The Great Society at 50.

lbj i will not seek nor will i accept

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 5/23/14


Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson gave a speech at the University of Michigan in which he first proposed what he called the “Great Society.” The Great Society was an amalgam of federal programs intended to address, among other things, poverty and poor educational achievement among minorities.

The Great Society would bring about an exponential expansion of the federal government’s role in education, health care and welfare.

So what of the Great Society on its 50th birthday? Sad to say, there’s little to celebrate.

On the subject of poverty, a half century and the spending of more than $17 trillion has moved the needle very little. The poverty rate in 2014 is only marginally lower than it was in 1964.

What has changed is the perception of the role of individual responsibility as an antidote to poverty. Much of the stigma once attendant to being on the public dole is now gone.

On the subject of education, the Great Society greatly expanded the role of the federal government in public schools. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 stands to this day as the most far-reaching piece of education legislation ever passed by Congress. With few exceptions, every local school district is now dependent on federal dollars.

Despite spending massive amounts of those dollars, few, if any, of the Great Society goals attendant to education have been achieved. Public schools across the country are in chaos – many having devolved into de facto war zones.

American students rank near the bottom among developed countries in math, science and reading comprehension. A smaller proportion of African-American students today are able to read at grade level than were able in 1965.

On the subject of health care, the Great Society gave us Medicare and Medicaid, which combined now provide health care for 115 million Americans. Both programs are simultaneously deeply entrenched – making them politically impossible to modify – and insolvent, making them fiscally unsustainable.

But for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal budget would be balanced.

All of this expansion of the federal government has had the perverse effect of turning us into cynics. In 1964, 76 percent of Americans trusted the government to do the right thing. Today, 19 percent do.

But by far the worst consequence of the Great Society has been its impact upon families. Dependence on government – once intended to be temporary – has become habitual and is, in millions of cases, passed from one generation to the next.

In millions of households, welfare and food stamps now take the place of working fathers. In 1965, the rate of out-of-wedlock births was 7.7 percent. Today, it stands at more than 40 percent for the population as a whole – and an appalling 73 percent for African-Americans.

On this, the Golden Anniversary of the Great Society, there is little introspection on the Left. Just as it was when LBJ was promoting it, the left would have us judge the Great Society by its lofty intentions – hoping that 50 years later, we will overlook its tragic results.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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5 Responses

  1. There is NOTHING to celebrate in this liberal legacy.

  2. pk says:

    This country sure gave this idea the best it had; yes we did.!!

    BUT we forgot to do any PRE- TESTING of the results of this idea.

    Somewhere I heard that these types of ideas should be tested rigorously rather than just adopted because they are a good idea & have good intentions.
    When did that go astray??

    Anyone who sought the truth could see that just shoveling money & sloth onto people who put their hand out WOULD absolutely corrupt ANY IDEA.

    I think, we have what we created with all these wonderful intentions.
    Our USA is now a country of ‘spoiled’ kids & we knew it all along.

    “The road to ruin( I changed the word) is paved with good intentions.

    “tis so.

    Here we are & now we must tighten our belt with TOUGH LOVE!!

  3. Linda E. Montrose says:

    The only thing that I can say is something my Granny used to quote quite often and something that certainaly applies to this: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I think we have arrived.

  4. R. Eagleman says:

    Great comments Paul, PK, Buddy, & Linda, however, the Great Society is accomplishing exactly the goals for which it was intended; which is to create a permanent underclass that depends on government for basic human needs. L.B.J. was not an altruistic politician, who was sincerely trying to abolish poverty; his stated goal(in private)was to lock up the Black vote(but he used the N word) for the next 100 years. Well, it has only been 50 years, but I have no doubt that his dream will become reality. When you consider that this “war on poverty” has wreaked such devastating collateral damage to the Black population, how can one explain that Democrats still enjoy approximately 95% of their vote? L.B.J. was a consummate politician, and his tactics were ruthless, so let’s not dismiss the Great Society as a failure; maybe it has failed many of our fellow citizens and our country, but it has been an overwhelming success for the Liberals.

  5. C M Solomon says:

    I really wish the Conservatives and the Conservative Media (truth tellers) would STOP using the adulterated language of the LEFT that is designed to paint their ultra-destructive policies and laws (bills) as compassionate, well-intentioned, and above suspicion.

    Someone needs to publish a TRANSLATOR for Conservatives to use in their communication of the evil nature of the Left’s agenda. The following list is not PC. Political Correctness (PC) is not free speech. It is designed by the Left to silence and demonize Conservative opinion and debate. Conservatives must also expose the re-definition of normal terms by the Left to camouflage their policies. Let me start the translator.

    War on Poverty (LBJ) >> War to (enslave) promote dependency, or “War on Prosperity”.

    Great Society (LBJ) >> Permanent Democrat bureaucracy with a favored constituency, or “Great Dependency”.

    Affordable Care Act >> “Fascist Medicine” (Federally dictated High Cost Health Plans)

    Single Payer Healthcare >> “Marxist Medicine, Socialized Medicine” (Federal owned and operated health control, not care).

    Comprehensive Emigration >> “Illegal Alien Amnesty” with eventual citizenship to boost the Democrat vote, or “Open Borders”.

    Same Sex Marriage >> “Unholy Matrimony” by a Godless State dictate, not the “Marriage” term defined by human history, Scripture, or even Common Law.

    Clean Air Act (Environmental Protection Agency) >> Environmental Dictatorship Agency (EDA), or “Fascist Air and Industrial Control Ministry (FAICM).

    No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) >> Education by Government Indoctrination (EGI), or “Socialized Education”.
    . . . . . .

    Notice the benevolent terms used by the Left to fool the public and create the illusion of a better society with a license to ultimately destroy our unalienable rights. When Conservatives use the language and terms of the LEFT, they are surrendering truth for deception.

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