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July 21, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-07-21

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Page 4-Friday, July 21 , 1978-The Michigan Daily
~michigan D AILY
Eighty-eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48109
Vol. LXXXVEII, No. 48-S News Phone: 764-0552
Friday, July 21, 1978
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Africa for Africans
A FRICA HAS been the butt of western colon-
ialism and imperialism for centuries. The
industralized nations have always justified their
African exploits by claiming the average African
worker received economic benefits. They said
that as the living condition of the average
European improved so would the life of the
African. But this logic, has failed. The gap bet-
ween western industrialized nations and the
third world countries of Africa has widened
drastically sinse the 1920's and is now widening
beyond anyone's control.
We can certainly understand why African
movements have turned to the Soviet Union for
aid in their struggle to, as they say, "break the
imperialist yoke" which denies them the opor-
tunity to determine their own destiny. But, the
intentions of the Soviet Union in Africa are, at
best, questionable, Soviet p-olicy clearly has
grave implications for world peace and order.
For these reasons it was encouraging to hear
Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, the military leader
of Africa's strongest and most populous country,
Nigeria, warn the Soviet Union "not to overstay
their welcome" in Africa.
To a receptive audience of other African
leaders at the Organization of African Unity's
annual meeting in Khartoum on Wednesday,
Obasanjo said "Africa is not about to throw off
one colonial yoke for another."
Obasanjo's remarks should be a credo for all
African leaders. Self determination for African
nations is the only option left which will at least
slow the widening gap between developed and
underdeveloped nations.
We urge the African states to follow a policy of
strict nonalignment, end all foreign military
alliances and close foreign military bases. Of
course if the security of an African state is en-
dangered it may need to acquire military aid
from an outside source, but only in extreme
cases. Only under these conditions can Africa be
reserved for Africans.
J'ACcUSE

