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August 07, 1984 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-08-07

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4

OPINION

Page 6
Vol. XCIV, No. 34-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
The SSS strikes again:
Is nothing sacred?
THE LIST OF casualties from the draft
registration law continues to grow. Last
week , a new invasion of American civil liber-
ties sprang from an unlikely source: Farrell's
Ice Cream Parlors.
It seems that for years, Farrell's Ice Cream
Parlors - a nationwide chain famous for
garish Victorian decor and raucous birthday
ice cream bashes - had been busy compiling
and selling mailing lists of all its little birth-
day boys and girls. On Friday, the story broke
that the Selective Service System had
managed to purchase Farrell's list of for-
merly little boys. The SSS promptly sent them
all helpful reminders that they'd all better
register for the draft - or else.
The incident points out two areas in which
thoughtful legislation is desperately needed.
First, the ferocious trade in mailing lists -
especially in the trade of lists of minors -
must be more carefully regulated in order to
protect individuals' privacy. Granted,
Farrell's has made an excellent case for its
innocence in the whole affair. It says the bir-
thday club cards informed its customers that
their names might be sold to other companies,
and it claims that the company it hired sold
the names without its permission. Never-
theless, protections should exist for customers
of firms with less integerity than Farrell's,
firms with few scruples about selling infor-
mation to the government and little suscep-
tibility to suits for invasions of privacy.
Second, the Selective Service System needs to
be put on a leash. Leaving aside for a moment
the need to wipe out draft registration
altogether, a separate need exists to prevent
the registration mechanism from turning the
country into a police state. It is not all right
for the government to be collecting lists of
high school graduates, of the participants in
summer sports camps, or of little boys who
send in bubble gum wrappers for baseball
hats. Those activities have nothing to do with
the government, and the Selective Service's
exploitation of their mailing lists is uncon-
scionable and oppressive. It nurtures the
feeling that we are, indeed, being watched,
and it threatens fundamental American
freedoms.

Tuesday, August 7, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Move over Jarvis - here
comes Proposition 41

4

By Mary Ellen Leary
SACRAMENTO, CALIF.-
Californians, who have tried
almost everything by way of the
ballot, now are being invited to
cut drastically programs to help
impoverished women and
children. The cuts also seem cer-
tain to affect the aged, blind, and
disabled.
An initiative measure on the
November ballot would slash by
60 percent the state funds which
support 1.1 million children and
565,000 adults, mostly women. It
also would cut health-care
benefits for all the poor by 36 per-
cent, according to California's
independent legislative analyst,
William Hamm.
THE PROPOSAL has
"staggering nationwide im-
plications," saya Georganne
Thomsen of the League of Women
Voters. "So shocking a cut in Aid
to Families with Dependent
Children, if approved by the
voters, would be sure to diminish
support for welfare in other
states. California sets the fashion
in voter attitudes."
Sponsors of the proposal call
California's welfare system an
expensive and unfair failure"
and argue it is the country's most
lavish system. The initiative sets
a formula for cutting payments
close to a national average.
Saying "healthy young welfare
recipients will have to go to
work," the official ballot
argument claims that politicians
"continue to throw billions of
your tax dollars in the general
direction of the poor, apparently
in the vague hope that somehow
some good may be produced."
Such spending, voters are told,
produces "no real improvement
in the lot of the needy."
THE PLAN would create a
Public Assistance Commission to
set spending levels, then let the
legislature decide how to divide
up the diminished pot. It
specifically dooms family plan-
ning programs, day-care centers,
and projects which train welfare
mothers for part-time work,
among others.
The plan's author, Republican
Assemblyman Ross Johnson of
Orange County, turned to the
initiative process after his ideas
failed to go anywhere in the
legislature. He says he wants the
money saved to go to
education-though that is not in
the initiative.
A shocked reaction to the
proposal already has brought
together churches, the PTA,
labor, and welfare advocacy
groups. League of Women Voters
president Mary Jane Merrell
calls it "a blatant attack on the
well-being of California's low-
income women and children on
AFDC."
A FORMAL opposition struc-

ture is in the making, and the in-
tensity of the response promises
a battle of historic proportions.
The state's AFDC payments
are below the nation's poverty
level. An unemployed mother
with two children is eligible for a
maximum of $550 a month. John-
son's proposal would drop this to
about $360.
Opponents argue that the plan
ignores California's high cost of
living and that it would shift costs
to county governments, which
are required by state law to care
for the destitute when no one else
does.
BUT THEIR immediate focus
is on the language of the official
arguments which go to every
voter. Opponents have gone to
court challenging the truth of
proponents' statements insisting
that the plan will not affect the
elderly, blind, or disabled. In
reality, opponents argue, the cuts
are so sweeping, especially for
health services, that these groups
will be severely deprived.
This particular threat has
brought vehement opposition
from organizations representing
the disabled and senior citizens.
They point out that 45 percent
of all public assistance from the
state goes to 700,000 aged, blind
and disabled. The balance is
spread among 1.5 million in-
dividuals, two-thirds of them
children.
JOHNSON'S FIGURES of
alarm point to total welfare costs.
But he insists he does not intend
to limit benefits to the aged,
blind, and disabled.
One reason why California's
total welfare costs are higher

than most states is a welfare
reform measure, signed a dozen
years ago, mandating periodic
cost-of-living increases for
welfare recipients. Most other
states have no such benefit. This
act, ironically, was signed by
Ronald Reagan when he was
governor of California.
Proposition 41, as it is labeled,
qualified for the ballot with
393,835 signatures. Following a
path set by Proposition 13 in 1978,
it corralled support with a direct
mail campaign to reliable
Republican conservatives.
THESE LISTS HAVE been
compiled by the campaign con-
sulting firm of Butcher-Forde,
headquartered in Johnson's
district. One early mailing
carried the blessing of
Proposition 13 sponsor Howard
Jarvis, the firm's first hero.
Mailings signed by Johnson,
who heads what he calls
"Californians to Halt Excessive
Welfare Spending," promised the
measure would save every tax-
payer $250 a year and invited
support "if you are as mad as I
am."
And that is just what the
initiative is likely to
test-whether conservatives are
mad at the spending, or liberals
are mad at the punitive severity
of the cuts, or middle-ground
voters are mad at being dragged
into a bewildering welfare maze
they would rather leave to their
legislators.
Leary, West Coast
correspondent for the
Economist, wrote this article
for Pacific News Service.

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