Derik Schneider Online

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

PBS: The American Experience- President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society

The Great Society President?
This piece was originally posted at FRS FreeStates

I give credit to President Lyndon Johnson for taking on poverty in America as serious as he did. And understanding how poverty affects not only these people, but how it affects the rest of the country. Because it limits people in poverty ability to purchase products that are made by Americans and made in America. Which reduces our consumer spending, which lowers our economic growth. Meaning less jobs are created than would be created had more people had money to spend and we have less people living in the middle class. The lover our poverty rate is, the more consumer spenders we have in America, the higher our economic and job growth is, the less people we have actually living on public assistance in America. Reducing poverty in America is good for everybody, especially employers, because they have a larger crop of people to select from in who to higher. More people graduating from high school and actually getting a good education and moving on an getting a degree at a good school. It's also good for employers, because they would have more customers who can actually by their products, including more people who work for them and produce those products.

So lower poverty and a stronger larger middle class is good for the whole country, especially for the people who were once living in poverty. Because now they have the skills and a good job to take care of themselves, but it's also good for everyone else who had to pay the taxes to be able to take care of these people. While they weren't ready to take care of themselves, this is something that President Johnson understood. That was his vision anyway. What I don't think he quite figured out that President Nixon of all people figured out and then President Clinton put into law in the 1990s, was the best way to get people out of poverty, is through education, job training and then job placement into a good job. So they have the resources to take care of themselves. The Great Society has a lot of programs in it that were deigned to financially support people while they are in poverty, but doesn't do much to help them out of poverty.

We had a 13% poverty level in America by the time President Bill Clinton left office in 2001. That didn't happen by accident and people on the right especially have made the argument, that this was a result of the economic boom of that decade. And that was part of it, but if you are a low-skilled worker or a low-skilled person seeking work, you are not going to get a good job with those skills. No matter how good the economy is. But if you empower these people by putting them back in school and into job training, they'll benefit from the economic boom as well. The only people in America that are eligible for public assistance, are retired workers and seniors and people who don't earn enough money to financially support themselves. Or who aren't retired, but aren't earning any money on their own. They're on Welfare or Unemployment Insurance. So to move people out of poverty, people in poverty need the skills to get themselves a good job and not be eligible for public assistance at all. Because they're earning enough money on their own.