Monday, January 7, 2013

War on Poverty Day

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By Diane Forrest

While checking the schedule of articles for this month when I passed over this one I thought to myself, well this is a current issue and a problem that faces the country today.  However, when I began researching I discovered that the phrase War on Poverty was first coined in 1964 during President Lyndon Johnson's State of the Union Address on January 8.
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War on Poverty was the unofficial name for legislation that was introduced in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent.   As a part of the Great Society, Johnson believed in expanding the government's role in education and health care as poverty reduction strategies.

According to Wikipedia, The Office of Economic Opportunity was the agency responsible for administering most of the War on Poverty programs created during Johnson's Administration, including VISTA, Job Corps, Head Start, Legal Services and the Community Action Program. The OEO was established in 1964 and quickly became a target of both left-wing and right-wing critics of the War on Poverty. Directors of the OEO included Sargent Shriver, Bertrand Harding, and Donald Rumsfeld.
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Poverty continues to be a problem today.  In 2004, more than 35.9 million, or 12% of Americans including 12.1 million children, were considered to be living in poverty with an average growth of almost 1 million per year.  There are many government programs available to assist those in need, however with the fiscal cliff the country is currently teetering on, many government programs have been cut or reduced to help the country's economic needs.
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Today is War on Poverty Day, the purpose is it recognize the introduction in 1964, and to make you aware that the problem still exists today.  Ways you can help include financial donations to your favorite charity, donations of your time assisting in soup kitchens or a meals on wheels program, or donating items from your home such as blankets or coats to those in need.   So as you think about the War on Poverty today, please think of some way in which you can join the battle and help in this fight.

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