Tag: LBJ

Amity Shlaes discusses the economic history of the 1960s and the efforts of Presidents Johnson and Nixon to eradicate poverty—the subjects of her just-published book, Great Society: A New History.

The 1960s were a momentous period, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War, but Shlaes’s book focuses on the incredibly ambitious government programs of the era, which expanded the social safety net beyond anything contemplated before. Overall, the Great Society programs, Shlaes writes, came “close enough to socialism to cause economic tragedy.” Great Society is a powerful follow-up to her earlier book, The Forgotten Man, about the Great Depression and the 1930s.

Dr. Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation talks with co-host Bob Bowdon about her new book, The Not-So-Great-Society, co-edited with Jonathan Butcher, which includes contributions from top policy experts. They explore why Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” is an inflection point for federal intervention in local school policy. The constitutionally limited national role in K-12 education grew exponentially after 1965, to the present day, where the U.S. Department of Education has a staff of 4,000 and an annual budget of $70 billion, not to mention programs housed in other agencies, such as Head Start, which has cost $250 billion since it was established. To meet the expansive federal mandates and regulations, non-teaching and administrative staffing has dramatically increased. The question is: Has this fundamental transformation in local education policy led to progress in student performance?

Stories of the Week: A surveillance company, “Gaggle,” is using AI tools to monitor 5 million students’ writings and social media posts for “harmful” content in an effort to “stop tragedies” – but is spying on our kids the answer? Former presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris has introduced a bill to extend the school day to 6 p.m. to align with parents’ work schedules – a welcome modernization or a slippery slope to more federal intrusion? In New York, a teacher suspended in 1999 for sexual harassment who can’t be fired because of tenure rules and bureaucratic delays, is receiving a salary of over $130,000 despite being barred from the classroom.

If Past Presidents Had Twitter


I am neither condoning nor defending Trump’s tweets, nor Obama’s. For good or ill, I suppose they’re just a sign of the times. But then I don’t use Twitter for any reason, and am thus saved having to care. That being said, I do wonder how past presidents might have comported themselves on their own tweets.

I am certain FDR would have made full use of the medium, though the thought of fireside tweets is itself very amusing. Not sure that Truman would have been enamored of it, and I can say with some certainty that Ike would have loathed it. JFK though? Now that bears some thought, and I’m guessing he would have been a frequent tweeter. LBJ’s tweets I am guessing would have been artistically vulgar, and Nixon’s would have struck fear in many. Ford’s likely would have been a tad clumsy, and Carter’s would have been sermonizing and depressing. Reagan would have made tweeting an art form. GHW Bush, or so I would guess, would have been uninspiring but reliably anodyne. Bill Clinton’s would have been focus-group tested for maximum appeal, and so would shift as with the winds while not saying anything concrete at all.

Let’s see how we can imagine if past presidents would have had Twitter at their disposal, and see how their some of their quotes would fly today as Tweets.

The Poverty Hockey Stick


A few years ago I came across a plot of the poverty rate for US families from the year 1959 to 2011. Surprise! It’s a “hockey stick” plot with a well-defined blade covering over a decade of rapid change, and a decades-long “handle” in which the rate bobbles around a bit but shows no clear long-term trend. I’ve replotted it below, but you can find the same chart (minus the red- and blue-dashed lines, which I’ll describe below, and with recessions marked in) on Page 32 of the US Census Bureau publication titled “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011”.

Poverty-Rate-FittedIn the “blade,” which runs from the beginning of the data in 1959 up to some time around 1970, poverty declined steadily at a rate of about 1% per year. Then the “handle” begins, and the decline in poverty ends. Instead, the poverty rate bobbles around 10% or so, and perhaps rises very slowly as the decades pass.