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A transcript of this 10-minute War on Poverty segment of the 1964 SOTU is below the fold.

It was just six weeks after President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas that Lyndon Johnson took to the podium to give his first State of the Union address. It was a seminal moment that introduced both the project and the term "War on Poverty" to the nation. The aim, he boldly stated, was not merely to relieve poverty but to cure it. Four months later, he introduced another term during a speech at Ohio University, the "Great Society," the latest iteration of FDR's "New Deal," Harry Truman's "Fair Deal" and JFK's "New Frontier."

While the Great Society programs have not cured poverty, and have come under strong criticism from both left and right, they have brought relief to tens of millions of Americans—particularly elderly Americans—who might otherwise have no roof over their heads, no food on their tables, no health coverage for their aged parents.

Much of the intellectual impetus for the War on Poverty came from Michael Harrington, who in 1962 wrote The Other America: Poverty in the United States, later invented the term neo-conservative and was a co-founder of Democratic Socialists of America. The book was read by JFK and assigned to college students across America. It was the required supplemental reading for my Political Science 101 class in 1964. A 1999 documentary film, Michael Harrington and Today's Other America: Corporate Power and Inequality includes archival film and interviews with supporters and critics of Harrington's descriptions of poverty and its causes as well as prescriptions to end it.

As Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, now a vice chair of the DSA, wrote in The American Prospect in 2012:

The Other America is not merely a tour de force but a tour d’horizon, revealing, chapter by chapter, the distinct and overlapping geographies and demographics of American poverty. Harrington begins with a chapter on the working poor, describing a typical morning at New York’s 80 Warren Street, home to dozens of temporary employment agencies, where thousands reported daily for short-order jobs in kitchens and on construction sites. He next visits a non-union, low-wage factory in Chicago. Then he looks more broadly at low-paying jobs, noting that 16 million Americans in a labor force totaling 69.6 million were excluded from the federal minimum-wage law. He moves on to chapters about agricultural workers, African Americans, Appalachia, the elderly, the alcoholic and the mentally ill, in every case beginning with on-the-scene reporting before dissecting the broader historic, socioeconomic, and political factors that created so much misery. [...]

Although The Other America eschews the S-word, Harrington’s socialism is what enabled him to see what almost everyone else had missed: that 40 million Americans in a nation of 176 million were poor. Amid what he termed the “familiar America” of new suburbs and two-car garages, the poor were still with us, but they were a hidden poor, “a great mass of people, yet it takes an effort of the intellect and will even to see them.”

The legislation engendered by the War on Poverty faced opposition from congressional Republicans. But Democrats had a 65 percent majority in the Senate and a 59 percent majority in the House, so there was never much doubt that the bills would pass. What emerged was Medicare, Medicaid, Volunteers in Service to America, the Job Corps, the Community Action Program (which launched Head Start), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Food Stamp Act, which turned a pilot program into a permanent one for the entire nation.

Over the half-century since Johnson pressed all that legislation forward, the whole War on Poverty enterprise has been regularly critiqued and budgetarily dented, with the right still eagerly chipping and gouging away where it can, helped along by Democratic support for travesties like the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act that "reformed" welfare in 1996.

One key early critic of the War on Poverty was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who challenged it in his 1967 book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? as a "piecemeal" program that needed coordination and adequate funding to achieve its mission. He connected the failures of the War on Poverty with spending for the War in Vietnam. Never one to merely intone the words, the next year King founded the Poor Peoples Campaign to address those failures. Other critics said years later that too often War on Poverty programs had been turned into a war on the poor.

More on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty can be found below the fold.

