$112/month to live in a brand-new house in Bowie, Maryland

As part of our move to the Florida Free State, I had Everpresent scan a photo album that my mom made in 1966 (she didn’t use acid-free paper so there was no practical way to preserve it other than scanning).

Here’s the air-conditioned brand-new house that my parents purchased in Bowie, Maryland (my father was working as an economist for Census Bureau): $15,990 with $590 down and $112/month ongoing. (Deal was arranged in 1961, but the house was completed and they moved in 1962. It might have been the Cape Cod, actually, which was slightly cheaper.)

Zillow says that the median price of a single family home today in Bowie is about $500,000.

How does that compare to official inflation? $15,990 in June 1962 is worth about $145,000 today says the BLS. So a house is more than 3X as expensive in real dollars, despite the fact that the above (air-conditioned!) house was brand new. (Would $15,990 in today’s Bidie Bucks even pay for a central air-conditioning system (installed)?)

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Restaurants need to shift to electronic menus for real-time price adjustments?

From a barbecue joint in Boynton Beach, Florida: “due to the shortages of commodities within the market such as chicken wings, pork and also beef we must increase the prices from what the menu prices reflect until the market begins to normalize. … we hope to retain you as a customer as we navigate these unchartered waters.” [sic]

I find it fascinating that the folks who run this restaurant imagine that their costs will come back down (“normalize”) at some point in the reasonably near future. For places that aren’t as optimistic about our economic future, should they all switch to big screen TVs for menu display? Prices will need to be adjusted every month or two at the current rate of inflation, right?

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Express lanes: dumbness with concrete for a country that can’t be intelligent with electronics

As part of our escape to the Florida Free State, I drove our minivan down I-95 from Maskachusetts. Mindy the Crippler and I hit traffic in Virginia, associated with an I-95 Express Lane extension project (massive traffic jams now with the promise of clear sailing in the future).

A friend who is an expert on these matters told me that the entire concept was a terrible idea. “Adding two express lanes in the middle of a highway requires building two extra shoulders and lots of overpasses for the exits,” he pointed out. “It is spectacularly high cost compared to adding two lanes to the main roadway.”

In other words, instead of having two new express lanes, for the same cost we could build six new lanes on the main road.

What about the congestion and tolling angle? These new express lanes will require a fee to be paid (or an EZ Pass set to “HOV mode”). If we had gotten organized with in-car transponder electronics and a display reading “You’re now being charged 30 cents/mile,” we could just designate the leftmost lanes of a wider main road as toll-required express lanes. It should also be safer and easier to have the HOV mode set automatically by the car, e.g., with weight sensors on the seats or an in-camera camera that can count the number of occupants and subtract for canines. (Our 2021 Honda Odyssey, relying on weight sensor alone, gets upset when Mindy the Crippler sits in the front seat and is not belted.)

We’ll be fueling inflation by printing money to spend on infrastructure (see “Inside Biden’s $4.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan”). If my friend is right about the off-the-charts dumbness of the highway-inside-the-highways express lane idea, I wonder if most of the $4.5 trillion will be wasted.

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Hidden car price increase: destination charge inflation

My mid-life crisis order from General Motors was pushed from the 2021 model year to the 2022 model year. There have been two price increases since the order was placed in January, but there is also a hidden price increase. The “destination charge” for getting the vehicle from the factory in Kentucky to the dealership has gone from $1,095 to $1,295, i.e., reflecting 18 percent inflation.

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Incentives and Coronapanic

In response to Recycle Chinese and Soviet anti-landlord propaganda to bolster support for Rochelle Walensky’s rent moratorium order?, Mitch wrote:

So getting vaccinated and slowing the spread increases one’s chance of having to pay rent. The incentives are not well aligned.

(The government says nobody has to pay rent in an area where COVID-19 transmission is occurring (90 percent of current renters covered). And they say that getting the vaccine will stop transmission (except that it doesn’t, according to the same government). Thus, it would be financially irrational for a community of renters to get vaccinated.)

“New Rule Raises Question: Who’ll Pay for All the Covid Tests?” (NYT) also raises a question of how people will respond to economic incentives:

Among the employers taking a different approach is Rhodes College in Tennessee: It will require unvaccinated students without a medical or religious exemption to pay a $1,500 fee per semester to cover the costs associated with a weekly coronavirus testing program.

