Tuesday, October 11, 1983
The Michigan Daily
l e + Iicl igttn + ttil
Traditional beliefs onpovert
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
prevent programs to beat it
Vol. XCIV - NO. 30
Editorials represent a majority of
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
pinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Watt's bulb goes out
h beautiful, for smoggy conglomerates that many people fear
'For insecticided grain/For will rape the land and sea for enor-
-.mined mountains mous profits. But those policies were
y/A bov e the n asphalt not what sank Watt's oil tanker.
What sank him was his own insen-
America, America, Watt shed sitive mouth. Watt's policies may have
aste on thee/And hide thy insulted the environment, but the en-
'With billboard signs/From sea vironment could not speak for itself.
sea. "Instead, Watt's slurs against blacks,
Vith apologies to George Carlin Jews, women, the handicapped, the
Beach Boys - the list goes on - stalled
DENTS STROLLING through his bulldozer. These people and their
eNTrbSnSTROLLINGhave tdefenders spoke up and were heard.
e Arb Sunday must have noticed Now that Watt is gone the task
ing extra in the air. The leaves, becomes one of holding on to what is
g to their brilliant fall colors, left of the nation's wildlife system until
ed a bit more spectacularly. The Ronald Reagan leaves office-possibly
seemed warmer, lusher, and sof- in January, 1985. When that time
The Huron looked more arrives, a secretary of the interior
hing. Even the birds and devoted to properly using and preser-
els scurried about a little more ving the nation's wilderness can start to
as they prepared for winter. reverse the damage done.
rything in the Arb sensed All the nation's wildlife was
thing was different. Something noticeably more gleeful Sunday. Just
anged. ask the birds in the Arb. You'l11hear
)ice all ye faithful, for on Sunday, them singing a more popular version of
er 9, 1983 James Watt resigned. George Carlin's ode:
t, the secretary of the in- "Oh, beautiful, for spacious
,finally was forced to end almost skies/For amber waves of grain/For
years of public service purple mountains majesty/Above the
ated to promoting the corporate fruited plain/America, America,
policies and programs raised the God shed his grace on thee/And
environmental and conservation' crown thy good with
s. He sold off federal lands at dirt brotherhood/From sea to shining
prices to huge energy sea."
By William 0. Beeman
Today, poverty in the United States has
reached a level not seen for two decades.
More than 34 million Americans now live
below the poverty level.
Nearly 2.5 million of them the so-called
"New Poor," are victims of the recession of
the past two years. This is clear testimony to
the fact that forces beyond the control of in-
dividuals often are the root cause of poverty.
Yet recent research indicates that
Americans still believe the poor bear per-
sonal responsibility for their condition - a
belief which itself may be the chief obstacle to
a reasonable public policy.
MANY BASIC American beliefs about
have persisted since the earliest days of the
" Poverty is the result of individual effort or
lack of it, rather than a result of social and
* The "deserving" poor - those who cannot
work - are contrasted with the "undeser-
ving" poor - those who can work;
" "Unemployment" is considered a tem-
porary effect of outside forces, while poverty
is seen as a permanent condition.
These ideas were challenged only once in
the 20th century - by the depression of the
1930s. Then, "white people who never drank
or cursed woke up and found themselves sud-
denly poor," says John Hansan, executive
director of the National Association of Social
This led to broad recognition that poverty
does have structural causes, which, in turn,
led to the establishment of Social Security and
other basic support programs - still the prin-
ciple and most effective sources of relief for
the poor today.
BUT THAT depression insight was lost in
World War II when suddenly there were jobs
for everyone. Today, the old attitudes seem
"We still blame poverty on things like
laziness and lack of ambition," claims Beth
Hess, a sociologist at Morris County College
in New Jersey who has been looking at new
patterns of poverty.
Michael Morris, a University of New Haven
social psychologist, suggests this may be the
effect of a universal human tendency to
assume that individuals act on the basis of
conscious choice. For example, he says, if you
are stuck behind a car which stalls when a
traffic light turns green, you may honk your
horn and call the driver a jerk, or worse,
without considering that he may be stopped
for reasons he can't immediately control.
Obviously, Americans are aware of the
economic effects of the current recession. But
they tend to consider them in ways which do
not disturb their basic beliefs about poverty.
FOR EXAMPLE, stories about the
effect on white male heads of families have
had enormous journalistic impact. But
Americans hold on to their beliefs by refusing
to see these men as permanently "poor" and
by categorizing them as merely "unem-
Surveys show that only a very small per-
centage of the population considers poverty a
"social problem of overriding importance,"
but people clearly have a different view of
unemployment..Morris suggests this distin-
ction "relates again to basic American
cultural beliefs. Implicit in the duty to work
proclaimed by the Protestant Ethic is the
obligation of society to provide work."
