Tag Archives: The Great Society

Bill Lockwood: It is the Mammoth-Sized Government Which Destroys Lives 4 (1)

by Bill Lockwood

Whatever one may think about the United States’ Government leaders’ involvement in bringing about the 1930’s Depression, the crisis was certainly used by the Democratic left to usher us into an unconstitutional era of Big Government intrusion. And it is this mammoth-sized government which, in the name of assisting the poor, crushes the lives and liberties of citizens.

Amity Shlaes, in her new masterful recounting of Lyndon Johnson’s socialistic Great Society programs, provides ample proof that big government erodes freedom. Her book, Great Society: A New History, documents how the do-gooders of yesteryear in reality “shackled millions of families in permanent government dependence.”

Setting the American people on the course of entitlement dependency – which is dependency upon government confiscated taxpayer money– Lyndon Johnson practically “precluded” a return to constitutionalism. One particular episode perfectly illustrates the destructive force of bureaucracy. It is the formation of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its implementation of “urban renewal.”

Destroying Families

As with its precursor, the Federal Housing Administration, HUD began using public monies to bribe the local communities to establish local housing authorities as receptacles to receive and dispense funds. As with all funds funneled through the federal government, these federal monies now controlled the projects themselves. One can see even today that every element of social and private life is controlled by Uncle Sam.

Illustrative of this is the fact that when massive housing structures such as Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis were built, only “welfare families were entitled to the lowest rents.” But to receive welfare in Missouri a family could have only one parent—normally, the mother. The government itself thus incentivized single-parent families. Where there were two-parent families, a mom and dad, many of these families actually “lost a father” in order to move into Pruitt-Igoe.

“’The stipulation was that my father could not be with us,’ recalled a former tenant, Jacquelyn Williams. ‘They would put us into the housing projects only if he left the state.’” The social workers even policed apartments at night, checking to see if father had secretly returned, grounds for eviction. Williams remembered this all her life. “We’re giving you money, so we have the right to make stipulations as to how you use it.”

Confiscating Private Property—Evicting Citizens

Next, “the only way to make grand-scale building possible [for public housing] was for the authorities to condemn and claim large swaths of private land.” For this they used the old doctrine of “eminent domain.” “Under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, this was the taking of private property for ‘public use.’” This was specifically constructed by the Founders for military and other public purposes.

But Johnson “began to bulldoze whole sections of cities, and then hand the land with its rubble to private developers. In Detroit, the violence to old neighborhoods was especially great.”

Black Detroit in the 1940’s and 1950’s lived packed in areas known as Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. The main retail thoroughfare, Hastings Street, was legendary, known the nation over because it was frequented by the singers and agents who later gave the country Motown music. Stores, churches, and homes stood tightly together, sometimes tightly enough to be called ‘slums,’ but often containing a vibrant life, much loved by the inhabitants.

However, liberty is lost in Big Government schemes, and regardless of what was and was not loved by the people who actually lived there, in “the eyes of the government, Black Bottom looked like blight. To the eyes of the auto unions and the Big Three automakers, pedestrian zones were a threat: highways that replaced sidewalks represented not only modernity but job security and high company share prices.”

The bulldozers leveled it all. Room was made for “public housing towers, for [Walter] Reuther’s Lafayette Park and for freeways. “Families had been herded into tall, anonymous apartment buildings, or had simply disappeared.” Hundreds of thousands of Americans, many poor or black, were evicted in this way.

Such grandiose government on the scale of Lenin was taken to court by home and business owners who resented the confiscation of their properties. As a matter of fact, both sides appealed to the Supreme Court. The homeowners and the government. In its decision, Berman v. Parker, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas “stretched the old concept of eminent domain like a rubber band.” His words are remarkable for the disdain of individual rights and the Constitution.

“’Public welfare,’ Douglas wrote, equating ‘public welfare’ with public use, should be ‘broad and inclusive.’ Authorized agencies could make their decisions about what to take freely.”

“’It is not for us to reappraise them,’ Douglas said. Douglas concluded by handing over his rubber band to government authorities. ‘If those who govern the District of Columbia decide that the nations’ capital shall be beautiful as well as sanitary, there is nothing in the Fifth Amendment that stands in the way.’”

Shlaes points out that more than 600,000 Americans were displaced by this totalitarian process.

Predictably, Johnson’s socialistic utopia of urban renewal failed. The vacancy rate of Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis was at 23.9 percent and 29.3 percent, much higher than in the free market. Poor maintenance meant that elevators jammed, windows were regularly broken by wild youngsters, gangs of thugs lurked in the halls, and the entire community surrounding it became a sorry joke. Even the architect hired by Johnson, Minoru Yamasaki apologized publicly for Pruitt-Igoe.

