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The Great Society Exceeds Expectations... And All Sense of Reality

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

"We can't prevent every little wiggle in the economic cycle... but... we now can prevent a major slide."

-- Charles Schultze, LBJ's budget director... not the cartoonist. [1]

LBJ should have hired the cartoonist. President Kennedy had carefully implemented poverty relief programs that were small and targeted. The result was steady economic growth, 1% inflation and a drop in the poverty rate of about 5%. Well... if a little effort gets a 5% drop then a LOT of effort should drop poverty to ZERO! So President Johnson (LBJ) announces his plans for "The Great Society". It is welfare on a grand scale. He also pushes through Medicare and Medicaid this year. The economy is doing great, and now that we have the business cycle figured out we can afford to be generous. Our only worry is that we are underestimating the future growth of the economy. (They actually think this.) [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
And after spending trillions and trillions of dollars, the poverty rate as of 2015 was 13.5%. That is a 3.5% drop from what President Johnson started with. You might say, "We could have just GIVEN that money to the poor DIRECTLY and eliminated poverty," but you would be wrong. The biggest, most expensive direct-giveaway experiment in welfare history was the Negative Income Tax experiment or NIT. One group was given enough money to raise them above the poverty line, so that they no longer had to struggle to survive. A second group (that is, the control group) was given simple information on existing job training programs, but no money at all. At the end of the experiment most of the control group had pulled themselves out of poverty, and were moving up at a steady pace. The NITs (Negative Income Tax recipients) had stopped trying. Since the results of the experiment did not meet expectations, the government ignored the results... or in the words of Mythbuster Adam Savage, "I reject your reality, and substitute my own!" [4] [5] [6]

Fighting fire with fire

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

"Burn yourselves, not your cards"

This was the cry that went out from some New Yorkers during an anti-draft protest. One of those protesters did just that three days later. Through out 1965 multiple anti-war activists performed self-immolation in protest of the United State's involvement in Vietnam, especially the bombing and napalming of innocent civilians, especially women and children. The first was Alice Herz, [7] who was the first known activist in the United States to have set herself on fire protesting war, taking her example from Thích Quảng Đức, who was discussed in On Fire for Freedom of Faith[8]. Next was Norman Morrison,[9], who went to outside the office of the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, handed his one year old daughter to someone in the crowd, then proceeded to douse himself in kerosene, and lit himself on fire. Finally, the last person to protest the war in this fashion was the man who's story I started with. Roger LaPorte[10] went outside the Dag Hammarskjold Library on November 9th, just one week after Norman Morrison's protest, doused himself in gasoline, and set himself on fire.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
In a follow up to my previous segment on self-immolation, we can see this practice has come to the US. I remember hearing the story about the man handing his infant child off to a stranger in the crowd then lighting himself on fire for the first time, and it just hitting me hard, even though I was in my early teens. Unlike the Buddhist monk in 1963, who was able to capture the worlds attention and gain acknowledgement of the suffering of Vietnamese Buddhists, the United States protesters were a lot less successful. Norman Morrison's was the most successful, as the media grabbed a hold of the fact that he had one year old daughter with him right before he lit himself on fire. Before researching this his was the only one of the three self-immolations that I was even vaguely aware of occurring in the US.

The Great Northeast Blackout

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Maintenance workers set a protective relay (like a circuit breaker) for the electrical transmission line going out of a Niagara Falls power plant, but they set it too low. At 5:16 p.m. Eastern Time a small power surge trips the relay, and all heck breaks loose. The sudden dropout forces the next power plant to take up the slack. This also produces a power surge pulling that power plant off line. A cascade effect ensues as each power plant in turn is overloaded. Some areas are able to isolate themselves from the grid, but the rest are going down fast. The electrical grid collapses, and blacks out the Northeastern United States and a large portion of Canada for 13 hours. Companies like Eastman Kodak have their own power generators, and remain powered throughout this event. People with their own generators become islands of light in the midst of darkness. [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Oddly enough, many of the power plants were NOT prepared for their generators to stop turning. Generators are massive things THAT REQUIRE POWER to get them turning in the first place. Whatever is providing your ongoing power source like coal, nuclear, or a local river, it may not provide enough push to get the generator past its initial startup phase. In a portable generator, that initial push is provided by the owner pulling on the cord to get the engine running. For a massive power generation plant, they use a running power plant from somewhere else! Private companies with their own generators helped get government-sponsored power plants back on their feet. One thing is for sure. You can always depend on government. On exactly what, I'm not sure. Did they fix this problem? Well... they replaced the old system. Computers monitor the grid now. I feel safer already. Don't you? [12]

Notable Births

NOTE: As we get closer to the current day, the "Notable Births" will become less notable and drop away for obvious reasons. Perhaps it should be replaced by "Notable Deaths."

