The View From 1776
Sunday, January 12, 2014
The Radical Left Has Plans For You
You will not be surprised to learn that those plans involve a lot more spending and taxing, almost certainly large additions to Federal deficit spending.
Read Lloyd Billingsley’s review of The American Way of Poverty on the Forbes website.
The book’s call for renewal of Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty fits nicely with President Obama’s PR effort to divert public attention from the disaster known as ObamaCare.
“War on poverty” becomes Obama’s socialistic thrust to eliminate income inequality. The proposed solution is the same-old-same-old: the government needs to spend more, much more, and raise taxes, a lot. Presumably high level liberal-progressive intellectuals (who gave us the ObamaCare website) will also direct the design and implementation of this war on poverty, as they did for President Johnson in the 1960s.
How likely is it that this time the Democrat-Socialist Party will succeed in delivering society to liberal-progressives’ nirvana of social justice? For perspective, read a few pages from Socialist Party chairman Michael Harrington’s assertions that motivated presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Mr. Harrington’s solution to poverty, elaborated in 1962’ s The Other America: Poverty in the United States, was to re-impose feudalism via a lot more government spending, forever, and a raft of new welfare agencies to provide income, housing, clothing, medical treatment, and spiritual uplift to the ‘invisible’ one-third of America.
Prescribing the standard liberal-progressive-socialist nostrums, Harrington declared,
“In order to do this, there is a need for planning… What is needed is that the society make use of its knowledge in a rational and systematic way. Of course, states and cities are incapable of doing this; ... only the Federal Government has the power to abolish poverty… as a place for coordination, for planning, and the establishment of national standards.”
Mr. Harrington’s 1968 Toward a Democratic Left: A Radical Program for a New Majority expressed the sense of the Great Society paradigm.
“Even in a society based on private economic power, the Government can be an agency of social, rather than corporate, purpose… This does not require a fundamental transformation of the system. It does, however, mean that the society will democratically plan “uneconomic” allocations of significant resources… Under such conditions it would be possible to realize full— and meaningful— employment for all those ready and able to work. Going beyond the quantities of the New Deal, the economy could be stimulated by promoting the affluence of the public sector rather than by tax cuts, and in the process millions of creative jobs can be designed to better the nation’s education, health, leisure, and the like. Within twenty years such a policy of social investments should end all poverty, eradicate the slums and erode the economic basis of racism. And those people who are unable to work could be provided with a guaranteed annual income instead of shoddy, uncoordinated and inadequate welfare payments… The very character of modern technology, [Harvard economist John] Galbraith says, renders the old market mechanisms obsolete. In these circumstances planning is obligatory.”
Mr. Harrington adds, “The state must manage the economy in order to guarantee sufficient purchasing power to buy the products of the industrial system.” Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has pursued that directive, without success, for almost six years.
Now, forty-five years later, it is possible to review the actual results of the Great Society and of Mr. Harrington’s prescription. “Promoting the affluence of the public sector” as a means of stimulating the economy meant simply putting more people on the public payrolls. There is no evidence that this produced “millions of creative jobs” or did anything to eradicate poverty (or racism, if one is to believe Democrat-Socialist black spokesmen like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Attorney General Eric Holder) within the twenty years of Mr. Harrington’s expectations.
With regard to the potential success of the radical left’s renewed call for a war on poverty, don’t bet on it.