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War on Poverty

War on Poverty

     Fifty years ago President Johnson declared war on poverty. The U.S. spent $15 trillion fighting poverty but the poverty rate for Americans between 18 and 64 has remained stagnant at about 10%.
Poverty for Americans under 18 years old declined from 23 to 17%.

     The most dramatic decrease in poverty has been for Americans over age 65. It declined from about 29% to 10%.

     But percentages can be deceiving. The population in 1964 was about 190 million and about 19% or 35 million of them lived in poverty. The US population today is over 300 million and about 12 % of us or 36 million live in poverty...including 12 million kids. 

     I have always been of the opinion the cure for poverty is education. The more you know the more you's that simple. Get an education, you get a job, more education equals better jobs, better salaries and benefits.

     Oklahoma has had a poverty problem since statehood particularly in SE Oklahoma but Washington seems to think we can win the war on poverty by increasing the minimum wage. People earn the minimum wage because they have minimal skills and education. If you have a high school or college diploma you won't have to worry about the minimum wage rate.

     I ran for governor in 1990 and my goal was to build the finest public school
systems in America. It should still be our goal because just this week Oklahoma's school systems received a grade of 'D'.

     We won't win the war on poverty until we improve our education system. Poverty won't be a problem if our kids are better education. We need longer school days and years that teach more math, science and physical education to make our kids smarter and healthier.

     But education begins at home. Parents have to turn off the TV and computers, make kids read more, help with homework, give their kids a good breakfast before they go to school and make sure they get a good night’s rest after school.

     The war on poverty was built on good intentions... but victory will only come
when we get serious about education.

For Common Sense, I'm Vince Orza.

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