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War on Poverty debate: By the numbers, there’s little argument in Minnesota

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society/Jerome Liebling
Minnesota governor Karl Rolvaag addresses the 1966 DFL state convention, with a poster of President Lyndon Johnson prominently displayed in the background.

“It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

The year is 1964 and President Johnson is talking not about the war in Vietnam, but about an “unconditional war on poverty in America.”

Today, that Southeast Asian conflict is long past, but the call to arms to fight poverty continues. Five decades later, critics say the war against poverty has failed, while others argue that government programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps have helped millions of families get by and staved off higher poverty levels during the Great Recession. Speakers will review and evaluate the War on Poverty at a conference Thursday in St. Paul called a “Minnesota Poverty Call to Action.” The event is hosted by Minnesota Community Action Partnership and is open to the public.

Have the lives of the poor in Minnesota improved since LBJ declared war on poverty? And how many still need help?

To help answer those questions, MinnPost asked state demographer Susan Brower to compare poverty numbers from 1960, the closest U.S. Census data collection to LBJ’s declaration of war, to Minnesota’s most recent statistics from 2010-2012.

“We see how far we’ve come,’’ said Brower after reviewing the data.

No question, there has been significant progress in reducing poverty in Minnesota. Across the state, the poverty rate overall is 11 percent — almost half what it was in 1960 at 21 percent. (The poverty level in the United States is 15 percent, down from 19 percent in 1960.)

Further, the Minnesota stats show poverty in a variety of demographic categories — from age to race to geographic location — is way down from 50 years ago. (The federal government defines poverty according to annual cash income and family size. For a family of four in 2014 the poverty level is $23,850.)

One of the biggest beneficiaries of five decades of government programs has been the 65-and-older group: poverty among older Minnesotans dropped from 39 percent to 8 percent.

Minnesota poverty by age group, 1960 and 2010–12
Poverty declined for all age groups between 1960 and 2012, but declined most dramatically for Minnesotans 65 and older.

Break the numbers down by race and ethnicity and you’ll see poverty among all persons of color today is still a startling 28 percent, but down from an unconscionable 43 percent in 1960, though there were many fewer persons of color living in Minnesota in 1960 than today. For whites in Minnesota today, the poverty level is 8 percent; in 1960, it was 21 percent.

Among various racial and ethnic categories, the results are more mixed. Poverty in Minnesota’s Asian community has declined, for example, but among non-Hispanic blacks in the state, that number has risen — from 31 percent in 1960 to 39 percent today.

“Part of the increase in poverty we see among African Americans or Blacks can be attributed to compositional changes within that group,” Brower explained in an email. “The African American/Black population in Minnesota has grown significantly, especially since 1990. Much of that growth can be attributed to immigrant refugees, many coming from East Africa where opportunities for schooling were few. We now see very high rates of poverty for many newer African-born populations. Over the same time, U.S.-born African Americans in Minnesota have had persistently high rates of poverty over the decades, and this is also a factor in the overall increase in poverty for this group.

“When we look at other racial groups, we see compositional and historical changes that have pushed the poverty rate in the other direction. Among Asian Minnesotans, for example, there has been a large increase in immigration from India. Indian immigrants tend to come to Minnesota already very highly educated, coming to the U.S. specifically to fill high-paying jobs. U.S.-born Asian refugee populations that have now been in Minnesota for generations have also been able to gain some economic foothold, which has slowed the rate of poverty for this group.”

Minnesota poverty by race, 1960 and 2010–12
Although poverty declined for people of color overall, it has actually increased for non-Hispanic blacks.

Rural poverty

Poverty in Minnesota’s rural areas has also declined since the War on Poverty was declared. Some 27 percent of people in greater Minnesota lived in poverty in 1960, and today it’s dropped to 12 percent. (The poverty rate for the seven-country metro area has remained steady over the years: 10 percent in 1960 and 11 percent today.)

The dividing line between the well-off and the poor in the Twin Cities metro is largely along racial lines, but advocates for the poor say the dividing line in rural areas is increasingly age.

