As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, NPQ will acknowledge the depth of the effect this struggle has had by going deep. We will be publishing our primary piece tomorrow with insights from people who have been involved—some in its earliest stages and some more recently—in all that long lasting strategy has accomplished. But here, on the day of the anniversary, is a short thought.
As someone who has been involved in racial and economic justice movements and in community development, the characteristic that I have most valued about the conceptualization and some of the practice of the War on Poverty over the years was its coupling of community activism and control with resources. It was the right impulse.
The missing piece was an understanding that the structure of the economy overall needed to change. “Unfettered” capitalism needed fettering. Around the time that the War on Poverty was announced, other groups were taking this on, but then the question became muted. Unions lost power and we became even more focused on consumerism…and then came Occupy. But as with all movements, constituency builds in its own way and at its own pace, building steam and voice.
As we covered in our newswire from December 16th, excerpted below, the year 2013 ended with “waves of labor protests from workers paid far less than a living wage.”
Meanwhile, NPQ has had occasion to print innumerable graphs showing the increase in the wealth gap, but this table from the Washington Post WonkBlog that we reprinted on September 11, 2013, was particularly striking in that it showed that the fruits of the so-called recovery from the recession have mostly been enjoyed by the super rich.
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And then, at the end of the year, we published a set of trends and predictions in a piece called “As the World Turns.” Our leading trend was this one:
In this sector, our uneasy relationships with wealth and poverty are reflected in this excerpt from the newswire we ran on January 5th, printed below:
So for now, we would like to say that NPQ will take a special strong interest in the issue of economic justice over the coming year, and we would love your help and comments about where that should be focused.
Meanwhile, happy anniversary—and don’t miss our piece tomorrow.