'Vast middle class
shrinks ever smaller
By Gerald Cavanaugh point at which middle-income families, frustrated
in their search for an affordable conventional home,
For 350 years, two great fears have plagued have even pushed working-class families largely
the American psyche: the dilemmas of class and sex, out of the mobile home market. Once again, status
But in the last decade sex has galloped out of the is reduced to economic class.
closet, to be discussed, displayed, portrayed and Call it class or call it status: The middle class in
purveyed to the point of saturation. And social America shrinks to the level of a relatively small,
class, too, has emerged as a topic of discussion in affluent minority. This is, to be sure, not a new
public forums and as a subject of legislative situation. Our middle class has always been much
proposals and enactments. Class, however, smaller than we preferred to believe, as the work of
promises to be even more socially unsettling in its historian Edward Pessen and other scholars has
implicationsthansex. demonstrated. what is new is the growing
HOW, PRECISELY, do Americans perceive their recognition that there are class lines and that they
class position? In a recent Yankelovich, White and have hardened in recent years.
Kelly survey, 82 per cent of those polled defined DASHED EXPECTATIONS and frustrated hopes
themselves as "middle class" or "upper-middle lead to confusion, bitterness and social hostilities. A
class." The remaining 18 per cent labeled them- $15,000 a year postal clerk put it succinctly when he
selves "lower class." It's a textbook portrait of told a national news reporter: "There was a time,
America. But the economic facts betray a reality before the children arrived, that I felt middle class.
that is an almost exact reversal of those figures. But I don't anymore."
The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics an- On his income should he have felt middle class?
nouncement reported that a family of four needs to The question is important because social percep-
have an income of $25,202 a year to maintain a tions and misperceptions do much to form gover-
"higher level" standard of living. This higher level nmental policies. Take, for example, perception of
standard-whose budget includes homeownership, social realities, which allows legislators to propose
savings for college costs, expenditures for enter- a new and unchallenged proposal to offer tax relief
tainment, vacations and travel and the purchase of for middle-class families with incomes of $30,000
a new car every three years-actually reflects the per year. Young married couples know more ac-
commonly reported conception of the middle class. curately that if they are to enter the American
Unfortunately, only the top 20 per cent of American dream of homeownership they require two incomes
families have a yearly income of $25,000 or more. and no children. Last year almost 40 per cent of all
Almost half of all American families. fall below homeowners between the ages of 25 and 30 were
the Bureau of Labor Statistics figure of $17,106 a childless couples, and most enjoyed two incomes.
year required to maintain a so-called "middle- Joseph Benedict of the U.S. League of Savings
level" standard of living; those with yearly incomes Associations said dual incomes constitute "an ex-
below $6,200 are officially living in poverty. traordinarily significant social trend. There is no
According to Andrew Levison, author of "The question that savings and loan firms are including
working Class Majority," the figures prepared by secondary incomes and that a lot of homebuyers
the bureau "automatically define the three distinct could not buy homes without them."
socioeconomic cultures in the Unites States: the INSTEAD-OF BEING a haven in which to raise
culture of poverty, working-class culture and the children, the new idea of a home is a setting for a
lifestyle of middle class affluence." lifestyle that precludes the very thought of children.
OF COURSE, EVEN if the official middle class A closer look at the middle class in America
does include only one-fifth of American families, reveals it to be a relatively small segment of our
that leaves a tremendous number of people-bet- population. What is most disturbing is that the class
ween 40 and 50 million-who do lead the "good life." divisions appear to be taking on caste forms just as
Therein rests the enigma of America's middle-class we have reached the apparent limits to economic
veneer, for these 40 million are both highly visible growth. The really poor in America are over-
and much publicized, while the working class and whelmingly people of color (a fact that enables
the poor remain peripheral and only rarely and most white Americans to set themselves off as mid-
usually negatively perceived. dle-class despite the last 10 years of affirmative ac-
Those politicians and professors who would keep tion programs.
the problem of class in shrouds argue that citing The working class, two-thirds of our population, is
yearly income alone is both vulgar and misleading. more and more locked into its position as
They claim there is such a thing as status that is unionization is thwarted, as access to higher
based on non-economic criteria. But where does education is blocked and as the amenities of the
status come from? good life are priced beyond reach. At the same time,
A college degree, even today, still is one of the the real but shrinking middle class, through its ef-
minimal tokens of middle-class status. Yet children fective political power, takes steps to assure its own
from the top 20 per cent of the income group have preservation through legislation.
five times the probability of entering college as, do
children from the bottom 20 per cent. And as college- Gerald Cavanaugh, who lectures in social
costs continue to increase dramatically, with no science at California's Berkeley campus, wrote
corresponding rise in fellowships and scholarships, thisfor the Pacific News Service.
Tamily income becomes overwhelmingly deter-
minate. It is now estimated that in 1995 a college __
degree will cost $47,330 at a state college and $83,830
at a private college.
NOW THAT IS status. Even to the middle class
the price of a college diploma is becoming onerous. SUMMER EDITORIAL STAFF
Hence we have a spate of state and federal BARBARAZAHS
proposals to provide tuition-tax credits to families Editor-in-Chie
with dependent children in college. Without EditorsD irectors
question, such credits would go almost entirely to KEN PARSIGIAN
wealthier families. Not too surprisingly this "mid- MagazineEditor
dle-class legislation" appears certain of enactment OWENGLEIBERMAN
while continued federal support of day-care ArtsEditor
facilities, a lower-class concern, languishes and STEVE SELBST
willbe klledoutrghtBooks Editor
probably will be killed outright. ANDY FREEBERG
Homeownership, too, provides status. But as JOHN KNOX
things stand now the top 20 per cent of Americans ' - Photographers
can afford the mortgage on the average-priced new STAFF WRITERS: Mike Arkush, Rene Becker. Richard Berke,
home. The median price of a new home in the San Mitch Cantor, Elisa Isaacson, Judy Rakowsky, Elizabeth towik, .
Francisco Bay Area last year was $53,000 J.Smith
(nationally, $44,000); the median yearly income of
purchasers, $25,000 (nationally: $22,000). C -rsNTT - naostcin Lenn ekhnideo

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