A Daily Mail editorial headline reads "Dispatches from the War on Poverty" and introduced a conservative analysis of the programs initiated by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
A popular refrain is that the anti-poverty programs of the Great Society years didn't work.
I was there, and I can say that not only did many of the programs work, but that in some ways, poverty was permanently diminished.
The Daily Mail editorial does relate that the poverty among the nation's elderly dropped from 35 percent in 1959 to under ten percent in 2010. I think I can help illustrate how that happened.
I joined a Parkersburg area community action agency in 1971 that served a ten-county area of West Virginia. This was shortly after being ordered by my local draft board to perform civilian alternate service because I was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War.
The agency began by carefully defining the leading conditions and problems of poverty at the local level and the various cultural barriers and factors that either contributed to the problem or minimized or ameliorated the problem.
We then brainstormed many alternative approaches to ease the problems and settled on a plan using the most sensible of the proposed programs.
We developed a built-in evaluation process to check progress quarterly so we could adjust if things were running behind or not working.
I was assigned the task of coordinating special programs for low-income elderly. As a young man, my first year was quite challenging. Among our quandaries were "How do we recruit senior citizens?" The next question was, "What do we do with them after we recruit them?"
We started from scratch. Outreach workers went door to door, letting seniors know we were starting a new program and inviting them to a meeting. We offered transportation by volunteers to increase attendance.