It’s been almost 70 years since America has won a war. We won WWII because we knew what our goals were and we ruthlessly pursued them. Since then, we’ve halfheartedly pursued ill-defined goals.
The Korean War is technically still ongoing. 1953 brought an armistice not a victory. We didn’t win in Viet Nam. Grenada and Panama weren’t real wars. Desert Storm freed Kuwait, but we had to come back and clean up the mess we made. If anyone thinks we won the cleanup match, I suggest they visit Fallujah. Bombing Serbia? Afghanistan?
But the two worst defeats were not overseas. We’ve also lost the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty.
Today is the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of the War on Poverty. 50 years and 20 trillion dollars later, the percentage of American’s living in poverty is still around 15 percent. Back in the ’60s, most of the poor were working poor. They had jobs but couldn’t make ends meet. Now, we have created a new class of idle poor who make ends meet because of support from over 80 means-tested federal programs. 50 years ago, the poor were often hungry. These days, the poor are often overweight and suffering from diabetes.
LBJ’s stated goal for the War on Poverty was “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.”
We have failed.