We’re celebrating, although that’s hardly the right word for it, the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s “War on Poverty.” The statist defenders of that war say that while poverty is still around, it would be much worse if we hadn’t enacted all of those programs.
In truth, however, poverty had been rapidly declining in America since the end of World War II and the “war” stopped that progress, as Independent Institute’s Lawrence McQuillen makes clear in this post.
As Charles Murray and others have shown, the “war” changed incentives. The supposed beneficiaries of the government’s war had less reason to work and form stable families. Bureaucrats in charge also found that their incentives were to spend a lot and then proclaim that they needed still more. For 50 years, we have been wasting resources, and undermining individual initiative. Thanks, LBJ.