As Meyerson wrote in his retrospective, Harrington believed the gains that working class Americans made as a consequence of the New Deal could be rolled back. And sure enough:

The nation whose eyes Harrington sought to open was one that took mass prosperity for granted. Fifty years later, however, that’s become a belief that’s difficult to sustain. The progressive taxation, regulation of finance, and widespread unionization that emerged from the New Deal to give America three decades of broadly shared affluence have crumbled under the subsequent 35-year assault from business interests and a resurgent right.
Today, with 46.5 million Americans rated poor, the poverty rate is at 15 percent, with 6.6 percent deeply poor, bringing home less than $6,000 annually. More than one child in five lives in poverty. Which proves what everyone paying attention knows—that even with most of the Great Society programs in place, the holes remain.

What's needed now is not merely a reinvented, rejuvenated War on Poverty, but rather a non-violent War on Plutocracy, which continues to be the nation's greatest source of impoverishment.

••• •••

The Urban Institute has a 41-piece collection of articles and studies on various aspects of poverty ranging from Unemployment and Poverty to Childhood Food Insecurity: The Mitigating Role of SNAP.

The Center for American Progress has published A Study of American Attitudes About Work, Economic Opportunity, and the Social Safety Net.

The War on Poverty segment of LBJ's 1964 State of the Union address:

But by closing down obsolete installations, by curtailing less urgent programs, by cutting back where cutting back seems to be wise, by insisting on a dollar's worth for a dollar spent, I am able to recommend in this reduced budget the most Federal support in history for education, for health, for retraining the unemployed, and for helping the economically and the physically handicapped.

This budget, and this year's legislative program, are designed to help each and every American citizen fulfill his basic hopes -- his hopes for a fair chance to make good; his hopes for fair play from the law; his hopes for a full-time job on full-time pay; his hopes for a decent home for his family in a decent community; his hopes for a good school for his children with good teachers; and his hopes for security when faced with sickness or unemployment or old age.

Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope -- some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.

This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort.

It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.

Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.

For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.

The program I shall propose will emphasize this cooperative approach to help that one-fifth of all American families with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs.

Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper -- in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

But whatever the cause, our joint Federal-local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists -- in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas.

Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.

We will launch a special effort in the chronically distressed areas of Appalachia.

We must expand our small but our successful area redevelopment program.

We must enact youth employment legislation to put jobless, aimless, hopeless youngsters to work on useful projects.

We must distribute more food to the needy through a broader food stamp program.

We must create a National Service Corps to help the economically handicapped of our own country as the Peace Corps now helps those abroad.

We must modernize our unemployment insurance and establish a high-level commission on automation. If we have the brain power to invent these machines, we have the brain power to make certain that they are a boon and not a bane to humanity.

We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power.

We must, by including special school aid funds as part of our education program, improve the quality of teaching, training, and counseling in our hardest hit areas.

We must build more libraries in every area and more hospitals and nursing homes under the Hill-Burton Act, and train more nurses to staff them.

We must provide hospital insurance for our older citizens financed by every worker and his employer under Social Security, contributing no more than $1 a month during the employee's working career to protect him in his old age in a dignified manner without cost to the Treasury, against the devastating hardship of prolonged or repeated illness.

We must, as a part of a revised housing and urban renewal program, give more help to those displaced by slum clearance, provide more housing for our poor and our elderly, and seek as our ultimate goal in our free enterprise system a decent home for every American family.

We must help obtain more modern mass transit within our communities as well as low-cost transportation between them. Above all, we must release $11 billion of tax reduction into the private spending stream to create new jobs and new markets in every area of this land.

These programs are obviously not for the poor or the underprivileged alone. Every American will benefit by the extension of social security to cover the hospital costs of their aged parents. Every American community will benefit from the construction or modernization of schools, libraries, hospitals, and nursing homes, from the training of more nurses and from the improvement of urban renewal in public transit. And every individual American taxpayer and every corporate taxpayer will benefit from the earliest possible passage of the pending tax bill from both the new investment it will bring and the new jobs that it will create.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (124+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:55:36 PM PST

  •  Just got back from a parent-teacher club mtg. (41+ / 0-)

    for my son's elementary school.  The Principal asked if we could help raise funds to build a shower at the school and get a washer and dryer.  Because so many kids have been coming to school from homes obviously lacking in washing facilities.  Deep poverty, indeed.    

