Donald Rumsfeld was woefully inadequate as the Secretary of Defense. His mad dash for war and his inability to come to terms with the can of worms he championed to open led to his ultimate fall from public service grace. He bears a heavy responsibility for the mess this country has on its hands with the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Because of his influence in America’s foreign policy, America’s standing in the world has fallen considerably. Mr. Rumsfeld came into the current Bush administration with dreams of demonstrating the new technological and military prowess of the United States. Mr. Rumsfeld wanted to write the book on twenty first century war strategy. But instead, the book he’s more likely to be associated with is How to Fuck Up America on a Global Scale for Egotistical and Arrogant Dummies. He really screwed this country. But that’s old public news.
In the sixties, America made an effort to tackle the problem of poverty in this country. The Office of Economic Opportunity was established to administrate the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty. As part of the Great Society envisioned by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the federally directed application of resources to expand the government’s role in social welfare programs from education to healthcare was a natural continuation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. When the War on Poverty was announced in 1964, the poverty rate in America was about twenty percent. The original administrator for this program was Robert Sargent Shriver from 1965 to 1968. The next administrator was Bertrand Harding from 1968 to 1969. By this time, the War on Poverty managed by the Office of Economic Opportunity had managed to steadily cut the poverty rate down to eleven percent without exception. The War on Poverty was going pretty well. But then President Richard Nixon appointed Donald Rumsfeld to head up the Office of Economic Opportunity, better known as the welfare office.
Arguably, the War on Poverty was derailed by the Vietnam War. The resources that were going into helping the underprivileged part of American society obtain education, housing, food, jobs and such were hijacked for the war effort. It appears to be the American way that waging war is our collective top priority. But right at this point is where the numbers showing progress began to reverse. The percentage of Americans in poverty began to grow again. Did Donald Rumsfeld have a hand in this reversal of fortune?
Mr. Rumsfeld is as staunch neo conservative as they come. These people reserve the bootstrap theory to individual finances for the majority of the public. But then these same conservatives work like hell and bend over backwards to cultivate corporate fascism in order to build wealth for a select few. The idea of a more equitable society where wealth and opportunity are much more evenly distributed is a philosophy that runs contrary to ideas of neo conservatism. These people believe that government regulations have no business in corporate America. The federal government needs to have as small a footprint as possible. But these people won’t hesitate to use federal government authority to regulate the individual’s bedroom life. You can use your business to screw people, just don’t be a homosexual and do it.
Mr. Rumsfeld has about as much compassion for the poor in America as hotel millionaire Leona Helmsley, Ebenezer Scrooge before his conversion, nuclear power plant owner Montgomery Burns of the Simpons fame, corporate raider Gordon Gecko from the movie Wall Street, and Michael Milken who made a fortune using the deregulated savings and loans industry to swindle people out of their life savings, rolled into one giant, narcissistic, neo conservative son of a bitch. And yet, this is the man that Mr. Nixon selected to lead the government agency whose primary charge is the elimination of poverty.
A lot of people have made the assumption that the welfare program was predominantly responsible for the destruction of the black family. The theory is that when people are given a government handout that they become complacent and unwilling to improve their condition. The image used to hammer this point home is the welfare queen who does nothing but has children and gets paid a federal subsidy for each child. For a lot of people, this woman is black and drives a late modeled Cadillac to the welfare office to pickup her check. Women who relied on a federal program for housing assistance could not have a man in their life and qualify for housing and so the man had to leave his children. And for a lot of people it is no stretch of the imagination to develop the mental picture of a black man abandoning his family.
However, welfare in itself is not the problem. When people have a hidden agenda to assure that the welfare program is a failure and they have the authority to implement policies, rules, and regulations to assure its demise, unfortunately chances are excellent that it will become a failure. If a person is a neo conservative and he is given the responsibility to assure that a government program designed to help eliminate poverty, a program that runs contrary to his personal beliefs, that program will be managed in a way to help assure its demise.
Mr. Rumsfeld had a vested interest in the success of his twenty first century war strategy. There was nothing he was not willing to do to assure America’s success and show the world that he was correct in his theories about a smaller, lighter, more technologically advanced fighting force. And yet, even with such an impetus for motivation and the support of the greatest military industrial complex ever developed and the world’s most powerful force of war ever imagined, Mr. Rumsfeld managed to screw things up royally. Torture in Abu Ghraib, fictitious weapons of mass destruction north, south, east and west of Tikrit, veterans not getting the care they need after they were injured in service to their country, American soldiers not getting the minimum armor necessary to protect their lives, rendition flights from all over the globe and etcetera. And that was when he was really trying hard to succeed. Just imagine what this man is capable of if he had a vested interest in something not being successful. It isn’t hard to believe that this man has the ability to make the word welfare synonymous with failure.