On this day in 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson presented a proposal for "A Great Society."
After years of grumbling, anti-humanist corporatists and the like were finally successful in positioning George W. Bush and his minions where they coud dismantle the following provisions of Johnson's Great Society, as well as the social programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt--when they were not shredding the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution:
....Government sources said the President would send five special messages to Congress before his inauguration Jan. 20 -- an unusual course.The results from Johnson's proposal were great and wonderful:
The first, concerning health, will go to Capitol Hill Thursday. The four others will cover education, immigration, foreign aid and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration....The President gave few details but said the educational scheme would aid primary and secondary schools, particularly those serving low-income areas, and would include both public and private schools. Greater scholarship and loan aid was pledged to college students....He requested "doubling the war against poverty this year" and called for new emphasis on area redevelopment, further efforts at retraining unskilled workers, an improvement in the unemployment compensation system and an extension of the minimum wage floor to two million workers now unprotected by it. No increase in the present $1.25-an-hour level of the minimum wage will be sought, Government sources said.
He called for new, improved or bigger programs in attacking physical and mental disease, urban blight, water and air pollution, and crime and delinquency.
He pledged a "massive effort to save the countryside" by establishing more parks, seashores, open spaces, recreation facilities and beautified highway rights-of-way....
....from 1963 when Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century. Since then, the poverty rate has hovered at about the 13 percent level and sits at 13.3 percent today, still a disgraceful level in the context of the greatest economic boom in our history. But if the Great Society had not achieved that dramatic reduction in poverty, and the nation had not maintained it, 24 million more Americans would today be living below the poverty level.Joseph A. Califano, Jr. at:
This reduction in poverty did not just happen. It was the result of a focused, tenacious effort to revolutionize the role of the federal government with a series of interventions that enriched the lives of millions of Americans. In those tumultuous Great Society years, the President submitted, and Congress enacted, more than 100 major proposals in each of the 89th and 90th Congresses. In that era of do-it-now optimism, government was neither a bad man to be tarred and feathered nor a bag man to collect campaign contributions, but an instrument to help the most vulnerable in our society....
Of course the folks who love and revere The Wall Street Journal, the anti-tax jihadists at the Club For Growth, the National Review had royal hissyfits at the time, the very idea of actually helping those in poverty, instead of exploiting them--just like they're presently having royal hissyfits at the win of Michael Huckabee yesterday in Iowa:
And, I plead guilty to stealing the phrase "the anti-tax jihadists at the Club For Growth" from Timothy Egan.
The Christian Evangelicals seem to have, all of a sudden, remembered the true teachings of Jesus, the real "What Would Jesus Do?" thing, and they do not seem to have a problem, at the moment, with being nice and decent to folks suffering from poverty.
And, in the larger schemes of things it would seem that, having sneered at and having discarded the concept of the "War Against Poverty" we have opened ourselves up to a whole new world of terrorism.
Of course, because of Bush and his minions we have a rapidly growing group of those who suffer from poverty, who are there to be exploited as cheap slave labor, or to be conscripted into the military to serve the needs of empire overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and--sigh--Iran--if only they could seize the rich assets of Iran to call their own--sigh.