- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette, Aug. 5

After 50 years and $20 trillion, grand plan to eradicate poverty in U.S. is a failure

In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson stood before Congress for the annual State of the Union address and declared a “War on Poverty.”

Johnson had a plan to do just that and it involved providing government assistance so poor Americans would have the opportunity to become self-sufficient.

“Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them. Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children,” he said.

How did that work out?

Well, as a recent op-ed by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation points out, not too well.

Basically, Johnson’s idealistic program has become a massive failure.

Over the past five decades, the War on Poverty has morphed into a mass of government handouts that has not led Americans to become more self-sufficient, but more dependent. The assistance has not given people a way out of their desperation, but instead set them up for failure and generational poverty.

Since 1964, the government has spent more than $20 trillion_yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t”_to wage the War on Poverty. But the overall poverty is virtually unchanged since the war began.

In 2012 alone, the U.S. spent $916 billion on more than 80 programs designed to assist the poor. About 100 million Americans receives assistance from one or more of these programs, with an average benefit of $9,000 per year_and that doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare..

Why has a decent idea turned into such an ineffective monster?

There are a few reasons. Bleeding hearts with good intentions_both back in 1964 and today_who can’t or won’t see the harm they are doing. The nature of government to expand and try to do too much. Politicians using government benefits to buy votes.

You cannot expect people to do anything to help themselves when the government tries to provide of their every need. It’s just not going to happen.

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