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February 20, 1966 - Image 6

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1966-02-20
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By Mark R. Killingsworth
THE WAR on Poverty is being fought
today without an essential weapon in
the nation's arsenal. This is the strategy
of organizing the poor, which has thus
far attracted only the student activists
and a few obscure sociologists. The main-
stream of discu-lion on how to end
poverty has run towards familiar solu-
tions such as economic growth and
education.
Organizing the poor is, to be sure, not
itself sufficient to end poverty. But with-
out it, the rest of the proposed "solutions"
will not be enough. For there is a psy-
chology of poverty which cannot be
changed by a flood of cash or increased
education. It can only be changed when
the poor realize they need not be poor
forever and that they can govern their
fate. Only then will the poor be able to
take advantage of economic or educa-
tional opportunities. And only then, it
might well be added, will the democratic
promise of this country be fulfilled.
EDWIN L. DALE, JR., a reporter for
The New York Times, is one of those
who have been hailing economic growth
as the poverty panacea. As he wrote in
The New Republic last August:
A policy of general and totally im-
personal stimulation of what econo-
mists call aggregate demand through
fiscal and monetary policy, when such
stimulus is needed, has been and will
be the big weapon against human
misery in this country and in this
economy. The (Walter) Hellers and
(Gardner) Ackleys (past and present
Chairman of the President's Council
of Economic Advisors, respectively)
with their manipulation of the gross
National Product have improved far
more individual situations, if almost
unwittingly, than the (Labor Secre-
tary Willard) Wirtzes and the (Poverty
Director R. Sargent) Shrivers with
their effort to reach individuals.
Dale expanded this thesis in an article
for The Times. He contended that "no
one has any doubt" that teenage un-
employment dropped during the summer
months of 1965 due to that "big weapon,"
economic growth.
But he was apparently ignorant of
the fact that programs such as the
President's Youth Opportunity cam-
paign-which found and created jobs in
private industry, government and govern-
ment programs which otherwise would
not have existed-accounted for nearly
all of the summer increase in teenage
employment.
MARK R. KILLINGSWORTH is a
junior majorinq in Honors Economics
and editor of The Daily. He has
served in Washington as a legisla-
tive intern for Rep. Billie S. Farnum
(D-Mich).

ithe Wrong
By Not Attacking the Socia
Bases of Poverty, Present
Programs Miss the Mark

A GROWING NUMBER of economists,
however, are dissatisfied by the way
Dale's almighty Gross National Product
has failed to provide enough jobs to
improve conditions for teenagers, the un-
skilled, the uneducated, Negroes and
other groups (the ratio of Negro un-
employment to white unemployment used
to be about even, but in the past fifteen
years it has gone up to about double the
white rate-a ration former Assistant
Secretary of Labor Daniel P. Moynihan
says-stems "frozen" into the economy)
These economists have come to believe
that only with education and skills can
a worker fit into the structure of an
increasingly complex economy and raise
himself out of poverty and unemploy-
ment-even if the economy is expanling
at an unprecendented rate.
Encouragingly, a recent book of read-
ings on poverty quotes one such econ-
omist on this topic. He writes, "Human"
history has been described as a race
between education and catastrophe. In
the past dozen years, education has been
failing behind in that race."
The book of readings, a distinguished
product of the University of Michigan
Press entitled "Poverty in America," pre-
sents in considerable detail statements
for both the growth and education view-
points, in addition to much other valuable
material. It is one of the better sources
available for understanding the War
About Poverty whose resolution is a
necessary forerunner to victory in the
War on poverty, particularly so because,
in addition to material on growth and
education, it has valuable information on
the psychology of poverty.
TI
rJHE RELATIONSHIP between poverty,
powerlessness and psychology is subtle,
but it is exceedingly important. Basically,
as Prof. Warren Haggstrom of Syracuse
University notes in an article in "Poverty
in America," the argument is this. Poor
people, or at least a good many of them,
appear to be apathetic, to have
little motivation, to be unable to co-
operate with each other . . . ; are
characterized by parochialism, nostalgic
romanticism, and prescientific concep-
tions of the natural and social orders
. . Caught in the present, the poor
do not plan very much . ; their
schemes are short term . . There are
many negative attitudes and few posi-
tive ones . . . Disillusion about the
possibility of advancement stems from
a victim complex in relation to the

