Recently President Obama addressed the fifty year anniversary of the war on poverty. This phrase was initiated by Lyndon Johnson as he instituted several actions to address poverty in America. The goals of this war on poverty include things like ending hunger, housing the homeless and education programs. These actions were intended to extend opportunities to all people.
Food programs ranging from neighborhood food banks to food stamps accomplish a lot to prevent hunger, but also have fostered an entitlement attitude. Educational programs have managed to get every school district in America dependent on federal dollars to operate. These dollars have had little success at raising the quality of education in lower income districts. Housing projects were built to provide good quality housing for the poor. But all over the country these projects dilapidated into horrible places. They quickly became the face of poverty in their time.
I suggest that the most important thing we can do to battle poverty is to bring jobs back to the country. When we give people public assistance they often just fit a different niche in the bigger picture of poverty. Jobs give people dignity and a desire to earn their way into higher positions.
But the government practices and policies currently in place have decreased the number of jobs, and made them less likely to provide adequate wages. The decreased number of jobs and increased enrollment of government programs has created a heavily divided society. Some feel America must be great enough to take care of its impoverished. Others feel they are unfairly burdened for others and left without a means of caring for themselves. Hostility between the two groups has been steadily growing.
Take note though, this aspect of the problem of poverty was created by the war on poverty. The disparity between haves and have nots should be addressed first by creation of jobs, not the creation of additional public assistance.