In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. We’ve been fighting that war for nearly 50 years. What have we got to show for it? More than 46 million Americans are living below the federal government’s definition of the poverty line. A measly $22,314 a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual.
Conservatives argue that a fortune in taxpayer money has been squandered on lazy good-for-nothings — code word for poor people of color — who want nothing more than to leech off the welfare system. Liberals tend to characterize the low-income as helpless victims in need of rescue. A number of social programs that come out of that mind-set have hindered, rather than encouraged, self-sufficiency.
Beyond all the rhetoric, it should be obvious that the system isn’t working. We need fresh ideas. That brings us to the Family Independence Initiative, an Oakland-based nonprofit founded by Maurice Lim Miller.