Social Policy Paper: War on Poverty

Social Policy Paper: War on Poverty

The social policy declaring an unconditional war on poverty was declared about five decades ago in America by Lyndon Johnson who was the president then. Under this policy, Johnson and his fellow administrators set some initiatives aimed at putting poverty to an end. Johnson strategies were not meant lessen the signs of poverty and its problems but rather to fully eradicate it. Critically, poverty has been a historical major concern and in many countries which is yet to be fully addressed. Despite the many strategies set to address it, there is much more that ought to be done. The United States of America is among the countries that have achieved high economic, political and social status. However, the state has not been able to meet the needs of her population. This paper seeks to systematically explore the policy of war on poverty drawing from various points of view. The paper will also give the major foundations of the policy, personal opinions and suggest some necessary reforms.


The setting of the policy on poverty was an effort aimed at implementing four major legislation. These legislation were: ā€œThe Elementary Secondary Education Act, The Social Security Amendments, The Food Stamp Act and The Economic Opportunity Actā€ (Matthews, 2014). These legislation were designed to strengthen the minority groups in the nation including the college students, the aged and retired, widows and the disabled. Additionally, the legislation would also empower the state as a whole by opening up free and subsidized educational programs.

Causes and Origin of poverty

The primary causes of poverty include corruption in the employment sectors, lack of quality and affordable education, globalization and increased medical expenses. The problem of poverty is heightened by the fact that the state populations grow at higher rates than the economies. This trend makes the states unable to cater for the increasing needs of the population. Poverty is both a problem in the past and in the current status. It sprouted immediately the human beings came into existence, and its severity has been growing on daily basis.

Factors leading to the Launch of the War on poverty

Although the launching of this policy was out of the presidentā€™s personal interests, there are numerous factors that explain why this period was the most ideal for the war on poverty. It is presumed that during this period, poverty was more prevalent in America than ever. Most of the programs that were prompted by this policy are still in place with the most popular being the food stampsĀ (Matthews, 2014). The economists argue that the intervention of the government in the subject of poverty lowered its levels from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012Ā (Matthews, 2014).

Why is Poverty a Social Problem in United States and who defines it?

Poverty in America is relative. This means that it is measured with regard to the society. For instance, many citizens in America drive expensive cars, buy fancy clothes and reside in nice flats. Those who do not have enough money to buy all these things are considered poor. This is usually based on the average resident in the country. The individuals living under the average citizens are the ones who define poverty. The only difference between the current status and he former one is the gap between the citizens. The gap between the poor and the rich increases on daily basis with the poor becoming poorer and the rich richer.

Power over Poverty and the Role of Social Work

Basically, there is no single individual or organization can claim power over the issue of poverty; neither can any entity be held responsible for the poverty crisis. However, it is possible to conquer it through cooperation and social welfare programs. The intervention of the government and the non-governmental institution can play a great role in this. Poverty comes as a result of human failure. Particularly, it broods when some citizens fail to offer fellow citizens opportunities and fair chances to develop in their own abilitiesĀ (Matthews, 2014). The lack of basic needs, more specifically education, housing, and healthcare negatively affects our economies. If these injustices are stamped out, all nations will be able to eliminate poverty.

Social policies and Programs set to Address Poverty

Poverty has been a social problem since the time America was discovered. Various administrations came up with policies and programs to address the problem which have not been very successful. Such includes offering food aids, funded educational programs and free healthcare services. The effectiveness of these strategies has however been marred by administrative malpractices. There is still much that ought to be done and the most appropriate approaches that can be employed to address poverty problems comprises of focusing on food stamps programs.

Different Perspectives on War on Poverty

There have been various debates surrounding the policy of the war on poverty since it was waged. Many people view the policy as a perfect strategy to save the poor in the country. A greater population has been neutral on this matter and think that it has some advantages and disadvantages just like any other policy. Some critics, especially from the religious organizations, argue that this policy is demeaning and has only worked against the interests of the poor. Thus, the policy has evoked three major perspectives; collaborative, neutral and fully opposed groups. In order to adequately explore the three distinct perspectives, the paper will explore recent literature to show the validity of these arguments.

