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Could This Mean an End to Poverty?

Was the War on Poverty a Success or Failure?

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared "War on Poverty" in 1964 as part of the "Great Society". Government was tasked with lifting poor people out of poverty. This resulted in many of the Safety Net programs we have today including Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Earned Income Tax Credit, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Unemployment Benefits, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, Medicare, Women, Infants, and Children Assistance (WIC), Head Start, and school breakfast and lunch programs, etc.

Poverty has long been a part of the American Experience. The poverty rate was approximately 45% in 1870, and had declined to around 30% by 1910. Other than a temporary jump during the Great Depression it declined to 22% by the end of the 1950's. The poverty rate was 17% in 1964, the year the War on Poverty was launched and has bounced around in the 11-15% range since then.

Obviously the Biggest Reductions in Poverty

are Due to Advances in Technology

Combined with Modern Innovation.

Proponents note there have been some modest additional reductions in poverty since the War on Poverty was announced. However some critics believe the War on Poverty with it's Safety Net programs actually prolonged poverty. These critics believe more people would have taken advantage of the many free market economic opportunities if Safety Net programs hadn't made it so convenient to let the Government take care of them.

Whether these critics are right or wrong, it is a fact that poverty still exists in America. The question all good citizens must answer is:

Are People Trapped in Poverty

as a Result of Their Birth?

Or Is There a Pathway Out of poverty?

The answer is actually quite encouraging. It appears that the War on Poverty can finally be won if individuals follow the Success Sequence, based on recent data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The Widely Acclaimed Success Sequence has 3 Steps by Which Young Adults Can Escape Poverty:

  • Get at least a high school education

  • Work full time

  • Marry before having children

Among Millennials who followed this sequence,

97% are not poor when they reach adulthood.

The formula appears to work for everybody. The vast majority of black (96%) and Hispanic (97%) and white Millennials (97%) who followed this sequence are not poor in their mid-30s (ages 32 to 38), as well as 94% of Millennials that grew up in poor households and 95% of those that grew up in single parent households.

Then Why Does Poverty Still Persist?

Few things in life come with a 94% to 97% probability of success. Given the huge success of these 3 steps, one must wonder why poverty persists? Each part of the Success Sequence is obviously superior to the alternative. However, poverty persists because some young people don't follow the Success Sequence.

Why Don't Some Young People Follow

the Success Sequence?

I've worked with high school aged youth through the Church, in Scouting and in my practice and not all kids see a need to finish high school. They seem unconcerned that as a dropout, they are more likely to end up on welfare, commit crimes and run up other costs passed on to taxpayers (Belfield & Levin, 2007). In other cases the family has been on welfare for years and the children see that as their niche in life. I do know that it is very hard to get a kid interested in finishing high school if the family doesn't see it as important. Are dropouts counting on government Safety Net programs to bail them out? Sadly, yes in my experience. They don't see a personal future without food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance.

Most of us think that full time work is part of being an adult. Yet I know adults right now that can't pay their bills, and are only working part time jobs, or not working at all, even though there is a plethora of full time jobs available. Why aren't they working full time? Almost always they are receiving government help to meet their basic needs. Apparently for many people it is hard to find the motivation to work full time if they can receive government help.

Having children outside of marriage has long been known as a poor idea. A third of single parent households end up in poverty and the children of single parent households are more prone to psychiatric illness, alcohol abuse and suicide. Children of single parent homes are more likely to do poorly in school, be suspended or drop out, less likely to attend college or graduate from college, and more likely to commit crime and end up incarcerated.

Clearly having children out of wedlock is not good for the mother, the child or

society, yet the rate of children born out of wedlock just keeps climbing, from 7% in 1960 to 28% in 1990, and 40% currently. The sheer magnitude of Safety Net programs designed to "help" single parents must be enticing some to choose single parenthood. (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Women, Infants, and Children Assistance (WIC), the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Head Start, and school breakfast and lunch programs).

I still recall the first time a married women with children excitedly told me that she had checked out the benefits she would get if she were a single mother. She stated she would be better off financially than she was currently, AND she could quit her job. All she had to do to qualify was divorce her husband. Perhaps if we offered less programs to "help" single parents, more of them would choose to raise their children in marriage rather than as single parents.

There are No Real Barriers Preventing

Young People from Completing the

3 Steps of the Success Sequence.

The 3 steps are not too arduous for committed people. They are not out of reach for any young person that sees them as essential to their future happiness. We must take these steps immediately.

  1. We must stop incentivizing young people to get off the Success Sequence by offering money and free things through government Safety Net programs.

  2. Parents and the schools, starting very young, must teach every child the importance of the Success Sequence.

Poverty Persists Because People Make Bad Choices. Poverty Might End if We Quit Rewarding Bad Choices.

What the Government's War on Poverty was not able to accomplish, individuals can do for themselves. Thanks to the Success Sequence, based on statistics gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we all know the way.

The American Dream is Alive and Well!

We Must Help Young People Understand

the Power of Choosing the Success Sequence!

Take care and BE HEALTHY!

CW Jasper

September, 2022

© 2022· Content is Property Created by CW Jasper


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Mary Minor, ND
Mary Minor, ND
Sep 14, 2022

Yesterday the US Census released its poverty data which it has collected since 1960. According to the Census Supplemental Poverty Measure , the 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) lifted d 5.3 million people above the poverty line, including 2.9 million children (combined with the Earned Income Tax Credit, 9.6 million people were lifted out of poverty). Most dramatically, the child poverty rate dropped 46% between 2020 and 2021. In one year, the expanded CTC pushed the child poverty rate to the lowest level ever measured. So there's that.

Sep 18, 2022
Replying to

Good point! If we weren't burdened with the level of taxes we pay, we would all be better off, including poor people.


Gerald Hacker
Gerald Hacker
Sep 14, 2022

Dr. Jasper, do you know how drugs and alcohol play a role in poverty and what incentives are out there that help people either transition off of drugs or keep them addicted. I have read stories about city governments such as Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington providing safe spaces for drug addicts and even drug paraphernalia instead of mandatory treatment. I read where places like San Francisco provide money to homeless drug addicts to "help" them with their struggles with poverty. Often this money goes to more drugs thus keeping the addict hooked on drugs.

Doctor Jasper
Doctor Jasper
Sep 14, 2022
Replying to

I think drugs and alcohol play a big role in poverty. There are plenty of jobs out there right now, and if people are not employed, addiction and mental health is often implicated. As far as giving people drug paraphernalia, needle exchanges have been popular in the past to reduce disease transmission. I think everybody should have access to clean needles regardless of what they need them for. In the past, the law prevented people from being able to buy needles, so they would share what ever needles they could get their hands on. So that was an artificial barrier created by our laws, and needle exchanges helped reduce the harm caused by that law. You mention addicts being given…

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