Chad’s Morning Brief: War on Poverty, Downtown Lubbock, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of January 8, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
War on Poverty
The War on Poverty is 50 years old and I think it’s safe to say that it’s been a failure. As James Rosen writes, 47 million Americans are now living in poverty.
More than anything else, it was a sign of the times: an age when the United States, still confident after the triumph of World War II and locked in an epic twilight struggle with the Soviet Union, dreamed big dreams and considered it possible to achieve huge national objectives.
A young and charismatic president, John F. Kennedy, had just been murdered in the streets of Dallas, but his rhetorical grandiosity and innate sense of daring still pervaded the American political culture. If our slain leader could commit us to the goal of landing a man on the moon, and safely returning him to the earth, by the end of the 1960s – another of the great and noble collaborations between Big Government and Big Academia – then surely we could make it a national project to eradicate poverty in our time, no?
That was the goal of Kennedy’s successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, when he used his first State of the Union address, on January 8, 1964 – less than two months after JFK’s assassination – to launch the country on another major national initiative, similar in scope and vision to the moon landing.
But in embarking on what he called “an unconditional war on poverty in America,” Johnson warned that it could not be a federal project alone, that states and cities would have to play their respective roles, and that the effort was likely to prove a multi-generational one. “It will not be a short or easy struggle,” LBJ told the joint session of Congress that night. “No single weapon or strategy will suffice. But we shall not rest until that war is won.”
Five decades later, the war is far from won, and Uncle Sam is nowhere near resting. Back in 1964, 36 million Americans lived in poverty; today it’s close to 47 million. Of course, the U.S. population has grown dramatically over the last 50 years, and the percentage of Americans in poverty has declined in that time span, from 19 percent to 15 percent.
Still, that’s higher than at any point in the first decade of this millennium, when George W. Bush was president, and far from the record low of 11.1 percent achieved under President Nixon in 1973.
What’s more, the percentage of children living in poverty is essentially unchanged since 1964, and by some estimates, Uncle Sam has spent $15 trillion on anti-poverty programs over the last five decades. Indeed, as a percentage of federal outlays, such spending has soared by 286 percent since LBJ’s day.
“I think there’s no question that the War on Poverty that Lyndon Johnson declared 50 years ago Wednesday has made very important advances,” said Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, at a White House briefing this week. “There’s just no question….Over the last 50 years things have been done wrong, but I think we’ve learned from lessons.”
As evidence, Sperling cited dramatic improvements for African-Americans over the last 50 years, both in terms of their overall poverty rate and their high school graduation rates. “In 1963,” he said, “51 percent of African-Americans were in poverty and about 25 percent had graduated from high school.”
Today, those figures stand at around 27 percent and 62 percent, respectively; but those are still far below the poverty and high school graduation rates for non-Hispanic whites.
Economist Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute told Fox News he sees no major national politician intensively focused on what Strain believes is the core problem where poverty is concerned: chronic long-term unemployment and the viability of the labor market. Strain noted that some fpur million Americans have been unemployed for longer than 26weeks.
“The share of the population that has jobs — that hasn’t really recovered much since the recession ended and the recovery officially began,” Strain said. “What you’re seeing is some employment growth in the very low-skilled occupations, some employment growth in the very-high skilled occupations, and in those kind of middle-skill occupations, you are seeing falling wages and less employment growth.”
It must be Downtown Redevelopment week for the local news stations because we have another report on downtown and a possible monorail. According to KCBD‘s report, McDougal thinks the monorail is needed because of the lack of parking downtown.
It has been five years since the estimated $1 billion downtown redevelopment project began. In that time, not much progress has been visible, but work is being completed.
“Basically the first five years was trying to get a handle on what we had, which was about 21 million square feet of ground that we had to cover and most of it with building that were vacant,” said Delbert McDougal.
Most of that time has been spent burying utility lines.
“Phase one of that is basically complete. We’re in the engineering stage of phase two and then phase three goes all the way to Marsha Sharp,” said McDougal. “It’s going very well. It’s slow, it’s a process that up to this point you can’t see what happened. That frustrates people and I understand that but you’ve got to make those changes in order to make the redevelopment of downtown possible.”
The next building to be completed is the Pioneer Hotel.
“It should be open well before June quite honestly and that’s going to really be the first thing of any nature on the taller buildings downtown,” said McDougal and he believes the redevelopment will be a huge benefit to Lubbock.
“It’s going to really put Lubbock and downtown on the national map,” he said. “I think it’s an absolute must, especially now with the reality of Texas Tech’s growth and the medical facilities in the downtown area it’s certainly something that will happen.”
Another idea they are exploring is a possible rail line downtown that McDougal believes is an important part of redevelopment.
“We’re involved in a fact finding mission to determine exactly where it would go, what the cost would be and how it would actually work between downtown, overton, Texas Tech and even back to the depot district and finally back over to the civic center,” he said. “I think it is a huge deal because of the lack of parking in downtown because of the lack of parking at Texas Tech I think it really be a major asset to downtown assuming we can get it done.”
Other Top Stories:
10:15am- Congressman Randy Neugebauer
These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.