To avoid paying $3,000 per year, in other words, an unvaccinated student need only get some card stock to feed into a laser printer and create his/her/zir/their own vaccination record. HIPAA would prevent the school from calling whatever “healthcare professional or clinic site” is written down on the record, right? In any case, on my CDC card, the clinic site information does not contain the full city/state nor any contact info. A college would have to be very motivated indeed to try to determine whether a vaccination card is genuine. The vaxyes service checks the lot number against the date of administration, but presumably this would also check out fine if the student copied the information from a virtuous friend who actually got the shots:

An initial review to ensure a match personal identification and vaccine card, vaccine dates make sense, lot numbers, and possible fraud markers.

If colleges want the unvirtuous to admit their thoughtcrime and unreasonable resistance to government pressure, wouldn’t it be smarter to offer the testing at no charge? Then the only incentive to forge a vaccine card would be avoiding the inconvenience and discomfort of weekly testing, not $3,000 in cash on top of that.

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How the Taliban can fund and run Afghanistan forever

“The Taliban Have Claimed Afghanistan’s Real Economic Prize” (NYT):

How exactly the Taliban plan to keep all systems running, in one of the poorest countries of the world that depends on more than $4 billion a year in official aid and where foreign donors have been covering 75 percent of government spending, is an urgent question. The state’s bankruptcy has tempted some Western donors into thinking that financial pressure — in the form of threats to withhold humanitarian and development funding — could be brought to bear on the new rulers of Afghanistan. Germany already warned it would cut off financial support to the country if the Taliban “introduce Shariah law.”

But those hopes are misplaced. Even before their blitz into the capital over the weekend, the Taliban had claimed the country’s real economic prize: the trade routes — comprising highways, bridges and footpaths — that serve as strategic choke points for trade across South Asia. With their hands on these highly profitable revenue sources and with neighboring countries, like China and Pakistan, willing to do business, the Taliban are surprisingly insulated from the decisions of international donors. What comes next in the country is uncertain — but it’s likely to unfold without a meaningful exertion of Western power.

One reason foreign donors inflate their own importance in Afghanistan is that they do not understand the informal economy, and the vast amounts of hidden money in the war zone. Trafficking in opium, hashish, methamphetamines and other narcotics is not the biggest kind of trade that happens off the books: The real money comes from the illegal movement of ordinary goods, like fuel and consumer imports. In size and sum, the informal economy dwarfs international aid.

For example, our study of the border province of Nimruz, published this month by the Overseas Development Institute, estimated that informal taxation — the collection of fees by armed personnel to allow safe passage of goods — raised about $235 million annually for the Taliban and pro-government figures. By contrast, the province received less than $20 million a year in foreign aid.

In other words, Afghanistan is in some ways like a super filthy version of Switzerland.

Also interesting, Antonio Garcia Martinez on recent events:

… the cream of American society and the flower of its finest universities, can only understand the world as projections of the country’s own domestic neuroses. Our current elites, whether in media or politics, squint at the strange peoples and languages of whatever international conflict and only see who or what they can map to their internal gallery of heroes and villains: Who’s the PoC? Who’s the Nazi?

And if the situation can’t be mapped, such as Afghanistan or the recent protests in Cuba, it’s utterly ignored for being just completely beyond human comprehension or concern.

This is the true privilege of being an American in 2021 (vs. 1981): Enjoying an imperium so broad and blinding, you’re never made to suffer the limits of your understanding or re-assess your assumptions about a world that, even now, contains regions and peoples and governments antithetical to everything you stand for. If you fight demons, they’re entirely demons of your own creation, whether Cambridge Analytica or QAnon or the ‘insurrection’ or supposed electoral fraud or any of a host of bogeymen, and you get to tweet #resist while not dangling from the side of an airplane or risking your life on a raft to escape.

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Our current economic situation highlights the disconnect between GDP and well-being?

The world economy is reasonably healthy, as measured by GDP. From the OECD:

This is small comfort to the poor, of course, who were predictably devastated when rich countries shut down (see If All Lives Have Equal Value, why does Bill Gates support shutting down the U.S. economy? (March 2020)).

