The Great Society 50 years later: How we’re failing America’s poor

The Great Society 50 years later: How we’re failing America’s poor

It was 50 years ago today that Lyndon B. Johnson gave his famed “Great Society” speech. His Great Society included a massive system of government programs, with a focus on a “War on Poverty.”

He launched a myriad of means-tested welfare programs, including Head Start, Medicaid, public housing programs, and various programs to provide social services to lower-income communities.

Nearly $22 trillion and roughly 80 welfare programs later, however, society’s ability to prevent poverty has fallen behind.

This doesn’t mean material poverty hasn’t declined. Not even the federal government can spend $22 trillion and have no impact. It is partly because of this spending that America’s poor today are much better off materially than their predecessors five decades ago.

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However, while material poverty has declined, Americans are not better off when it comes to self-sufficiency. The percentage of Americans dependent on government has remained virtually unchanged since the 1960s.

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