[Rushtalk] The State of Welfare as we Know It

Richard Whitenight rwhitenight2004 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 9 23:18:23 MDT 2014

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson announced the “War on
Poverty” during his first State of the Union speech. Under the Obama
administration, however — five decades, countless unconstitutional federal
welfare programs, and more than $20 trillion later — poverty levels remain
largely unchanged even based on official numbers, and dependence on
government has reached unprecedented new heights.

In reality, Americans’ economic fate is far worse than even bogus
government statistics would suggest. Even more troubling is that analysts
say the trends look set to accelerate as Washington, D.C., intensifies its
failed efforts to supposedly achieve “victory” in the “war” while the
Federal Reserve conjures ever greater quantities of currency into existence.

Since Obama took office, 13 million more Americans have become dependent on
food stamps, with the numbers now hitting a record 47 million — about a
third more than when he was sworn in. In 2007, there were 26 million
recipients. Spending on the scheme has more than doubled just since 2008.
The explosion of the program, along with other welfare schemes, has
resulted in countless commentators and critics labeling Obama “the Food
Stamp President.”

By 2011, Census Bureau data released last year showed
 that the number of Americans receiving means-tested federal welfare
benefits outnumbered those with year-round full-time jobs. Almost $1
trillion annually goes to the programs, with over 100 million Americans
receiving some sort of benefits — not including Social Security, Medicare,
or unemployment. Under ObamaCare, with its massive subsidies even for those
earning many times more income than the poverty level, dependence is
expected to surge even further.

As the number of Americans dependent on government was growing, so were the
ranks of the unemployed. As a Fox News report pointed out
 , in 1964, when Johnson declared “war,” almost nine in ten men between 18
and 64 years old were employed. By 2012, less than three-fourths of adult
males in their prime working years had jobs. Obama and some members of
Congress are now working to drive those numbers even higher with a proposal
to prohibit employment at any wage under $10 per hour, all but ensuring
more dependence on government
 if the scheme is approved.

Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2011, a shocking one third of Americans slipped
below the federal poverty
 line for at least two months, data show. Under the Obama administration,
the *Washington Post* , citing the recession, noted that persistent,
chronic poverty rose from three percent to 3.5 percent even as many more
Americans experienced brief periods under the official line — currently
$23,492 per year for a family of four. Also, the median amount of time
spent below the poverty level surged from 5.7 months to 6.6 under the
current administration.

Federal measures of how many Americans are below the official “poverty
line” are largely meaningless, according to critics — especially because
politicians can simply move the goal posts if they think it will advance
their agenda. Making the data even more troubling is the fact that the line
is raised annually
<http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/measure.html> based
on the government’s deeply flawed and widely criticized
<http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=368> measure of “consumer
price index,” or CPI, which critics say drastically underestimates the real
erosion in the dollar’s purchasing power caused by central bank

The official measure of “inflation,” which very poorly purports to measure
price increases rather than expansion of the currency supply, also does not
take into account the fact that production costs are going down in real
terms. As labor productivity and technology advance, of course, it takes
less effort and less work to produce goods and services. In other words,
the economic misery being foisted on Americans by government and central
bankers is far worse than official numbers aimed at camouflaging the
problem would suggest.

In fact, in real terms, an analysis by Gold Standard Institute President
Keith Weinerpublished by
 *Forbes* shows that Americans are losing ground at a rate wildly beyond
what official statistics reveal. “The bottom line is that, in terms of
gold, wages have fallen by about 87 percent,” he noted. “To get a stronger
sense of what that means, consider that back in 1965, the minimum wage was
71 ounces of gold per year. In 2011, the senior engineer earned the
equivalent of 63 ounces in gold. So, measured in gold, we see that senior
engineers now earn less than what unskilled laborers earned back in 1965.”

Even using the extraordinarily flawed criteria established by Washington,
D.C., however, reveals that there were some 36 million Americans under the
poverty line when the “war” was launched. Today, with the population having
grown significantly, the ranks of poor, as defined by federal bureaucrats,
have grown to almost 50 million. Using another methodology
 , data shows that, even relying on deceptive official measurements, the
number of Americans with non-welfare income below the poverty line has
grown from 26 percent in 1967 to around 30 percent in 2012. Analysts said
the data suggests it is becoming harder to break free from poverty, too.

Unsurprisingly, Obama and much of the Democrat Party are calling for more
of the same failed policies — raising the minimum wage to over $10 per
hour, for example, along with more borrowing and more spending on welfare
programs. One Democrat in Congress even proposed
 re-naming welfare to “transitional living fund.” On the 50-year
anniversary of one of American history’s most radical shifts in the role of
government, Obama was busy pleading with Congress to put the public even
deeper into debt to extend unemployment benefits further — again.