    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

    by koosah on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:04:31 PM PST

    •  Ya, retired inner city HS teacher here, so many (15+ / 0-)

      needs unmet over the years I gave up after the first 7.  Three years later came back with the self -understanding that I could not 'save' anyone, just work with them to get the tools they needed.

      I myself went to college on  National Student Defense Loan Programwhich was designed to obviously pass the sausage making process in Congress with Defense in the title, defense being educating poor kids like me through low interest loans forgiveable in part if we would go teach for some years. Did that.

      Always sickened me to compare how much was spent on 'Defense' vs how much on education.  (A bumper sticker back then  asked something to the effect 'What if the military had to have a bake sale and schools were fully funded."  That's not it but something similar. I later learned that 'military' was a misnomer, should have been War Profiteers, but fit that on a sticker.)

      The President made a moving speech about inequality recently, and committed to leading and taking action.

      Reuters had this today:

      Obama targets poverty in San Antonio, Philadelphia and other U.S. 'zones'

      By Roberta Rampton

      WASHINGTON Wed Jan 8, 2014 4:12pm EST

      As part of this effort, Obama will create "promise zones" in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the White House said on Wednesday.

      The announcement came on the 50th anniversary of a pledge by former President Lyndon Johnson to wage a "war on poverty" which led to government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Head Start preschool education programs.

      Since 1967, poverty rates have fallen from close to 26 percent to 16 percent, the White House said. In 2012, 49.7 million Americans lived in poverty, including 13.4 million children.

      "In the richest nation on Earth, far too many children are still born into poverty, far too few have a fair shot to escape it, and Americans of all races and backgrounds experience wages and incomes that aren't rising," Obama said in a statement marking the anniversary of Johnson's pledge.

      Details to follow at 2 pm EST on Thursday.

       As I read MB's excellent post I tearfully yearned for the Party we had back then and a renewed all out effort to partner with the 'low in income. '

      We should never give up.


      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:17:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well said, divineorder. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, Another Grizzle, tubacat
        We should never give up.
        Our school is in a small town in western Oregon. We aren't the poorest area around, but certainly not the most affluent either.  It's hard to explain the consequences that this kind of poverty has on a small child.  Obviously these kids are living in very precarious situations, sometimes doubled or tripled up with other families.  "Transitional" is the word used for kids who really don't have their own home.  

        Any time I hear about some mean-spirited heartless beast wanting to cut unemployment benefits, SNAP, WIC or drug test to get access to those, I want to scream.  The kids of drug users shouldn't eat?  The kids of drug users shouldn't have a roof over their heads?  Just because a kid's parents smoke weed their kids should suffer?
        Whenever I've asked any of these heartless people about that, if they have any answer, they actually say those kids should be taken from their parents!!  There's "small government" for you!  

        It absolutely boggles my mind.  It must be nice to live in such a simplistic world.  My heart just aches for my country and I just shake my head...and I do the best I can for the problems closest to my heart.  Kids.        


        "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

        by koosah on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:40:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •   My heart aches as well, koosah, but we (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koosah, Another Grizzle

          just get back up and be strong for them, no ?

          I have two nephews and a niece that have all just had babies with their spouses.  I catch myself shaking my head about the future prospects of those kiddos in the face of climate change, then tell myself NO, we shall overcome! Wishful thinking, but of the kind that has helped me keep a semblance of sanity over the years.....

          Thanks for sharing this.

          Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

          by divineorder on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:05:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Bumper sticker: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        What if schools had all the money they needed and The Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?
        Saw it in Eugene, OR years ago. We should all have a stack in our glove compartments (or bike trailer in my case) to hand out.

        Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

        by FrY10cK on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:40:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was just reading a piece from Reuters that gets (35+ / 0-)

    it right. Yeah, I know, I'm shocked as well.. In an article entitled "The War on Poverty's Surprising Success"

    Ironically, it isn’t the government that’s failed the poor so much as the market economy. After 1979 the poor, defined as the bottom 20% in income distribution, saw no increase in their share of the nation’s pre-tax income (while the middle class saw its share decline). In absolute terms, pre-tax income rose two-fifths for the bottom 20%, compared to nearly three-fifths for the top 20%. For the top one percent, it more than tripled. Rather than pay workers a living wage, corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonalds guide them to government assistance programs. The majority of food-stamp recipients–and more than 60% of food-stamp recipients with children–have jobs. They just don’t get paid enough to eat. Whatever welfare dependence existed before 1996 has shifted from individuals to corporations.

    Maybe it’s time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce declared its own War on Poverty by directing its members to raise wages for the working poor. But since that will never happen, the Obama administration proposes raising the minimum wage instead. Even better would be the removal of at least a few government obstacles to union organizing. But even Johnson, at the height of the Great Society—the most ambitious expansion of government power since the New Deal–lacked sufficient clout to achieve that.

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:07:41 PM PST

  •  nice piece Mr. Blades but (18+ / 0-)

    man, is this ever depressing.

    Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.
    50 years is a good full generation later. Some things, for some people, may be somewhat improved, on a small scale, but the systemic disease is far from 'cured'. I dare say it's worsened. It's metastisized. Nothing short of a full on War On Plutocracy will even touch it.

    If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

    by Lady Libertine on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:28:04 PM PST

    •  That one hit me too. My school system, (4+ / 0-)

      Utica Community Schools in Michigan was pretty top shelf.

      I can't say I can complain at all about a lack of educational opportunities. Music classes, school supplies, books, athletic equipment, olympic sized pool, bussing, etc. It was amazing.

      I look at what has happened with our failure to protect and support our public school system from corporate predation and am beyond depressed. That stuff makes me angry.

      And it's such a vicious circle, a self reinforcing treadmill of stupid, just like the rest of the failed conservative policies we keep enacting as a country.

      Because they have failed we need more of them... nice.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:01:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  TWO generations later. :) n/t (3+ / 0-)

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:36:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  heh, well, unless you're Irish... :-) (3+ / 0-)

        just came across another very good article at alternet on this topic...

        If we had a hundred Elizabeth Warrens in the Senate, well, that might be a start.

        I like this writer's list of suggestions:

        Here are a few suggestions for a new anti-poverty agenda:

        Make the rich pay their fair share by ending unfair tax breaks.

        Expand Social Security, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others have demanded.

        Protect people from going hopelessly into debt through medical expenses.Obamacare has failed to put a tight lid on potential total medical costs. Eventually, we must join the civilized world with single payer healthcare.

        Increase state-supported education. It’s absurd that people have to go into debt just to pay for their educations.

        Strengthen regulation so irresponsible companies do not rob ordinary Americans.

        Restore the rights of workers, like collective bargaining and protection from wage theft.

        Understand that austerity policies do not work, and only exacerbate economic woes.

        Aggressively attack unemployment and remember the lesson learned in the Great Depression: when the private sector can’t come up with jobs, the government must fill the breach.

        Protect the reproductive rights of women.

        Protect civil rights, such as access to voting, in places where such rights are under attack.

        If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

        by Lady Libertine on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:56:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I SO Much agree with your title, I cannot (27+ / 0-)

    even begin to find the words.

    The plutocracy has been looting this country - out of control - for 34 years.  Before, they looted it, sure, but there were some government agencies and politicians willing to stand up to them.

    Once "free market" and neoliberal economics were out of the bag, we were under full assault, relentless, day after day.

    The plutocrats have piled up their heaps of money.  It's time for the pendulum to swing the other way. This has gone on too long.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:29:59 PM PST

  •  wasn't it Stokely Carmichael who said (7+ / 0-)

    "We don't need a war on poverty--we need a war on the rich" . . . ?

