Star Parker
 

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

More than $7 trillion has been spent on poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson declared his "war on poverty" 40 years ago, with effectively zero impact on overall black poverty. Yet 40 years of failure doesn't seem to be enough to suggest to liberals, black and white, that their approach to poverty might be wrong.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Democratic Sen. John Edwards, among others, riding the post-Katrina poverty-in-America theme, are making predictable speeches calling for yet more government poverty programs. I'm not sure I want to let these folks off with an insanity plea, but you really have to wonder what it takes for liberals to add one and one and get two.

It's a bit hard to buy the claim that Katrina suddenly made Americans aware of poverty.

The Washington Post reported this week that the federal government has in place over 80 poverty-related programs on which we spend in the neighborhood of $500 billion annually. Given the 37 million Americans that the Census Bureau tells us live in poverty, my calculator tells me this comes out to $13,500 spent per poverty-stricken person. Hardly indifference.

Yet, says the Post, "despite" all this spending, tens of millions of Americans remain poor. And despite 40 years of bloated government and massive spending, with no impact on structural black poverty, Obama concludes we need even more of the same.

At least as incredible as the insistence of liberals on perpetuating failure is their absolute refusal to consider a single new idea.

Black politicians and black entertainers are jumping on President Bush for allegedly being "indifferent" and not caring about blacks. But they have fought proposals that the president brought to Washington that would tangibly improve the condition of black America.

One of the single biggest issues for blacks today is education. Few would argue that education is the key to every kid's future.

Black kids are trapped in hopeless, failing inner-city public schools. There is only one answer here, and that is school choice. We need voucher programs that would let black parents send their kids to school wherever they choose. The marketplace delivers the best products in the world to American consumers. We need to let that same marketplace deliver education.


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.