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The Great Society

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Brad
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0 posted 10-04-2005 08:19 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

So, throwing all that money at poor people. It didn't do a thing.

Or did it?

quote:
In fact, from 1963 when Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century. Since then, the poverty rate has hovered at about the 13 percent level


Well, yeah, but it ended up creating a 'dependency' society:


quote:
These programs assure a steady supply of educated individuals who provide the human resources for our economic prosperity. When these programs were enacted, only 41 percent of Americans had completed high school; only 8 percent held college degrees. This past year, more than 81 percent had finished high school and 24 percent had completed college. By establishing the federal government's responsibility to finance this educational surge‹and the concept that access to higher education should be determined by ability and ambition, not dollars and cents‹we have amassed the trained talent to be the world's leading industrial, technological, communications and military power today.


But what about old people? What about abortions?

quote:
Taken together, these programs have played a pivotal role in recasting America's demographic profile. In 1964, life expectancy was 66.6 years for men and 73.1 years for women (69.7 years overall). In a single generation, by 1997, life expectancy jumped 10 percent: for men, to 73.6 years; for women, to 79.2 years (76.5 years overall). The jump was highest among the less advantaged, suggesting that better nutrition and access to health care have played an even larger role than medical miracles. Infant mortality stood at 26 deaths for each 1,000 live births when LBJ took office; today it stands at only 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, a reduction of almost 75 percent.



So why is Johnson almost universally villified (and I've left the Civil Rights and Environmental agendas as well as the demographic changes of the 60's off the table for the moment)?

That's easy: Vietnam.

Johnson left us a dual legacy that allowed conservatives to hate him and liberals to hate him.

But if we're going to talk about rolling back the New Deal and the Great Society maybe we should try to remember where we were before them.

The Great Society

Do you really want to go back?

[This message has been edited by Ron (07-09-2007 08:30 PM).]

Christopher
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1 posted 10-04-2005 09:05 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

I'd be a lot more comfortable listening to this as a whole, Brad, if I could believe that the textbook baseline of poverty as viewed by the government was actually based on a legitimate amount.

For a family of four: $18,850/year.
That's $1,571/month.
That's $363/week.
That's $9/hour (based on 40-hour work week).

Tim
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2 posted 10-05-2005 12:09 AM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

cause and effect?
or does it only apply to one side of the argument?

sheesh...  what questions would one need to consider?

When were the present poverty guidelines developed?  Could it be 1964 and 1965 to measure the success of Johnson's programs?
Could they have been revised in 1969?
Relying on family incomes as a guide, could the emergence of two income families and the sharp increase of families with a woman head of household have an effect?

Was President Johnson able to adequately fund the Great Society during the height of the Vietnam War?  Were the effects immediate for the programs and after the programs have a couple of years to get going and they were adequately funded, they lost their ability to lower the poverty level?

Why did the figures go down in the 60's with little spending and then from 70 on remain fairly constant when the amount of money and people being served by the benefits of the Great Society increasing leaps and bounds from 70 on?

Were the expenditures for welfare and other entitlement programs exponentially increased after the end of the VietNam War with virtually no change in the poverty rate notwithstanding trillions of dollars being spent rather the meager amounts Johnson was able to provide?

Was the poverty rate going down significantly prior to 65?

Were the 60's a period of great economic growth?

Just kind of interesting to see if someone indicates negative consequences of the Great Society, it is dismissed outright and if there are benefits, it is automatically assumed there is a direct casual relationship.
Balladeer
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3 posted 10-05-2005 12:36 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

You quote from headlines that have the subtitle "The Truth Behind the Conservative Myths"? Nice to see an unbiased report.
Ron
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4 posted 10-05-2005 01:38 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
... and if there are benefits, it is automatically assumed there is a direct casual relationship.

Assumed by whom, Tim??? If you don't assume it, and clearly you don't, why should you presume everyone else will?

Mike, I suspect if you want an unbiased report -- on just about anything -- you'll have to pick up a ream of paper at your local Office Depot. As long as the paper remains sealed and unused, I figure that's about as close as you'll likely get to unbiased.

On the other hand, I guess what you don't say is a form of bias, as well.
jbouder
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5 posted 10-05-2005 08:51 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

There are real and measurable benefits to social and entitlement programs.  I think, more often than not, the "throwing money" phrase is tossed out there without one's careful examination of both the regulatory controls (e.g., restrictions on funding and quality assurance measures) on such expenditures and the real and measurable benefits of such programs.

