Poverty Attacked In 1964, newly elected President Lyndon B. Johnson, officially declared in his state of the Union address an war on poverty in the United States of America. A war in which the end result was to raise millions of Americans, families, children, above the poverty threshold. Before we consider the effects had on our country by the war of poverty, it is imperative to know that there are two different types of poverty: absolute and relative. Absolute poverty when one does not have access to the most basic human needs, such as clean water, food, shelter, health care, sanitation, education and resourceful information.These days, it is dependent on not only income, but also on accessibility to services. On the other hand, relative poverty, covers vital and biological needs such as food, clothing,water, basic housing (or anything that looks like a decent roof over one’s head), and a minimum of sanitation. In the case of many Americans, a sizeable majority would be placed under the relatively poor category. And in order for an individual to be demed poor, their pre-taxed income would have to fall below the line of poverty, also known as the povety threshold. Approximately 50 years later since the war on poverty began, with little achievement to have been gained? Well, it is do to the fact that the welfare system that had been set up by our government to help the poor has proved counterintuitive to the initial cause. Welfare programs and benefits, a large percentage on able-bodied, non-working adults and an increase in single parent households, have led to a significant percent of America’s population becoming less self-sufficient and more susceptible to poverty, since the War on Poverty began.The welfare system has hurt not only those that depend on it, but also those that fuel it. In the past 50 years, our government has spent approximately 22 trillion dollars of taxpayers money on anti-poverty programs (not including medicare or social security) (Farmbry 3). In spite of all the money that has been spent, progress against poverty has been minimal. So what is the reason behind us spending so much, with little achivement in sight? Again, the issue lies within the welfare system. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, last year’s poverty rate was 13.5 percent. Which is essentially the same as in 1966, two years after the war on poverty had been introduced. In the last few decades, the poverty rate has truly remained the same. There has been no significant progress in reducing poverty since the mid 1960s. And since then, the rates have been fluctuating around 15 percent; slowly falling by 2 or 3 percent when the economy is good and raising just as fast when the economy slows. Therefore we have recklessly spent a substantial amount of money that has only maintained poverty here in America rather than solving it. The reason poor people continue to be poor is not because they simply cannot make ends meet, but rather it is due to the incompetency of our welfare system.Also surprising is the fixed disposition of poverty is that before the War on Poverty commenced, poverty rates fell dramatically. In 1950, the poverty rate was 32.2 percent. And by 1965, the first year when War on Poverty programs began their operation, the rate had been cut practically in half to 17.3 percent (Census Table 6). Yet the unvarying poverty rate for the last 50 years is puzzling because welfare spending since then has absolutely skyrocketed since the beginning of the War on poverty. In 2015, the federal government ran over 80 welfare programs that provided food, housing, cash, medical care, and targeted social services for poor and low-income Americans. All in all, 100 million individuals, almost 1 in 3 Americans receive benefits from at least one of these programs. And 16 times more is spent on welfare programs today than it did when the War on Poverty started. (Census Table 7) But as welfare spending increased, the decline in poverty remained stagnant. Consequently, the more the government spends, the less advancement against poverty is made. The living conditions of today’s poor creates a state in which individuals more susceptible to be trapped in a cycle of dependency if they live in an environment that glorifies welfare benefits.Today, the average person that is considered poor has adequate funds to meet all their necessary needs and are even able to acquire basic medical care anytime need be (U.S. Census Bureau). Still, naturally, poor Americans do not live expensively and luxuriously. Despite benefits, there is still a struggle to pay bills and put food on the table in order to make ends meet. And still, in terms of lifestyle, these individuals are far from the pictures of the harsh reality advocated by the pro-welfare groups and the media that try to create third-world country comparisons. We have reduced the look of poverty and have even bettered the livelihood of the poor, but we have not reduced actual poverty and the means in which people are dependent on for survival. Do the favorable living norms of the poor necessarily mean that the War on Poverty has been successful? Well, the answer would have to be no, and for two reasons. First of all, living standards and incomes of less well off Americans were quickly climbing even before the beginning of the War on Poverty. Second, the War on Poverty’s initial goal was not to upright living standards forcibly through an ever-increasing welfare state. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s true goal when he introduced it was to attack the causes and not just the ramifications of poverty. He aimed “not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” President Johnson was not suggesting an immense system of ever-growing welfare benefits, distributed to an ever-expanding population of recipients. His declared objective was not an to create a new system that involved lengthy government handouts, but a system that would increase self-sufficieny; a system that would support generations of people to be cappable enought to free themselves from the binds of poverty and to support themselves without handouts from the government.President Johnson in fact, planned to lower, not increase, welfare dependency. He planned to create an America where the poor would have plenty of opportunity and not doles. In his plan America would be able to create major reductions in the cost of welfare. The War on Poverty’s aim in Johnson’s eyes was to create a means of self-sufficiency by making “taxpayers out of taxeaters” that would later pay back to the nation’s economy ten times over. So how has the War on Poverty met up with the President’s initial goal of of promoting self-sufficiency? What have taxpayers gained back from their $22 trillion investment? Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, programs that would’ve lead to an increase in poverty by raising wages and employment were for the most part ineffective. For example, when poverty rates remained stagnant in the late 1960s and early 1970s, only tens of thousands of benefit recipients a year were enrolled in Job Corps or any sort of training programs; a far cry from the millions below the poverty line (Bitler; Karoly 641). Any increase in the bettering of the poor would have to be attributed to a steady rise of wages and education levels. And since the release of welfare programs, self-sufficiency has remained stagnant and has slightly gotten worse. According to Galloway and Garrett, there was a considerable improvement in self-sufficiency and poverty in America around the time the War on poverty began in 1964. Then there was a sudden tank and in the last five decades, those same rates have remained stagnant (Galloway;Garrett 36). So, in terms of President Johnson’s main goal to tackle the causes of poverty, rather than the consequences, the War on Poverty has failed entirely, despite the $22 trillion in spending. Leading to more of today’s population becoming less capable and less self-sufficient than when the War on Poverty began.Here we must ask ourselves, what went wrong? We are continuously putting money into a flawed system and there is an explanation to the lack of progress seen in the last 50 years. The welfare system has also created a many factors that have contributed to America’s stagnant poverty rate. One would be that our education levels are not where they should be. For example, after a rapid increase of high school graduation rates, throughout the early 20th, there was a sudden plateau after 1970. A wide range of economic factors also played a role. There has been a decrease of wage growth among inexperienced male workers since 1973. But there has also been an increase in the employment and wages regarding women (Census Table 9-10). This should have led to an increase in self-sufficiency as well as a decrease in America’s poverty rates but it did not. So, just the opposite has occurred from what President Johnson had expected from the War on Poverty. There has not been an increase in the ability of Americans to support themselves. Rather, the surplus of welfare programs has in reality weakened the ability for self-sufficiency among the nation’s population by crumbling working values and undercutting the family structure. When the war of poverty was put in place in 1964, only 6 percent of all American children was born outside of marriage. Today, that number is over 40 percent (Census Table 10). As a result, a correlation can be made; as the state of welfare programs grew, marriage also stagnated and single parent households soared. Since the early 1960s, there has been no significant increase or decrease in the number of married-couple families; this rate has remained the same. In comparison, the number of single-parent families with children has climbed practically 10 million, rising from 3.3 million in 1964 to today’s 14.5 million. (Census Table 11) The significance of these numbers is that single-parent families are roughly five times more likely than married-couple families to fall below the poverty threshold, resulting in a lack of self-sufficiency. This deterioration of family structure has applied a powerful anti-push against self-sufficiency and has notably escalated the official rate of children living in poverty. As a matter of fact, the number of married-couple families with children in poverty has declined, while as the number of single-parent families in poverty has been on the rise, increasing from 1.7 million in 1964 to approximately 5 million today. When the war on poverty began, 36 percent of poor families with children were lead by single parents; today, that number has doubled to nearly 70 percent (Census Table 12). The War on Poverty devastated the concept of marriage in low-income communities. The expansion of benefits began to serve as a replacement for the husband or father position in the household. Resulting in a damaging blow to marriage rates among lower-income Americans. Additionally, the welfare system works against low income couples that choose to marry; those who do face an elimination or major reduction of benefits, So our welfare programs are not in favor of marriage. And as less husbands and fathers, stake claim in households, the more need there is for welfare to support single mothers. The War on Poverty and our welfare systems have created a disastrous feedback loop: Welfare encouraged the decline of marriages, which generated the need for more welfare.Today, out of wedlock births and the large growth of single-parent homes is the most vital cause of child poverty. If men were to marry the mothers of their children, a large portion would be immediately lifted out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. But if people are truly serious about bettering their lives, how come they just don’t get a job? According to Haskins, welfare programs have also reduced self-sufficiency by supplying a mean to live to able-bodied adults who work relatively little or who choose to not work at all. With such a low level of parents working, it is no wonder childhood poverty and the lack of self-sufficiency in america has gotten worse. The average poor family with children have parents that do only 1000 hours of work per year. This is the equivalent of one adult putting in 20 hours a week. (Haskins 4) If the amount of work performed in poor families with children working full time throughout the year, the poverty rate among these families would drop significantly.Poverty is a systemic cycle encouraged by our welfare system. Einstein explained that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again in hopes of a different result. To have spent $22 trillion dollars, a considerable amount of money, over the past 50 years on a system that does not work, is insane. We need to overhaul welfare ands focus on a different solution. There should be a shift from programs that just provides benefits to efforts that create conditions and incentives to make it easier for people to escape poverty. Welfare programs are currently focused on making poverty more comfortable by providing benefits such as food and housing This results in fewer Americans living without the basic necessities of life, and yet are still unable to rise up out of poverty. The right concept is to give people the correct tools in order to escape poverty, so they do not have to be dependent on government as a means to survive. We should be working towards a society where as few people as possible live below the poverty threshold and every American should be able to reach their full potential. Marriage and working norms should be applauded, rather than calls to make an individual worse off. As the War on Poverty peaks at half a century, it is time to time the endless spending and look back at President Johnson’s initial goals. This should be done not only for the economy, but the children as well in order to bring back self-sufficiency and stop the cycle of intergenerational dependency.