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:36:59 PM PST

  •  Well said! (4+ / 0-)

    The sociopathic plutocrats and their entourage have taken over the GOP and heavily infiltrated the Dems.  We need to focus on cleaning up the Dem party if we want to have a chance IMHO.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:56:48 PM PST

  •  Thanks MB (2+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:57:40 PM PST

  •  Yep, we've been working this from wrong end. (11+ / 0-)

    Like putting a band-aid on skin cancer.

    Being well-off is not the bad thing, it's being greedy beyond all reason that causes the cancer(uncontrolled, wealth multiplication beyond the economic body's ability to cope with it) .

    Wall Street, especially the financial sector, should be properly labeled as a known carcinogen.

    21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

    by geez53 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:58:17 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this (7+ / 0-)

    As someone who benefited from Head Start I agree with the critiques about needing more organized help. Head Start was really, really helpful for me personally, but my parents needed a lot of help as well which they did not receive. And helping my parents would definitely have helped me. Kids get just as stressed as their parents in poverty.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:07:31 PM PST

  •  War on Plutocracy? Oh, that's so 1789. N/T (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, unfangus, commonmass, k9disc

    Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

    by Caelian on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:10:18 PM PST

  •  DC Dem leaders should hang their heads (6+ / 0-)

    in shame.  Very few of them can hold a candle to Johnson's work, despite his problems with Vietnam.

    Let's be honest, without a major house-cleaning in the Dem Party, there's little to no chance we'll be able to reduce poverty.  

    First step - get rid of Citizens United. Get politicians off the Wall Street teat.

    If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

    by Betty Pinson on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:14:54 PM PST

  •  The War on Plutocracy will begin when (8+ / 0-)

    you can convince the average American they have no chance whatsoever of entering that club.  It can ONLY happen when average Americans not only "get it" but are willing to do something (?) about it en masse.

    Until then, nothing doing.

  •  Hmmm, every time _I_ suggest War on the Pluto's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, k9disc

    ... I get hit rated or threats of hit rating.

    Just saying. Oh wait, you didn't mean ACTUAL war, sorry my bad. :)

    Well, here it goes anyway ....


    Good diary BTW.

  •  War on Plutocracy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Before we can have a war, we need politicians willing to fight the war along side us. Where is the outrage from our President and Democrat and Progressive Senators and Representatives? Where is the outrage from our State and Local Representatives? We can complain all we want but without the help of our representatives Plutocracy will grow into a monster. We need to voice our displeasure with our representatives ensuring them they will lose our votes unless they stand up for the working class.
    Our representatives need to say loud and clear for America to hear how Republicans are screwing over the working  class to fill the pockets of Plutocrats. At present, I'm only hearing whimpers from out representatives. The Pope has more courage to speak out than all our representatives have collectively to speak up for the working class.

  •  I consider LBJ one of the greatest presidents (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, sturunner

    Ever. I might be in the minority in that assertion due to the whole Vietnam thing, but LBJ was the last true progressive. A warrior for the poor. "The last Soldier of the New Deal".

    •  LBJ deserves a lot of credit (4+ / 0-)

      for the War on Poverty, Medicare and Medicaid, the '64 Civil Rights Act, and the '65 Voting Rights Act, among many other domestic achievements, which this diary rightly celebrates.

      But the War in Vietnam wasn't just a "thing." As a consequence of LBJ's orders, over 58,000 Americans and over 2 million Vietnamese---mostly civilians---are dead.

      That's not to diminish his great accomplishments here at home. But calling the Vietnam War a "thing" diminishes the consequences of what Johnson did.

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:56:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  LBJ's record (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Another Grizzle

      He probably had the best domestic record since FDR, but his foreign policy was atrocious. What I find irritating is that JFK is so much popular than LBJ. JFK escalated the Vietnam War, supported the overthrow of the democratic reformist leader of Iraq, and almost brought us to the brink of nuclear war. But he and his wife were pretty and had cute kids, so it's all good.

  •  If I recall, the idea at the time was to wipe (6+ / 0-)

    out poverty in a single generation. The original proposals were geared to that end, but the stink raised by the Right and resulting accommodations, whittled and gnawed at the edges until there was just the bones of the project left.

