Several important anniversaries occurred in 2014, including the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I; the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing marking the beginning of the end of World War II; the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision, which helped end racial segregation in schools; and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Since 2014 has been the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's "war on poverty," we should note that this was another war that the Johnson administration lost. Both he and President Kennedy before him said that the purpose of the "war on poverty" was to help people become self-supporting, to end dependency on government programs. But 50 years and trillions of dollars later, there is more dependency than ever.
Let's hope we have learned something from past debacles.
As my IWF colleague Rachel DiCarlo Currie explained in her excellent Policy Focus last year, social mobility in the United States remains strong, but government poverty programs have perverse features that perpetuate the cycle of poverty:
…America’s means-tested programs impose extremely high effective marginal tax rates on low-income workers, because a modest pay raise can mean a loss of government benefits (in addition to a higher statutory tax rate). Such perverse incentives reduce both work hours and labor-force participation. …
Just as welfare programs can discourage work, they can also discourage low-income couples from tying the knot, through an implicit tax on marriage.
Promoting economic opportunity for all, strong marriages, and strong families is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty—and that requires less government , not more.