But let’s focus on the comfortable. GDP per capita has taken only a minor hit, but maybe that just shows the limitations of using GDP per capita as a measure of well-being. After being deprived of the ability to travel, spend time with friends and relatives, play sports, go outside without wearing a mask, send children to school, etc., adults in rich countries still managed to produce, like prisoners eligible for daily work release.

Is life in the Age of Lockdown (except in Sweden, Florida, and South Dakota!) proof that GDP isn’t a good measure of well-being and overall quality of life?

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Free money isn’t free (Maskachusetts unemployment insurance rates going up for employers)

Suppose that you can convince an American worker to get off the couch, stop cashing checks from Joe Biden, and don a mask for the CDC-required 8 hours per day? If you’re an employer in Maskachusetts, in addition to paying higher wages you’ll be paying a higher percentage of those wages in unemployment insurance premium.

Email from the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, July 15, 2021:

Dear Massachusetts Employer,

… As part of the Commonwealth’s plan to manageably spread over time the cost of benefits paid by the UI Trust Fund in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 crisis, experience-rated employers will be charged a quarterly COVID-19 Recovery Assessment. The 2021 COVID-19 Recovery Assessment Rate Schedule on page 6 shows the assigned COVID-19 Recovery Assessment rate for each UI rate, equal to 10.50% of an employer’s corresponding UI rate. The COVID-19 Recovery Assessment will be retroactive to January 1, 2021. …

Thank you,

DUA Rate Setting Team

Another great reason to use contractors rather than employees whenever possible!

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Great Society history lesson III

Continuing our look at Great Society: A New History, a book that chronicles the biggest shift since the 1930s in Americans’ relationship to government. (See Great Society history lesson II also.)

The idea of reparations is not a new one…

In 1963 the Urban League’s Whitney M. Young had proposed a Marshall Plan for black Americans, including direct payments to poor families to lift them over the poverty line. Thomas Sowell, a graduate student, was concentrating on his PhD, an essay on the pre-Keynesian economist Jean-Baptiste Say. But Young’s idea irked Sowell so much that he’d written a letter to the New York Times. The reaction to such a Marshall Plan, Sowell wrote, or to any other offer, would be the same from black Americans as it was from whites. “People who have been trying for years to tell others that Negroes are basically no different from anybody else,” Sowell said, “should not themselves lose sight of the fact that Negroes are just like everybody else in wanting something for nothing.”

White people loved higher minimum wages just as much back then as they do now:

Black and white youth unemployment had run about the same until the middle of the 1950s, 8 to 11 percent. But when Congress raised the federal minimum wage by a third in 1956, unemployment rose far higher among black teenagers than among whites, to 25 percent. … the economist Milton Friedman was reaching a conclusion: those who were supposed to benefit from a minimum wage were nearly always actually hurt, as “the intended beneficiaries are not employed at all.” Friedman the following year would slam the minimum wage as “the most anti-Negro law on our statute books.”

Then as now, government handouts ideally are about the same as the median wage:

But the newly generous War on Poverty welfare benefits actually encouraged men not to work, adding to the ranks of unemployed. With the average family welfare check between $ 177 and $ 238 a month, and wages at $ 220, the commission concluded that “the financial incentive to find work may be either negative or non-existent.”

(See “The $600 Unemployment Booster Shot, State by State” (NYT) and “Work Versus Welfare” (CATO, 2013))

Certainly there shouldn’t be a housing shortage in the U.S. at this point…

But the scaling and the speedups were also evident at home, in the new HUD building, and a nationwide building program. For housing, Johnson promised $7.5 billion, more than nine times the poverty program’s annual budget that first year. The American people were, Johnson said, “strong enough to pursue our goals in the rest of the world while still building a Great Society here at home.” In 1966, everything could be, had to be, big. Even before Watts, Washington had made up its collective mind to put its formidable shoulder into a second Great Society drive, housing. Since Watts, that commitment had only hardened. The Administration would supplement, and sometimes steamroller, its flawed program, community action, with construction. Nobody could disapprove of infrastructure improvement, politicians told one another.

