This is the first in a series of articles about what the Obama Administration is really wanting to accomplish and the reasons behind Congress’s inability to function properly.
To understand what the current fight between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress is really about, one must go back in time to 1966. At the time two professors at Columbia University published an article in the “Nation” titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.” Both sociologists, Richard Andrew Cloward and his wife, Frances Fox Piven were members of the Democratic Socialists of America, and their strategy was to destroy our capitalist system by overloading our government bureaucracy with a flood of demands that would become impossible to fulfill and which would cause our country’s economic system to collapse.
Cloward and Piven enlisted the help of George Wiley, a militant black organizer, to lead their new movement. In January of 1966 the three met at the “Poor Peoples War Council on Poverty, which was being held in Syracuse, New York. A short time later Wiley launched his own group, the “Poverty Rights Action Center.” headquartered in Washington D.C.
In September 1966, the Second Annual Socialist Scholars Conference was held at the Commodore Hotel, in New York City. It was at this conference where Cloward and Piven publicly outlined their strategy. This was followed in 1967 by Wiley founding the “National Welfare Rights Organization” (NWRO). His tactics closely followed the recommendations set forth by Cloward and Piven. Soon his followers invaded welfare offices across the nation. By 1969 the NWRO had 22,500 families signed up and paying dues. There were 523 chapters nation wide.
These people staged sit-ins in the U.S. Senate and mass demonstrations by thousands of welfare recipients were taking place. They boycotted schools, set up picket lines, threw rocks and damaged buildings. This caused clashes with the police who had trouble quelling the riots instigated by followers of Wiley.
It has been reported that Wiley was surprised about how effective these efforts were, and from 1965 to 1974 the number of households on welfare grew from 4.3 million to 10.8 million. In the 1970s there was one person on welfare in New York City for every two people who were working.
John Lindsay, an arch-liberal was elected mayor of New York in November 1966. During Lindsay’s first term welfare spending in that city, grew from $400 million to $1 billion annually. In 1975, as a direct result of welfare spending, New York City declared bankruptcy.
This was the first great success for the Cloward-Piven strategy. Wiley’s success was due to the cooperation of sympathizers inside federal government. It was those inside government who supplied the movement with grants and training, all of which were funneled through the War on Poverty programs. These were President Johnson’s “Great Society Programs” which would eventually become a leading cause in the destruction of the city of Detroit.
When the American public finally woke up and realized what had happened to New York City, a backlash began, which gave rise to a movement to reform welfare. This resulted in passage of the “Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act of 1996, which imposed strict eligibility and work requirements on welfare recipients.
This discussion will continue next week with Cloward and Piven’s transformation of the Democratic Party.
Quote for the Week: “Public money is like holy water: everyone helps himself.” ----Unknown.
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