I don’t know who to attribute the phrase “Poverty-Industrial Complex” to, but my hat is off to you, whoever you are. It’s the perfect description of the entity that has controlled the federal government’s spending since 1965. That is the year that Lyndon Johnson started the Great Society, an umbrella of social programs designed to eliminate poverty in America. Fifty years on, it has shown itself to be anything but great, detrimental to society at large, and will, if left to continue, will snuff out all economic life in the nation within a decade.
“So if the Great Society experiment was/is so awful, why is it still around, and why has it been allowed to grow so much?” The answers are both simple and predicable. The typical democratic-socialist / Marxist answer to failure is always the same: We haven’t spent enough money! Also, consider the fact that after a few short years, there are thousands of people who’s careers depend upon the existence of poverty. Many of these people have no marketable or transferable skills. Many are academics (again, no marketable skills). Their income, as well as their prestige, absolutely depends upon the continuance of these programs. If poverty is eliminated or reduced to a level easily manageable by local authorities, what would become of the hundreds of thousands (today: millions) of case managers, supervisors, processors, inspectors, and other “social workers”, let alone the consultants and advisors in the academic community to whom the poverty-industrial complex is a free laboratory to further their careers? If the American automotive industry is too big to fail, how much more so is the poverty industry?
As the decades wore on, it became obvious that “temporary assistance” had become a permanent generational institution. Beginning with the Clinton Presidency, workfare became a popular buzzword. The first rumblings of the middle class had begun to be heard. It had finally hit home that it wasn’t the government paying for these benefits, it was the taxpayers. Both Republican and Democratic representatives were beginning to hear from their constituents: What happened to the “temporary” part of temporary assistance? Able-bodied welfare recipients were expected perform some labor to help offset their upkeep. This was completely gutted from legislation by Barack Hussein Obama and his Democratic henchmen as soon as he took office in 2009.
Now, over fifty years since since LBJ’s Ohio University speech of May 7, 1964, the federal and state governments have over one million Americans employed in the poverty-industrial complex. This is direct employment only; it does not include consultants, think-tanks, and others paid through grants and stipends to “study’ the poverty problem. In fiscal year 2013, federal and state agencies together spent 2.3 trillion (yes, trillion) dollars on seventy-nine separate social programs.
In one way, and one way only, the Great Society has succeeded. It has employed a million people with no apparent skills. Unfortunately, these recipients of career employment were not the wretched poor the Great Society was created to care for.