War on Poverty in one graph

How has the War on Poverty impacted poverty

Another interesting example of how an image can relay so much information. This came from Lawrence McQuillan’s post, “The Failure of the ‘War on Poverty’ in One Picture.”

The poverty rate in the United States fell by half from 1950 to the start of the “War on Poverty.” And it was on track to continue falling. But after the “War on Poverty” programs kicked in, the poverty rate has been stuck in a narrow corridor.

The lesson: Despite good intentions, statist redistribution programs to “help the poor” lead to multigenerational dependency and shrinking opportunities and incentives for low-skill individuals to enter the workforce, increase their skills, and move up the income ladder.

On the other hand, steady private investment in physical and human capital within a secure system of private property rights (which minimizes government corruption and exploitation) results in self-sustaining prosperity, which enables poor people to take advantage of opportunities and permanently lift themselves out of poverty.

Prior to the “War on Poverty,” the post-1950 U.S. economy wasn’t a capitalist nirvana, but it did benefit the poor much more than after The Great Society programs. The numbers speak for themselves.

It is amazing how much money has been spent to “attack” poverty, but there are still people who go to sleep hungry, sleep outside, and are subject to the negative impacts of poverty. This is another case of not understanding the root problem of an issue. Instead of just throwing money at problems, take a closer look and try to solve the roots of the problem. If you are weeding a garden, you have to get the root, or the weed will keep being a problem.


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