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The War on Poverty Demands a Battle for Significance

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Book Cover - The Tao of Public Service
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"We make a mistake when we assume some people are significant and others have no significance at all..." from The Tao of Public Service



The Battle for Significance


In the War on Poverty, the tide may now again be turning.   Yet, if we truly wish to complete the task, we must engage in a battle for significance.   All who strive must become warriors for significance; just as those who began the task.   We must win that battle or risk losing this war.  


The War On Poverty


In March of 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, as part of his Great Society program, launched the War on Poverty.   He did this because he saw our national goal as "an America in which every citizen shares all the opportunities of his society, in which every man has a chance to advance his welfare to the limit of his capacities..."   


However, by the late 1970's and early 1980's the Great Society War on Poverty initiatives had begun to come under wounding fire.   According to columnist Paul Krugman in his article, The War Over Poverty, the attack narrative went like this:


Antipoverty programs hadn't actually reduced poverty, because poverty in America was basically a social problem -- a problem of broken families, crime and a culture of dependence that was only reinforced by government aid. And because this narrative was so widely accepted, bashing the poor was good politics, enthusiastically embraced by Republicans and some Democrats, too.

In many ways, this is still where we are at the present time.


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Eric Z. Lucas is an alumnus of Stanford University (Creative Writing Major: 1972-1975), the University of Washington (1981: BA English Literature and Elementary Education) and Harvard Law School, J.D. 1986. Since law school he has been a public (more...)

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