America’s War on Poverty: Introduction
2014 marks fifty years since Lyndon Johnson officially declared War on Poverty in America. Its goal to end poverty by addressing social/economic issues such as housing, education, healthcare, and job creation. Being as it is the fifty year anniversary, many politicians are attacking or defending this massive undertaking that has cost tax payers many trillions of dollars over the long haul as either a dismal failure or moderate success, depending on whether you lean right or left on the political spectrum. Sadly, most politicians and political journalists do not possess the gift of nuance and civility, but rather create straw men, red herring, and ad hominem arguments, designed to arouse the passions of its constituents. And sadly, many people prefer the club-wielding verbal assault over the olive branches of a civil discourse. The language of public debate where ideas are passionately presented, tested, and given thoughtful consideration is all but lost. In its place, nasty caustic attacks litter social media and online media sites as well as the smorgasbord of intentionally biased news outlets that one can find on cable TV.
That being said, conversations about the War on Poverty in America must take place. Currently, around 50 million Americans live in poverty and approximately 20 trillion dollars of government dollars have gone to fight the war on poverty during the past fifty years. Since 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary with America’s war on poverty, and because I have devoted over 20 years of my life to serving the urban poor in my neighborhood, I’ve decided to write several blog posts during the year of 2014 and reflect on America’s War on Poverty. Just so you know, my Christian worldview and my two decades of poverty-fighting experience informs my beliefs and ideas on this controversial subject. I invite you to wade into this important conversation even if you hold entirely different religious, social, economic, and political beliefs than me. Although I am passionate about what I believe, I promise that these conversations will be civil because my faith in Jesus compels me to love those who are vastly different than me.