And we should have all of the infrastructure that we need too. at least in the cities that Big Government favors:

Johnson laid out his second Great Society in his State of the Union address in January. The president would support construction everywhere. More than $ 2 billion of the funds would go to rebuilding cities. The president would also follow the Reuther plan for Demonstration Cities, “and rebuild completely, on a scale never before attempted, entire central and slum areas.” Working together with private enterprise—this time, Johnson did not emphasize municipal governments—the federal government would rebuild areas of up to 100,000 people. Johnson would add shops, parks, and hospitals around the new housing. In the same speech, the president asked Congress to pass legislation funding rent assistance. Taken together, the results, the president hoped, would be something similar to what his old community action drive had sought: “a flourishing community where our people can come to live the good life.” This whole second project would resemble something like what the United States had done in rebuilding Europe under the Marshall Plan. Eager to make Detroit the star of the new campaign, Reuther rounded up support in Michigan. Reuther wrote to Mayor Cavanagh to encourage him: “Detroit can become an exciting and shining model of a 20th century city in the Great Society.” Reuther promised Cavanagh that they could work together in a new institution, the Detroit Citizens Development Authority.

Without the gold standard, a democracy will always vote itself into insolvency or hyperinflation, according to Alan Greenspan, 1960s version:

Greenspan wrote that American overspending wasn’t strength or a wartime phenomenon; it was predictable. A welfare state, which was what the United States had become, always overcommitted. “The welfare statists,” Greenspan said, were always “quick to recognize that if they wished to retain power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e. they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds. . . . Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.”

Not every Black American meekly agrees with white saviors:

On January 18, 1968, the day after the State of the Union, Mrs. Johnson received a reminder that many Americans could not agree. The First Lady hosted a “Women Do-ers” lunch at the White House, with fifty guests. Among them was the black star Eartha Kitt, whom Americans knew as an actress, singer, activist, and star on Batman, where Kitt played Catwoman. Johnson himself entered mid-lunch to address the group. The president spoke about expanding Social Security. Kitt spoke up, too, speaking not about entitlements, but noting that “because taxes are so heavy, both parents have to work.” Johnson was taken aback, and announced he had just seen through the passage of a Social Security bill that allotted millions for day care. A “non sequitur” was how Kitt characterized Johnson’s reply. Kitt so intimidated the president that he fled the room, saying such questions were “something for women to discuss here.”

When Nixon takes over, the machinery put in place by Johnson hums at an accelerated pace.

Despite the historically low unemployment rate, federal welfare payments were exploding. In one of the first of a number of long, careful memos that Moynihan penned to his future boss, he offered New York City as an example. New York’s welfare payments alone amounted to $ 2 billion, double the once huge-sounding initial budget for the War on Poverty. Nationally, spending for the old welfare system had risen by half in just two years, and spending for the disabled was up by 26 percent in the same period.

The Democrats have to top whatever the Republicans promise:

Rather than going along with Nixon, McGovern, perhaps already thinking of the presidential race in 1972, was readying his own plan, payments of $ 600 per child for all families below the middle class, a program that would cost multiples of the Nixon scheme. Hubert Humphrey, momentarily shocked, noted that the McGovern plan would place close to half of the United States on welfare. A new lobby, social workers, also made its objections known. President Kennedy’s and Moynihan’s Executive Order 10988 long ago had transformed once weak public-sector unions into titans. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of those newly powerful unions, counted thirty thousand social workers among its members. Now social workers rose up in blunt defense: “This legislation threatens to eliminate the jobs of our people,” said the union spokesman.

The book describes the importance of Goldberg v. Kelly, a case that turned handouts into “entitlements” akin to a property right.

How about three weeks to flatten the curve turning into 16 months of restrictions? Is that new?

Pete Peterson had supported the temporary income tax, but when, later, Connally and Nixon advocated keeping the tax in place through the 1972 election year, Peterson was, by his own description, “aghast.” Doubly infuriating was that Nixon broke a promise, by making something he’d labeled “temporary” seemingly permanent. Herb Stein, the most reflective in the group, wrote several essays about Camp David. “Even now, I am amazed to think of how little we looked ahead during that exciting weekend at Camp David when we (the president, really) made those big decisions,” he wrote in 1996. “We were going to freeze wages and prices for ninety days. What would happen after the ninety days? I don’t remember any discussion of that.” As it turned out, Stein noted, some of the freezes lasted more like a thousand days.

As with a lot of history books, this work is interesting for showing the reader how little has changed. Americans still have the same issues, e.g., some people don’t want to work at all and others have a level of skill that is not high enough to command what we would call a “living wage.” The arguments on all sides are more or less the same as today (remember that universal basic income was tried in 1970; see Long-term effects of short-term free cash (guaranteed minimum income experiments)).

