The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the war on poverty. I explained in Part 1 that the United States of America has been fighting the war on poverty since 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his War on Poverty initiative. The initiative was to use the full force of the U.S. Government to intervene and provide all manner of welfare for those in need. Since that time, the initiative has grown to “70 welfare programs to aid the poor and has spent $22 trillion.” Yet, we have more poor among us now than we did in 1965.
This is Part 2 of the four programs produced by Glenn Beck about the War on Poverty. “The Great Depression in the United States of America changed the world. The American experiment, launched by its Founders, revolutionized how the world viewed personal freedom, government, business, culture, commerce – everything. It set an example for liberty that captured the world’s envy and imagination. In short, the American experiment worked. It worked so well that the poverty rate went from 90 percent in colonial America to 14.3 percent today. Some would argue the War on Poverty lowered that rate and not American exceptionalism. They would be wrong. The poverty rate before Lyndon Johnson and the Welfare Act was actually lower than today – 14 percent.
“Naturally, there were bumps along the way, including a few major ones like 1929 and The Great Depression, when the financial house of cards collapsed and an overinflated stock market plunged…. Practically overnight, an economic blizzard swept the world. During the crash of 1920, the hands-off policies of President Harding’s administration allowed the free market to correct itself and send America into the Roaring Twenties. In 1929, there was a completely different approach. Government intrusion and welfare programs increased exponentially after Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932. Rather than help end the depression, his actions actually deepened it. Americans who had seen tough times before had never seen anything like this. In 1932, the situation became so dire that 3,000 unemployed workers marched on the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan….
“In March of that same year, FDR signed the Emergency Banking Act into law and the FDIC was born. He also ordered the nation off the gold standard. Then came the Civilian Conservation Corp, the Federal Emergency Relief Action, the National Industrial Recovery Act, the National Labor Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Soil Erosion Service, the Civil Works Administration, Works Progress Administration, the Wagner National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act – all by 1935. Much more government intervention was to come, but no relief. In fact, things actually got worse. By 1937, five years after FDR took office, the percentage of Americans living in poverty had hit 45 percent….
“The Great Depression stretched on throughout the 1930s and into the ‘40s, with rationing and shortages until America’s war machine geared up enough to finally overcome the joblessness and stagnation. By most estimates, the Depression lasted 13 years. Yet, millions of Americans continue to revere FDR….”
People with common sense and students of history understand there are limits to what governments can do. Government is in place to protect the God-given rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Once those rights are secured, government should get out of the way and let the people and the market work as they should.
President Harding’s administration let the market correct itself, and FDR’s administration tried to manipulate the market by new regulations and programs. Most of those programs are still part of the federal government today. The war on poverty will never end as long as the government continues to meet the needs of the people without requiring anything from those same people. Government handouts keep people in poverty because they prevent the people from working their way out of poverty. Assistance should be temporary except in cases of people who are too old, sick or disabled to provide for their own needs, and that assistance should come first from the family. The government is the cause of most of the poverty in our nation, and its war on poverty is a sham.