Fifty years ago this month – on Jan. 8, 1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson announced an "unconditional war on poverty in America." Considering the money spent on poverty-related programs in the ensuing half century – $16 trillion, according to the Cato Institute – and the percentage of Americans still listed as poor, it’s time to concede defeat, change strategy or redefine poverty.
Conceding defeat against poverty is unacceptable, of course. But redefining poverty means building a better safety net, not opening a bigger umbrella, as President Obama is expected to propose in his State of the Union Address this month. He's expected to dramatize income inequality – the gap between the “rich” and “poor” – and seek an increase in the minimum wage and an extension of longterm unemployment benefits.