Rural vs. urban poverty in Minnesota, 1960 and 2008–10
Poverty in rural Minnesota has declined, but experts worry that the new urban-rural divide falls along age lines, with rural seniors increasingly in poverty.

(Despite her best efforts, Brower said her office could only uncover the 65-and-older poverty rates in rural areas for the 2010-2012 period: Poverty among older Minnesotans in rural parts of the state is at 9 percent, compared to 7 percent of seniors living in the metro. “Our usual sources for historical census data don't contain this breakdown for 1960 at the county level,” she said.)

Officials who work with the poor in greater Minnesota see trouble ahead. “People often say the best cure for poverty is a job, but are you going to send Grandpa back to work? We’re aging at an accelerated rate,’’ said Bob Benes, who heads up the Lakes and Pines Community Action Council. The council serves Pine, Mille Lacs, Aitkin and Kanabec counties, which measure some of the highest poverty rates in the state.   

Benes said the spike this winter in the cost of propane gas used for home heating demonstrated just how vulnerable low-income seniors in his area were as they tried to pay regular bills and skyrocketing fuel costs.

“People were coming in to take out loans to fill their propane tanks, or worse, putting it on their credit cards and paying 18 percent [interest],” he said. (Because of the sharp rise, the state expanded its fuel assistance program this winter.)

Benes said older people, still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, are selling off property to survive.

Energy assistance and food support programs, access to health care, public transportation and wider Internet access are all important in the fight against poverty, he said.

Officials report poverty has also settled in the suburbs. In suburban Hennepin County there a rapidly growing need for help, said Scott Zemke, director of program operations for the Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin. One example he pointed to is the rise in applications to the Energy Assistance Program in Hennepin County. At the height of the recession in 2008-2009, that number was 13,000; this year it jumped to 15,000.

Over the past five to 10 years, Zemke has seen suburban homeowners “aging in place’’ as they retire but living on much smaller incomes — Social Security and sometimes pensions — because retirement savings were wiped out by the recession.

The recession left others paying home mortgages on salaries 50 percent to 60 percent of they had been before the economic crisis, Zemke  said. “The recession has brought on a new wave of poverty,’’ he said.

Success stories

Despite continued pockets of high levels of poverty in Minnesota, the War on Poverty can claim many success stories in the state, like that of Liane Heupel, 68, who lives with husband, Ken, on a farm north of Ogilvie.

When we talked, Heupel painted a life story of poor times and good, starting in the 1980s, from trying unsuccessfully to scratch out a living from farming to achieving economic stability, all the while dealing with emotional problems in the family and her poor eyesight. Legally blind, Heupel uses special glasses and reads from a computer screen with enlarged type.

She considers anti-poverty programs a necessary stop-gap to help struggling people. “I’ve always viewed these things — for the years we didn’t have much to live on — as being something temporary, as something that people have access to when times are tough, but hopefully they can get past it and be self-supporting,’’ she said.

“We did not get the cash and the food stamps,’’ she said, though the Heupel family qualified and took advantage of Head Start programs for their three daughters. They qualified for government fuel assistance and weatherization programs, which were “a real life saver,’’ she said, but never sought food assistance.

Heupel eventually found a good job as an employment specialist for Kanabec County, where 13.1 percent of people now live below the federal poverty line.

Heupel, now retired and a board member of the Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, an anti-poverty and assistance agency, added: “We’re pretty comfortable now, but it’s been a long road.’’

And as state demographer Brower said, poverty numbers over the past 50 years — and life stories like Heupel's — show how far Minnesota's come in the war on poverty.

