To gain insight into why many believe that LBJ's "War On Poverty" was, and is to this day, counterproductive, one need look no further than Appalachian Kentucky:
“The draw,” the monthly welfare checks that supplement dependents’ earnings in the black-market Pepsi economy, is poison. It’s a potent enough poison to catch the attention even of such people as those who write for the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof, visiting nearby Jackson, Ky., last year, was shocked by parents who were taking their children out of literacy classes because the possibility of improved academic performance would threaten $700-a-month Social Security disability benefits, which increasingly are paid out for nebulous afflictions such as loosely defined learning disorders. “This is painful for a liberal to admit,” Kristof wrote, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency.”
Many of these folks worked in the mines, before regulations generated by the environmeddlists who rotate in and out of agencies like EPA on a regular basis forced the mines to shut down. And much as folks in southwestern Oregon have seen, regulations generated by these same people have shut down logging. Thus, the two main sources of income in Appalachia were regulated out of existence, and those left behind are caught up in the web of dependency that began in 1965:
Speaking in the Rose Garden in March of 1965, Lyndon Johnson had high hopes for his Appalachia Bill. “This legislation marks the end of an era of partisan cynicism towards human want and misery. The dole is dead. The pork barrel is gone. Federal and state, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, Americans of these times are concerned with the outcome of the next generation, not the next election. . . . The bill that I will now sign will work no miracles overnight. Whether it works at all depends not upon the federal government alone but the states and the local governments as well.” The dole, as it turns out, is deathless, and the pork barrel has merely been reincarnated as a case of Pepsi. President Johnson left out of his calculations the factor that is almost always overlooked by populists: the people.
Soaring rhetoric, lots of money...and even more misery. So what do you do while waiting for "the draw"? About what you'd expect, and the gossip's always the same:
“Who’s growing weed, who’s not growing weed anymore, who’s cooking meth, whose meth lab got broken into, whose meth lab blew up.”