Reasons for Poverty

Tue Feb 13 09:11:24 MST 1996

From:   NAME: Bill White
        TEL: 326/371                          <WHITE, BILL AT A1 AT JCCV03>
To:     IN%"rushtalk at"@MRGATE at JCCW22

                  I N T E R O F F I C E   M E M O R A N D U M

                                        Date:     12-Feb-1996 09:53pm EST
                                        From:     Bill White
                                                  WHITE, BILL
                                        Dept:     HUMANITIES
                                        Tel No:   326/371

TO:  Remote Addressee                     ( IN%"rushtalk at"@MRGATE at JCCW22 )

Subject: Re: Reasons for Poverty

        Will's question about the reasons for poverty among black Americans has
generated some thoughtful posts from Dennis, Sam, Robert Neil, and Jim.  I am
moved to contribute a bit to the historical perspective on the poverty issue.

        From 1945 - 1965 more than five million blacks migrated out of the
South.  Many of these folks were former agricultural workers displaced from
their jobs by machines.  In the Deep South, for example, the mechanical cotton
picker replaced huge numbers of workers and changed the character of many
communities forever.  This migration to urban areas in the North and West is
the largest ever to occur in the US.  Many blacks found jobs and housing; many
did not.  Displaced whites followed a similar migration pattern.

        Urban industries could not offer full employment to the huge influx of
job seekers.  Housing was scarce.  During this time period, slum areas
worsened.  Pockets of country populations subsisted on marginal resources.  In
short, displaced agricultural workers, regardless of race, were poor.

                In the sixties, Liberal Democrats began the War on Poverty by
dramatically increasing welfare and social services to the poor.   We are now
seeing the results of that War.  The Welfare State, created no doubt out of
good intentions, has turned into a social nightmare. Generations of welfare
dependency, inner city blight, rural poverty, decimated family structures, high
crime rates - well, the litany is well-known.  The paternalism of the welfare
system has shown its weakness.

           Had the tax rates remained low to allow venture capital to create
jobs and spur the rate of growth, the economic power so evident in the fifties
might have continued to boom.  Jane Jacobs's concept of thriving
import-replacing cities would have flowered.   However, a decade of guns and
butter (1966-76) and two more decades of a whole lot of welfare butter
(1976-1996) have brought us not to the promised land of the envisioned Great
Society, but instead to an economic and political precipice.

        The liberal welfare solution was tried; it has miserably failed.
Moreover, liberal policies actually worsened the situation, as Dennis
demonstrates.   Thirty years and several trillion dollars of misbegotton
government welfare schemes have eroded the bond of the family, the dignity of
work, and the community of shared values.  Individuals have been powerless to
alter the course.  Government social engineering has been too pervasive and
intrusive.  It has produced a culture of what George Will referred to in his
column recently as "rent seekers."

        I hope our nation's fabric is not irreparable.  But this I know:  If we
are to survive and thrive, a new vision of personal initiative, integrity, and
responsibility must replace the failed one.


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