This obligation was formally recognized by
the government in "full employment" bills in
1946 and again in 1978. No such legislation has
ever been passes with respect to poverty.
Thus when we see able-bodied citizens who
cannot find work, "there is the tendenct
assume that it is the system which is -afal, ori a s
fault," Morris says. .
The public also has insulated itself :by
viewing the effects of the recession, as
localized, according to NASW director Han-
san. "Basically it is seen as a temporary
aberration in the economy or a problem
limited to Detroit or Pittsburgh."
THE TRUTH, however, is that many of
those currently unemployed will never be
able to return to their jobs in heavy industry.
The down turn has given management the
chance to retool factories in a way which will
permanently replace the bulk of workers now
The great resistance to acknowledging this
fact prevents effective action to help the in-
Finally, as Hess points out, white able-
bodied males are only a small portion of the
poor in American today. "Women are almost
twice as likely to fall below the poverty
At an earlier time, such women wer
mostly the wives of impoverished men.
Today, Hess' study reveals, they are more
likely to head a household or be part of a non-
family household. And more than half of these
poor, unrelated women also are over 65. Most
are low- or non-wage earners who survived
their husbands and must now somehow live
on Social Security widow's benefits, only half
of the already low Social Security support.
These widowed elderly women constitute a
classic example of structural poverty. They
are likely to be joined soon by permanentl~
displaced white males.
Combatting such structurally induced
poverty is expensive. It also may be nearly
impossible, if public attitudes do not change.
Beeman, a professor of anthropology
at Brown University, wrote this article for
the Pacific News Service.
Too quick to pass bucks
RonAnNTr C st
rO TRE SUNSET
H-IM ON A
A DMINISTRATORS ARE knocking
around some ideas for a new
tuition payment plan. The trouble is
their ideas center on making the
process easier for the University, not
for the students.
Officials have been primarily
looking at two ways to change the
system: cutting the number of
payments down from three, and
moving the payments to earlier in the
By reducing the number of times
students pay tuition from three to two
times each term, the University would
supposedly save itself one-third of the
time, trouble, and money needeed to
process tuition bills.
And by beginning to collect tuition
earlier, even before school starts, ad-
ministrators would be able to bank the
money sooner and make more interest
Both ideas, however, would make
the process easier for administrators
by making it tougher on students.
Tuition bills are already huge, and
they get larger each year. The plans
officials are examining would force
students to scrape up the money one
month earlier. That is asking too much
of many students who need that month
on the job to round off their summer
It would also inconvenience financial
aid recipients who already have
enough problems receiving their gran-
ts and loans before tuition is due.
Although administrators would not
fine students whose aid did not arrive
in time, an accelerated payment plan
would undoubtedly mean more lines,
paperwork, and headaches for studen-
ts caught in that situation.
Finally, moving tuition payments
ahead several months amounts to a
mini-tuition hike. The University
would get to keep interest payments
which otherwise would have belonged
Changing the tuition pay structure is
only an idea. It has not been presented
to head officials as a formal proposal
yet. But if administrators have
students in mind it never will be.
Students should not have to pay that
much that fast.
_ .. .-- -
LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Tenants union open sans counseling
To The Daily:
We assume the Daily wishes to
be accurate in its presentations of
people and organizations. With
this letter we hope to clear up an-
y misconceptions resulting from
the recent article about the Ann
Arbor Tenants Union ("Ailing
tenants union opening delayed,"
Daily, October 1).
We would first like to make it
very clear that the tenants union.
is not closed. We are merely not
counseling. Counseling services
have been taken over by the
Tenant Landlard Resource Cen-
ter on an appointment basis only.
There will be a $2 dollar fee for
counseling. This is the TLRC's
only source of funding and is very
competitive compared to the $5
and $10 fees charged by other
tenant unions across the country.
People interested in counseling
services may make an appoin-
tment by signing up at 4001
The tenants union has several
workshops scheduled for the
year. There will be two in
that students are not as involved
in AATU and TLRC due to the
many hours involved in learning
to counsel, especially on a volun-
teer basis. Many students must
work these days in order to help
with tuition and high rent.
In response to the statement
about escrow monies still in
AATU accounts: Mary Consani
and Dale Cohen spent the last two
years tracking down receipts and
people involved in one of the old
escrow cases. They were finally
able to contact all concerned and
returned over $1,500. We are
now in the process of clearing up
the last case. Due to bad accoun-
ting in the early 1970's there is a
lot of searching and verifying to
AATU and TLRC will become
more visible as workshops and
counseling get into full swing. We
look for good turnouts at the
workshops this year and hope tc
see support for tenants and lan-
- Mary Consani
Consani is the president and
Delp is the program director
of the Ann Arbor Tenants
by Berke Breathed
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