powerful. There is a sensec
to affect what will happen,
'onviction that it is within t
1o affect their circumstanci
This idea-that the poor "a
apathetic, to have little m
has had a long history; whati
is the different reasons whicl
offered to explain it. The cl
is that of Social Darwin
achieved its most notorious co
expression in the candidacy c
prominent political figure w
successfully for the Presiden
It reduces Haggstrom's eloquez
ful analysis to several short,
arresting phrases: Basically,
are poor because they are s
lazy.
Saul D. Alinsky, the not
organizer of the poor, has als
on their apparent apathy.
Harper's Magazine this summ
When you find yourself
caught, subjugated, crushe
kind of situation, you have2
two ways out: One way is to

Weapons
strated that the major problem of the
poor is poverty; a lack of money."
Many poverty warriors, particularly
the advocates of a guaranteed annual
income, view .low incomes not as an
effect, but a cause, however, and assume
that poverty could be ended by a general
sort of dole much as a fever can be
"ended" by sticking the patient's
of inability thermometer in ice water.
a lack of But as Haggstrom adds, it doesn't
their power happen that way. Per capita public wel-
es" fare expenditures in the United States
appear to be have not had a demonstrable effect on
otivation"- the psychology of those they are sup-
is important posed to help; while people who are poor
h have been yet have some sense of power can, indeed,
assic reason lift themselves out of poverty.
ism, which Finally, while members of some groups
ntemporary lose or give up their wealth, they do not
)f a briefly- thereby acquire the psychology of pov-
ho ran un- erty. But once acquired, the psychology
icy in 1964. of poverty inevitably renders its victim
nt and care- debilitated, without hope for a better lot,
brutal and without energy to change his state and,
poor people at last, materially impoverished' as well.
hifrless and

Student Participation:

ed Chicago
so remarked
As he told
ier :
completely
d in this
a choice of
blow your

"THE USUAL attempts of
this Republic to attack
poverty, however well
intentioned, have unwit-
tingly become a kind of
:v e l f a r e colonialism,
which attempts to ease
or bradicate the painful
effects of poverty withi-
out understanding or at-
tacking the psychology
of poverty."
top ... And you wind up killing your
wife and your kids and yourself . . .
The other way is what 99 per cent of
the population does-you rationalize.
You say, "Go fight City Hall. It's a
tough world, tough for everybody. And
this isn't too bad. I get my relief check
regularly, and maybe my number will
come up in the numbers, or my policy
ticket-anyhow, it could be worse. I'm
better off than that guy down the
block."-and you just exist. You keep
all your angers, all your feelings pent
up inside you.
THE IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE be-
tween Alinsky and Senator Goldwater
-which cannot be overemphasized-is
that the latter stressed that this psy-
chology is inherent in the poor, that
natural selection has decreed that the
poor shall be poor and that it is not
only futile but foolish to tamper with
this inherent law of the world Alinsky,
however, disagrees eloquently -- and
effectively:
What happens when we come in (to
organize a community)? We say, "Look,
you don't have to take this; there ,is
something you can do about it. You
can get jobs, you can break these
segregated patterns. But you have to
have power to do it, and you'll only get
it through organization. Because power
just goes to two poles-to those who've
got mone",, and those who've got people.
You haven't got money, so your own
fellowmen are your only source of
strength." Now the minute you can do
something about it you've got a prob-
lem. Should I handle it this way or
that way? You're active. And all of a
sudden you stand up.
HOWEVER MUCH they might be
changed by Alinsky's approach, these
feelings of hopelessness are simply per-
petuated by traditional methods of
fighting poverty. As Prof. :Haggstrom
notes, "It is assumed rather than demon-

