1/17/2018

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War on Poverty Day

The War on Poverty was initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson on January 8, 1964. He started his war on poverty by declaring that the federal government would play a larger role in combating poverty in the United States.

In what he heralded as the Great Society, President Johnson put forth a plan, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, that he felt would end poverty once and for all by funding health, education, and welfare programs.

Although not a federal holiday, this date brings to mind the issues that still resonate in the United States and around the world concerning the millions of people who still live below the poverty level with little or no hope of ever escaping it.

Poverty is found in every city, state, and rural area in the country and it is not relegated to any one group of people. You may think you know the face of poverty but it may be hidden in plain sight and you may not recognize it.

It is estimated that up to 15% or more of U.S. citizens are living in or on the brink of poverty and many more are just one paycheck away from falling into that category.

Whether President Johnson's War on Poverty in the United States has worked or not is still being widely debated.

Some Americans feel that the programs that were created under the Great Society has not worked well enough to be called successful.

  • They feel that too much money has already been spent, and is still being spent, with very little to show for it.
  • They feel that since the poverty rate has not dropped to levels that were initially promised, certain programs should be discontinued altogether.
  • They feel that taxpayers are unfairly forced to pay for social programs that only benefit certain groups of people.
  • They feel that changes should be made in the way the government spends money on social programs.
  • They feel that social programs have turned the United States into a welfare state that is giving handouts to people who don't deserve them.

But many people feel differently about the War on Poverty. They think it has been successful in many ways.

  • They feel that the program has produced benefits that have helped millions of Americans and continue to help provide better lifestyles for the poor, sick, hungry, and homeless.
  • They feel that had it not been for the War on Poverty, the percentage of Americans living in poverty would be much higher than what they are today.
  • They feel that the money spent on education provides greater opportunity for everyone, not just poor people.
  • They feel that the War on Poverty has raised the standards of living in all segments of society.
  • They feel that helping people is the right thing to do and the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes.
  • They also feel that much of the money that is being spent on social programs is enriching the wealthy instead of helping the poor.

Poverty is rampant in many parts of the world. In some countries, only a handful of people are fortunate enough to say they don't live in poverty. It has been reported that in Haiti, Chad, Zambia, Liberia, and certain other countries, nearly 80 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day.

Poverty is a destructive force and its effects can be felt everywhere. It breeds crime, disease, racial tensions, religious fervor, hatred, and political and social upheavals.

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