The Great Society

Nowadays America is a product of a series of revolutionary attempts made by the government and its subjects, way down the history, to improve their social and economic way of living, creating a state where every subject gets a share of national wealth. Since its independence America has experienced drastic political growth which has been the key instrument of propagating development. It was under different leaders whose objectives in governance have corporately transformed the USA into one of the renowned superpowers worldwide. According to above mentioned, among those political leaders is the President Lyndon Johnson whose contribution brought remarkable reforms, which positively transformed the lives of millions of people in America, both young and old. This has been achieved through sensitizing the government on the needs of its subjects, and holding it responsible for providing what is needed for the well being of the nationals. This paper attempts to feature various political, economic and cultural changes that the Americans experienced during 1960 - 2000.  

The Great Society- Johnson’s purposes and strategies

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During his reign in 1960s, Johnson championed reformations by pressurizing on implementation of new regulations, which aimed at improving the lives of the underprivileged and marginalized people in order to form them in the Great society. His main objective in this case was to create the society that is free from poverty, poor health and racial inequality through the government implementation of reforms.

On the basis of the flourishing economy, Johnson’s government had to create a categorical strategy on how to achieve its goals under the Great Society program. One of the major steps towards eliminating poverty in the society was to provide training and education to the citizens. In this regard, in 1965 the government passed on a law called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This aimed at the central government to be committed to  advance the local public education as well as to promote higher education through provision of scholarships, endowments and in-service programs. Colleges were therefore made accessible to all who aspired for more knowledge, irrespective of one’s financial strength. The purpose of the endeavor to fund the education system was to endow the poor with proficiency and to stimulate them positively towards a productive living. Large numbers of disabled people also had many educational privileges which led to a low dependency ratio. The allocation of large sums of money to education strategically provided a favorable environment for economic growth as it gave an adequate supply of manpower into all sectors of the economy, which is vital for economic growth (Foner 527). Education has also enhanced invention and innovation, leading to an increased growth of industries and technology.

The Great Society programs provided the possibility for everyone from all social levels to get medical care, which was earlier available only for a few rich people who could afford it. Previously, it was only in rare critical conditions that the poor could obtain medical care. Moreover, Americans aged above 65 received medically insurance through government grants. More medical practitioners were recruited to intensify on medical research, in order to offer profound medical solutions to everyone. The emphasis was also on the investment in scientific medical training which has made America to be the leading country in pharmaceutical innovations and surgery with the most advanced health machinery in the world. The government also stepped in to ensure better health standards through improving on people’s eating habits. This has continually led to reduced mortality rates among young and old, hence, maintaining a reasonable productive population in a bid to hit against poverty (Foner 529).

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There was also a legislative change to an act that distinguished the blacks, denying them equal voting rights that the State afforded other residents. This was made in order to create a sense of nationality which would then motivate every citizen to contribute positively to the national development. Eventually, other discriminative inequalities in the society were abolished.

New conservation measures on environment were also enacted in a broader view far much beyond the former regulations which only protected the untouched natural resources. The latter moved on to conserve water, air, wildlife and soil from industrial and technological pollution. The new legislation on environment also constituted of a set of rules which even moved ahead to restore what had already been ruined. More funds were also allocated with the creation of an agency to oversee the implementation of the new rules (Foner 529).

Most spectacularly, Lyndon’s government used the Great Society as a tool to finish with racial segregation which  was continuously destroying the lives of the millions of blacks who faced cruel discrimination, both economically and socially. This pitiless segregation was experienced in all social facilities such as water points, stores, residential areas, toilets, hotels and schools. They were banished into isolated Mississippi, without even an access to jobs which brought them to the worst of poverty. However, the establishment of Civil Rights act in 1964 led to destruction of all sorts of barriers between the whites and blacks by doing away with “all signs that denoted the whites’ only areas”. A commission was formed to probe unfairness in job recruitments. The problem of segregation in housing was solved with the enacting of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 (Foner 531). Most importantly, Johnson was fully convinced that in order to rescue the situation, the nation was to take it as a collective responsibility and to do everything possible to restore the sense of nationality among the blacks, right from the family setup. He stressed that ‘in order to provide a fair opportunity in sharing the national dream, it was vital to rule out social injustice which had piled up in ages down the line”.

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Through an Act, the blacks were accorded equal voting rights in general elections. This paved way for their total representation in the political realm; the number of their elected House members rose from five in 1965 to the present 39. However the results of equality and justice are more than just social and political. Eventually, there has been an entire improvement of people’s lives with the rise in life expectancy of the blacks from 63.3 years in 1960 to 71.2 years in 1997. Infants greatly benefited with the provision of better medical facilities leading to a drastic decrease in their mortality rate (Foner 532). This move led to a more compact and profound economic, social and political integration which have steered America up the course of success. Setting up of the Great Society marked a turnaround point, which ushered in potential strategies and means of prosperity for the benefit of all Americans.

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