The war on poverty was not afailure by the U.
S. government, but, at the same time, it was far from a totalsuccess. When President Johnson began the war on poverty, in 1964, the nationalpoverty rate in the U.S. was around 19%. Through this new initiative the Johnsonadministration invested in creating jobs, training Americans for new jobs, and distributingaid to needy Americans to give them a “hand up” out of poverty.
If we wereto go by President Johnson’s initial goal of to “not only relieve the symptomof poverty, but to cure it and, above all, prevent it”, the war did notcomplete its objective. Because based on U.S. Census data, after the rapiddecline from 19% in 1964 to 11.
1% in 1963, the national poverty rate has remainedbetween 11% to 15% with the 2015 poverty rate at 13.5%. Then, if we were to goby Johnson’s other intention of giving Americans a “hand up” out of poverty andnot a hand out, this objective was not completed either. Because if you were tolook at the same U.S.
Census data in a different view, 32.2% of low-incomeAmericans lacked self-sufficiency in 1959, then in 1964 when the war on povertybegan and anti-poverty programs were enacted, the rate plummeted to 17.3%, butthen remained steady between 11% and 15% from 1970 to present day.
The war onpoverty did not end poverty completely or create less reliance on thegovernment like planned, but it did have some successes. For example, manyprograms enacted during the war on poverty are still in use and improving thelives of countless Americans. Take SNAP for example, in 2009 the USDA surveyed low-incomeAmericans and found that lower-income Americans are far from under nourishedand are just as nourished as middle-class Americans are. Then look at SocialSecurity, over 65.1 million Americans in 2015 received benefits from the SocialSecurity Administration, which 61% reported was half of their income for theyear. So, even though poverty was not eradicated during the war on poverty,many of the anti-poverty programs created were successes in improving the livesof impoverished Americans.
I believein the structural-functionalist perspective and since politics are forgoverning people and not for the consumption and distribution of goods like theeconomy is; if I were in charge of the war on poverty, I would shrink theamount of money the government is paying into the welfare programs and insteaddivert those funds into economic investment to grow the economy. That would inturn would create more jobs and allow Americans a path out of poverty insteadof a life of dependency that the welfare programs have created. I would then reform the U.S. tax code, lowertaxes, and expand tax credits for middle and lower-class Americans whileraising taxes for the wealthy and corporations; which would allow Americans tobe able to work their way out of poverty.
The war on poverty needs to become aself-initiated war, with induvial Americans taking charge of their own livesthen the federal government.