Another president began a war promising a "chance to test our weapons, to try our energy and ideas and imagination for the many battles yet to come." He said that as conditions change, "we will be prepared to modify our strategy." The heralded modifications never came, nor did an end to the war. President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty turned out to be a bigger quagmire than Vietnam. Would that the Democrats would give the war in Iraq as much time to succeed as they are willing to give the "War on Poverty," now entering its 40th year.
Instead of poor people with hope and possibility, we now have a permanent underclass of aspiring criminals knifing one another between having illegitimate children and collecting welfare checks. It is an ironclad law of economics that if you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it. But liberals were shocked and bewildered to discover that when they subsidized illegitimacy, they got more of it.
The War on Poverty took a crisis-level illegitimacy rate among blacks in the mid-1960s (22 percent) and tripled it to 69 percent. It transformed a negligible illegitimacy rate among whites (2 percent) to emergency proportions (22.5 percent) – higher than the black illegitimacy rate when Daniel Patrick Moynihan heralded the War on Poverty with his alarmist report on black families, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." (Demonstrating the sort of on-the job-training that has so impressed Hollywood elites, the state with the second highest rate of white illegitimacy is Howard Dean's Vermont.) Overall, the illegitimacy rate has skyrocketed from about 8 percent to 33.8 percent.
If George Bush's war on terrorism were to go as well as the Democrats' war on poverty, in a few decades we could have four times as many angry Muslims worldwide plotting terrorist violence against Americans.
Or how about an "exit strategy" for New York City's war on high rents? Rent control was introduced as a temporary wartime measure during World War II. Sixty years later, the Germans have been subdued – but government bureaucrats in New York are still setting rents, leading to the surplus of affordable housing for which the city is duly famous. The anointed live in lush five-bedroom apartments in marquee buildings for $350 a month while newcomers are forced to bid up the few units in what's left of the housing market, paying thousands of dollars per month to live in rat-infested tenements.