There will always be case studies that show some recipients of public assistance do not aspire to independence, but there are certainly case studies that reflect the opposite.  Anecdotally, I'm certain many of us know people who were formerly on welfare and subsequently bettered their lives.

But even so, why limit the evaluation of social and entitlement programs to poverty issues?  Medicare, Medicaid, low-income insurance programs, special education programs ... do those programs produce masses of lazy, publically-dependent citizens?

Jim
Ron
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6 posted 10-05-2005 10:05 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I think, more often than not, the "throwing money" phrase is tossed out there without one's careful examination of both the regulatory controls (e.g., restrictions on funding and quality assurance measures) on such expenditures and the real and measurable benefits of such programs.


quote:
Anecdotally, I'm certain many of us know people who were formerly on welfare and subsequently bettered their lives.

Anecdotally, Jim, I think most of us know those regulatory controls are a joke.

Unlike Balladeer, I don't believe giving people something they haven't earned necessarily creates lazy, publicly-dependent citizens. I just think lazy, publicly-apathetic citizens are drawn out of the woodwork by "entitlement" programs. As Mike is well aware, the daily barrage of crumbs rarely cleaned from the kitchen floor doesn't create cockroaches. It just attracts them.


Balladeer
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7 posted 10-05-2005 12:07 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

LOL! I concede, Ron...that's the best example I've seen in a while
Tim
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8 posted 10-05-2005 01:45 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

"Assumed by whom, Tim??? If you don't assume it, and clearly you don't, why should you presume everyone else will?"

Most generally I will assume when someone says something, they intend to mean what they say.  That is until some evidence indicates otherwise.

Therefore, I assume the person writing the information submitted by Brad meant what they said and Brad endorses the information or he wouldn't have submitted the same.

I don't recall saying I assumed or didn't assume anything, I just pointed out what I believe to be inconsistencies between two threads as far as assuming matters depending on one's bias.

I agree everyone is biased, but to make an independent determination, it has been my experience you have to take into consideration the bias of the person making the statement.  The more biased a person is, the more you have to scrutinize the statement, but even the most biased person needs to be considered(Rush-Michael Moore)

As a general rule, if someone indicates they are not biased and feel the need to so indicate, then the red flags better be hoisted.

I am afraid I don't have the moral clarity and intellectual insight to be as definitive as some.  Personally, I have nothing against President Johnson and believe he was to a great extent a victim of circumstances beyond his control.  I certainly wouldn't vilify him, and to the contrary respect his political skills and what he attempted to accomplish.

I don't see if President Kennedy had lived that he would have not been in the same situation, except Kennedy was not near the politician Johnson was and would have had a far greater difficulty in getting his agenda moved forward.

You can make strong arguments on either side concerning positives and negatives about the "Great Society".  If I were going to assume anything within the framework of my own personal biases, I would assume you and Balladeer both are wrong and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
jbouder
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9 posted 10-05-2005 04:09 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Ron:

Regulations can seem burdensome but, more often than not, the process works.  But by demanding government programs to meet local needs AND demanding accountability, we've caused our own bureaucratic headache.

Ron and Balladeer:

So I suppose soup kitchens and food banks attract "cockroaches" too?  Maybe, but laziness, greed, and opportunism are not the exclusive domains of the poor.  Fraud occurs across socio-economic lines ... the penalties just tend to be harsher if your collar is blue.

The abuse or misuse of entitlement programs by some is a given.  If your solution to this problem is to abolish entitlement programs, I think you're missing the boat.  If you're a conservative, there are interesting programs focusing on public and private partnerships to achieve social ends that have been extremely successful and have led to innovative uses of public dollars.  

Funny thing is that liberals like some of these programs too. Go figure.

Jim
Ron
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10 posted 10-05-2005 04:13 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Most generally I will assume when someone says something, they intend to mean what they say.  That is until some evidence indicates otherwise.

Therefore, I assume the person writing the information submitted by Brad meant what they said and Brad endorses the information or he wouldn't have submitted the same.

I don't recall saying I assumed or didn't assume anything, I just pointed out what I believe to be inconsistencies between two threads as far as assuming matters depending on one's bias.

I probably misunderstood, then, Tim, though I'm sure you can see where that might happen. Your reference to "direct causal relationship" in your first post tripped me up a bit. As I recall it, neither the person writing the information nor Brad recently questioned the cause and effect relationship of the "negative consequences of the Great Society." That would have been me, and of course I find much the same lack of evidence in this thread, especially for the final two points (Christopher covered the first already). I suspect better education and longer lives might have a little more to do with real science than with political science.