Despite five decades of the War on Poverty and $20 trillion spent, with no
sign of victory in sight, Obama said the "war" must be stepped up. “In
fact, if we hadn't declared ‘unconditional war on poverty in America,’
millions more Americans would be living in poverty today,” Obama claimed in
a factually challenged speech marking the 50th anniversary of the so-called
war. “Instead, it means we must redouble our efforts to make sure our
economy works for every working American.” Among other schemes, he proposed
“expanding access to education and healthcare.”

Another expansion of unemployment benefits, costing taxpayers more than $6
billion, is at the top Obama’s agenda. Conservatives, though, promptly
lashed out. “The mere fact that we're talking about extending unemployment
benefits again is a proclamation that the economic policies of this
administration are failing,” observed Rep. Steve Southerland II (R-Fla.),
who is working with other House Republicans to rein in some of the vast
federal welfare juggernaut and encourage looking for work in exchange for
taxpayer funds.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of America’s War on Poverty, it’s clear we
are instead locked in a battle of attrition that’s left more people in
poverty than ever before,” noted
 Southerland, who chairs the Republican Study Committee’s Anti-Poverty
Initiative. “The Big Government ideas of the past aren’t working. History
has taught us that bigger budgets aren’t going to solve America’s poverty

Other GOP lawmakers jumped on board the government “anti-poverty”
bandwagon, although mostly without offering serious solutions. Instead of
real reforms, prominent Republicans called for tinkering with existing Big
Government strategies — supposedly to deal with poverty and perpetually
growing dependence on a ballooning government that is foisting ever greater
amounts of debt on already-struggling taxpayers. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.),
for example, called for “fundamental change” in the war. Most of his actual
policy proposals, though, fell far short of that ambitious statement.

“Our current government programs offer, at best, only a partial solution,”
Rubio claimed. “They help people deal with poverty, but they do not help
them escape it.” While he proposed shifting some of the federal welfare
schemes to state governments, the Florida Republican also advocated
“streamlining most of our existing federal anti-poverty funding into one
single agency.” Indeed, under Rubio’s proposal, state governments would
merely administer the federal welfare regime. Despite some better ideas —
reducing the national debt, simplifying the tax code, cutting regulations,
and more — he also implicitly accepted the statist Democrat talking point
about “income inequality” being a “problem” for politicians to address.

Liberty-minded Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), meanwhile, suggested that freedom
was the real solution to poverty. “For more than 200 years, the United
States — through trial and error, through good times and bad — has waged
the most successful war on poverty in the history of the world,” he said
<http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/11/bring-them-in> ,
blasting Obama's vision of government as the supposed "solution” to all
problems. “This discredited mindset — which insists collective action can
only mean state action — is itself a kind of poverty. It rejects social
solidarity in favor of political coercion, and voluntary communities for
professional community organizers.”

Of course, Obama is hardly the only one responsible for the ongoing
problems plaguing the U.S. economy. Congress, of course, must approve all
funding. Plus, the current administration has merely followed the decades-old
bi-partisan pattern
 of perpetually expanding the cost, size, power, lawlessness, and
intrusiveness of the federal government.

In fact, even though Washington, D.C., has played a crucial role in the
ongoing impoverishment of America — and Obama has certainly poured plenty
of fuel on the fire — the single most important culprit has unquestionably
been the privately owned Federal Reserve cartel established by Congress 100
years ago. However, by granting the banking cartel a monopoly on debt-based
currency and allowing it to conjure infinite amounts of it into existence
to be repaid with impossible-to-pay interest attached
 , the federal government retains ultimate responsibility.

In the end, like virtually all of the unconstitutional “wars” lawlessly
declared by presidents — on drugs, terror, cancer, foreign countries, and
more — the unconstitutional “war” on poverty has been a miserable failure.
True solutions, though, are hardly complex: Restore honest money and free
markets while allowing private charity to aid those in need. Ending
government incentives that encourage out-of-wedlock births would help, too.

Most Americans already want to slash federal government spending, polls show
If voters insist on welfare, though, state and local governments would
certainly be a better alternative — not to mention the only constitutional
option absent a properly ratified amendment to the U.S Constitution. Still,
with honest money and free markets, abundant prosperity would drastically
reduce the need for charity and welfare in the first place.

Fifty years after Johnson declared that “we shall not rest until that war
is won,” Americans have suffered more than enough under successive
war-mongering administrations and currency-destroying central bankers
waging war on the value of the U.S. dollar — and in turn, fleecing the
 . Perhaps it is finally time for a new type of war: A war on
counter-productive and unconstitutional government wars. Then, the tide of
poverty could be truly reversed.

*Alex Newman is a correspondent for *The New American *, covering
economics, politics, and more. *

Richard Whitenight
Arlington, Texas

Twitter:  @rwhitenight0648

My e-mail is being maintained by the NSA, CIA, FBI, and the Department of
Homeland Security.  You can't get better secure e-mail than that.
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