In the end one cannot but draw the conclusion that it is the government itself which destroys lives. Pruitt-Igoe a perfect illustration.

Bible Basics, Social Justice and War on Poverty 0 (0)

Bible Basics, Social Justice and War on Poverty

by Bill Lockwood

The Heritage Foundation wrote, “In his January 1964 State of the Union address, Johnson proclaimed, ‘This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.’  Since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all military wars in U.S. history since the American Revolution. Despite this mountain of spending, progress against poverty, at least as measured by the government, has been minimal.”

The Washington Times reported similarly that the poverty rate has only decreased in America by 2% since Johnson’s War on Poverty began in 1965. “Although the president often rails against income inequality in America, his policies have had little impact overall on poverty. A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when he [Obama] took office. “The poverty rate has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, the first time that has happened since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate in 1965 was 17.3 percent; it was 12.5 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

“About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.” Obama’s Socialism or Social Justice will never effectively reduce the poverty rate. Forcing businesses to raise the minimum wage will not do it either. No amount of government FORCE—the only thing Obama knows—will solve the poverty problem.

Why Will Socialism Not Work?

The reason is because the entire structure of socialism is built upon a grand lie, a false world-view about the nature of man and life itself. Instead, social justice sears the conscience of America as to what is real justice while hardening the once-freedom-loving Americans into allowing the government to experiment on us socially.
To understand why this is the case, we need go back to real basics of life—Bible basics of freedom.

First, Life. Life is a gift of God (Gen. 1:27; 2:7). A worldview that begins with “In the beginning God…” is the only viable option that truly recognizes the dignity of man. Since God created man, it stands to reason that what is required to preserve life is also a part of God’s created purpose. Life cannot sustain itself alone. Thus, Jehovah gave us marvelous faculties with which to extract the resources He placed in or on the earth that sustains our lives.

These faculties include my liberty of action. I am free to choose to labor. Hunger assists me in making that choice. Additionally, if I have not freedom to sustain my own life, then what benefit is life? And, if I cannot by my own labor provide and even accumulate goods (that would be my “property”) that are necessary to sustain my life or provide for my future, again, what good is life? There is no benefit to having life from God if I am not able to sustain it.

Second, Law. What is law? Law is the “rule of action” that recognizes that I have not only the right to provide, but to protect my person, liberty or property. Since life is sacred, I have the right to use force to protect it as well as the property that I have accumulated. The Mosaic code of the Old Testament makes this emphatically clear. It is also the basic concept of Natural Law.

It also follows that if I have a right to defend myself and my property, then groups of persons may do the same. This organization to defend ourselves from THEFT is what is known as LAW.  Man-made secular law is nothing more (or should be) than the organization of the natural right by groups of persons to defend what God gave them (Romans 13:4,5).

This is why James Wilson, a Founding Father that signed both the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution, reflected on the law of man and the law of God: “Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed these two sciences run into each other… All [laws], however, may be arranged in two different classes. 1) Divine. 2) Human… But it should always be remembered that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same Divine source: it is the law of God… Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine.” Man’s laws need to reflect God’s.

Third, The Nature of Man. Man is a mixture of “sunshine and shadow,” as one Founding Father put it. This was but a reflection of the biblical exposition of man. By “sunshine” is meant the propensity to do well and be a blessing to others.  It is a great quality that we need to encourage in ourselves and others.  On the other hand, there is also a “shadowy” portion of man. It is a desire to do wrong, which, when acted upon, is what the Bible calls SIN.  Sin is a violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4).

Reflecting this part of man, history is littered with examples of men who wished to live at the expense of others. They do this by overt robbery or, they take the God-given concept of law (protecting ourselves and our goods) and convert it to enrich themselves. Instead of robbing us at gunpoint, they pervert the purpose of LAW that they might steal your possessions. Politicians do this on a regular basis. Promising more goodies to various classes of people ensures their longevity in office and positions of power. But the end—confiscation and redistribution—or socialism, is exactly the same as a gunpoint robbery. Force is used and LAW becomes the source of evil and wickedness.

That the above occurs in America, not only with frequency, but as a part “our system,” is a source of sadness and shame. Law no longer serves its God-given purpose to protect the rights, goods, and persons of individuals in society but it has become the instrument of PLUNDER of many by the few. Obama’s social justice is exactly this. The overturning of what men innately know to be right. That churches, which should be standing for principles of justice, favor it simply shows to what immoral depths we have now descended in America. But these atrocities God will not overlook forever. Poverty will continue to plague us in astronomical proportions and working people will chafe more and more under a yoke of bondage. Perhaps that is what Obama wants all along.

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