FWIW, I certainly wouldn't vilify President Johnson, either. As the successor to a self-styled and largely wishful Camelot (a word I don't think was ever used in reference to the Kennedy administration prior to November, 1963), LBJ faced an impossible task. I remember winning twenty bucks, a minor fortune to a 14-year-old kid, on the 1964 election from a die-hard Republican. Like 61 percent of the voters that year, the widest popular margin in American history at more than 15 million votes, I supported Johnson.

To this day, I think he was a great man, and more importantly perhaps, had a great heart. Unlike most of today's politicians, Johnson's fight against poverty was a personal one. He wasn't born with a silver spoon, and after surviving his own rural poverty growing up in central Texas, Johnson went on to spend his early adult years as a public school teacher working with kids, typically of Mexican descent, who made his own barebones childhood seem rich. Johnson's compassion for the impoverished was never a political platitude.

Regretfully, the road to hell is still paved with the best of intentions, and I think this country paid a high price for the unprecedented popular support of President Johnson. Politics, much like the courtroom, Tim, works best in an adversarial system. The good that Johnson did, and I think there was much good, was in almost every instance carried to excess because too few were able to effectively oppose him. Even strength and compassion, I think, need to be tempered.

Camelot, I believe, was a fine dream. That mythical age, however, wasn't founded on fighting for the sake of fighting, nor did it rest on the backs of the strong forever supporting the weight of the weak. On the contrary, the magic of Camelot sprang from noble attitudes and the promise that the weak, like Arthur and yes, like LBJ, could rise to strength by doing what they knew was right even at high personal cost. Camelot, I think, wasn't about saving the world, but rather expecting and perhaps even demanding that he world save itself.
Ron
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11 posted 10-05-2005 04:43 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
... but laziness, greed, and opportunism are not the exclusive domains of the poor.  Fraud occurs across socio-economic lines ... the penalties just tend to be harsher if your collar is blue.

Jim, that was precisely my point in the other thread regarding what we've seen in Louisiana recently.

quote:
The abuse or misuse of entitlement programs by some is a given.  If your solution to this problem is to abolish entitlement programs, I think you're missing the boat.

Sorry, Jim, but in my opinion, that boat never left the dock.  

I believe you will never stop abuse and misuse by questioning someone's entitlement.

"Sorry, but you don't have enough kids for this program."

"If you take that part-time job, you'll make too much to remain in our program."

"Your father, though estranged, makes too much money for you get this educational assistance."

The very word "entitlement" is wholly at odds with the way we currently operate the system. If someone is entitled to food stamps simply because they exist, then everyone who exists is similarly entitled, all the way up the chain to Bill Gates. When you convince someone they have a right to something, but then set conditions on the receipt of that something, you effectively create a system where people will feel perfectly justified in cheating. It is, after all, their right.

I am not adverse to helping people help themselves. I just want to see the emphasis shifted from "helping" to "help themselves." While I certainly don't pretend I have an answer that fits every situation, because I know all too well there are instances where people can't plant their seeds without someone else first plowing the field, I remain convinced that government is a very poor arbitrator of charity.


Not A Poet
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12 posted 10-05-2005 07:00 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Entitlement programs are, of course, necessary but the rampant abuse of the system does cause much concern. As just one example: We sometimes visit a local "discount" supermarket, not a very nice store but the prices are generally pretty good. It is impossible to wait in the check out line without witnessing more than one serious infraction. A woman ahead of you, wearing lots of diamonds and jewelery (which may or may not be real) uses food stamps to pay for her groceries. Now food stamps can't be used for just everything. Beer and tobacco, among other things, are specifically excluded. Then she pulls out a roll of $100 bills to pay for several cartons of cigarettes and a couple of cases of beer along with a few other excluded items. Finally, she puts the whole thing in her new Cadillac and drives off.

Meanwhile, I have worked my entire life, making a decent living in the process, and can count on one hand the number of times I have even owned a spare $100 bill to buy beer. Now what's wrong with this picture?

BTW, I recall some comic (can't remember the name though) back in the 60's referring to it as Roosevelt's "New Deal" then Kennedy's "Fair Deal" and now Johnson's "Big Deal." Thought that was pretty good at the time.