  • Rodney King (died 2012, age 47 of a drug overdose): His beating by the LAPD caused a riot. "Can we all just get along?". (Apparently not.--alexshrugged) [13] [14]
  • Dmitry Medvedev: Current Prime Minister of Russia. [13]
  • Bashar al-Assad: Current President of Syria. (Nancy Pelosi liked him, but now he is the most evil man in the world after Putin.--alexshrugged) [13]
  • J. K. Rowling: Author of the Harry Potter series. [13]
  • Alexander Siddig: Dr. Bashir on Star Trek's Deep Space Nine. (Did anyone watch that show?--alexshrugged) [13]
  • Amie F.: Mother of Southpaw Ben, born in PA, currently works as an RN at a nursing home.
  • -- In Music: Shania Twain. [13]
  • -- In Comedy: Chris Rock. [13]
  • -- In Movies: Charlie Sheen, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. [13]

This Year in Film

  • The Sound of Music: Julie Andrews has another big hit! [15]
  • Doctor Zhivago: Russia is coming apart at the seams. (Again.--alexshrugged) [15]
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Peanuts characters find the true meaning of Christmas. (Inspiring without apologizing for Christianity. As a non-Christian I respect that.--alexshrugged) [15] [16]

This Year in TV

  • Lost in Space: "Danger, Will Robinson!". [17] [18]
  • Thunderbirds!: In Supermarionation! Puppets save your life with rockets and superjets! [17] [19]
  • -- In Comedy: Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie and Hogan's Heroes. [17]
  • -- In Game Shows: The Dating Game and Supermarket Sweep. [17]
  • -- In Westerns: Wild, Wild West and The Big Valley. [17]
  • -- In Drama: I Spy (with Bill Cosby), and The FBI. [17]

This Year in Music

  • The Beatles dominate with: Yesterday, Ticket to Ride and Help! (with a movie). [20]
  • (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones. [20]
  • Mr. Tambourine Man: The Byrds. [20]

