a bad idea is because when you guarentee something to most anyone, especially people who are poor and often neglected for most of their lives, you will likely get back the minimum possible performance from them-both economically, and more importantly socially/customer service wise.

I think a way to prevent this from happening is to not guarentee them anything, BUT rather make sure they know that they have a really good chance of getting hired if they keep up the pace, and make it so they are watched individually on the courses by the supervisor. Then when it comes time for them to be hired, the employer can only employ them after a solid, positive recommendation from the supervisor.

-Dustin
 
DG_pilot
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RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 1:41 pm

N766AS:
Great work, great work! I totally agree with you.

However, I say totally do away with Head Start and preschool. Young kids especially should be taught by their parents. The same things they teach in Head Start and preschool used to be taught at home. Remember, the time when parents took responsibility onto themselves to educate their own children? In turn, this time spent between the parents and their kids further helps them bond and become more understanding of each other. Repect and 'thinking for your self' is taught at these early levels. Kids do not need to become taken care of by our government any more than they already are. People simply have to learn responsibility and taking this responsibility away from them is not the answer! Once again, by eliminating Head Start and preschool, it would help shift responsibility from our oversized government to the individual family units-the dads and moms. This I believe would provide a better education and help rekindle the principles of honesty, INTEGRITY, togetherness, respect, and belonging. It wouldn't happen overnight, but it would work.

How are the parents going to find time to spend with their children since they work? That's the harder issue to solve here. I think their needs to be fewer mothers in the full-time work force. Just how this can be done is difficult. I believe our biggest problem resulting of World War II was the fact that so many moms continued working after the war was over. Then these incomes and family budgets became adjusted to a two-income family unit. This in turn makes it difficult today to switch back to a system where the dad worked full-time, the mom MAYBE worked part-time, and between the two of them they educated and raised their own children at the early ages-where this learning, both educational and moral, is so critical. I am a strong believer in this.

Any ideas on how this can be achieved, or how the ball can be started rolling? Large tax breaks for 'stay-home' parents maybe?

-Dustin


 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 2:19 pm

Thanks Dustin... I spent hours working on that (might as well be in class this week...). I agree with you on Head Start too... shut it down!
I do like your tax break idea, too. Just about anywhere we can make them would be optimal...
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Fri Jan 05, 2001 7:03 pm

Dustin,

Actually the tie in with different corporations was done in conjuction with dole payments. The government payed the dole to the employer and the employer decided whether or not the employee was to keep their job after a 3 month period. The people on these courses also had to prove that they could pass exams etc etc.

I think the whole story is that if you encourage people and give them a sense of "getting somewhere" then you can break the cycle. We have never had poverty like you see in the USA in this country. Not to the same degree.

But it's changeing ever so slowy. We are seeing more "homeless" as they are now called than ever before. Poor white trash need to get a decent education. You have to be generous and expect failures but encourage those who do wish to "drag" themselves above their lot.

My point Dustin is it's pointless governments throwing loads of money at the poor and uemployed, they need to provide other means. For years in this country we created big government projects that sucked up unemployment. (Like the hoover dam?) Times have changed though. Market economys etc.

Cheers buddy!

mb
 
doomfox
Posts: 125
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RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Sat Jan 06, 2001 5:43 pm

Parents simply cannot afford to only have one parent working. If they can, they are extremely lucky. Who's to say that both parents are there?
In a perfect world everything would be hunky-dory, but its not, and it won't be unless we start to help people out. That starts from the time they are born until they can take care of themselves, even afterwords if need be.
Headstart is in place for the children, not the parents. If you take that away, you accomplish nothing but hurt the kids. These kids are not at fault here. They are innocent, and are dependant totally on other people. If they don't get the schooling from home, where are they going to get it?
Should we take handicapped spaces away from the disabled too?
"Too bad you can't walk". (same line of thought here)
Some people shouldn't be on welfare, I agree to that. Nevertheless, when a child's well being is on the line, you should NEVER do ANYTHING to threaten it.
Even if the parents don't help the child learn at home, at least in Headstart they get some help. How could you possibly even consider taking it away? I want to know, honestly. I just cannot fathom it. Even if you don't want to help the parents, can't you at least help the kids? They are not the ones at fault. Hell, it could be that Headstart is one of the places they could go to get away from their drunken, violent parents? (if thats the case at home.)
I also agree that there should not be hand-outs to capable people. I believe that they should work for what they get, just like 99% of the country does, but you can't punish their kids. Even if their parents are the scum of the Earth, the kids have potential, and it won't be tapped without programs like Headstart, simply because the parents won't do it.
 
doomfox
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Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2000 12:56 pm

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Sat Jan 06, 2001 6:03 pm

Point to this being: I'd rather have half of a good thing than none at all.

Some people do abuse well meaning ideas, but with no basic foundation at an early stage in life, there is little hope for them at a later stage.

Very strong argument for what you are trying to say N766AS, and it made me think. But there is no way that you can change my mind on Headstart. It would hurt too many kids. I agree with you on some points, but on this particular one, we will just have to disagree.
(amiably)
 
AerLingus
Posts: 2280
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2000 9:22 am

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Sun Jan 07, 2001 12:50 pm

My solution:

A) Tax incentive to housholds whose children show
average test scores in the standardised exams.
B) Repeal Welfare, Headstart, etc. (Hey, I agree with
N766AS!)
C) Raise the minimum wage.
D) Government run universities (feasable? Perhaps...)
E) Find out why people don't have work.
Get your patchouli stink outta my store!
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Mon Jan 08, 2001 2:16 am

N766AS,
For a man of your age you've the knowlege and attitude of one much older. Run for office, son. We need people like you.
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Mon Jan 08, 2001 7:42 am

Pty, well thanks! I guess if I have a bit of free time I just sit down and think about things. Well this time I had a LOT of free time so I dug a bit further and decided to write.

AerLingus, I don't quite agree on the minimum wage, but I am sure that would take another thread  .
 
AerLingus
Posts: 2280
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2000 9:22 am

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Mon Jan 08, 2001 11:19 am

I'm not talking about a drastic increase. (Thank you for being civil  .)
Get your patchouli stink outta my store!
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Mon Jan 08, 2001 12:26 pm

N766AS, you are way too conservative to run for anything more than dogcatcher! At least in Washington you are. You wouldn't have a chance up here....
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Mon Jan 08, 2001 3:01 pm

>N766AS, you are way too conservative to run for anything more than dogcatcher! At least in Washington you are. You wouldn't have a chance up here....

You never know, We're Nuts... some of those voters on the Eastside are pretttttty conservative. haha... if that doesn't work, theres always Eastern Washington. If that doesn't work- well, any idiot can be elected governor of Arkansas....  
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Mon Jan 08, 2001 7:05 pm

""""If that doesn't work- well, any idiot can be elected governor of Arkansas.... """


Including me?

mb (*cheeky grin*)
 
Guest

RE: My View: Why The War On Poverty Failed In America

Tue Jan 09, 2001 12:45 am

>If that doesn't work- well, any idiot can be elected governor of Arkansas....

Wow, you're just barely qualified then!  

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