Probably the biggest change from the 1960s is immigration. The architects of our welfare state imagined that the U.S. had a fixed supply of uneducated badly housed poor people. The $billions in tax dollars would lift each of those people out of poverty via education and job training, fresh public housing, new infrastructure, etc. After that had been accomplished, there wouldn’t be any more poor people. It didn’t occur to them that 1 million low-skill people, destined to be poor in an economy for which they lacked the job and language skills, would walk across the border each year. Certainly they didn’t imagine that their creation of the welfare state itself would attract low-skill migrants, for whom the welfare state removes all risk of migration (if employers don’t want a migrant or the migrant does not enjoy working, public housing, health care, food stamps, etc. are all there as an alternative to work).

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Great Society history lesson II

Now that at least 80 million Americans are on what used to be called “welfare” (see “Pandemic Swells Medicaid Enrollment to 80 Million People, a ‘High-Water Mark’”), perhaps it is time to revisit Great Society: A New History which describes the origin of the no-longer-called-welfare program on which nearly 25 percent of Americans now rely. (Previous post: Bitcoin has plenty of runway if we look back to the 1960s and 70s and the Great Society)

What’s the history of the program?

The costs of the previous legislation Johnson had pushed Mills into had already far outrun the projections. Budget officials had predicted that Medicaid, for example, would cost less than $ 400 million in fiscal 1967. Instead it had cost $ 1.1 billion.

Compare to $613 billion in Medicaid spending in 2019 (cms.gov). which presumably is now closer to $800

Why do Californians love bigger government so much?

The value of the private sector’s relationship with the government seemed especially obvious in the Western state that Americans regarded as the land of the future, California. For many Californians, the government was their job. More active-duty military and civilian Defense Department employees were stationed in California than in any other state. The presence of Pentagon money in California wasn’t merely large, it was overwhelming. 4 In one year, 1959, the Defense Department was awarding more than $ 3 billion in contracts to four aerospace firms in Los Angeles.

The author reminds us of the good old days of computing, before we got everything from Taiwan chip fabs:

In the mid-1950s, GE was a far richer company than IBM. General Electric had the resources necessary to get into computers, the computer fans reckoned, whatever Cordiner said. A clutch of engineers did manage to land a successful contract with the Bank of America for an innovative check sorter, the first computer system for banking applications, a testimony to the gumption of GE professionals and, ironically, to Cordiner’s own culture of department autonomy. California was the home of Bank of America, and also the home of the GE group that won the contract. The machines would serve the Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego areas. But California was a state where GE could endure the same troubles with organized labor as it did out East. GE internal reports noted that the company was looking to avoid the Golden State’s “punitive labor legislation.” GE based production of the project’s computer, weight 23,000 pounds, in Phoenix.

Unions can play an important role in expanding government for all:

Building a union that could beat the automakers at the negotiation table sounded like enough work, but Reuther also, early on, decided he wanted more. Reuther was falling in love with Northern Europe’s social democracies, countries where democratic government supplied health care and good schools, and even, Reuther noticed, funded time at worker spas for workers to recover from strenuous labor. It seemed to Reuther there was no reason America could not replicate the Scandinavian model. In the 1940s, Lem Boulware spoke at a graduation at Harvard University, making an early case for Boulwarism. During the same years Reuther gave the commencement address at Howard University, the historically black college in Washington. At Howard, Reuther said that U.S. unions needed to deliver better housing and medical aid to all Americans, not just union members. Otherwise, unions weren’t worth much. “The test of democratic trade unionism in a democratic society,” Reuther said, “is its willingness to lead the fight for the welfare of the whole community.”

The unions did beat the Detroit automakers, of course, but Detroit didn’t end up quite as prosperous as President Lyndon Johnson expected.

It was Detroit in particular that was, Johnson said [in May 1964], “the herald of hope in America. Prosperity in America must begin here in Detroit.” … If labor and industry would stick by his side, the president said, “the sky is the limit, and the sky is bright today.”

In the past, presidents had striven for abundance, Johnson noted. Now the country had abundance. The challenge of the next half century was proving “whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life.” Some corners of the country were still poor. The Great Society, therefore, required, as Johnson had said before, an “end to poverty.”