For the War on Poverty

The war against poverty has seen America evolve from the initial over-reliance on aids. According to Haveman, Blank, Moffitt, Smeeding, & Wallace (2015), the policy has been transformative in the past five decades. Haveman, Blank, Moffitt, Smeeding & Wallace (2015) recount the systematic shift to the current economies. This has been made viable by the various programs set forth by the government. The growth of the anti-poverty projects has reduced the poverty levels, but the efficiency of the antipoverty transfers by the government are still controversialĀ (Haveman, Blank, Moffitt, Smeeding, & Wallace, 2015). Overally, the rates of poverty have substantially decreased.

The main goal of the anti-poverty policy according to the president Lyndon Johnson was not only to conquer poverty but also to curb the causes of poverty. In the past fifty years after this declaration, the United States has spent close to $23 trillion in the anti-poverty projects. A significant part of the Stateā€™s population has substantially benefitted from these programs. The figure does not put into consideration the funds directed towards social security and healthcareĀ (Sheffield & Rector, 2014). America has made numerous successes in establishing a nation with fewer impoverished citizens making happier populations. Any successful society requires vibrant and healthy workers which can only be met by eradicating poverty.

The Neutral Perspective

The neutral side on war on poverty argue that there are some programs that worked and others which did not work. Edelman (2016) in his article, describes the antipoverty programs and strategies that succeeded and ones which failed. In the article, the author hints that the war against poverty was real. However, not all the goals of waging the war were metĀ (Edelman, 2016). This demonstrates partial successes and partial failures.

In all policies that are implemented, there is much likelihood that both the intended and unintended effects will be exhibited. This was the case in the War gauged against Poverty as Bitler & Karoly (2014) argue in their article that the United States had adopted a series of projects to be implemented in the course of the War against Poverty. All these programs were set for some noble goals. However some of the projects have the features of producing the unintended outcomesĀ (Bitler & Karoly, 2014). As much as the populations stand to criticize the unintended consequences, they ought to recognize the intended good. Furthermore, the negativities of the programs could not outlaw the positives.

Against the War on Poverty

Laurent (2015) explains the trends that came after the declaration of the unconditional antipoverty approaches that indicated that the poverty on war was actually waged against the poor. The major proponent of the war, Lyndon Johnson, and Martin Luther King Jr. had always been conspirators on the matters of civil rights legislationsĀ (Laurent, 2015). However, they parted ways on the policy in question. King argued that the Vietnam War was a destructive program of the anti-poverty policy. In a church meeting held at Riverside in April 1967, King explained why the president had waged a war against the poor. However, the adventures like the one on Vietnam unrelentingly continued to draw money and workforce skills like an evil, destructive forceĀ (Laurent, 2015). Hence, King was continuously compelled to view the war as an enemy to the poor.

The war is not worth fighting; there are many other evils that are known to perpetuate and should first be addressed before setting a war on povertyĀ (Piazza, 2011). The policymakers have to be considerate and cognizant of the fact that poverty sprouts from other social evils including corruption terrorism and the economic discriminations vested on the minority groupsĀ (Piazza, 2011).Ā  Waging a war on poverty is rather simplistic and being ignorant of other problems perhaps because the administrators have specific weaknesses on some subjects over others.

The War on Poverty has been a significant policy although it should not to be the only war. Poverty is much related to other shortcomings which must be addressed before it. The war will only be effective if the social evils causing poverty are minimized. If these issues are not considered, poverty will continue to thrive in our anti-poverty nations.Ā  It is only through weakening its roots that poverty can be stopped. The anti-poverty policies should be changed to create the ideal poverty-free nations.

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