LBJ’s Great Society Was a Great Idea

The Great SocietyLBJ’s Great Society was a great idea. Enact anti-discrimination laws and economic reforms to pull the country out of Civil War-ear reconstruction and bring equality to the masses.

How’s that working out for America? Not so well as it turns out.

The reforms weren’t worthless. Racism is still rampant, but lynchings are a lot less common and even middle class, passive racists think the KKK is a losing proposition. That is progress, if by progress we mean a slight dip in rope sales.

Busing, tried to send some of that nice middle class school money to the inner city and failed — but not for the reasons everyone thought. After the initial white flight, things stabilized, but school funding dried up for everyone. Busing was the ancestor of school flight, not white flight. Voucherists want the government to pay them to take their kids out of school and STILL leave poor kids to fend for themselves at the cost of poor public schooling.

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Rick Santorum: Racist, Stupid, or Misunderstood

"Rocky" Santorum

ADRIAN! - "In this corner...Rockin' Rick 'Rocky' Santorum"

I don’t know if Rick Santorum is a racist. I know he says many stupid things, so he might be an idiot, or maybe a racist idiot. It is hard to tell when a person has a brain the size of an empty, withered walnut.

But, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume he’s an earnest man without a trace of racism and that he really believes, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families. The best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling.”

Minorities are as Rare as Untipped Iowan Cows
Let’s forget that most welfare payments go to white people and let’s forget that 91% of Iowans are white. Minorities in Iowa are as rare as untipped cows.

Getting manufacturing going is important. If it was working everyone in the economy would be better off, even the rich. However, many American manufacturers are so far gone they can’t come back. Plus, there are fewer people who can afford products, regardless of where they’re made. The golden goose has been fed rat poison by over-consumption and under-manufacturing.

Santorum rightly makes the point that while minorities aren’t the bulk of the welfare population, they are disproportionately represented. You know, sort of like the 1 Percenters. So, programs to help them get out and, “give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families,” is a tough, withered walnut shell to crack.

Santorum and others of his ilk want to put the poor back to work without funding schools, job training, medical care, affordable housing, or anything else that jacks up Bill Gates’ tax rate. In fact, some Republicans want the poor to pay more in taxes. What sort of math allows you to raise the poor’s taxes by 50% without understanding that 50% of nothing is, urm, NOTHING?!!

Welfare programs are hugely expensive, though not as expensive as other expenditures being stalked by ravenous budget-wolves. But assuming welfare will magically go away if we simply stop paying is wishful thinking – like absorbing millions of illegal aliens and then assuming they’ll disappear if we throw up some chain link halfway between Arizona and New Mexico.

Yes Rick, there is a problem. But no, busying yourself with the sex lives of other people doesn’t solve it. And further, this isn’t a new problem. It is the result of kicking a very large can down a very long road.

Many welfare programs were born of LBJ’s Great Society. The Great Society was an admirable effort to lift poor sharecroppers above poverty by trying to balance the economic and racial inequities of American society. In the end, all it did was move people to housing projects were there is no sharing or crops and minorities are contained so they wouldn’t be so noticeable.

The great failing was assuming you could start by giving kids something to eat, a place to live, and a school to go to while ignoring the generations of people who were already past the point of lifting up.

Mommy the Crackhead and Daddy the Pimp
You can teach a kid how to read and count, but Mommy being a crackhead and Daddy being a drug-dealing pimp isn’t exactly world-class role modeling. Too many people are simply warehoused in crumbling housing, ducking gang raids, and learning that dealing drugs makes way more money than flipping burgers. All the while listening to nitwits preach that fixing the problem is as simple as stopping payments for the crumbling housing and decrpit schools.

Santorum probably thinks that being poor trumps being a minority. He may not want black folk in his neighborhood, but that wouldn’t be as bad as a white family of project transfers moving in next door. He just doesn’t like one, the other actually drives down his property values.

Being poor or a minority is a problem in this country. Sometimes they’re inextricably linked, other times you can tease economics from bigotry. But either way simply stopping funds and pretending that all the downtrodden need is some paternal advice to get a job won’t make it go away. No matter how hard he might try, Rick can’t make these people and their problems invisible. He can’t pretend their problems aren’t the nation’s problem.

In the end Rick’s solution is no solution at all, it’s merely another kick of the can. If we want to lessen the need for welfare, we’ll need to reform what we spend on, not how much we spend. Throwing cash at ill-advised, half-assed, ineffective programs is just as bad as doing nothing.

And nothing is exactly the change Rick’s plan will make.

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