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January 29, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-29

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40

OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Friday, January 29, 1982

The Michigan Daily.

Wasserman

Vol. XCII, No. 9$

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, Mi 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Poor federalism

1vU CUT MY
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a
P RESIDENT REAGAN'S "new
federalism," introduced during
his State of the Union address,
provides another example of the
president's willingness to irrespon-
sibly forego his commitment to the
poor merely to advance his economic
plans.
Under Reagan's proposal,5 the
federal government would turn over
$47 billion of social program, including
food stamps and aid to dependent
children, to the states by 1984. In
return, the federal government would
relieve the states of the equivalent
financial burden of Medicaid.
This swap potentially could cut down
on federal waste by shifting more
fiscal responsibility to the states. It
could also strengthen the federalist
goal of making politicians more
responsible to their constituents. State
representatives, not national figures,
would watch over their citizens' social
welfare.
But while this proposal may seem at-
tractive, Reagan has glossed over the
possible inequities inherent in the
plan. By removing federal control, the
swap would allow great disparities in
the assistance the poor receive.
Those in economically strapped states,
a t

such as Michigan, might be granted
much less aid than those in prosperous
states. And although the federal
government will assume Medicaid
costs, many officials predict the new
eligibility requirements will be
severely restricted.
Under the plan, states would'even
tually be able to do away with income
supplement programs altogether.
White House counselor Edwin Meese
has claimed the political clout of
poverty-stricken constituents would
prevent this occurrence. But political
reality measures clout in financial
terms, and the poor will be able to
muster only flimsy defense for them-
selves when states start cutting.
Further proof of Reagan's
callousness toward subsidizing the
poor is evident in rumors concerning
next year's budget. Aides now say the
president will ask for $63 billion cuts in
welfare, food stamps, and other pover-
ty programs - one year before "new
federalism" would take effect.
What Reagan labels a new ' plan
might actually mark the end of a
federal commitment. America's poor
currently seem to be just as expen-
dable to the 'federal government as
America's poverty programs.

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LE NEW forms of mass media
eem to be thriving, the time-
honored print media appears to be on.
the decline."
The Philadelphia Bulletin, an after-
noon daily that had been in business for
134 years, will end publication today.
The Bulletin's failure is unfortunately
an important sign of the declining'
strength of print journalism.
The decline of the newspaper in-
dustry, signaled many years ago by
the growing popularity of television
news and the falling advertising*
revenues of big city dailies, became
increasingly evident after last year's
closure of the Washington Star. The
Bulletin is the fourth major daily to
close down in the past six months,
joining the Star, the New York Daily
News evening edition, and the
Philadelphia Journal.
Television, with its easy ac-
cessibility and capsule overviews of
the news, has replaced much daily

newspaper circulation. The growth of
the suburbs, and with them suburban
dailies, has also added to the decline of
big city dailies. Afternoon papers, such
as the Bulletin and the Star, also faced
particular problems of rush hour
distribution and specialized suburban
competition.
The modernization of our com-
munication network has led to the ill
health of one of the great civilian wat-
ch dogs of our age-print media. Civic
responsibility still exists in journalism,
even though scandal sheets fill the
nation's newsstands.
It now seems as if most major cities
can no longer sustain three large
dailies, and most cannot even support
two. This lack of healthy competition
may eventually lead to lower quality
news coverage.
A fine afternoon daily, and a long-
standing protector of the public's right
to information, has been forced to shut
down. That is a great loss for its com-
munity as well as the nation.

SAN FRANCISCO,_
CALIF.-Dark-clad Chinese
women clamber down a San.
Francisco hill at first light,
balancing across their shoulders
a pole with plastic bags full of
empty aluminum cans at either
end.
Ten blocks away, a family of
six in cast-off overcoats
methodically picks through the
contents of a downtown, dum-
pster,one of the big metal bins in
which companies and landlords
throw refuse from renovated
buildings and lodgings from
which tenants have been evicted.
AS THE RECESSION deepens,
everyone saves and watches for
bargains, but for a variety - of
Americans losing their toeholds
on economic solvency-young
and old, native-born and im-
migrant - the throwaway society-
has made them, become a
"nation" of scavengers.
"Let's face it," winces 77-year-
old Frank Kovar of San Fran-
cisco, who lives in a government-
subsidized apartment building
for the elderly, "if you don't have
sticky fingers nowadays, you just
can't make it."
Kovar, who is obsessed with the.
thought of losing his $230 monthly
Social Security check or
Medicaid benefits as a result of
budget cuts, says he and his
friends have become "junkers."
"WE USED to play cards
together, and chess," he says.
But few have time for such
leisure since taking up
scavenging to meet economic
needs, and- now they "only nod"
as they pass with borrowed:shop-
ping carts full of aluminum cans
and discards.
Salvador, 26, a jobless im-
migrant from the Philippines,
collects aluminumcans from the
same high-yield trash bins he
searches every day. A friend
who works as a restaurant
busboy gathers up throwaways
there at closing time and gives
them to Salvador, who delivers
them to a recycling center. The