Selected Minnesota poverty characteristics, 1960 and 2010–12
State Demographer Susan Brower compiled a number of statistics comparing poverty in Minnesota in 1960 and today. Explore the data in the table below.
19602010-2012
Total (in households)Number below povertyPercent below povertyTotalNumber below povertyPercent below poverty
People
Total 3,327,741 713,613 21% 5,191,482 579,222 11%
Race and Hispanic Origin
White (non-Hispanic) 3,279,329 692,884 21% 4,304,251 335,053 8%
Of Color 48,412 20,729 43% 887,231 244,169 28%
American Indian (non-Hispanic) 14,739 10,958 74% 48,603 18,958 39%
Asian (non-Hispanic) 5,480 1,194 22% 211,900 38,957 18%
Black (non-Hispanic) 20,519 6,378 31% 254,577 99,568 39%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 7,674 2,199 29% 248,527 60,015 24%
Age
Under age 5 430,961 99,693 23% 344,965 59,851 17%
Aged 5-17 852,291 200,729 24% 920,693 126,502 14%
Aged 18-64 1,724,221 289,361 17% 3,255,410 341,116 10%
Aged 65 and older 320,268 123,830 39% 670,414 51,753 8%
Sex
Female 1,675,252 371,654 22% 2,617,267 315,435 12%
Male 1,652,489 341,959 21% 2,574,215 263,787 10%
Nativity
Native born 3,185,584 670,178 21% 4,777,539 492,742 10%
Foreign born 142,157 43,435 31% 413,943 86,480 21%
Employment status
Total aged 16-64 1,826,907 308,080 17% 3,395,092 357,367 11%
Employed 1,118,988 155,477 14% 2,595,345 155,480 6%
Unemployed 60,445 13,250 22% 203,432 60,512 30%
Not in labor force 647,474 139,353 22% 596,315 141,375 24%
Urban vs. rural
19602008-2010
7-county metro area 1,491,413 14991410% 2,841,308 320,988 11%
Greater MN 1,850,693 49563527% 2,382,714 288,385 12%

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Comments (38)

Before or After Benefits

Cynthia,
Are these poverty rates before the variety of welfare payments that are provided? (ie medical, food stamps, housing assistance, heating assistance, welfare checks, etc)

If so, do you have any idea how many individuals are in poverty after their wages and the benefits are added together?

If not, what are the real poverty rates without benefits?

Just curious if we are comparing apples and apples.

This isn't a surprise at all..

Look at education...same thing. 40 years later we spend 120% more per kid but get the same results. If we really cared about the poor we would ask is shoveling cash into large government programs working? Perhaps we should start judging and holding politicians accountable on results not just good intentions.

If we also look at how we help the poor we would see we have an entire big business industry around "helping the poor" even if it doesn't help them it, they have a vested interest in keeping the bureaucracy afloat versus actually getting people out of poverty. The administrative class want people dependent upon government cause otherwise they wouldn't have a job.

If you look at the last three years, we have larger government, more people on assistance, greater wealth redistribution but the number of poor people are growing. Roughly 25 %of the poor in America are working and about 3 %work full time. Government largesse and debauchery can keep people from destitution, but it cannot provide a ladder out of poverty. Only jobs will do this. This is a fact.

So perhaps rather then sending our funds to help the poor to some central capital city with the bureaucrats taking a cut, and then just dumping it in the city; we should utilize local institutions that actually can help people instead of pretending to help. Allow people to keep more of their earnings as opposed to shuttling them off to DC and then as proven we will have prosperity for all. But then again the central planners wouldn't want that. Politicians have done more to keep people in poverty then any other force.

What's your source?

“Roughly 25 %of the poor in America are working and about 3 %work full time. Government largesse and debauchery can keep people from destitution, but it cannot provide a ladder out of poverty.” For the most part, this strikes me as horsefeathers, not fact, but I'm willing to be persuaded. What's your source of information for the figures?

Most of those living in poverty, while they certainly pay sales and excise taxes like the rest of us, don't have enough income to pay income taxes, so "allowing people to keep more of their earnings" is a red herring, since they already keep almost all of their earnings – and they're still poor. And by the way, someone who earns $23,850 a year is being paid about $11.46 an hour – 18% more than the newly-passed $9.50 minimum wage. If that family of 4 is going by the usual guidelines, they should spend about $600/month for housing. I can't help but wonder what sort of market-rate housing is available to a family of four for $600/month, and where it will be located.

