Data suggests that the Great Society hurt more than it helped

By Tom Quiner


Here’s the question I received from a self-identified liberal Quiner’s Diner reader on the impact of the welfare state:

“Would you concede that neither of us has any statistically significant evidence to prove our respective points?”

It’s a good question. I appreciate the spirit of the query, since this reader has demonstrated an interest in more fact-based discussions of the issues than the typical liberal.

In response to the question posed above, evidence is very much stacked against the efficacy of the welfare state A AAuncle-obamaenacted under Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Programs beginning back in the late 1960s.

You can see above that the poverty rate was in a free fall in the 1960s. But rather than continuing to drop as government welfare programs were rolled out, the rate leveled off. Current rates are about the same as they were back when the Great Society was launched, despite trillions of dollars thrown at the problem.

These programs very much targeted African-Americans. How did they work? They gutted their families, miring many in an inter-generational welfare cycle.

Take education. Black kids are faring worse, a lot worse, than white kids.

The average seventh to eighth grade white kid tests better than a black  twelfth-grader. This is certainly a multi-faceted problem. But there’s no doubt that, on average, black kids attend inferior schools than white kids. Conservatives encourage  programs such as school-choice and vouchers to liberate black kids from their ghetto schools, but liberal politicians block these initiatives.

Liberals’ solution? Money.

They pour money into select urban schools without a proportionate return on investment. For example, Washington D.C. has the dubious distinction of being toward the bottom of the rung in academic achievement for their students, even though they spend more than any other, some $29,000 per student per year.

Take security. Seven to nine-thousand blacks are murdered every year. Despite a lot of talk about racist prison sentences and hate crime, 94% of blacks are murdered by other blacks. A young black man is much safer being sent to war than growing up on the urban streets of America.

What happened?

Simply put, welfare. Liberal elites erected a network of programs that profoundly changed Black America. Some programs worked well; some didn’t. But ultimately, the multi-trillion dollar Great Society Programs replaced Black fathers with a welfare check, to the detriment of Black children.

In the early sixties, three out of four Black kids lived with their married mom and dad.

Today, it’s only one out of three.

The systematic destruction of the Black family has led to an explosion of social pathology amongst our Black brothers and sisters.

It gets even worse when you look at birth rates. Some 53% of black babies are aborted, which has lowered the Black birth rate below replacement level. The Black community in America is slowly dying, one abortion at a time.

Today, Blacks enjoy more political clout than at any time in our history. We have 44 African-Americans serving in Congress. We have an African-American president. And yet with their growing political clout, they continue to overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party which promotes the very policies that have been so deleterious to America’s Black community.

President Obama garnered some 95% of the Black vote despite the fact that he promotes human abortion as a way of controlling unwanted human beings; he fights school choice and vouchers tooth and nail, miring Black kids in underachieving schools; and he supports and expands welfare programs that breed dependence and stagnation.

The political philosophy of Barack Obama and his fellow liberal elites has been poison to Black America.

No, the key to saving the African-American race is certainly not more abortion.

What they need is more family.

African-American kids simply need a mom and a dad bringing them up. Great Society programs subsidized illegitimacy. Whenever you subsidize anything, you get more of it.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink things.


  1. Dennis Wagoner on March 18, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Well said! Every time (yes, EVERY time) I have this debate with someone, they always come back with ‘well, it would have been worse for blacks if the Great Society had not happened.’ All I can say, is ‘How?’ I never get an answer.

    • quinersdiner on March 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      The data suggests that the Great Society DID make it worse. Thanks for commenting, Dennis.

  2. travojones on March 18, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    I hate to seem picky, but could you please provide the source of the graph you provided? It lacks analysis, so it’s difficult to draw any conclusions. There are a ton of variables…for one, it’s a bit misguided to point to the jump in poverty rate over the last 5 years, considering we just came out of the 2nd worse economic crash in US history.

    Also, the poverty rates of African-Americans have dropped pretty heavily. The poverty rate among blacks was up over 40% in the 60’s; in 2012 it was 27%, even though we were still just coming out of the recession.

    • quinersdiner on March 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      The data came from the U.S. Census Bureau, with the graph created by the Urban Institute. Your comment on a overall drop in black poverty is a fair one, and that is very good news. But it has come at a great cost via the break up of the black family and associated social pathology in the black community. Interestingly, black poverty dropped nicely in the moderate-spending government era of Gingrich/Clinton, complete with the passage of the Welfare Reform Act. It started to rise again during the Bush years of “compassionate conservatism” when government spending on social programs again skyrocketed. It only got worse under Obama’s reign. To be specific, the labor force participation rate for blacks has dropped since Obama came to office; the poverty rate for blacks has increased; median household income has dropped for blacks; food stamp participation has increased; and home ownership has declined. It is fair to note that Obama inherited a big recession. But his policies of big government, new entitlements, massive increases in government regulation, and higher taxes, has resulted in the weakest economic recovery since WWII.