I knew that I needed to write about this topic once I read an article this week entitled
The title alone made me angry. Have we come no further in doing away with poverty in this country since 1965? Really??!!
The article explains that all of the gains in the war on poverty since 1965 have been lost. Lost. Will someone explain that to me? Something is really wrong here.
Being a bit of a history buff, my mind quickly flashed back to the reforms that were made after the Great Depression, which promised the American people that never would a financial catastrophe like that happen again. Entitlement programs were put into place to insure that the poor of this country would be taken care of. But did it work? History would say that it didn’t.
By 1965, during the Lyndon Johnson years, the same problem existed as poverty was at an all-time high….again. In an effort to thwart poverty (again), Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, among other entitlement programs, to help and aid the poor. Many have medical insurance who might not have otherwise been covered (yes, health care coverage was already available to all). So, has it helped overall?
I’m not an economist nor hold political office, but I’m a mom who feeds a lot of mouths every day. Still, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that if you can wipe away gains from over 30 years that quickly, the gains themselves may not have been real. Perhaps we need to reconsider the remedy for poverty.
Since the measure of poverty is closely related to (and calculated from) the unemployment rate, I looked up what the unemployment rate was prior to the Great Depression. Remember, this was a time when the economy was primarily “agrarian”, or farm-based. Want to know what the unemployment rate was in 1931?
In other words, since everyone was home on the farm, making their own livings from the land, hardly anyone was unemployed.
How about in 1965, what was the unemployement rate then?
Today, depending on who you listen to, the unemployment rate is 9.7% (chacha.com) and even higher in some states. (California 11.2%, for example).
In other words, 15.3 million people in the the U.S. are unemployed.
Despite our historical advances, our country is still dealing with a high rate of unemployed and impoverished people. You can blame industrialization, globalization, urbanization, immigration, outsourcing, downsizing and lack of education, but the fact remains that…
poverty cannot be cured with entitlements.
What this article reveals is a perpetual cycle of dependence upon a system that doesn’t work…at least very well.
So, what’s the answer? Wish I knew. I have a few ideas, though. Could sustainable living play a part?
We’ll be talking about them all week. Tune in.