How About Some Actual Statistics (circa 2011)?

http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/states/popups/minnesota.html

So, John Smith, while your suggestion of @25% working poor is at least accurate for Minnesota, perhaps we should visit the rest of the table, where we define what poverty means in this case (200% of FPG) which meant about $22,000 in income, which Ray properly identifies as much, much too little to really live on. $600 a month rent - yeah, sure! Try a $1000 a month plus for rent - or 70%+ in the worker's take home pay. Check out the percent that were paying over 1/3 of their income for housing on the table.

The public assistance need remains high. Wages are not nearly enough for many people to live on. And they are hardly living above their means. Government assistance is inadequate - does anyone really begrudge single people a maximum of $189 a month in food assistance (SNAP)? That's less than $2300 a year to supplement the needs - and unfortunately be the main source of income for food - for far too many. Frankly, SNAP benefits should have been raised to $250 or more maximum for single households this year, not reduced from $200 to $189 because a temporary waiver expired.

Greater wealth redistribution??

In the last three years? Only if you recognize that all that wealth went to the very rich and corporations. The poor and the middle class have suffered, but the right does not care as the Kock Bros and their ilk can make still more and buy more legislators. What a joke Smith - the right and you don't want to care for the poor or provide medical care or even let the vote, just hope they disappear.

Keep believing that narrative...

Yes it is the evil Koch brothers ...yes it is all their fault. Never mind that 8 out of the 10 richest business families are huge contributors to the Democratic Party. The party of crony capitalism and unfair markets isn't the right.

It isn't the party on the right telling inner city kids you can't control your own education choices and can't have that two hour a day internship at the local co-op.

Ever check who donates to the left...the largest companies...Goldman Sachs...the lefts largest supporter. The comcast merger that is turning into a monopoly play...big friends of the Democratic Party. Wal-mart... Same thing.

Keep pushing the same policies of the last 50 years that have destroyed the inner cities and created generations dependent upon handouts from the government without dignity.

Keep telling the poor that they are victims and have no choice but to have the good people of the left protect them.

But keep telling poor people those lies and make them dependent on handouts and you have yourself a nice voting segment that will keep those career bureaucrat elite in power but keeping the poor, poor so them keep voting.

Not surprising at all that the career politicians would keep using the class warfare rhetoric which has been in use since the French Revolution...cause if you don't make up problems and make things worse your "good intentioned" solutions don't get applied.

Too bad the left doesn't believe in free markets, free minds and free speech but some elite clerical class...that this ex hippie could see a mile away.

The people of the "professional" left think of themselves as progressive but it is the same policy and solutions that have been tried over and over and failed.

Please educate yourself some more if you really want to help people get out of poverty or keep believing and voting this false narrative and keep them poor just so you can have power and be puppets for the super wealthy.

Good points on money in politics

I strongly support getting money out of politics, and it sounds like you're with me on that note. Here's a little updated info, however, as I think a few of your stats were off the mark.

I'm not sure about business "families" but only 3 out of the top ten businesses made majority contributions to Democrats since 2012:
http://247wallst.com/special-report/2012/07/02/the-ten-companies-making-...

Comcast was one of them though which also makes me very suspicious of this merger which I think is a terrible idea. Goldman Sachs, on the other hand, has made 71% of its donations to the Republican party since 2012.

I really don't know where you heard that Walmart was liberal, definitely not the case:
http://makingchange.forrespect.org/files/2013/06/Political-Giving-Analys...

I'm also curious to know how you feel about the conservative supreme court justices who seem to think that money = speech, because it sounds like you're against that.

What has the right tried?

Zero remarks or suggested programs from the right as to how to lower poverty when in power. Lower taxes don't help the poor nor do minimum wage jobs let them escape poverty. Sending the poor and middle class young people to war (see the totally worthless war in Iraq) is not a solution. Plus let's have some cites to your claims which have already been proved wrong. Or provide some real ideas besides the bs bootstrap argument.