    Not enough to actually end the poverty; enough to help alleviate it some, but keep it going.

    Maybe I'm mistaken about the original idea, as those years in my memory are somewhat muddled with things like electric tangerines and trans-love airways. But I don't think I've got that wrong.

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:46:52 PM PST

  •  I am despairing of government, (7+ / 0-)

    philanthropy, activism and anything short of the abrupt, drastic impoverishment of the 1%.

    If, tomorrow morning, the coffers of Goldman, BoA, Bain, etc. were to be drained by 90% and every American's bank account were to mysteriously be bumped with $10K, the economy would rebound to the point where the Fed's ostensive task of moderating inflation might be valid once more.

    Short of that, I fear we'll continue our downward slide into the real life Hunger Games.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:54:56 PM PST

  •  Love the War on Plutocracy idea. (5+ / 0-)

    But it's just not at all emotive.

    I was thinking about what you could term it. I think it's a war against BIG. It's not Right v Left or Poor vs Rich, it's Big vs Little. The needs of the Big supersede and are most often at odds with the needs of the Little.

    David and Goliath? It certainly is apt. It's emotive. It's better than war.

    I think we need to be better and more creative than "going to war" with corporate. They won't like that too much. They can easily push memes and propaganda to make people look crazy and dangerous if we are talking about a War.

    Also Plutocracy is such a weakly defined and non-visceral enemy. It's hard to go to war with something ephemeral like that.

    Anyway, thanks a bunch for a thought provoking post, MB. Great stuff!

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:54:59 PM PST

  •  no more war. on anything. (4+ / 0-)

    let's do something constructive. to wit, the sig line:

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

    by pfiore8 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:56:04 PM PST

    •  The problem with Buckminster Fuller's... (0+ / 0-)

      ...saying is that it clashes with Frederick Douglass's view that power doesn't concede without a fight. That isn't to say Fuller isn't right about some things nor to argue against building new models in parallel to the existing one—clean energy tech is a good example.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:30:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i think it's more this: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        stop fight AGAINST... move in your direction, your game, your rules, your board... now perhaps those in power will come onto your game and challenge you. let them.

        the difference is this: they're on your board. you'e not on theirs.

        we can't win against them. we can't change them. and i do mean brand Dems, every CEO, Repubs... they are beyond our influence. for the most part.

        i like the non violence model myself. but i also love the LOCAL model... any way, until we can figure out some way of surviving w/o health care as they deliver it and food as they control it and work as they stage it, our troubles will only multiply.

        there are those... clever souls using eminent domain to change the game... even Montana has nullified the NDAA. there are ways to do this. national politics and voting for Hillary? nope, sorry. not it.

        “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

        by pfiore8 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:45:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Free democratic socialist seeds. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, divineorder

    Inspired by Michael Harrington, to be sure:

    I'm on the left wing of the possible. I write for the same reasons Eric Arthur Blair did, just not as well.

    by Galtisalie on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:00:07 PM PST

  •  First Front: double capital gains taxes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, GleninCA

    Second front: war on kleptocracy - get rid of farm subsidies for millionaires.

    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

    by Minerva on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:02:26 PM PST

  •  This would be nice, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    hopefully it would silence all the butt-hurt Wall Street titans, who've spent the last few years crying because Obama used the phrase fat cats.

  •  Poverty can leave a mark on a person many (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Another Grizzle

    miss.I was born to a single mom or a divorced mom, depends on who you ask, (court records are no help because the parents privacy is more important then the kid knowing who its real parents are.)

    The first 7 years of my life the War on poverty had no effect.
    Hunger was always an issue.My birth mother would often take my (brother?) and me to a local restaurant for one of the few real meals we got. Food got to the table, mom would leave and go to the back room, I really hope that doesn't mean what I think it means all these years later.

  •  Somehow "plutocracy" seems to imply a level... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...of active engagement very few of "the rich" actually have or ever witness.  

