Its been a while since we have addressed Glenn Beck’s book Broke. I want to warn the readers again some of the language of this post could be seen as offensive to some of the audience. Keep in mind I am only quoting what people have said and I do not claim these ideas as my own. Let’s get into chapter 7.
Chapter #7: The 1960s and ’70s: A Summer of Love, Two Decades of Spending
To take the wealth of others to build a large government bureaucracy takes the ego that you know what to do with other people’s wealth better than they do. Lyndon B. Johnson was just that man. The quote that opens this chapter shows LBJ’s view’s and reasoning for his government programs that have saddle use with debt and default. He said when discussing the Civil Rights Act of 1964: “I will have them n**gers voting Democratic for two hundred years.” With that lets begin (Beck 74-75)
THE REAL LBJ
We must understand LBJ to completely understand why he made the policy decision that he did that would eventually saddle us with debt and possible default. He was arrogant and loved to humiliate people into submission and then would proceed to despise them when they submitted. He is even reported to have relieved himself on a Secret Service agent. He had a massive sense of personal entitlement, extreme elitism and was a “seething bigot who felt racially superior to the minorities he used for political leverage. Indeed it’s hard to find a modern U.S. President with a worse civil rights record than LBJ before becoming a hero of the movement.” He never supported civil rights legislation while he was a member of the House or the Senate, even a bill to protect blacks from lynchings. He also considered himself superior to the rest of humanity and consistently hurled racists attack as blacks who served him as an elected official. This is not meant to smear a former and dead President but to give you an idea of just who this man is to understand why he supported the policies that he did as President. (Beck 76)
MINORITY VOTE = MAJORITY OF THE VOTE
LBJ was not just a Progressive but a New Deal Progressive that would create a cradle-to-grave style of government found in Europe. After FDR both Truman and Eisenhower tried to return the government towards fiscal responsibility taking the debt to less than 56% and the deficit to $740 million (compared to $15.9 billion). The crisis when LBJ came into office was not economic but racial and an opportunity for Progressives to try to create a utopian society and take credit for civil rights even as a bigot. LBJ understood this task because he learned how to milk the government system. He used the welfare system in Texas to attract voting blocs that would profit from social and anti-poverty programs, from banks and builders to disenfranchised minorities. The fact though is that he did not care about the plight of blacks, as we can see from his views listed above, but he did care about being perceived as a civil rights fighter. His goal was to steal the blacks from the Republicans, the party of Lincoln that freed the slaves and passed all the civil rights legislation after the civil war. (Beck 77-78)
LBJ TARGETS THE HISTORY BOOKS
LBJ’s plan to get the minorities was just like that of a drug dealer, “Give them the first hit for free and then they will do anything for the next hit.” He did this through federal appropriations to reward them for their votes. The name of this plan, “The Great Society,” with an end to poverty and racial injustice… to enrich a student’s mind and enlarge their talents, and cities serve the desire for beauty and community. To solve these problems he convened committees to find answers to questions that had already been answered successfully by our Founders (Beck 78-79)
THE CULT OF AFFLUENCE
Why did the public go along with LBJ’s plan? The pump was primed in the 1930s by FDR and the New Deal, LBJ just took it to the next logical step. Before the New Deal Americans were fearful of expanded federal power. We believed in “self-reliance, free enterprise, local control and strong civil society voluntarily helping neighbors in need.” The New Deal altered that relationship by making people reliant on government instead of each other. Government took control of the economy in World War II directing what would be made and how much anyone could buy. Government worked with business to win the war. Many feared a depression after the war but we continued to prosper and the economy continued to expanded, mostly through reduced taxes and spending. This prosperity made us spoiled and take it for granted taking the American Dream is just that a dream, not a guarantee and will continue forever. Kennedy touted this view in his inaugural address and he was a lot more conservative than many believe. He wanted to cut government dependency, not just give handouts and that would reduce dependency enough to save tax dollars. He declared war on poverty using the national government with tight regulations on business to meet this goal. This was a vision of central planning not see, unless you looked at Soviet Union.
GREAT SOCIETY… BUT FOR WHOM?
