Thanks to progressivism, we’ve lost the “War on Poverty”

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**Posted by Phineas

"Defeat"

“Defeat”

The War on Poverty was launched in 1964 under Lyndon Johnson with the best of intentions: through massive spending and extensive welfare programs, the government would eradicate poverty in America and make people self-sufficient. Like I said, a worthy goal.

It has also been an utter failure. In 1964 we declared war on poverty, and poverty won.

As the chart above shows, poverty was in deep, rapid decline in America after World War II without any government help, just the natural processes of a growing, prosperous economy. It looked well on its way to elimination, perhaps. Then, in the mid to late-60s, it leveled off and, save for an occasional bump up, has stayed right around fifteen percent.What happened?

In 1964, with the start of the War on Poverty, progressives and other economically illiterate do-gooders wound up trapping people in poverty, rather than helping them out of it. As Robert Rector at The Signal writes:

Johnson did not intend to put more Americans on the dole (1). Instead, he explicitly sought to reduce the future need for welfare by making lower-income Americans productive and self-sufficient.

By this standard, the War on Poverty has been a catastrophic failure. After spending more than $20 trillion on Johnson’s war, many Americans are less capable of self-support than when the war began. This lack of progress is, in a major part, due to the welfare system itself. Welfare breaks down the habits and norms that lead to self-reliance, especially those of marriage and work. It thereby generates a pattern of increasing inter-generational dependence. The welfare state is self-perpetuating: By undermining productive social norms, welfare creates a need for even greater assistance in the future. Reforms should focus on these programs’ incentive structure to point the way toward self-sufficiency. One step is communicating that the poverty rate is better understood as self-sufficiency rate—that is, we should measure how many Americans can take care of themselves and their families.

Emphasis added.

What was it Ronald Reagan said?

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

One would think that, faced with all the mounds of evidence that government programs don’t lift people out of poverty, Progressives, who claim to be devoted to “progress,” would see the war on poverty has been a failure and that the programs should be reformed or discontinued and something else tried, something like less government intervention.

But, no. Few ever will be that honest, because to say government failed to reorder society as desired would be to admit that the central tenet of progressivism, a faith in the power of technocrats to manage a vastly complex society, was wrong.

Meanwhile, that core 15% remains trapped in poverty, addicted to government “crack” and walking a road paved with good intentions.

PS: Note the sharp climb back up to 15% at the end of that chart. It starts soon after the Democrats take over Congress in 2006 and undo the 1990s Clinton-Gingrich welfare reform, then accelerates under Obama. Coincidence? I think not.

RELATED: Cato economist Dan Mitchell has often written on the same topic. Here’s a post he wrote on the failures of the War on Poverty and another on the “redistribution trap.” That latter is must-reading.

Footnote:
(1) Many criticize that assertion, with some justification. See for example Kevin Williamson’s “The Dependency Agenda.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Obamacare success! New Medicaid enrollee turned down by 96 doctors

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**Posted by Phineas

"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

One of the oft-stated goals of the Affordable Care Act was insuring the uninsured. For those who couldn’t afford insurance even with the new subsidies, states could expand their Medicaid offerings with (temporary) help from the federal government (i.e., taxation and borrowing). Great, right? Even if you don’t make enough to afford private insurance, you still get medical care, right?

Not if the doctor refuses to take Medicare:

“I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting that kind of insurance. I apologize for the confusion; Dr. [insert name] is only willing to see existing patients at this time.”

As a proud new beneficiary of the Affordable Health Care Act, I’d like to report that I am doctorless. Ninety-six. Ninety-six is the number of soul crushing rejections that greeted me as I attempted to find one. It’s the number of physicians whose secretaries feigned empathy while rehearsing the “I’m so sorry” line before curtly hanging up. You see, when the rush of the formerly uninsured came knocking, doctors in my New Jersey town began closing their doors and promptly telling insurance companies that they had no room for new patients.

My shiny, never used Horizon health card is as effective as a dollar bill during the Great Depression. In fact, an expert tells CNN, “I think of (Obamacare) as giving everyone an ATM card in a town where there are no ATM machines.” According to a study 33% of doctors are NOT accepting Medicaid. Here in Jersey, one has a dismal 40 percent chance of finding a doctor who accepts Medicaid – the lowest in the country.

That insurance or Medicaid card does one a whole lot of good when no one will accept it, doesn’t it?

This is one aspect of a broader access problem that’s going to get more and more attention as we get deeper into the Obamacare morass. In addition to a growing doctor shortage (something that Obamacare may make worse), and shrinking provider networks, the limited number of doctors who accept Medicaid will only get smaller, because the system underpays for their services, and yet under Obamacare is greatly increasing the number of patients. Noble sentiments aside, a medical practice is a business, and a physician or hospital can only afford to see so many money-losing patients before it’s no longer worth staying in business.

Call it another of Obamacare’s broken promises: the government promises you medical care, but what if the care-provider refuses to play?

Of course, one would-be Democratic lawmaker in Virginia has a solution for that: serfdom.

Via Jim Geraghty, who notes it’s even harder to find specialists who take Obamacare.

RELATED: Bobby Jindal has a better idea.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Bogus attacks on Paul Ryan provide disturbing window into liberal groupthink

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Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Commentary’s Peter Wehner provides a thought-provoking must-read/call to arms against the bogus and despicable attacks Rep. Paul Ryan and others like him trying to tackle the poverty issue routinely receive from Democrat movers and shakers who would rather demagogue the issue for political gain than work together towards resolving it (hat tip):

And now, as Jonathan Tobin has written, comes the latest attempted mugging of Ryan, this time for what he said on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” program last week. When discussing his forthcoming effort to combat poverty, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate said this:

We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.