    There are a few billionaire plutocrats proud of their powers but they don't "run" the country, although not for lack of trying. There are a lot of very rich Americans. It just seems to me to be critical to find better ways to describe the dangerous, expensive, inefficient, unsustainable hard and firm merger between money and gov't to make it real to Americans.  

    •  A newer term with a bit more bite... (5+ / 0-) Robber Barons, but that's more than a century old. The truth is we need different terms and approaches for different audiences.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:26:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think people have to see that part of it, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the active machinations of industry groups and the like before you can make the Plutocrat moniker stick.

      Look at this place. You have those on the left who are dissatisfied with the current hegemony who are on board with the idea of an actual Plutocracy - 30-100 individuals, real and artificial, who really make the moves that move the planet.

      Of course we're on board with a War on the Plutocracy... Duh!

      But I'm with you that most people don't see the active, hand-tenting and mustache twisting that we do. Or they don't see the well subsidized and ginormous social, economic, and ecological footprint from a Bechtel or a Nestle. And then there are industry groups... sheesh...

      I think people have to be brought this information on a more subtle than warfare footing.

      You don't go to war without knowing whom you are fighting.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:37:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And it's so insidiously linked to values... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...and knowledge, naturally good things, most of us are convince we're trying to be the best we can, and it insulates the rich from any fruits of whatever little introspection they do or regular challenge to the silos of privilege.

        Maybe we need a common check does this thought/issue/vote/tax loophole impact this or that person/institution/metric...a dashboard of metrics with impact analysis...kind of a common civics view rather than our own little circle views. A democracy dashboard or a plutocracy prevention checklist. And we really have to aim for the children.

        •  Well that certainly would benefit the step by step (0+ / 0-)

          type thinkers because continuing to try to show them the big picture doesn't work.

          I don't think I would care too much for it, but it could be valuable: dialing in and focusing on smaller parts of the big picture and allowing that tuning over the course of the whole image.

          I hope that makes sense, as I think that's where you were going right?

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:00:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and I don't think you need to focus on the (0+ / 0-)

          children. You need to focus on simple truths.

          That's what people want and need - maxims.  

          What a great idea for an App. Call it the Democracy Dashboard.

          Wrap it up with a national "shop local" database and make it happen.

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:04:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  On plutocracy (5+ / 0-)

    The mention of "plutocracy" reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

    “To develop a pure democracy, an industrial as well as a political democracy—for without industrial democracy as the basis, political democracy is a delusion—a pure democracy, purged not only of aristocracy, but also of plutocracy, a democracy in which the principle of the worth of every human being shall not only be proclaimed as a principle, but shall be expressed in the constant effort to make every human life humanly worth living." ~Felix Adler, “The Future Role of the American People Among the Nations," 1923.

  •  Johnson knew poverty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Another Grizzle

    A couple of months ago I toured the LBJ ranch in Texas. When you see where he came from, where he grew up, went to school, you begin to understand why he launched the War on Poverty. It wasn't some abstract concept - it was personal.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:13:42 PM PST

  •  I was a college summer intern in a local (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willyr, k9disc, Another Grizzle action agency the first year of the War on Poverty and after several other jobs wound up as a deputy director of a local community action agency when Ronald Reagan was elected.  I framed the agency budget that effectively eliminated my job that year.

    The program was in political trouble from the start.  The mandate was to involve the maximum feasible participation of the poor in the board and the activities of the program.  The first year most agencies did in fact convene committees of people in poor communities to do needs assesments for what could raise those communities out of poverty.  What was encountered but never acknowledged was the fact that there were influential people who wanted to keep people poor.  Staff at one agency decided that organizing a labor union of domestics to collectively bargain with their employers who were paying sub-minimum wages (domestics and agriculture workers were exempt from minimum wage at the time) would raise them out of poverty.  Political hell erupted in Congress and the funds began being channeled through the governors' offices instead of directly to community action agencies.  

