Article from Reason by Steve Greenhut.

LBJ promised to help poor Americans become self-sufficient, but mostly touted an array of familiar-sounding proposals—hiking the minimum wage, investing more money in public schools, building public-housing projects and creating new or expanded income-support programs. His economic-development ideas promised to uplift African-Americans in urban slums, Native Americans on reservations and whites in Appalachia.

It sounded so high-minded, yet what Johnson later termed “The Great Society” left a trail of destruction that rivaled his other initiative—the Vietnam War. Poverty rates are lower today than in 1964, but that’s “despite” the government’s war on it. America now suffers from rates of dependency and family breakdown that are partially the result of Johnson’s not-so-great ideas. Despite these “investments” and social programs, poverty—especially in California—is as intractable as ever.

Why the short remembrance of the Johnson administration? Apparently, most Democratic presidential candidates—and one in particular—seem to have missed the lessons of the past 56 years. In his presidential campaign’s recent tour in California, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “my job will be to move all Americans ahead, and that includes committing our country to new and innovative ways to combat poverty. There has to be a war on poverty.”

One of the weird things about getting older is listening to people revive old discredited slogans that make me shudder when I hear them. Republicans push an “America First” agenda now, which brings back echoes of the 1940s-era pro-fascist movement. California Democrats talk about fighting “economic crimes,” which has a strange Soviet-like ring to it. And now a 2020 presidential candidate talks about a “war on poverty” without any sense of the past.

Read the entire article at Reason.