How I became a conservative Back to top college, New York slums, domestic peace corps, welfare, mental patients, land lording. by Al Garner (the Marco Polo of social work)
2 by al garner Contents C Introduction Chapter I Education How useful was high school? Vouchers How useful was college? Far Left and Far Right Beware of Idealism Chapter II Oh, to save the world A Baptism by fire Living in Slums Domestic Version of Peace Corps B Reflections Social Work in the Past How Not to Study a Gang Banger Liberal Psychobabble Social Work Myths Welfare Reform The Homeless Hazlitt on Poverty Why Immigrants Pass our Poor Advice to the Poor C Independence How to Kill a Care Home A Suicidal Friend Neighborhood Care Homes Back to top
3 Chapter III Land lording A Bad Neighborhood Living with Bums Legal Nightmare over Rented Room Chapter IV The light goes on A Liberal pitfalls Liberal Myths The Liberal Media Social Classes and Liberals Liberal Spin on Riots B Economics Discovering Milton Friedman Discovering Thomas Sowell What the Free Market Wants Minimum Wage Privatization C Values The Decline Self-pity Appendix Liberal and conservative positions Traditional Values People, places, publications, think tanks Author’s bio Back to top
4 Introduction I grew up in the conservative 50s in one of the most conservative areas (Orange County, Calif.) and went to college where it was said that as we got older, we would get more conservative. (Prophetic) After four years of studying the ideal world, I was graduated and moved to the real world of the slums of the very liberal New York City. I daily read the liberal NEW YORK TIMES, and went from one bad job to another in liberal social work (in the liberal late 60s). I thought the problem was me, but noticed no one was getting anything done. I dabbled in teaching and politics, more social work, and then land lording, which allowed me to write. I happened on books by Milton Friedman and others, which explained conservative ideas. Slowly the light came on. It had taken years. Why hadn’t this been covered in college? Because most colleges are liberal. Liberals who’ve anointed themselves Robin Hood and Santa Claus have led us astray. They are bright and more educated than the masses, but mistaken about fundamentals. Moderates and conservatives (not the far right) are more realistic and realize the importance of traditional values. Yet they are always tarred for not ‘caring’ enough, while paying farmers not to grow and welfare mothers not to work. This book shows their wisdom by drawing on the ideas of: Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Edward Banfield, Jack Kemp, William F. Buckley, and Thomas Sowell. Definitions - ‘Liberal’ is portrayed (by the predominantly liberal media) as ‘progressive, modern, open-minded, compassionate, enlightened, egalitarian, tolerant, and generous.’ - ‘Conservative’ is portrayed as ‘backward, stingy, mean, rigid, heartless, selfish, narrow, angry, and fearful.’ From my experience, the liberal view is: an ideal world is possible, old is bad, new is good. Anti-establishment, anti-capitalism, security, socialism, pro-union, and redistribute the wealth to level the classes. The conservative view is the opposite. LIBERAL CONSERVATIVE Universities Entertainment Social work business Back to top
5 Psychology ACLU Much of the news media …………………. Spokesmen for the poor & minorities 18 % of the public …………………………. Under age 30 ………………………………. New values ………………………………… Rights ………………………………………. Socialism …………………………………… talk radio, fox news 40% over traditional values responsibilities capitalism When one person gains, another loses ….. Those with more are greedy & oppress those with less …………………………….. false false Those with less: Those with more: Tenants………………………………………. Labor…………………………………………. Consumers…………………………………... Minorities…………………………………….. Criminals, bums…………………………….. The 3rd world……………………………….. Under age 30………………………………... landlords management big business whites ‘society’ the U.S. over (More on the liberal outlook in chapter 4, section ‘a,’ 1st essay - ‘Liberal Myths,’and in the Appendix.) Back to top
6 Chapter I Education I grew up in Southern Calif. in the idyllic 50s. Though one idealizes one’s youth, these were good times - a wholesome era of traditional values portrayed by OZZIE AND HARRIET and by HAPPY DAYS. (Good, but they could have been better.) How useful was high school? In school I ran around with the ‘establishment’ crowd many whom were student leaders. of Reading We weren’t assigned authors we would have loved like Jack London and Ernie Pyle. Writing Spelling, vocabulary, and some grammar lessons were good, but we didn’t write enough. Math Besides the basics, what was necessary? Not algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and they didn’t improve our thinking as was claimed. Social studies (not social ‘science’) History was interesting for some, but left out most of the countries. We didn’t have enough geography, current affairs, or social problems. Sports Overdone Other We took science and language, but didn’t use them. Art, music, and speaking were not academic and could have been after-school activities. We were told little or nothing about: resume writing, job hunting, managing money, traditional values, human nature, corruption, politics, media bias, religious scandals, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, prejudice, and the pros and cons of joining the military. We were not told about maturity in relation to adolescence, friendship, courting, sex, parenting, vice, crime, religion, cults, politics, youthful idealism, and liberal and conservative thinking. When it came to college, the preparation wasn’t serious. We were too busy having fun and becoming ‘well-rounded.’ The last day of school we tore up our notebooks and threw the pages around the halls in celebration. At graduation we were inspired and praised. People congratulated us. Why? We Back to top
