9/25/2005

Chronic poverty is a breeder of chronic chaos

In a country with freedom of speech the poor and dowtrodden riot when confronted with evidence they are being put in the back of the bus. See LA Riots, the 1960's riots.... But even without freedom of speech governments topple in the hands of the dispossessed, if misery gets widespread so much that it touches the military. See Tianamen Square, French Revolution.. -- law

t wasn't until the riots of the 1960s that the nation made it's first real attempt to eradicate the problem. A federal commission tasked with finding the source of the unrest found that "chronic poverty is a breeder of chronic chaos."

In response, President Johnson declared war on poverty.

The government focused on health care, housing and food for seniors, disabled people and children. There was also a national Job Corps and a new Office of Economic Opportunity. The Model Cities program — which later became Community Development Block Grants — streamlined federal funds to community groups providing everything from low-income housing to dental care. Sargent Shriver was named chief of staff for the war against poverty.

"They were trying to get at the root causes of poverty, and the root causes were, as we felt it to be, lack of educational opportunity and lack of job training," said former White House deputy counsel Larry Levinson, who was enlisted in the war on poverty by Johnson in 1964. "All of this was not writing checks to poor people, it was offering them the skills and education."

William Julius Wilson, who directs the Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program at Harvard University, said Johnson's war "was the first major initiative to address poverty, and the last. There hasn't been anything like that since."

Initially, poverty declined and programs flourished. But each new administration dismantled pieces of Johnson's vision, which soon was criticized for costing too much and doing too little.

By the 1980s, the 'War on Poverty' was seen, by some, as a joke.

President Reagan drew laughter at his 1988 State of the Union address when he said: "My friends, some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won."

He went on to decry 59 major welfare programs and the $100 billion a year spent on them.

"What has all this money done? Well, too often it has only made poverty harder to escape. Federal welfare programs have created a massive social problem. With the best of intentions, government created a poverty trap that wreaks havoc on the very support system the poor need most to lift themselves out of poverty."

Katrina Exposes American Poverty - Yahoo! News

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