THE PSYCHOLOGY of poverty, then,
emerges as a central problem in the
War on Poverty-and it is one which
must be faced.
Any attack on the psychology of pov-
erty must thus start by attacking the
feelings of powerlessness and dependency
which are so sharp and real to the poor.
As soon as men can be convinced that
what they do matters, they will become
convinced that they matter, and then
they will gradually defeat the crippling
psychology of powerlessness.
THE USUAL welfare instruments have
proven abysmally useless in their at-'
tempt to end this psychology. Indeed, as
Haggstrom notes, they perpetuate it. De-
pendency, whether in terms of welfare
p a y m e n t s, long-term unemployment
checks, free medical care, settlement
houses and-most particularly-the gen-
erally patronizing and superior attitude
of those who minister to the poor, simply
breeds further feelings of powerlessness.
The poor are thus dependent on those
who have power. And the powerful are
either brutally callous, such as Senator
Goldwater, or unwittingly patronizing,
such as the existing welfare industry. In
these situations the poor simply increase
their feelings of powerlessness, of being
ministered to, of being incapable to take
a step for themselves.
"The situation of poverty," as Hagg-
strom notes, "is the situation of enforced
dependency, giving the poor very little
scope for action, in the sense of behavior
under their own control which is central
to their needs and values."
IN SHORT, the usual attempts of this
Republic to attack poverty, however
well-intentioned, have unwittingly be-
come a kind of welfare colonialism which
attempts to ease or eradicate the painful
effects of poverty without understanding
or attacking a powerful cause, the psy-
chology of poverty.
"Welfare Colonialism" is a cliche used
widely by activists-and misunderstood
equally widely by nonactivists. Much, of
course, has been said of the failures of
foreign aid to .reach or to help its in-
tended recipients. Viewed in this light,
a line from the Governor's Commission
report on the- Watts riots gives added
perspective on "welfare colonialism": "All
the talk about the millions which the.
government is spending to aid him (the
poor and uneducated Watts youth) raises
his expectations, but the benefits seldom
reach him." Hence the psychology of
dependency.
The effects of this psychology can be
seen in any number of instances. The
collapse of the Negro family, a crisis
which discrimination is creating and
which normal "welfare" programs have
utterly failed to check is an excellent
example. Prof. Kenneth Clark of Colum-
bia University in "Dark Ghetto" has
described in agonizing detail the psy-
chology of poverty in Harlem, from the
numbers rackets and drug addiction as
one illegal expression of this psychology,
to Adam Clayton Powell as its expression
(Continued on Page 81:0

A LO
by BRUCE WASSERSTEIN
THE AMERICAN student is breaking
out of his cocoon.
The eruption started in the late fifties
when students (whose older brothers and
sisters had thought the smooth move
was to mind one's own business), were
stirred by the civil rights movement and
began to emerge from their study carrels
and fraternity houses to make their dent
on the world.
They were a new generation. Bred in
prosperity, these students did not know
the depression and did not remember
the war. To seek material reward-the
house in Scarsdale, the pretty wife, and
the steady job-was not enough because
it was so attainable. To be satisfied with
a return to normalcy was not enough
because normalcy was already the way
of life.
They took their tactics from Gandhi,
their idealism from philosophy class,
their money from daddy and worked
hand in hand with civil rights groups
such as CORE, NAACP, SNCC, and SCLC.
THE RESULTS of the movement were
civil rights acts, the Voting Rights
Bill, and the emergence of the American
student.
Realizing they had the power to in-
fluence events, students broadened their
involvement so that it ranged from
criticizing foreign policy to organizing
the poor.f
Thus, the idealism of the civil rights
movement led to an alienation from the
multiversity and hope for the idyllic
"community of scholars" as the wave of
the future; the democratic nature of the
movement led students to hope they
could have a meaningful voice in govern-
ing their own affairs at their universities;
and the success of the movement made
students realize that they could imple-
ment their goals.
STUDENTS AT this school were no
exception.
The demonstrations against the hike
in movie prices, the petitions from 13,000
students supporting a University spon-
sored bookstore, the protests against the
high cost of housing and the lack of
University concern, the speeches against
University investments in South Africa
have all been results of the activist men-
tality. The students believed the existing
situation is wrong, they thought it could
be changed, and they worked for that
change.
The University administration has, of
course, dealt delicately with the student
activist always fearing that the campus
is going to blow up "like another Berke-
ley." to quote one vice-president.