A Different Perspective

Please remember that the poor and middle class benefitted significantly from the Bush tax cuts. I know I enjoyed the $1,000/child tax CREDIT. And I know "working poor" who get more back from the government than they pay in due to the Earned Income Tax CREDIT. I put CREDIT in CAPS because that is not a deduction, that is a CASH that comes right off your tax bill or paid to you from the taxes that others pay.

http://www.policymic.com/articles/3701/who-really-benefited-from-the-bus...

And now that the Democrats have eliminated the cuts that the well to do had fairly received as part of the original negotiation... The Liberals should be ecstatic. Yet they want more, more, more....

just a thought

Currently the cable companies are looking to become bigger monopolies. They consider it a 'free market' right. Cut out the competition is a legal free market action.

The Carnegies and Morgan's were ruthless in driving out competition during the hay day of the free market Barons. They kept the people poor. Destitution was the name of the game for most Americans. The 'barons' had the money, regulations were non-existent, and soup kitchens were all most had for their 'restaurants', the cities were unsanitary and dangerous because there were no regulations in that free market. You wouldn't want to live in those free market conditions.

Educate yourself on this 'free enterprise' time in our history. These 'Giants of Industry' were not out to help the American People or American labor rise above the conditions they lived in.

The huge positive impact that

The huge positive impact that Medicare has had on American seniors is clear in this report. I had no idea that the poverty level among retirees was so high before Medicare was enacted, or how significant has been the assistance. AARP has done, and continues to do, assessments of how many retirees live, just on the edge of poverty, only because of Social Security and the help of Medicare.

Those of us who follow such things have no doubt about the poverty level in which many of our elderly live, counting all their benefits. They are not getting rich off the taxpayer. I suggest that all doubters take a year off, and try to live on about $12K (gross income). Then tell us about it.

federal poverty level in 1960?

What does that 1960 income level tell us about the comparison with 2014? Did new programs in the intervening years make a substantial difference? How about the federal low income tax credit (and state)? What percent of qualified persons use them?

Pretend

Let's not pretend that the War on Poverty is the same today as it was when it started over 40 years ago. Funding and programs to help the poor are far more measly and less available then they were from roughly 1965-1970. Funding has been hacked away by the GOPer party for 40 years. With some unfortunate assistance from certain Democrats.

Yes ?

Has the rate of poverty for 1960 in these numbers been adjusted for how poverty is defined today ? The family of 4 earning less then 25000 Are apples being compared to apples ? As was said by Mr S are the perentage for housing etc similar to % of dollars earned ? And whatvabout the need for two income families prevalent by need today ?

And yet

Today's Strib article reports that in a Columbia Heights school district more than 80% of it's students qualify for reduced or free lunch. Ouch!

Picture Worth 1000 Words

Checkout this map...
http://www.mn2020hindsight.org/view/50-years-of-war-poverty-in-mn

It looks like most of the poverty reduction has occurred in rural MN. Maybe the decrease in the size of farm families, kids like me moving into the cities, the great commodity prices of late, the high land values, etc have done more to help the State's poor than any actions the government has taken?

It looks like Ramsey and Hennepin counties have stayed the same or gotten worse.

Cynthia,
Still wondering if you have answers to the questions I asked above. Also, Is there a source where we can see more of the State Demographers data. I am interested to see how this changed over time. Thanks John

great commodity prices?

Of late? You don't do your own shopping for commodities much do you.
How does high land prices help the poor?

Rural Poverty

Look at the maps more closely. In 1960 a great deal of MN's poverty was in rural MN. The farmers had low technology, big families, there were many small family farms, processing was far away, storage and transport was expensive, equipment was miniscule by today's standards, etc.

Today in my home area, only 1 in 4 of the farm sites remain. The families are smaller, spouses work off the farm, processing is local, storage is cheap, etc, etc, etc. Therefore farm and rural families are finally earn incomes more equivalent to their wealthy city cousins. Thus rural poverty is way way down. Where as urban poverty is flat or up.

how to

How to divide the farm up. I grew up working on my father's farm and he had 5 children. Like a lot of families in the area did, he sold the farm to one of the larger farms in the area. No squabbling over who got the farm. That eventually reduced the number of farm owners in the area. Larger farms meant fewer farmers. Most of the children moved to the big city. Essentially nearly 3 out of 4 farm families moved the big city. Since the families were larger, more moved than are left. So now one farm has 2 children when back then 4 had 5 children. 15 of those children moved to the city then had children of their own. Rural poverty moved to the city.

