Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Forgotten War

Obviously my lighter posts on the entertainment world aren't my specialty (or I'm assuming by the lack of comment that they aren't), though I'd love to talk about Bob Dylan for a post or two...
Back to the Basics...

If anyone has picked up the Newsweek for last week, you'd find an interesting article by Anna Quidlen about "The War We Haven't Won." Iraq may have the limelight, for the moment, but what has happened to the so-called 'War on Poverty'? It seems to have been overpowered by more pressing matters, WMD, and party politics. Not surprisingly. What do you do with a war that will never end?

Quidlen says:
"The problem with declaring war, of course, is that sooner or later people believe the conflict will end and peace will break out."

When will the War on Poverty ever end? Or will it. The article is based on the policies of Johnson's administration and the lack of support following these programs over the years. I'm not saying that Johnson was on top of it when he was in office, nor were they the best instituted programs, but shouldn't we nationally support programs like Head Start, Habitat for Humanity, and the like?

This is the third year that the number of people living below the poverty line in the United States has decreased, shouldn't we be looking into this? I realize that it was an overreaching effort on Johnson's part to declare "unconditional war on poverty in America," but I'm certain the issue still stands...what do we do about poverty in America?

We could have skipped over the Johnson administration totally, historically speaking, and continued on triumphantly, but we can't skip over his message...What has happened to the war on poverty?


Nick Speth said...

Don't want to sound like a kook here, but here goes. The War on Poverty ends every time a Democrat is elected, at least in the eyes of the national media.

Consider: Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless has said that homelessness was higher in the 1990's than in the 1980's, yet during the first Bush administration, the major nightly newscasts and CNN ran an average of 53 stories annually on homelessness. During the Clinton administration, that amount shrunk to 17 per year. For a more detailed examination of this phenomenon, read Bernard Goldberg's landmark book, "Bias." Goldberg devotes a whole chapter to "homelessness rediscovery."

All this prompted the following statement in the Wall Street Journal:

"If George W. Bush becomes president, the armies of the homeless, hundreds of thousands strong, will once again be used to illustrate the opposition's arguments about welfare, the economy, and taxation." -Mark Helprin

So far a prophesy that's unfulfilled due to the fact that there's a war on. Yet I think that when the chips are down we'll see that stories about homelessness have gone up even when the number of homeless people has gone down.

Poverty is a big problem for those who are in it. I think that the government ought to establish a safety net, a standard of living below which people can't fall. However this solution ought to be temporary. If a person can reasonably be expected to work, they ought to seek a job. The Welfare Reform Act of '96 established certain similar requirements.

Our problem here is really in the word "war." These days we declare "war" on our waistline, the mess in our house, our desk clutter, and countless other things. Politically we declare "war" on poverty, crime, drugs, and yes even terrorism. Are we really at war? In the case of terrorism, I'd say yes, but I think we need to specify that we aren't at war with IRA terrorists, or abortion clinic bombers or defacers, or greenpeace people who harrass oil tankers, we're at war with Islamofascism, terrorism isn't an entity it's a method, and it's against the idea that our lives are not worth anything the we fight.

With the others, the other "wars," I just don't think that they're really wars. Confronting poverty, and crime, and drugs are not "wars" but ongoing struggles that this society must deal with.

Sorry this went so long and that I went on so much of a tangent. Thanks.

Tara A. Rowe said...

If the war on poverty end everytime a democrat is elected, or so you say in the eyes of the mass media, how can you say there is a liberal media bias?

Nick Speth said...

Simple, when a Republican is in office, the media goes nuts with homeless stories. Reminding us all of how awful and horrific the problem of poverty is. When a Democrat is elected, the problem is by and large ignored, because when a Democrat is in office all is right with the world.

Of course the problem is still present, but largely ignored, not because of intentional bias but because they, the media, don't expect homelessness during a Democrat presidency, so they don't look for it. When a Republican is president, the media expects the working class to be out of work, so they begin to search for homeless people to highlight a legitimate problems. This isn't intentional bias, it comes from having only one political ideology in major media.

Nick Speth said...

P.S. I don't want to write another book here, so check my site later for some further elaborations.