Poverty such as clean water, food, shelter, health

Poverty Attacked            In 1964, newly elected President Lyndon B. Johnson, officially declared in his state of the Union address an  war on poverty in the United States of America. A war in which the end result was to raise millions of Americans, families, children, above the poverty threshold.  Before we consider the effects had on our country by the war of poverty, it is imperative to know that there are two different types of poverty: absolute and relative. Absolute poverty 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.These days, it is dependent on not only income, but also on accessibility to services. On the other hand, relative poverty, covers vital and biological needs such as food, clothing,water, basic housing (or anything that looks like a decent roof over one’s head), and a minimum of sanitation. In the case of many Americans, a sizeable majority would be placed under the relatively poor category. And in order for an individual to be demed poor, their pre-taxed income would have to fall below the line of poverty, also known as the povety threshold. Approximately 50 years later since the war on poverty began, with little achievement to have been gained? Well, it is do to the fact that the welfare system that had been set up by our government to help the poor has proved counterintuitive to the initial cause. Welfare programs and benefits, a large percentage on able-bodied, non-working adults and an increase in single parent households, have led to a significant percent of America’s population becoming less self-sufficient and more susceptible to poverty, since the War on Poverty began.The welfare system has hurt not only those that depend on it, but also those that fuel it. In the past 50 years, our government has spent approximately 22 trillion dollars of taxpayers money on anti-poverty programs (not including medicare or social security) (Farmbry 3). In spite of all the money that has been spent, progress against poverty has been minimal. So what is the reason behind us spending so much, with little achivement in sight? Again, the issue lies within the welfare system. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, last year’s poverty rate was 13.5 percent. Which is essentially the same as in 1966, two years after the war on poverty had been introduced. In the last few decades, the poverty rate has truly remained the same. There has been no significant progress in reducing poverty since the mid 1960s. And since then, the rates have been fluctuating around 15 percent; slowly falling by 2 or 3 percent when the economy is good and raising just as fast when the economy slows. Therefore we have recklessly spent a substantial amount of money that has only maintained poverty here in America rather than solving it. The reason poor people continue to be poor is not because they simply cannot make ends meet, but rather it is due to the incompetency of our welfare system.Also surprising is the fixed disposition of poverty is that before the War on Poverty commenced, poverty rates fell dramatically. In 1950, the poverty rate was 32.2 percent. And by 1965, the first year when War on Poverty programs began their operation, the rate had been cut practically in half to 17.3 percent (Census Table 6). Yet the unvarying poverty rate for the last 50 years is puzzling because welfare spending since then has absolutely skyrocketed since the beginning of the War on poverty. In 2015, the federal government ran over 80 welfare programs that provided food, housing, cash, medical care, and targeted social services for poor and low-income Americans. All in all, 100 million individuals, almost 1 in 3 Americans receive benefits from at least one of these programs. And 16 times more is spent on welfare programs today than it did when the War on Poverty started. (Census Table 7) But as welfare spending increased, the decline in poverty remained stagnant. Consequently, the more the government spends, the less advancement against poverty is made. The living conditions of today’s poor creates a state in which individuals more susceptible to be trapped in a cycle of dependency if they live in an environment that glorifies welfare benefits.Today, the average person that is considered poor has adequate funds to meet all their necessary needs and are even able to acquire basic medical care anytime need be (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 the favorable living norms of the poor necessarily mean that the War on Poverty has been successful? Well, the answer would have to be no, and for two reasons. First of all, living standards and incomes of less well off Americans were quickly climbing even before the beginning of the War on Poverty. Second, the War on Poverty’s initial goal was not to upright living standards forcibly through an ever-increasing welfare state. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s true goal when he introduced it was to attack the causes and not just the ramifications of poverty. He aimed “not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” President Johnson was not suggesting an immense system of ever-growing welfare benefits, distributed to an ever-expanding population of recipients. His declared 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. Einstein explained that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again in hopes of a different result. 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.