by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s been 50 years now since the federal government launched its “War on Poverty.” But the numbers just released by the Census Bureau suggest we’re in a losing battle.
The poverty rate now stands at 14.5 percent. That’s a drop from the previous rate of 15 percent. But don’t celebrate too quickly. The new rate is almost exactly the poverty rate we had in 1967, only three years after President Lyndon Johnson announced his war.
To put it in further perspective: The poverty rate in 1950 was 32.2 percent. It dropped steadily throughout the ’50s, and had been nearly cut in half before the War on Poverty began. After that, the rate declined slightly, then leveled out.
That was $22 trillion ago. That’s right, trillion with a “t.” A 22 with 12 zeros behind it. To understand how much that is, if you laid a trillion $1 bills end to end, they would reach the sun. Now multiply that by 22. That’s enough for 11 round trips.
In short, it’s a lot of money. Yet the poverty rate is essentially the same as it was 50 years ago.