    Widespread identification of pre-school child care in order for women to work caused the creation of Head Start and the organization of daycare centers through churches, but neither ever provided enough services to effectively deal with poverty.  And underfunded schools caused the advantages of Head Start to disappear by the fourth grade.

    Elderly poverty caused a move to provide senior centers.  The need for public venues close to poor communities caused moves to build and staff community centers.  Often these were joint efforts of Chambers of Commerce, women's clubs, state and local government as well as federal funds.   Elderly nutrition programs and meals-on-wheels grew out of these centers.

    Nixon tried and failed to kill the programs by diverting their funding.  The key operative sent to do this was Howard Phillips, later a right-wing talker.

    In response the Office of Economic Opportunity circled the wagons and picked a few key programs to operate nationally with national guidelines.   HeadStart, Elderly Nutrition, Community Action, Housing Rehabilitation, and with the Carter energy initiative, Housing Weatherization.   In addition, many community action agencies used Comprehensive Education and Training Act (CETA) workers for staff, housing rehabilitation workers, or supervised them on behalf of a range of non-profits who used that subsidized labor.  The workers got work experience and some work and job hunting skills and were generally easy to place in private jobs in good times and hard to place in bad times.  Some agencies also had special CETA programs for prison work-release transition and for displaced homemakers.

    The national program included a CCC-like component called Job Corps and deployed VISTA volunteers to some community action agencies.

    Too many local boards employed retired military as executive directors (military retirement subsidized low director salary).  And some boards specifically hired people as gatekeepers against do-good liberals and socialists.

    In the end what killed the program besides starvation of funds was the absence of the flexibility to adapt to local conditions and the freezing into cut-and-dried and underfunded programs.

    Given the emphasis on moving people into good-paying jobs and providing whatever missing financial skills people might have, it was always pretty baffling why there was so much hostility to the overall effort.

    It never was operated with the resources that typically devoted to war.  And it never really grappled at the local level with the "underlying causes of poverty".

    But for a decade, it was the best that the US could muster.  And its decline should have been a warning for the middle class.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:25:00 PM PST

  •  "needed: war on plutocracy" -- wish i could tip & (0+ / 0-)

    rec this more than once. says it all.

  •  War on Poverty. Longterm consequences... (0+ / 0-)

    The problem with the War on Poverty was that the underlying plan was to outsource the social safety net to corporate. It made poverty profitable to Corporate America. It also moralized poverty.

    It helped people in the short term, but in the long-term it has pushed the US into more of a pull yourself up by your bootstrap kind of a country.

    “Go to where the silence is and say something.” ― Amy Goodman

    Speakeasy at The Black & Tan Show

    by theblackandtanshow on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:34:29 PM PST

  •  war on plutocracy might require new heads (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thirty three and a third

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:36:05 PM PST

  •  War on Poverty was War on Universal Social Support (0+ / 0-)

    "“Private Initiative and Enterprise: The Program calls for en­couragement of private initiative and enterprise of all kinds— the initiative and enterprise of individual homeowners, contractors, and builders to improve housing and environmental conditions; the involvement of business leaders and financial interests in carrying out the program, and the creation of an environment in which private enterprise can prosper in meeting the needs of the resi­dents,” (Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966)." <<----That right there is the problem with the War on Poverty.

    It was a smoke screen to move policy from the people and to Corporate America. Now we're on our knees to corporate to be generous and fair in regards to housing, homelessness, food, took public money and shifted it to corporate.

    That was a big part of the alleged War on Poverty. It was actually a  War on the New Deal...which brought about good policy and universal supports and instead brought about this means tested based supports and punitive consequences.

    “Go to where the silence is and say something.” ― Amy Goodman

    Speakeasy at The Black & Tan Show

    by theblackandtanshow on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:43:08 PM PST

  •  Great Post MB n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Rec'd just on the diary title alone (0+ / 0-)

    (but the piece was great too - we gotta keep our eyes on this ball)

    "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

    by tubacat on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:01:04 AM PST

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