See also Decline of Detroit (Wikipedia): “The population of the city has fallen from a high of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015 … Local crime rates are among the highest in the United States … and vast areas of the city are in a state of severe urban decay.” And Detroit bankruptcy (Wikipedia): “The city of Detroit, Michigan, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, 2013. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by debt, estimated at $18–20 billion…”

The central planners didn’t do a great job after World War II, but we can rely on them today…

Harrington took a frank position on the shame of urban renewal, in which unions had been complicit. After World War II, the unions had joined the federal government in a great plan to rebuild the cities. The bulldozers obliterated the slums, but also evicted entire black communities like Paradise Valley. This was not “urban renewal,” it was “Negro removal,” as the writer James Baldwin said. Two-thirds of the families displaced by urban renewal were black. Harrington argued that when the heavy equipment, whether Dwight Eisenhower’s in the past or new presidents’ in the 1960s, arrived at so-called slum neighborhoods, it crushed untold value. Old slums hadn’t merely been slums; they had been starting points: “there was community, there was aspiration.” New communities did not come to life in the new projects. The projects were cages that became graveyards. Harrington noted that the new housing that supplanted old tenements created “a new type of slum,” which isolated black families in ghettos. Harrington had seen the new type of slum firsthand in his hometown, St. Louis, where black families had been moved out of the Mill Creek areas to one of the largest of the urban renewal public housing projects in the country, Pruitt-Igoe.

Presidents Biden and Harris might be highly successful at transforming the U.S. via legislation:

And Johnson also could count some advantages of his own. First, there was his long record in the Senate, which gave him unparalleled experience as the shepherd of legislation. Roosevelt, a mere governor with a famous name, had had nothing like that. There was also the aching advantage of tragedy: Kennedy’s death would make Congress eager to pass Kennedy’s tax law and Kennedy’s languishing civil rights bill.

What are the parallels to today? Biden was in the Senate for decades and the U.S. is only now beginning to recover from the tragedy of rule by Donald Trump. Another parallel to today:

Moynihan noticed an irony. Whether a program’s beneficiaries were black or white, its planners were white. Blacks were scarcely present in all the work undertaken for the disadvantaged. Indeed, Moynihan later wrote, “at no time did any Negro have any role of any consequence in the drafting of the poverty program.”

The Great Society programs were supposed to get cheaper over time, as Americans realized that it was far better to work than to consume entitlement benefits:

At the August 20 signing ceremony, Johnson took further pains. The president told the public that the Economic Opportunity Act did not represent a “a handout or a dole.” He continued: “We know—we learned long ago—that answer is no answer. The measure before me this morning for signature offers the answer that its title implies. The answer is opportunity.” Spending now would bring savings later. Johnson promised the voters that this law would reduce the costs of “crime, welfare, of health and of police protection.” The act would yield a new era, and “the days of the dole in our country are numbered.” America would remember the 20 percent in poverty, the “forgotten fifth.”

Even today’s haters at the WSJ loved these ideas:

The Wall Street Journal characterized the law as “an opportunity to eradicate poverty, not opiate it.”

(Can we give them credit for prescience regarding opioids?)

Was President Johnson right about increased spending on government handouts cutting the cost of the police? Urban Institute: “From 1977 to 2018, in 2018 inflation-adjusted dollars, state and local government spending on police increased from $43 billion to $119 billion, an increase of 175 percent. Over the same period, real corrections expenditures increased from $18 billion to $81 billion, an increase of 350 percent.”

Ronald Reagan tried to talk Americans out of the idea that the path to salvation started with a much bigger government.

Reagan targeted the Office of Economic Opportunity. “Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $ 1 billion to the $ 45 billion we’re spending . . . do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic?” Reagan also assailed the new camps being built for young workers. Room and board for each young person cost $ 4,700. Harvard tuition at $ 2,700 was less than that. Reagan took his jab at the college, and at Johnson’s misty affection for a humanities education: “I’m not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.” … America, Reagan said, was at a key moment—the country must choose whether it was a collectivist nation or a free one. The title of Reagan’s speech was “A Time for Choosing.” In early November the nation chose. It elected Johnson with an overwhelming majority.

We had faith then and have faith now!

To be continued…

More: Read Great Society: A New History

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