War on Poverty

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“This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort………Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts……”

For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.”  Lyndon B. Johnson State of the Union 1964

Those words were the first steps of a fledgling “Welfare State” one designed to control not help those in need, one which wanted to use the crutch of dependency as a prescription for power, and one that now is actually waging  war with the very people it claims to help.

The Welfare State was born and learned to crawl under FDR, but the Vietnam war, the radical ’60’s, and Lyndon Johnson taught it how to walk.  Now the State is in full stride and most people barely even notice how much its grown, how powerful and strong the State really has become.  Medicare Part D, Obamacare, Endless Unemployment Benefits, SNAP, NSA, Home Land Security……all meant to help right?

The events of Ferguson, Missouri are emblematic of the reaction of the State…..contain, control, and suppress. Those are the first reactions of the State, once that mission is accomplished; then it is on to…..spin, damage control, and a new narrative.

I am not going to pretend that I have a grasp on what really happened in the case of 18 year old Michael Brown, because I don’t.  But, I will tell you race is just one of the factors and one the State will use to craft its reaction to these events.   I believe that the economic destruction of urban America plays a much bigger and prominent role in what is happening in Ferguson.

America is slowly rotting from the inside out.  Major U.S. cities from coast-to-coast are shells of their once glorious selves.  The demographics show how Ferguson used to be 80% white and now is 67% black as if that is the cause of the problem in Ferguson.  Why did it change so dramatically?  Because, the jobs that used to anchor the working class to the area (white, black, Asian….) are now gone!  Replaced by abandoned factories, strip malls, liquor stores, and pawn shops and left in its wake, the recipients of the Welfare State.  Poor education, rough upbringings, and limited opportunities to ever break the cycle of poverty are all that remain along with the same politicians telling them “That they are the victims of corporate greed, they are the ones being dealt a poor hand by the education system, and if you vote for me.  I will change all of it.

Look at how Ferguson has changed in just two Presidents, one a “compassionate conservative” and the other “the first African-American” President.  Both promised to reignite the American dream, change the lives of those less fortunate, and bring about a different outcome for the Michael Brown’s of this country, but did they?

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In 2000 the unemployment rate in Ferguson was 5% and now it is officially over 13%, those living at or below the poverty line was 14% in 2000 and now it is over 53%.  This story can be told over and over again around the country.  The links provided will give you an interactive map of the changes over the last 12 years of the numbers of poor living in urban America.  It is staggering and disturbing, source the Brookings Institute.

Poverty breeds instability, ask the French in the late 19th Century or the Russian Czars in the early 20th.  Sometimes poverty is fostered by the State in order to bring about change that other wise would not be possible just see the afore mentioned French and Russian Revolutions for classic examples.  The State as we see it today creates dependency, furthers poverty, and now is at war with its own creation.  As you watch the escalation in Ferguson from local law enforcement, to the State Police, and now the National Guard, don’t think for a moment that the almighty “Welfare State” isn’t poised to step in should those folks fail to bring order.

Remember what Lyndon Johnson said…………… “For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office………………”

The events in Ferguson are a warning to those of us watching…..today the event that triggered the State’s “control, contain, and suppress” reaction was the shooting of an 18 year old black youth by a white cop, tomorrow it could be our Queen telling us…. “Let them eat cake…”

Poverty breeds instability and the State isn’t afraid to expand its power through that instability.

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