A solid 50 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Poverty” as part of his “Great Society” program.
Government was going to lift people out of poverty.
It hasn’t worked.
Today, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, is also Pennsylvania’s poorest city. Worse, Philadelphia has now been designated the poorest city in the entire nation.
Nearly 200,000 people in Philadelphia live in “deep poverty,” according to Staff Writer Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily news. “Deep poverty” isn’t the federal government’s somewhat fanciful designation of “poverty,” which claims that a family of four earning $23,850 or less is impoverished.
That is hogwash.
Add in the “War on Poverty” benefits, and their successors, and a family of four at that level is limping along, not prosperous, but not starving, either, unless drug or alcohol abuse is siphoning the grocery money.
In Philly, “deep poverty” means half of that money, $11,925 a year for that family of four.
Philly is a notorious “giant sucking sound” on the treasury for the entire state.
“What does it matter for our area? Let Philly go under,” we sometimes hear.
But the voting power of Philly and environs ensures that billions in state dollars will continue to flow to Philly. That is money that will not flow to DuBois to underwrite the costs of our schools or fix our roads — or, worse yet, that is money that the state otherwise might not need, so it could stay in our own private bank accounts rather than flow to Harrisburg as tax payments.
Idealistically, as (mostly) caring Christians, we ought to care about poverty in Philly.
But practically, we need to care about poverty in Philly. It is siphoning away our own prosperity.
Philly lost jobs, millions of jobs, during those 50 years. Shipping, manufacturing, textiles all went away. In came drugs, booze, urban decay — and continued government handouts that kept people not just afloat, but comfortable enough to stifle the work ethic and inventiveness that helped to lift previous generations of Americans, including waves of immigrants, out of poverty and into middle-class prosperity.
Instead of “creating jobs” — which is a hogwash euphemism for vote buying — we need to focus on recreating the work ethic, and do away with free cell phones, vehicle subsidies and the like.
As Philly goes, so goes Pennsylvania. It’s that big.
“Down the drain,” is how Philly goes these days — along with Pennsylvania and the entire nation.
We need to change that by changing the governance system, and the people in it.
— Denny Bonavita