Johnson’s Great Society has the markings of a religious movement but he believed this movement could only be achieved by forcing those who worked hard and saved to give their money to others. Spreading this wealth is great for buying votes, but no serious economist can support it because its terrible for economic growth; LBJ knew this so instead of convincing people he changed the data. He based his view on Michael Harrington’s (a self-avowed socialist) “The Other America,” that stated there were millions in the U.S. mired in poverty but he did not have the facts to back it up. He even stated in his book, “I work on an assumption that cannot be proved by Government figures or documented by impressions… a fact can be rationalized and explained away; an indignity cannot.” Progressives rallied around the idea of Johnson’s Great Society. Johnson’s focus on poverty and civil rights was a match made in heaven (Beck 82-83)
When reelected he saw it as a mandate to push his policies through quickly and that’s what he did. In that year he passed Medicare, environmental regulations, Head Start and even more programs in the next year. He loosened the rules for the Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) to rope in more voting blocs that could use some extra cash. Now any woman with a child could qualify and created an incentive out-of-wedlock births, single motherhood and other negative behaviors that cause poverty. These program killed the largest anti-poverty program of marriage (due to families having possibly two incomes), and created blacks more dependent on government. Now did LBJ do this on purpose? Did he know this would be the result? Based on his views of blacks, as proved by his record and actions, we would have to assume that he did know this would happen; he had no interest in racial equality, just their votes, which he guaranteed with the Vote Rights Act (Beck 83-84).
These programs not only jacked up national debt but cost us in so many other ways. Worse than that it created a dependency of citizens on government to make sure everyone a job, insurance, education, food, housing, rising income and comfortable retirement. “People expect government to do everything for them, and then they feel cheated when it fails to do the impossible.” The War on Poverty did not lower poverty rates, but families had more money on government benefits but dependent on them for help, which is what it was supposed to solve. In fact it worsened the multi-generational cycle of poverty (Beck 85-86).
TWO WARS, NO WINNERS
Not only was LBJ fighting a War on Poverty, he was fighting a war in Vietnam, unfortunately he fought it the same way he did the war on poverty, like a social program, not to win. Johnson viewed the enemy as reasonable man, instead of the enemy. He designed his policy around this faulty premise choosing bombing targets instead of listening to his military advisers. He wanted controlled force to get the enemy to cooperate, to get them to change their minds as an act of persuasion. On the other hand Ho Chi Minh was a revolutionary that wanted to win and was against everything the U.S. represented. LBJ offered Ho a development program that he turned down. What is worse than the money wasted on this policy is the loss of U.S. lives on a bad policy (Beck 86-57).
FINALLY, A REAL CONSERVATIVE?
Even though Nixon took over the office of President in 1968, not much changed in terms of debt and spending. A case could even be made that his policies were more liberal than Johnson. He tripled anti-poverty legislation and steered both Social Security and Medicare towards bankruptcy by increasing benefits by over 20%, increasing Medicare spending by 246% and Medicaid spending by 120%. He coaxed the Federal Reserve to expand the money supply to create an artificial economic boom and contributed to inflation over the next decade, by demanding his Cabinet to spend their budget as fast as possible. He also tried his hands at wage and price controls to manage the inflation he caused. His final blow included abandoning the gold standard directly against the Brentton Woods agreement of 1944. He now would no longer accept dollars for gold allowing the government to print as much money has they wanted, leading to even more inflation. Oh and he was an Anti-Semite.
Another dangerous trend was emerging during this period of history based around the nuclear war military strategy: mutually assured destruction. Now think of that in terms of economies, by making us more dependent on each other economically we are much less likely to blow each other up, economically. Professor Carroll Quigley saw this as a massive conspiracy of the “powers of financial capitalism… to create a world system of financial control in private hands to dominate the political system of every country and the economy of the whole.” We need a stake in the prosperity in other countries to avert a nuclear war. To this end Nixon signed trade deals in the name of securing peace. What few realized is that fire lines that separated us before were not gone. A disaster in one country would have a long-term effect on us all (Beck 90-91).
SURVEYING THE DAMAGE
The American people bought the false idea of a utopian society after forgetting what fueled the post war boom. Annual non defense spending shot up from 9.1% to 16.8% in 20 years. Our debt rose from $202 billion to $909 billion. Reagan’s election was a backlash against all the liberal Progressive policies and a return to the modern view of the government is wrong. Progressives were on the ropes and neutralized by economic growth at home and the reminder that maximum freedom comes from minimum government.
The next entry in this blog series in obviously the next chapter in the book which focuses on the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton years. When it is posted in anyone’s guess. Sorry I am not more consistent. I will try harder for my readers.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!