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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bring Them In -- By Sen. Mike Lee, website

It is of course a tragedy that we have to be here at all. Though the Bible says the poor will always be with us, it’s still hard to accept why, in a nation with a $15 trillion economy, the poor are still with us.

And yet, as we approach the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s famous “War on Poverty” speech, we all know the statistics. Despite trillions of taxpayer dollars spent to eradicate poverty since the late 1960s, the poverty rate has hardly budged. And just last week, the Census Bureau reported that today, more than 49 million Americans still live below the poverty line.

Today, a boy born in the bottom 20% of our income scale has a 42% chance of staying there as an adult. According to the O.E.C.D., the United States is third from the bottom of advanced countries in terms of upward economic mobility.

A recent study in Oregon found that the Medicaid program – which provides health insurance to the poor – produces basically no health improvements for its beneficiaries. A study last December on the Head Start program, issued by the Obama Administration itself, found that what few academic benefits three- and four-year olds do gain from the program all but disappear by end of the first grade.

We know that poor men and women are less likely to get married and stay married, that 30% of single mothers are living in poverty, and that their children are less likely to rise out of poverty themselves when they grow up.

We know that participation in civil society, volunteering, and religion are deteriorating in poor neighborhoods – compounding economic hardship with social isolation. And we know these trends cut across boundaries of race, ethnicity, and geography.

All of this might lead some to the depressing conclusion that – 50 years after Johnson’s speech - America’s war on poverty has failed. But the evidence proves nothing of the sort.  On the contrary, I believe the American people are poised to launch a new, bold, and heroic offensive in the war on poverty… if a renewed conservative movement has the courage to lead it.

First, let’s be clear about one thing.  The United States did not formally launch our War on Poverty in 1964, but in 1776: when we declared our independence, and the self-evident and equal rights of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

For more than two hundred years, the United States – through trial and error, through good times and bad – has waged the most successful war on poverty in the history of the world. The United States has become so wealthy that it is easy to forget that, as Michael Novak once noted, most affluent Americans can actually remember when their own families were poor.

Upward mobility has never been easy. It has always and everywhere required backbreaking work, personal discipline, and at least a little luck. But if upward mobility was not universal in America, it was the norm. From our very Founding, we not only fought a war on poverty – we were winning. The tools Americans relied on to overcome poverty were what became the twin pillars of American exceptionalism: our free enterprise economy and voluntary civil society.

We usually refer to the free market and civil society as “institutions.” But really, they are networks of people and information and opportunity. What makes these networks uniquely powerful is that they impel everyone – regardless of race, religion, or wealth - to depend not simply on themselves or the government, but on each other. For all America’s reputation for individualism and competition, our nation has from the beginning been built on a foundation of community and cooperation.

In a free market economy and voluntary civil society, no matter your career or your cause, your success depends on your service. The only way to get ahead is to help others do the same. The only way to look out for yourself is to look out for your neighbors.

Together, these twin networks of service-based success enabled millions of ordinary Americans to make our economy very wealthy and our society truly rich… long before Lyndon Johnson tried to do better by growing and centralizing government authority. These human – and humane – networks empowered Americans, unlike any people on earth or in history, to protect not just themselves but each other from both material want and social isolation.

Now, progressive ideologues reject all this. They do not trust individuals to join together voluntarily and organically to improve each other’s lives and meet common challenges.  As President Obama said in his second inaugural:

“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”

But by “together,” of course, he meant only “government.”

 (This is a terrific speech.  Please click below to continue reading.)

 (Click link below to read more)
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