Farm Kids in the Big City

Most of the farm raised kids I know who live in the city are doing pretty well. They tend to be pretty grounded and hard working. Maybe all those years of rock picking, barn cleaning, pulling weeds, bailing, equipment operation, maintenance, repair, animal care, etc helped.

Certainly would

Help the super rich to understand the value of work

Most City Folks

I don't think only the super rich need that lesson.

Even my city girl daughters seem motivationally challenged. And we are on them all the time to be doing something....

And

Rural America is dying as a result. Small town guy here, all the farms around us consolidated under the "agribusiness" model. Now its the only one left, all the other little population centers Ade gone. Perhaps you like planatation style living, but I think most of the folks in rural America might disagree.

Commodity prices and land values?

Yeah, that MUST be it.....I'm sure population density has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Please explain

What do you mean?

Back in the 1990s, PBS ran an American Experience program

called "The War on Poverty." Unfortunately, it seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth, unavailable on DVD, even from the original producers, although there may be a few VHS copies floating around.

Two things stood out and are consistent with my memories of the era. One is that when the War on Poverty was announced, the face of poverty as portrayed in the media was white and rural: residents of towns with played-out coal mines in Appalachia, white sharecroppers in Mississippi. Only occasionally did these media portrayals show an African-American family in the inner city.

Once the Republicans were in power, the face of poverty suddenly turned black. When media figures talked about poverty, the illustrations were always of inner city African-Americans. This created the impression that welfare programs benefited black families exclusively.

Another thing the program brought up was that local bigwigs were fine with the War on Poverty as long as it was limited to charitable-type activities, such as nutrition programs or medical care. Once VISTA workers began telling poor people that they had rights--that mining companies had to offer just compensation for any land they used and restore it afterwards, that landlords were required by law to provide certain basic amenities, that employers were required to pay minimum wage and offer safe working conditions, that workers with grievances had the right to organize--the propaganda campaign against the War on Poverty began.

One by one, the War on Poverty programs were dismantled. The only remnants today are Head Start and a Job Corps that is so much a shadow of itself that I was surprised to hear that it existed when one of the street kids I used to work with went into a Job Corps camp to learn one of the building trades. (What is normally called "welfare" dates from the New Deal era, and food stamps were a Nixon program.)

Ronald Reagan was fond of saying "We declared war on poverty, and poverty won."

Like a lot of what Reagan said, that saying was cute but inaccurate.

Poverty didn't win. The U.S. surrendered by dismantling anti-poverty programs, deregulating in ways that allowed the robber barons to flourish, raising "shareholder value" to a holy and sacred and inviolable principle (no matter who else got hurt), lowering taxes on the wealthy while increasing military spending so that there would be "no money" for anything that benefits ordinary people, crippling the unions, allowing every aspect of the country's infrastructure to deteriorate, sending jobs offshore, and making it harder to get an education (a whole lot of federal student aid programs disappeared in the early 1980s). These were largely Republican initiatives, but they were implemented with considerable help from the accursed "moderate" Democrats of the Democratic Leadership Council, who worked with the Republicans to make "liberal" a dirty word.

So arguments about eliminating poverty are silly, since we haven't really tried to eliminate it since 1980.

The four anti-poverty measures that Goodman mentions, namely

Finish high school,
Get a job,
Get married, and
Don’t have children until you get married.

don't work when the jobs available to a high school graduate tend to be minimum wage, if they can find a job.

My church's meal programs are full of single people who finished high school, are single and childless, and can't find a job that pays a living wage.

Catch 22

Until Americans are willing to:
- pay more for and demand higher "American Content" goods.