Living off
America 's
throwaway'
society
By Mary Jo McConahay
and Pauline Craig

two young men split the profits,
and last month they earned $1,304
at a penny a can.
Elderly "junkers" learn to be
even more resourceful than
young scavengers because the
old are'limited to trash bins they
can reach into without climbing,
and most don't have vehicles or
the strength to haul heavy loads
to recycling centers.
"SOME READ the obituaries,
call the family, and ask for the
old clothes," says, Kovar.
"Families might want a picture'
or the money of a dead person,
but they don't want his clothes
around." Pants and jackets can
be sold to second-hand stores for
30 to 40 cents apiece, "And that
can add up to a lot of money," he
says.
Workers at local recycling cen-
ters in parking lots and under
freeway overpasses here report
that an increasing number of
those redeeming cans say they
gre doing it not out of thriftiness
but as part of survival strategies.
A supermarket customer ser-
vice representative, Percy San-
tos, witnesses survival

scavenging daily behind his store
where more people, he says, are.
now gathering at noon when the
store throws out its garbage.
"ONE ASIAN family with three
kids comes every day," says
Percy. "They eat the trimmings
from lettuce, cottage cheese,
produce, whatever we've thrown
out that day. Sometimes as they
approach the bins they're
hesitant, embarrassed. Then
they climb into the trash cans and
eat inside."
"Junkers" rage at owners who
put lids on the dumpsters, then
padlock them. "Imagine locking
up your garbage!" fumes Kovar.
"We consider that we're doing
the community a service," San-.
tos says, about his' practice of
throwing out the store's garbage
in an accessible place.
BUT NOT EVERYONE
believes garbage should be a
community resource. In Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., city officials
reportedly are considering
spraying beachfront trash cans
with kerosene or chemicals to
keep transients from living. off
the garbage.

In the California legislature a
bill. is under consideration to
outlaw the "theft" of trash sorted
for recycling from curbsides-or
service alleys by persons without
a contract to do so. The proposed
penalty is $1,000 or three times
the value of the stolen material.s
The fact is that elderiy
"junkers," some immigrant
families, and others on the
economic outs are not only com-
peting with each other for gar-
bage but increasingly are
clashing with the systems and
companies:r established for rid-
ding the cities of their refusey,' a
LEONAR D STEFANELLI,
president of Sunset Scavengers, a
worker-owned garbage contrac-
ting firm which has collected San
Francisco's trash since 1906, says
the newly "rampant" ad hoc
collecting operations bring havoc
to his'company'sroutinesand
cost it money.
Stefanelli, who has been in the
garbage business 28 years, says
the scavenger phenomenon used
to involve "just a few winos" or
kids looking for kicks, but now he
describes it as "wholesale." In
some neighborhoods entire
families run a block ahead of the
big garbage trucks, he says,
throwing selected curbside trash
into their own pick-ups.or beat-up
cars. a
At Stefanelli's company a $140
million refuse-derived fuel
project is in the planning stages.
Garbage taken away before the
$100,000 hydraulic compactor
trucks get to it is money out of the
contractor's pocket.
Until legislation is passed,
however, it remains arguable
whether the scavengers are
"stealing" when they pick :up
discards or garbage. More likely,
they would agree/with the motto,
of the proud members of,. a
scavenger community in Mexico
City: "The garbage belongs to
those who work it."

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McConahay and Craig
wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

1111

VIII I_1

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

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----.

Schembechler editorial on the n

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To the Daily:
Congratulations on your fine
editorial ("Bo's gain represents a
loss for University"). So many
times, our younger people see so
much more clearly than our older
ones.
In any time, but especially' in

these times, these actions can
only be looked on as obscene. A
sense of misplaced values is-
demonstrated by those' respon-
sible for Bo's salary hike. While
cutting back on education, we can
still find $25,000 more for the
coach. Michigan is a great

university, not because of the
football team, but because of the
students and faculty. Despite Bo
and Canham,' it will continue to
be so.
I have supported Michigan
sports teams for over 50 years,

and will 'continue to do so. I
stack my right to be called an 'old
blue' against anyone's. But theile
is a balance. Keep up your good
work; you are right.
-Paul Parks
January 26

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