The Legacy of the War on Poverty

In: Social Issues

Submitted By dli8687
Words 1326
Pages 6
Fred Johnson
MLS 673: Dr. Beggs
M2A1 Essay
“The Legacy of the War on Poverty: Abandonment or Failure?”
In 1964 vast stretches of America were living in abject poverty- Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, Texas-Mexico border, Indian reservations, central urban areas, etc. Many lacked indoor plumbing, and some individuals were literally starving. On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty” in his State of the Union Address. Johnson’s original intent was the eradication of poverty in America (Sparks 1). 50 years later the policies and programs that were established in 1964 have remained largely unchanged in spite of the fact that the dynamics of child poverty have significantly shifted. Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and college-grant and school nutrition programs were developed under the Johnson administration. They have been the keystone for the war on poverty. In the past two decades opponents of social welfare programs have vilified them citing that they perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Critics of social welfare also point to long-term abuse of government funds and a bloated bureaucracy that is necessary to support it. The legacy of the war on poverty is one of failure or of abandonment depending upon your perspective.
It is difficult to gage how effective the War on Poverty has been over the past five decades. Principally, the metrics for measuring poverty utilized in the 1960’s versus what political think tanks, academia and the Congressional Budget Office employ today vastly differ. Based upon U.S. Census Bureau data, approximately 23% of children lived in poverty in 1964- roughly 16 million children. Using Census Bureau Data, child poverty dropped in the 1960’s and 1970’s. However, there were steady increases throughout the years to 2012 when the census data indicated 22% of children living at the poverty…...

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