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Eugene Payne

We have spared no expense

Eugene Payne (1919-2010)
We Have Spared No Expense . . .
Published January 22, 1971 in the Charlotte Observer

The January 17, 1971 New York Times reviewed Jill Freeman’s 1970 book, Old News: Resurrection, which recounts the march on the Pentagon and the encampment of Resurrection City. Both events protested the administration’s failure to end poverty and hunger among America’s poor.

Resurrection City was a shantytown that was erected by protesters on the Mall in Washington D. C. for two weeks beginning May 12, 1968. The effort, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), failed to get Congress to pass an economic bill of rights.

President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced a war on poverty on January 8, 1964. On August 20, 1964, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act, which initiated many social programs intended to advance the economic conditions of America’s poor. By 1968, the SCLC and its protesters complained that the efforts had failed.

According to the Times review, both the march on the Pentagon and Resurrection City “demonstrated with abundant clarity just how remote our obsessively bureaucratic government has become from the people it no longer seems to serve.”

Payne suggests that Washington bureaucracy spends far too much money studying poverty and malnourishment and far too little money correcting the problem.