- deport illegal aliens who are taking jobs that legal residents could be doing.

- accept investments that pay somewhat lower returns.

I don't see this problem going away. Currently when costs increase in America, consumers just demand more cheap imports...

It is not rational to demand the lowest prices while demanding higher wages...

your mistake

is to think Americans prefer and demand cheap American products that are made overseas. The supply is cheap, and the demand is underfunded. The demand for the expensive products isn't there because it's underfunded.

- Fine substantially any and all companies who knowingly hire illegal aliens so they can avoid paying them even the minimum wage.

It is not rational to demand buying at higher prices while demanding paying lower wages.

Proposal

Since price is set by the market, not the manufactured cost. Many of the products have similar prices for now. And if consumers are not willing to pay a little more for American goods to support American jobs... Who should?

As for fines, it seems we do charge them.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/25/obama-eases-penalties-fo...

Source

What is your source regarding military spend increasing?
http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Articles/2012/9/sequestr...

Well for one thing, Reagan ran on increasing military spending

and he expanded it 43%.

Source

Do you have a source that explains why you believe war on poverty spending has decreased? This source says it keeps increasing.
http://cosmoscon.com/2012/07/25/welfare-and-the-war-on-poverty/

Not sure how credible it is...

The site seems to be devoted mostly to arguing against

climate change, but they are confusing welfare (survival) programs with poverty alleviation programs (job training, legal aid, work programs).

The former are naturally higher in periods of unemployment. The latter have been cut.

Money is There

The money is being spent. Now how do we convince the politicians to redirect it towards training?

We currently have plenty of trained people who are unemployed,

which wasn't the case in the 1960s.

We need a new WPA to jump-start the economy. We also need a "buy American" preference for government procurement, similar to the veteran's preference for civil service.

If you say that it wasn't the New Deal but World War II that caused recovery from the Depression, you're right, but in economic terms, World War II was the largest government jobs program the nation had ever seen, as most of the able-bodied young men were in the military and many others, along with large numbers of women, were working in support positions or building military hardware, as well as replacing the men who had gone to war. People who had standing in soup lines suddenly had steady incomes, and during a period when there was very little to buy.

Yes, Mr. Appelen, military spending IS government spending and being in the military is as much a government job as is being a forest ranger or working for the IRS.

We could cut the budget of the War Department down to strictly defensive purposes, like a normal country, and divert the money to REAL security: fixing and modernizing our infrastructure, seeking alternatives to petroleum for all purposes, putting more teachers into classrooms so that students receive more individual attention in those important early years, creating more public health clinics to take the pressure off emergency rooms and training more nurse-practitioners and PAs to staff them--the list of needs is endless.

As people had more money to spend, businesses would have more customers. If the corporate world is sitting on piles of cash (conducting a capital strike?) after being absolutely coddled since the Reagan administration and are still shedding employees and making the remaining employees work harder, then that's a failure of the private sector, and governments need to step in.

(Oh, and don't give me that nonsense about "high taxes" and "uncertainty." Business has always been uncertain, and any corporation that is paying high taxes has a lousy accountant.)

Buy American

Government already has a Buy American policy, it is the American consumers who don't. I have an older friend who works at a clothing manufacturer in Madison SD. Almost all of their orders come from the government because of the government's Buy American policy. Other customers are too cost averse.

Also, remember that one of the reasons government spending is increasing so fast is because they do spend most of their dollars here where it more expensive. I remember a story where the Indiana DMV or something tried to outsource their back office operations to India. Lord knows that came to an end fast once the public employee unions and tax payers learned of it.

I am not sure if pulling the military back within the American borders would save or cost America money. For better or worse we are reliant on our trading partners, and a stable peaceful world is really good for business.(ie exports and imports) What would happen if North Korea invaded South Korea? Or Japan? Or China took over Taiwan?

With cash accounts not paying any interest, I don't think many companies have their money sitting in a money fund. My guess they are invested in US and other very secure redeemable bonds. Meaning that they are likely funding our governments debt. I don't think they are Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money vault.