Unknown to the American public at large, most especially those who are too young to remember, President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty during his State Of The Union address on January 8th, 1964. His vision and plan for a great new society, one that treated all of the citizens of the United States with a sense of fairness and an opportunity for all to move upward on the economic ladder was swiftly undermined by the up and coming neo-con faction. A faction that has slowly and insidiously worked to destroy America's enjoyment of a better life for all save the wealthy.
The first of the great neo-con Presidents, Richard Nixon, showed his disdain for the poor by placing in charge of the then Office Of Economic Opportunity, none other than disgraced former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld administered the OEO by doing away with many of the programs served under the umbrella department, ultimately helping to lead to the disbanding of the agency altogether. Letting the fox guard the hen house, as it were.
The 'Greatest American Ever', President Ronald Reagan made clear where he stood when it came to issues of poverty and homelessness by decimating social programs literally right after he took the oath of office. Ordering a blanket turn down for every single person that applied for federal S.S.I., it now takes the disabled up to three years to receive benefits to which they are entitled. Also signing the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the legislation was designed to make it harder for states to receive federal tax money to fund their social programs, but this wasn't enough for the Cold Warrior. He and his administration were the ones to come up with using the tax code to redistribute America's wealth from the poor and the middle class to the rich. By using his long debunked 'trickle down economic theory', he could claim that the rich, if they had more money, would help the poor, and therefore there was no longer a need to fund all of these programs designed to help the poor stay alive.
We could also examine Bill Clinton's selling out of the American middle class and the poor with his 1996 'welfare reform'. Nothing more than an election year gimmick, it has since caused at least 2.2 million Americans to end up homeless. Fast forward to the extreme defunding and destruction of social safety net programs by Bush Jr., and the greatest redistribution of wealth in the history of the world becomes the very clear cause of so many more sliding down into abject poverty, and has nothing to do with the poor being lazy, or unwilling to find work.
Right wing extremists will spout the Party line about the poor this and the poor that, but they don't really want anyone to examine the fact that the rich in America are enjoying unheard of wealth. Wealth that they themselves did not earn, but was given to them by a criminal regime that runs the country in much the same way that the mafia used to run Las Vegas. Cooked books, lies, outright theft, tax breaks for the wealthy and various other forms of nefarious conduct are the true factors that are pushing more and ever more Americans into the mire of desperation and destitution.
You never hear about the fact that because of Clinton's sellout, current TANF and Food Stamp levels for a family of three equate to one third of the poverty level, thus providing no relief from despair, but in these times of rising housing costs, actually causing more homelessness. No one really ever considers the battered wife with children who add to the numbers of the homeless, because in order to stay alive, they must depend on women's shelters. The powers that spew the propaganda don't want you to understand that a full 25% of the homeless are mentally ill and have been turned down for benefits due to the Reagan blanket turn down rule that is still in effect today. Or that another one fourth of homeless people are veterans, many of them war time fighters who returned physically disabled, mentally disabled or both, but have gotten the shaft from the very government that ordered them to go fight. Forgotten and discarded, they swell the ranks of the homeless every day.
Drug and alcohol addiction, recognized as a sickness, are also factors in why some are homeless. Slaves to the bottle or whatever substance they use, this does not constitute laziness, because many are very adept at finding ways to feed their need. But yet, this administration has seen fit to slash funding for rehab programs, causing many of this segment of the homeless population to turn to crime. Closed clinics and rehabilitation centers have also been a factor in the rise in AIDS cases, Hepatitis, and various other diseases that wander untreated among the general population. Just not where the rich wander mind you.
Let's also remember the thousands upon thousands of children, affectionately called 'street kids', who gather on the corners of America's cities, and who have had funding for shelters cut. They must be too lazy to get a job, especially after public school funding has been scalped with a surgeon's precision also. Ending up in places like Hollywood and other big cities such as Portland, Oregon, Chicago and new York, they quickly become prey for the deviants who force them into prostitution, but at least they've got jobs right?
Or the single working mother, who has no choice but to rely on programs such as Food Stamps, because even working two jobs, she can not afford to feed her children, in this, the land of plenty. We seem to keep forgetting the percentage of the working homeless population. Imagine going to work all day long, leaving there to have to go and find a place to sleep that night. That exact trapped scenario is one of the main preventing factors for many homeless people obtaining employment in the first place. Wake up, go search for food. Spend the rest of the day trying to find a place to shower, garner some clothes, find enough to eat, and a place to rest that night. Not having an address is but another impediment to filling out an application, as is the lack of a phone number.
In a country where they have instituted a mindset that men should never show emotion, they conveniently like to leave out the fact that in most divorce situations amongst lower income families, the man ends up homeless, getting stuck there due to child support and alimony payments. Oh yes, a full 48% of America's homeless population have jobs, only their employment is so low wage, without any benefits whatsoever, that the numbers of those who just can not maintain a household are growing and growing and growing. God help a low income worker who has a family member become ill. That puts an abrupt end to any thoughts of trying to move forward in this society, and generally means financial ruin, and eventual homelessness.
There are, by advocate estimates, about 1% of the homeless population that is just too lazy to work. Ones that would rather live the way they do. But that leaves 99% of the homeless population that wants to have a good life just like everyone else, but can't due to the pushing of an agenda of the survival of the fittest by the meanest, cruelest people in the world. Those who suckered you into believing them that the poor were to blame for everything, and are now ready to ride off into the sunset with who knows how many taxpayer dollars tucked away in Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts.
People speak of a new day and a new chance for America. One of the first steps must be for all of us to realize that should we allow for the continuation of social program decimation, then we have already lost the chance we seek to grab hold of. The very idea of America is that no one gets left behind, we are our brother's keepers, and we all move forward together. It has only been the last half century that has given rise to the sociopathic movement that suckered everyone into believing the poor are lazy, and to let them fend for themselves and die. It is time to reverse the evil they have perpetrated upon us, and leave them and their monstrous ideology behind. Time to stop labeling all poor people into the lazy category. Time to restore the budget cuts to social spending and time to take the welfare given to rich beyond belief corporations and return that money to it's rightful owners, the People.