Myths/attempts to fight poverty have never worked

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Myth: Attempts to fight poverty have never worked.

Myth

Example

  • "The essential mistake that Barack Obama is making is that he believes Lyndon Johnson's Great Society entitlements can elevate the poor to prosperity. They can't. In 1965, the poverty rate in this country stood at 14 percent. Now, after untold trillions have been spent fighting poverty, the poverty rate is 14.3 percent. Amazing, is it not? The conclusion, America is bankrupting itself with an entitlement philosophy that does little." — Bill O'Reilly[1]

Reality

Some facts from Politifact[1]:

  • "if you compare poverty rates in 1965 and 2007, the rate dropped by nearly five percentage points during that period, or by almost one-third."
  • "Between 1959 and 1962, the poverty rate ranged between 20 and 22 percent." In other words, if you look at before and after, rather than after and after, the difference is quite dramatic.
  • "In 1967, about 30 percent of seniors were below the poverty line. That was down to 13.2 percent by 2008."
  • "Poverty among blacks was 55 percent in 1959 and 41 percent in 1966. By 2009, the rate had fallen to 25.9 percent. For black single moms without a father present, the poverty rate fell from 70.6 percent in 1959 and 65.3 in 1966 to 39.8 percent in 2009."

Also, many experiments in giving people money directly, with no requirements, have been quite successful and are generally more effective than traditional welfare. (See also Issuepedia: guaranteed living income)

Footnotes