In Other News

  • Burn your draft card, go to jail: It is not free speech. The Supreme Court says so. [21] [22]
  • Malcolm X is assassinated: Members of the Nation of Islam did it. (I am appalled.--alexshrugged) [21]
  • State troopers beat black protestors senseless in Selma.: John Lewis is made famous for leading the march across that bridge. (He deserves praise for that undoubted act of courage, but like John McCain, he's been trading on one heroic event ever since.--alexshrugged) [21] [23]
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is passed after the Selma incident: It extends the power of the Feds to regulate voter registration, and to review any related changes to state law. (It is intrusive and meant to be so.--alexshrugged) [21] [24]
  • The Watts Riots kill 34: Rumors of police brutality against a black woman turn into a vicious riot. (It scared the snot out of me.--alexshrugged) [21] [25]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1965, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Murray, Charles A.. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980. Basic Books, 25-26. ISBN 0465042317. “
    The Eisenhower administration had been punctuated by two recessions, recessions that the new generation of Keynesian economists who came to Washington with Kennedy said they could avoid. Kennedy had cautiously implemented their advice. And it had worked, exactly as the economists had said it would: steady growth, no inflation. From 1961 to 1965, GNP went from $520 billion to $685 billion in increments of $40 billion, $30 billion, $42 billion, and $53 billion. The inflation rate was about 1 percent per year.
    Hubris won out. "We can't prevent every little wiggle in the economic cycle," Johnson's budget director, Charles Schultze, acknowledged, but, he added confidently, "we now can prevent a major slide." Keynes was on the cover of Time's last issue of 1965. "Even the most optimistic forecasts for 1965 turned out to be too low," the magazine wrote. "If the nation has economic problems, they are the problems of high employment, high growth, and high hopes."”
  2. Poverty in the United States - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “In 2015, 13.5% (43.1 million) Americans lived in poverty. Starting in the 1930s, relative poverty rates have consistently exceeded those of other wealthy nations.”
  3. Great Society - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “The Kennedy Administration had been contemplating a federal effort against poverty. Johnson, who, as a teacher had observed extreme poverty in Texas among Mexican-Americans, launched an 'unconditional war on poverty' in the first months of his presidency with the goal of eliminating hunger, illiteracy, and unemployment from American life. The centerpiece of the War on Poverty was the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which created an Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to oversee a variety of community-based antipoverty programs.”
  4. Murray, Charles A.. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980. Basic Books, 150-151. ISBN 0465042317. “The key question was whether a negative income tax reduced work effort. The answer was yes. The reduction was not the trivial one that NIT sponsors had been prepared to accept, but substantial. In the SIME/DIME sites (which produced neither the largest nor the smallest changes, but probably the most accurately measured ones), the NIT was found to reduce "desired hours of work" by 9 percent for husbands and by 20 percent for wives.” 
  5. I reject your reality, and substitute my own - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017.
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: The results of the Negative Income Tax experiment are more nuanced than I am representing here. I STRONGLY suggest reading Charles Murray's book "Losing Ground".
  7. Alice Herz. Retrieved on 10 March 2017.
  8. /index.php?title=1963#On_Fire_for_Freedom_of_Faith
  9. Norman Morrison. Retrieved on 10 March 2017.
  10. Roger Allen LaPorte. Retrieved on 10 March 2017.
  11. Northeast blackout of 1965 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “At 5:16 p.m. Eastern Time, a small surge of power originating from the Robert Moses generating plant in Lewiston, New York caused the improperly set relay to trip at far below the line's rated capacity, disabling a main power line heading into Southern Ontario. Instantly, the power that was flowing on the tripped line transferred to the other lines, causing them to become overloaded. Their own protective relays, which are designed to protect the line from overload, tripped, isolating Beck Station from all of Southern Ontario. With no place else to go, the excess power from Beck Station then switched direction and headed east, over the interconnected lines into New York state, overloading them as well, and isolating the power generated in the Niagara region from the rest of the interconnected grid.”
  12. SCADA - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a control system architecture that uses computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces for high-level process supervisory management, but uses other peripheral devices such as programmable logic controllers and discrete PID controllers to interface to the process plant or machinery.”
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 1965 Births - Wikipedia (2017).
  14. Rodney King - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 7 March 2017. “During the riots, King made a television appearance in which he said, 'I just want to say - you know - can we all get along? can we, can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids? And... I mean we've got enough smog in Los Angeles let alone to deal with setting these fires and things... it's just not right - it's not right.”
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 1965 in film - Wikipedia (2017).
  16. Unabashedly - definition of unabashedly (2017). Retrieved on 7 March 2017. “Not disconcerted or embarrassed; poised.”
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 1965 in television - Wikipedia (2017).
  18. Lost in Space - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 9 March 2017. “The catchphrase 'Danger, Will Robinson!' originates with the series, but was only ever used once in it, during episode 11 of season 3 ('The Deadliest of the Species'), when the Robot warns young Will Robinson about an impending threat.”
  19. Supermarionation - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 9 March 2017. “Supermarionation (a portmanteau of 'super', 'marionette' and 'animation') is a puppetry technique devised in the 1960s by British production company AP Films. It was used extensively in the company's numerous Gerry and Sylvia Anderson-produced action-adventure series, the most famous of which was Thunderbirds. The term was coined by Gerry Anderson.”
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 1965 in music - Wikipedia (2017).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 1965 - Wikipedia (2017).
  22. Draft-card burning - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “Draft-card burning was a symbol of protest performed by thousands of young American men as part of the opposition to the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War. Beginning in May 1964, some activists burned their draft cards at anti-war rallies and demonstrations. By May 1965 it was happening with greater frequency. To limit this kind of protest, in August 1965, the United States Congress enacted a law to broaden draft card violations to punish anyone who 'knowingly destroys, knowingly mutilates' his draft card.”
  23. Selma to Montgomery marches - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “After the march, President Johnson issued an immediate statement 'deploring the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated...' He also promised to send a voting rights bill to Congress that week, although it took him until March 15.”
  24. Introduction To Federal Voting Rights Laws - The Effect of the Voting Rights Act. Department of Justice (GOVERNMENT SITE) (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “Soon after passage of the Voting Rights Act, federal examiners were conducting voter registration, and black voter registration began a sharp increase. The cumulative effect of the Supreme Court's decisions, Congress' enactment of voting rights legislation, and the ongoing efforts of concerned private citizens and the Department of Justice, has been to restore the right to vote guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments.”
  25. Watts riots - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 10 March 2017. “On August 11, 1965, an African-American motorist was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. A minor roadside argument broke out, and then escalated into a fight. The community reacted in outrage to allegations of police brutality that soon spread, and six days of looting and arson followed. Los Angeles police needed the support of nearly 4,000 members of the California Army National Guard to quell the riots, which resulted in 34 deaths and over $40 million in property damage.”

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