Midnitesun
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13 posted 10-05-2005 08:09 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Well, I guess I've never seen that diamond lady in the checkout line. Here in Oregon, in line at the local Grocery Outlet (a discount food store where you better be careful and READ the expiration dates) it's usually the same crowd I see shopping at St Vincent de Paul charity thrift store and the local food bank. And I am sure there are a few who might wear some flashy items, might not REALLY need the assistance of the FS allotment. But I am one who has been on the FS debit card recently, and it's no cake walk. I doubt seriously that there are more than a handful who abuse this system. Maybe it's like saying you would prefer a couple of guilty criminals go scott free than to have one innocent person serve time in prison. I for one, am willing to take my chances with a few slouchers eating 'high on the hog' than to see anyone in need go hungry.
It can be a great society only if the greater number of people can eat, have safe shelter. And an education alone doesn't guarantee either. I have a college degree, and still found myself in that poverty zone. Please don't beat me up on top of all that I already have to deal with.
Balladeer
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14 posted 10-05-2005 09:14 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

One of the radio talk shows here in Florida asked any and all store workers to report any purchases people made with the credit cards the government gave out to the hurricane victims. It was hysterical! 500 dollar shoes, Gucci purses, expensive jewelry....and not that many listeners were surprised. Me, neither.
Brad
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15 posted 10-05-2005 10:21 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Mike, what does that have to do with this thread?


quote:
But I am one who has been on the FS debit card recently, and it's no cake walk. I doubt seriously that there are more than a handful who abuse this system. Maybe it's like saying you would prefer a couple of guilty criminals go scott free than to have one innocent person serve time in prison. I for one, am willing to take my chances with a few slouchers eating 'high on the hog' than to see anyone in need go hungry.
It can be a great society only if the greater number of people can eat, have safe shelter. And an education alone doesn't guarantee either. I have a college degree, and still found myself in that poverty zone. Please don't beat me up on top of all that I already have to deal with.



Just thought that needed to be read again.

Balladeer
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16 posted 10-05-2005 10:33 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Brad, if you don't know what that has to do with this thread, then you haven't read the last dozen entries or so...
Ron
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17 posted 10-05-2005 11:00 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I for one, am willing to take my chances with a few slouchers eating 'high on the hog' than to see anyone in need go hungry.

I would, too, Kacy . . . if I was convinced that was a necessary price to pay. My experience with slouchers, however, suggests that making them actually work for what they need seems to suddenly and very dramatically limit what they need. Those in true need of help are willing, when they are able, to work for it. Those wanting free hand-outs stop wanting them when they cease to be free.
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18 posted 10-06-2005 10:10 AM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

quote:
My experience with slouchers, however, suggests that making them actually work for what they need seems to suddenly and very dramatically limit what they need. Those in true need of help are willing, when they are able, to work for it. Those wanting free hand-outs stop wanting them when they cease to be free.

EXACTLY THE POINT.
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19 posted 10-06-2005 12:47 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

If there is an easy way to weed out those slouchers from the benefits garden we should do just that. It doesn't look like that will ever be the case though, unless we decrease the social workers case loads or increase the number of workers, so each might have sufficient time per case to weed out the truly lazy duffs from the dysfunctionals and the just-plain-poor. Here in Oregon there is a high proportion of min wage jobs, and many of those are seasonal. If it weren't for the charity organizations and government FS allotments, we would have thousands starving monthly. In addition, public subsidized housing and HUD are major components of housing survivability for thousands of Oregonians, and I suspect the same is true in many other states. I personally see very few blatant violators, but those who abuse the system stand out like proverbial sore thumbs.
Brad
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20 posted 10-06-2005 08:19 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
Brad, if you don't know what that has to do with this thread, then you haven't read the last dozen entries or so...


Well, the point of this thread was to show that the Great Society policies were not a complete loss.

Unless one goes for massive conspiracy theories, I don't see how that can be denied.

But then what what about the next step?

What do you do with the slouchers?

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21 posted 10-06-2005 09:49 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

I don't think we'll ever get rid of them. They are firmly entrenched in the system. One way or the other, they will get what they want. I still say they are the small minority though, and not worth the amount of time and fuss they are given. MHO.
A truly Great Society should be able to overlook a handful of not-so-great-citizens.
Ron
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22 posted 10-06-2005 11:11 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Well, the point of this thread was to show that the Great Society policies were not a complete loss.

My first marriage wasn't a complete loss, either, Brad.  

I'm not sure it necessarily follows, however, that the gain was worth the cost.

quote:
I don't think we'll ever get rid of them. They are firmly entrenched in the system.