ING

WAY

TO

IN FACT, one of the reasons why former
Vice-President for Academic Affairs
Roger Heyns was selected to be the
chancellor of Berkeley was his experience
in keeping campus tensions down.
The University of California regents
hoped that Heyns could pacify the ac-
tivists at Berkeley by defending freedom
of dissent and by generally avoiding
friction..
But the regents there, like the ad-
ministrators here, only give lip service
to a working concept of student partici-
pation.
For example, Vice-President for Busi-
ness and Finance Wilbur K. Pierpont, one
of the most powerful figures in the Uni-
versity administration, makes it rather
apparent that he is not overly concerned
with the issue of student participation.
OF THE MORE than twenty student
advisory groups found in the non-
academic areas of the University, none
is found in his Office of Business and
Finance. And although Pierpont prom-
ised to work closely with a student ad-

TO PRESENT a rational case for the
bookstore, several SGC members dug
up facts in the operations of bookstores
and issued a report recommending its
establishment. Student response to the
issue was immense; more than 13,000
students signed a petition backing the
store.
When the Regents requested that
Cutler prepare a report on bookstores,
Cutler promised the students that he
would consult with them. The next time
they heard from Cutler was two days
before the report to the Regents was
submitted.
In this case Cutler cannot argue that
the students were not knowledgable about
the subject. Indeed most of Cutler's
figures are taken from the original stu-
dent report. He essentially demonstrated
his reluctance to work hand in hand with
students on major policy decisions.
CUTLER'S PRESENT ATTITUDE is
based on his response to the re-
actionary policies of the Dean of Women
Deborah Bacon in effect when he was

"WHAT IS NEEDED is a philosophy oriented to-
wvard the future rather than one anchored in the
past. Students do not want to be on sham con-
mitees; rather they seek a meaningful voice ...
In matny respects the University faculty has
been as negligent as the administration ain real-
izing that the student should have a voice in
determiining his own affairs."
25%Em2Wtegmam mesmagengeamnumume~m##assse~. r : : >:isess

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commit
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worked out
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section on
"should be
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Student A
ulty memi
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ALTHOU
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farce that
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mains a p,
student ad
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and there
committee
tion.
Disillusi
Cutler firs
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fiasco, son
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dissatisfac
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store but
dents a
process."

visory group to the Office of Student
Affairs which is investigating the hous-
ing situation, he has repeatedly been
uncooperative and has withheld relevant
information.
The attitude that the Office of Busi-
ness and Finance has little contact with
student welfare is specious. All aspects
of student economic welfare including
wages and housing are handled by this
office in addition to such major educa-
tional questions as how -and when the
residential college will be built. Students
have been completely locked out from
this office which vitally affects their
welfare.
On the other hand, Vice-President for
Student Affairs Richard Cutler sincerely
believes in student participation, but his
concept of what participation entails is
outdated. To him participation means
de facto advice. The students are-merely
another channel through which he can
gather information; Cutler still sees
hirself calling all the shots.

a member of the Faculty Senate Com-
mittee on Student Relations.
Miss Bacon's policies-which included
attempting to stop students of different
racial or ethnic background from dating,
and the imposition of her own stern
sense of morality on coeds-were exposed
by a group of students including several
Daily senior editors in 1961.
The Faculty committee reacted to the
expose with indignation and issued a
report recommending that the Office of
Student Affairs structure which had
made a Miss Bacon possible, be over-
hauled. The committee reasoned that
Miss Bacon had been able to impose her
anachronistic policies because of the de-
centralized structure of the OSA.
Although theoretically she should have
been under the control of the liberal Vice-
President James Lewis, she had been able
to maintain autonomy by cultivating a
power base of wealthy conservative
alumnae and prying housemothers.

THE POOR:. Should the War on Poverty concentrate on
their incomes or on their attitudes?

BRUCE WASSERSTEIN is a jun-
ior in honors political science and
Executive Editor of the Daily. He
comes from New York.

Poge Four

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1965

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