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Haupt’s Take: Redefining poverty to redistribute wealth

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SPREAD THE WEALTH AROUND: Is wealth redistribution on the agenda for 2016?

By William Haupt III | Watchdog Arena

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”  ~Thomas Jefferson

Shortly after the beginning of each New Year, the Census Bureau releases its data on American poverty. Surprisingly, the statistics never get better. Either we are doing something very wrong or, we continue to make more people poor no matter how hard the government tries to make them prosperous.

This is an obvious paradox. The Left has waged a war on poverty since 1964 that has obviously failed. In a speech at the University of Michigan, Lyndon Johnson proposed “legislating away” poverty with his Great Society agenda. He predicted, “This will be the beginning of the end of poverty in America.” He claimed he had a program that would give something to everyone who was in need. As he read his wish list to skeptical constituents, he said, “We have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.”

As it turned out, LBJ’s Great Society and War on Poverty were nothing more than a repeat performance of FDR’s failed “Bad Deal.” When you put lipstick on a pig it is still a pig no matter how attractive it is. Johnson put over forty new taxpayer financed programs in place.

He passed sixty education bills, provided minority scholarships, and low-interest student loan programs. With the passage of Medicare and Medicaid he attempted to guarantee health care to every American over sixty-five and those considered poor and disabled. He created Job Corps to train unskilled workers so they could enter the job market. And his coup de grace was to take control of children from failing families and put them into Head Start programs. This placed them into the “system” at age four.

“A President’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.” ~LBJ

But America realized we were making little progress towards ending poverty and the result was a tremendous increase in government spending and tax dollars disappearing into thin air. People saw little accountability and even less improvement in the level of poverty. They quickly rebelled against Johnson’s brand of social activism. It was too extreme and costly. Few saw any benefit to society and felt his agenda was complexly ineffectual.

As the federal budget mushroomed many claimed he had meddled too much with social affairs, which had created a decadent dependency on the government. By the end of his term he announced to the American public: “Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

The War on Poverty is a con game played and replayed every time progressives want to impress their flock. Its initial popularity always makes headlines with those targeted for a quick fix. But when taxpayers see no new rabbits being pulled out of the liberal magician’s hat, those promises of hope and change turns into mendacity. This repeat performance has been staged again and again. But this charade is always exposed when the public sees no return on their investment.

Although LBJ spawned a few feel good programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, they typhooned out of control and are now being used to grow government dependence and win friends and voters. They did nothing to end poverty and have created more unwelcome federal dependents. Even LBJ realized the error of his ways, “We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.”

You would think by now we would have learned our lesson: We cannot legislate our way out of poverty. And anyone who is trying to do this, is doing nothing more than spreading the wealth and misery to bring about “income equality.” And if you consider it was a little over fifty years ago the Left made such an aggressive attack against poverty, the numbers coming out of DC somehow do not add up?

Under Obama, the U.S. taxpayer is paying more than $12 trillion to fund welfare over the next decade. Pouring dollars into an ever-increasing number of factitious welfare programs has failed to improve the poverty rates reported by the Census Bureau each year. Someone is telling us a half truth. If you think something is fishy in the state of Denmark, hold your nose: It is even fishier here!

“Believe that what you see. Not what you are promised or want to hear.” ~Jay Gordon

In early 2011, Obama, appealing to fellow progressives claimed that Johnson’s War on Poverty did not go far enough to raise the standard of living for those considered deprived and disadvantaged. He promised a new system to evaluate income equality for everyone. This new poverty metering scheme reveals his true intentions to redistribute wealth which has noting to do with decreasing poverty.

Under this imbroglio, a family is judged “poor” if their income falls below a specific federal threshold. Unlike the former poverty criteria, this new income meter has a built-in escalator clause that rises in direct proportion to any increase in the living standard of the average American. This has nothing to do with poverty. This is just another progressive attempt at Orwellian style social chicanery. Don’t forget what he said while running for president: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

This eccentric new poverty measure has produced off-colored results. Far too few have taken the opportunity to analyze. Under this current system that he has concocted, poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the “poor” actually are rising faster than the incomes of everyone who is considered middle class. This new poverty math makes it impossible for anyone to improve their lot in life if they are considered impoverished, unless those classified as well off, face economic short-comings.

So, when you hear the erroneous reports out of DC that the income gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, take that with a grain of salt. This logic is tremendously flawed. If you recall Barack Obama did tell us, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

Obama’s new formula for determining poverty has increased dependency on government by 36 percent. And considering its obvious failures, we must slay this dragon to survive! Americans today, depend more on government assistance than any time in history!  Over 20 percent of our nation’s total personal income now is in some form of government payment. This includes Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment and new programs Obama has put into place.

Wages from the free market now account for the lowest share of our GNP since the government started tracking them in 1929. Little did we know that he had planned to do this much economic damage in 2008 when he said: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Now, for the first time in our history the government has defined poverty as a problem that can never be solved by the American dream of hard work and belief that anything can be achieved by anyone who chooses to follow that dream. Today, by definition, poverty can be solved only by the dream of the “Left.” And that consists of massive redistribution of wealth to the less affluent from those who are more successful. For almost eight years Obama has been telling Americans, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Despite unprecedented wealth redistribution, poverty is still the progressive’s favored tool for social engineering. But, there is only one solution to poverty in America: Free market capitalism.

“A wise and frugal government shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” ~Thomas Jefferson

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.


William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, citizen legislator in California for 40 plus years, and author. He got his start working to approve prop 13.