Jun 2, 201409:47 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
LBJ’s Great Society: the gift that keeps on taking
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Today’s words to the wise: “Secure your weed!”
Successful businesses determine what works and what doesn’t; they quit doing the “what doesn’t.”
What if government did the same thing? Imagine our political leaders saying something’s not working in Milwaukee’s public schools. That’s what Tommy Thompson did, to the enduring enmity of the teachers union and its political party — both champions of the status quo.
Shouldn’t we be applying some cost/benefit analysis to Big Government itself? This year marks the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s Great Society. Lyndon Johnson rode the nation’s grief over the assassination of JFK to double down on his hero FDR’s New Deal. (Three acronyms in one sentence!) An activist government remains the template for most of the establishment culture to the present day, despite the NSA spying, despite the bollixed Veterans Administration, despite the failure of the stimulus (Cash for Clunkers). Obamacare, anyone?
Nicholas Eberstadt assays the burst of Big Gummint in a provocative article in The Weekly Standard, “The Great Society at 50.” The social scientist from the American Enterprise Institute concedes that the Great Society succeeded in two important ways.
Thumbs up — It “finally, and decisively, brought an end to the long, hateful stain of legalized racial discrimination within our nation. And it has all but eliminated the sort of material deprivation that tens of millions of Americans in the early 1960s still suffered.”
In point of fact, what is considered poverty today would have inspired envy 50 years ago. Rare is the “poor” family that does not have a flat-screen television, several iPods and cell phones. But at what price?
Thumbs down —The enduring failure of the Great Society is its enslavement of millions into multi-generational dependency, Eberstadt writes. It “tacitly encourag[ed], and overtly subsidiz[ed] an alternative to financial self-reliance, work, and intact family: the very social basis upon which the American experiment was built.” Upon that deleterious regimen of redistribution, social pathologies feed.
The growth of dependency — Consider that, in 1951, only 3.8% of Americans were receiving public aid. By 2012, one-third (32.3%) of the population lived in a home taking one or more means-tested benefits. “Nearly twice as many Americans above the poverty line as below it were getting antipoverty benefits. Evidently, the American welfare state has been defining deprivation upward,” Eberstadt marvels.
Is there any wonder that food stamp (technically, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) usage is at a record high?
Family breakdown and resultant criminality — “From 1965 to 1990, out-of-wedlock births jumped from 7.7 percent of the nationwide total to 28.0 percent. Twenty-two years later (the most recent available data are for the year 2012), America’s overall out-of-wedlock birth ratio had surpassed 40 percent. … One of the many risks children of [what used to be called] “broken homes” confront is a much higher chance of becoming a violent offender in our criminal justice system ….”
“The Great Society at 50” is a must-read. And yes, there will be a test. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Mortal enemies of freedom
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg at Harvard University, May 29, noting the raft of commencement invitations withdrawn from conservative speakers:
In each case, liberals silenced a voice … to individuals they deemed politically objectionable. That is an outrage. … If a university thinks twice before inviting a commencement speaker because of his or her politics, censorship and conformity — the mortal enemies of freedom — win out.
In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left-wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. … A liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism.
Listen and watch here. As for the self-appointed guardians of the First Amendment? The corporations that speak as if they were a person? The progressive media? Not Peep #1.