The left immediately attacked. Some, like Representative Barbara Lee, accused Ryan of mounting a “thinly veiled racial attack”–one that “cannot be tolerated.” Others, likeNew York Times columnist Paul Krugman, wrote that Ryan’s words amounted to a “racial dog whistle.”

These charges, and there are plenty of others like them, are grotesquely false. I have known Ryan since he was a colleague at Empower America in the 1990s. One of the reasons he was so close to both Bennett and Jack Kemp is because Ryan had a deep concern for those living in the shadows of society, including in America’s inner cities. He also believes Republicans have not focused enough on the problems plaguing the underclass. Both help explain his latest effort to offer conservative solutions to rising poverty.

[…]

Why are some liberals doing this? For one thing, they are intellectually exhausted. They know they cannot win the debate on the merits, and so they resort to ad hominemattacks. It is what some on the left instantaneously resort to. Mr. Krugman is a prime example of this. He is a man who seems to gain energy from nursing his political hatreds and takes delight in degrading political commentary. (The latter isn’t an easy achievement.)

But as Jonathan points out, there’s something more fundamental going on here. Liberals who have complicity in the problems plaguing America’s inner cities are attempting to make an honest conversation about poverty impossible. They are signaling that they intend to try to take out Republicans who want to address some of the root causes, the behavioral causes, of poverty.

The danger here is two-fold. One is that by promiscuously invoking racism when it doesn’t apply, they are draining the term of real meaning. Many people already have stopped, and many more will stop, paying attention when the term is so carelessly bandied about.

The other is that some on the left not only aren’t focusing on the institutions, policies, and individuals who are responsible for exacerbating poverty; they are actually building a protective wall around them. For them the villain isn’t, say, the ruinous public school systems in Chicago, Detroit, and D.C. that are destroying the lives and future of hundreds of thousands of kids; it’s Paul Ryan, who among other things supports school choice for inner-city parents. This is what large parts of liberalism have been reduced to: the praetorian guard of corrupt, poverty-creating institutions and organizations.

I’ve said many times before that if we were to have a true, honest, candid discussion about poverty in America – and people really woke up and started to listen and take notice – the liberal monopoly on so-called “victim” and “minority” groups would slowly unravel and then they’d really have to try and fight hard not only to explain their long-term complicity in continuing to (deliberately) support policies that keep Americans down and oftentimes dependent on government but also why they have reflexively tried to stifle the debate by throwing out the race/class card in response to every legitimate, good faith attempt by Republicans to join the discussion to try and help find solutions.

Liberals don’t want this debate.   At all. Period. Especially not in an election year where many vulnerable incumbents in key states across the country are on the ropes.  What this issue needs more than anything is sunlight by way of open dialogue and an all hands on deck approach to tackling the various problems that contribute to poverty.   Until that happens, the problem will remain and and no one wins.  This needs to change, and the sooner the better.

Another reason to like Tim Scott

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**Posted by Phineas

Aside from the fact that the current representative and senator-designate from South Carolina has a good character, the right politics, and a clear-eyed view of our real problem, he worries all the right people:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People isn’t too excited about the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to South Carolina’s soon-to-be-vacated U.S. Senate seat.

(…)

Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy and policy at the NAACP, told The Daily Caller Monday afternoon that the group welcomed diversity in the Senate, but expects the new senator to work against the NAACP’s agenda.

“It is important that we have more integration in the U.S. Senate,” said Shelton in a phone interview. “It’s good to see that diversity.”

“Mr. Scott certainly comes from a modest background, experience, and so forth, and should be sensitive to those issues,” he said, referring to Scott’s impoverished single-parent upbringing in Charleston, SC.

“Unfortunately, his voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives raises major concerns,” Shelton said.

Shelton explained that the NAACP platform is crafted through an annual voting process which engages grassroots-level delegates who vote on the group’s national agenda. That agenda calls for an expansive role for federal government spending in black communities.

Because federal intervention has done such a bang-up job for Blacks. Just ask any beneficiary of the Great Society’s urban policies. And that War on Poverty? We fought it, and poverty won.

While Ms. Shelton does have some nice things to say about Congressman Scott, it’s clear her views are trapped within the statist, dependent, and identity-group paradigm that dominates the Democratic party. And yet Blacks are far worse off under Obama, who is pursuing those very policies the way an alcoholic chases a beer wagon.  But, to be honest, the NAACP stopped being an organization seeking the best interests of African Americans at the same time they entered into a monogamous relationship with the Democratic party. (Helpful tip: if you’re an interest group and you give yourself wholly and forever to one political party — they no longer have to take you seriously, because they know they have your votes no matter what they do.)

Meanwhile, here’s hoping that Mr. Scott has a long and fruitful career in the Senate and that, rather than coming round to the NAACP line, he encourages NAACP members to realize there’s another, better way to help Black Americans prosper.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

In Obama’s America, you’re better off on welfare

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**Posted by Phineas

Oh, I know. I know. I’m RAAAAACIST!!! for even suggesting that. But numbers, while subject to interpretation, don’t lie. And in this case, they’re pretty hard to read any other way. From Zero Hedge:

Exactly two years ago, some of the more politically biased progressive media outlets (who are quite adept at creating and taking down their own strawmen arguments, if not quite as adept at using an abacus, let alone a calculator) took offense at our article “In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year.” In it we merely explained what has become the painful reality in America: for increasingly more it is now more lucrative – in the form of actual disposable income – to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work. This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, “the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.

And here’s the chart that illustrates the point:

(You’ll find a larger view, here.)

Talk about perverse incentives. As structured now, a rational individual would look at this and conclude that he’s better off collecting rents from the rest of us, than working to better himself.

Be sure to read the rest. There’s much more — and it’s scary.

Not that we’ll have to worry for long, though, since the economy will simply shut down in 2027.

via Power Line

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)