Defeated by the war on poverty

The big story in the big media today is assessing where America stands 50 years since LBJ issued a battle cry against poverty.

LBJ signs the Medicare law in 1965.

LBJ signs Medicare into law in 1965.

His State of the Union Address on Jan. 8, 1964, helped establish the Economic Opportunity Act, the Office of Economic Opportunity, food stamps, Job Corps, Head Start, Medicaid, Medicare and a slew of programs aimed at bridging the wealth gap. Not socialism, just a healthy dose of social consciousness.

How are we doing? The prosperity in this country is ridiculous. Yet so many of us get shortchanged that even our perceptions are skewed. We literally don’t know what we’re missing.

The bottom line: America is bottom-heavy, and I don’t mean our obesity crisis. This is not just about the suffering poor, but the nouveau impoverishment of the rest of us. You’ve heard it all before: The middle class is being squeezed, as all of the wealth is concentrated at the top. Still, most of us have no idea how much disparity exists.

As legislators split and pull hairs over what makes a fair minimum wage, check out the hair-raising reality exposing the imbalance. This went viral, but not everyone is down with the sick facts. In the past 20-30 years, during the prolonged war on poverty, the top 1% went from bringing home 9% of the income to 24% and holding 40% of the nation’s $54 trillion booty. What does that look like?

Watch this and weep.

No matter how many federal initiatives or programs get thrown in as filler, the wealth gap seems to be widening, not closing. I wouldn’t be surprised if those of us paying the highest tax ratio end up depending on the very programs they fund to survive. That’s called “implosion.”

Forbes recently asked: “Could America’s wealth gap lead to a revolt?” It’s certainly revolting.

The nearly 7-minute video on YouTube I just shared has “only” 13,819,456 views (out of 317 million Americans, and three of those views are mine). So I know not all of you have seen it. Well, all six of MY readers have seen it … Meanwhile, the “Best VINES of September 2013 Compilation!” — a 10-minute video that includes 100-plus short-attention-span, dumb-ass VINE videos — has 34,878,552 views. Maybe that tells part of the story.

Hey, I’m not opposed to VINE videos or creative expression. One of those views is mine. There are even people who make money from such endeavors, getting sponsors, hoping somehow to strike it rich. Sadly, artists are rarely rich, although they’re the ones who most enrich our existence.

And sure, the people making up the bottom of the barrel or the middle chunk of society aren’t the same year to year. We have folks moving up and down the ladder all the time, trading places, falling off.

But that ladder leads into the stratosphere where, as the chart shows, nine out of 10 have lost sight of reality based on a false “ideal” — not a New Deal, but a Bum Deal.

You can keep your war on poverty. America’s wars cost too dearly. I’ll wait for the rebellion.


A bread line in 1937.