It’s been 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson formally proposed his "Great Society" during a speech at the University of Michigan.

 

“A great society rests on abundance and liberty for all, it demands an end to poverty and racial injustice,” Johnson told the graduating class of 1964.

 

It was Johnson's pledge to rebuild urban America.

 

“A great society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents,” he said.

 

Critics argue it has only led to family breakdown and dependence on government.  They point out for every working aged man, three are not looking or working at all, and out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed in that time.

 

Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein disagrees.  He argues much of what critics point to – Medicare and Medicaid – were actually expanded under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

 

He believes Johnson's “Great Society” policies and war on poverty at the very least helped mobilize large numbers of people who had never been involved in the political process.

 

“It was the Head Start program, community action programs, economic opportunity programs and what it did for youth in terms of bringing them into the political systems, also the poor and disadvantaged, particularly African-Americans,” Stein tells KTRH News.

 

Stein does admit however, the policies could have been done more efficiently.

 

“Could we have done or achieved those levels of educational opportunities in early childhood with less expenditures?  Its a debatable point, and probably the answer is yes,” he says.