And yet for all the shortcomings of the government’s strategy, the main reason for America’s persistent poverty is the disappearance of jobs with decent pay that can take workers above the poverty line without the government’s help.
The war on poverty was not just about the poor. President Johnson saw it as a way to “prove the success of our system; to disprove those cynics and critics at home and abroad who question our purpose and our competence.”
Our system provides extraordinary rewards for the successful. But as long as so many are left so far behind, the success of our system remains in doubt.
America has not stopped fighting the war on poverty. President Obama’s health law should, when functioning properly, prevent medical expenses from dragging many families into bankruptcy.
Yet winning this war will require more than expanded government benefits. It will probably require a different sort of labor market that provides a better first line of defense. That is a much tougher war to win.
Go read it, it’s a good overview.