Then we need to get rid of the system, Kacy.

Helping people shouldn't be about what they are entitled to, because everyone should be entitled to the same. It was Karl Marx who wrote, "From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need." We already discovered that doesn't work, so why in the world should we base our Great Society on trying to determine a person's needs? It can't be done, not fairly, not consistently.

Those who want/need an hour's wages should be willing to put in an hour's work. It doesn't matter if the person is "eligible" or a multi-millionaire, as long as they are willing to give something in return. Both are "entitled" to the same jobs at the same pay. Cleaning schools. Policing roads. Doing laundry at a local hospital or prison.

People who need help should be able to get it. For themselves.

And, yea, I know it isn't all that simple in practice. There are speed bumps 'twixt here and there. It's time and past time we started facing them, though.
Brad
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23 posted 10-07-2005 06:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Let's talk about cost:

Nixon

[quote]Johnson has gone down in the history books as the big spender for social welfare programs, yet federal spending grew faster during Nixon¡¯s tenure than during Johnson¡¯s. It was under Nixon that social spending came to exceed defense spending for the first time. Social spending soared from $55 billion in 1970 (Nixon¡¯s first budget) to $132 billion in 1975, from 28 percent of the federal budget when LBJ left office to 40 percent of the budget by the time Nixon left in 1974. While Nixon would criticize and attempt to reform welfare, he nonetheless approved massive increases in funding for other Great Society programs such as the Model Cities program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of the changes in spending policies that Nixon supported, such as automatic cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients and other entitlement programs, contributed to runaway spending trends in successive decades. Federal spending for the arts, which went mostly to cultural elites who hated Nixon, quadrupled. Economist Herbert Stein, who served on Nixon¡¯s Council of Economic Advisers, summed up this dubious record: "The administration that was against expanding the budget expanded it greatly; the administration that was determined to fight inflation ended by having a large amount of it."

The explosion in spending was matched by an equally dramatic explosion in federal regulation-from an administration that regarded itself as pro-business. The number of pages in the Federal Register (the roster of federal rules and regulations) grew only 19 percent under Johnson, but a staggering 121 percent under Nixon. In civil rights, Nixon expanded the regime of "affirmative action" racial quotas and set-asides far beyond what Johnson had done. In other words, Nixon consolidated the administrative state of the Great Society in much the same way that President Eisenhower (for whom Nixon served as Vice President) consolidated the New Deal. Ronald Reagan would run and govern as much against the legacy of Nixon as he would the legacy of the Great Society, and it was a number of Nixon¡¯s administrative creations that would cause Reagan the most difficulty during his White House years. Yet at the same time Nixon deserves the credit for assembling the new political coalition of working class and ethnic voters who would later become known as ¡°Reagan Democrats.¡± Nixon was the first Republican to win a majority of working class, Catholic, and labor union voters, as well as voters with only a grade school education. In the political sense Nixon played Moses to Reagan¡¯s Joshua. This is Nixon¡¯s greatest paradox.

I'm not sure this is a paradox at all. Nixon's policies and rhetoric won elections.

Yet, why didn't this increased spending lessen poverty in the same way that Johnson's policies did?

Or at least seem to lessen?

What's the difference?

Ron
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So, basically, Brad, you're trying to remind me that my second marriage was even more expensive than my first? With less return?

Okay. I get that.

This Spring I decided I wanted some blue jay pictures, so I bought peanuts from an on-line bird store and put them in one of my feeders. About ten days later, I got what I thought were some pretty decent shots of a remarkably colored male blue jay. In hopes of enticing him under my cherry tree, where the light was softer and less harsh, I put another feeder with even more chopped peanuts. Regretfully, my ploy failed.

It was much later that I discovered blue jays don't eat peanuts, at least not when live insects are readily available. It was nice that a blue jay visited my yard shortly after putting out peanuts, a coincidence likely spurred simply because I was looking more closely for him, but it had nothing at all to do with the peanuts. Not surprisingly, putting out more peanuts didn't result in more coincidences.

Cause and effect is elusive prey, Brad, but the Scientific Method has come up with a pretty good trap. It's called repeatability. When you do A and the result seems to be B, it's easy and natural to assume that A caused B. However, when you keep doing A and see only C, D, and E, your cause and effect conclusions have to abandoned. They failed the test of repeatability.

Instead of wondering why more peanuts didn't bring more blue jays, it's time to buy some crickets.
 
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