7 hadn’t done much. Much of our schooling was busywork while we grew up. How much was useful? Probably half - the three r’s, some social studies, typing, driver’s ed, first aid, shop, home economics. Though not academic, the clubs, student paper, student government, and talent shows were useful and great fun. After-school sports were a superb outlet for athletes, providing conditioning, challenge, competition, recognition, teamwork, discipline (and getting yelled at). For others they provided school spirit, band, drill team, and pep rallies. Could these drives be harnessed for academic or vocational decathlons (and be practical, which is not true of the national spelling bee)? If I could change school, I would group students according to achievement, not age, use more lay teachers, and provide vouchers to give families a choice of schools. Schools would have to compete for students and teachers. I would prepare students for the real world by requiring achievement in: 1. Traditional values (basic to maturity. Students could clean the schools, as in Japan, to learn some of these.) 2. Mental health (courses and counseling - to promote maturity). 3. Physical health (diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol, drugs, Pregnancy, first aid, longevity, etc.). Students maintaining good health wouldn’t need sports. 4. Career counseling (to find one’s primary interests). 5. Apprenticeships (so students would graduate with marketable skills). 6. Practical academics (geared to the real world). Many things contribute to these six categories - hobbies, clubs, scouts, sports, student government, TV, reading, travel, living in different regions, a second language, summer camp, volunteer and paid work … . Students could be tested on and given credit for their achievements in these areas. Everyone would gain - the school by tapping the outside world, the parents for their efforts, and the students by getting a practical education and a head start. A big step toward this would be School vouchers Education in the U.S. below the 12th grade is virtually public and the results are generally bad. Education above the 12th grade is public and private and the best in the world. If we want better below the 12th grade, we can increase private education with vouchers. Parents would shop for schools instead of moving to different school districts. Private schools would spring up according to demand and remain according to performance. They would hire more para-professionals and aides. Public schools would have to compete by cutting top-heavy bureaucracies, tenured union employees, etc. Parents of private school students would not have to pay twice - once in taxes for Back to top
8 public schools and again in tuition for private schools. Many of them are not rich (and many are teachers in public schools). Schools would specialize for the talented, the disabled, athletic, vocational, English- deficient - whatever. Critics say new private schools wouldn’t be regulated, but those regulations haven’t helped public schools. At any rate, new private schools would be held to the standards of the older private schools. Those that didn’t produce would lose students. The church state issue shouldn’t amount to much as most students in Catholic schools are Protestants. If their parents aren’t worried, it’s not much of an issue. The public schools establishment and their unions have monopolized education for years with disastrous results; it’s time for competition. When I finished high school, everyone (including Elvis) had to join the military or get drafted. I went into the Coast Guard for six months and then to summer camps and meetings for years. A waste. We really didn’t do anything because it was a government run monopoly. How much better it would have been if it had been privatized. On to college (for a ‘liberal arts’ education from ‘liberal’ professors). (The essay below drew a letter of agreement from Martin Anderson, author of IMPOSTORS IN THE TEMPLE.) How useful was college? In a nation that venerates education, college is seen as the ultimate goal. But is it? I’ve looked at what it did for me and many of my peers. We were ‘establishment’ types who were graduated from private and public colleges. Here are the results (which often depended on the professors and the books): Astronomy- waste. Biology – terrible. Economics – could have been good and practical. Education courses – infamous. English – essential when practical. Geography – delightful. Government – could have been good. History – good, but left out non- western cultures. International relations – good. A foreign language – probably useless for most. Literature – could have been good if we’d had authors like Jack London and Ernie Pyle. Logic – waste. Philosophy – waste. Psychology – should have been practical. Sociology – laughable. Speech – no impact. We had nothing on: Maturity in relation to: friendship, courting, sex, vice, crime, religion, cults, idealism, politics, parenting, liberalism, and conservatism. Resume writing, job hunting, managing money, traditional values, human nature, Back to top
9 corruption, politics, military life, religious scandals, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, prejudice, social classes, the fallibilities of professionals, and how to read the media. Did college make me and my peers: - Better citizens?............................................. - More cultured?.............................................. - Aware of various fields?................................ - More employable?......................................... - Ready for graduate school?.......................... - Ready for the real world?.............................. - More mature?................................................ - Aware of our creativity?................................. - Was it worth the time and cost?.................... Slightly. Slightly. Too theoretically. Yes, but not for the effort involved. If one needs four years. No. Not like the real world would have. Not enough. No. After college, we kept few textbooks and never reviewed our notes. We were verbose. Some took jobs requiring no degree. Some went back to school to learn typing. Some sought career counseling as they had been in the wrong field. Presently many are smart, but not intellectual, and are more subjective and prejudiced than they’d admit. They are reluctant to consider that half of what we studied we never used, nor heard of it since college. Many of the girls went to college to find a husband and never used their degrees. We were conditioned to be liberal. One professor said as we got older, we would get more conservative (prophetic), but this was never explained. My degree didn’t help in teaching and writing. In social work, politics, and mental health, it was often a hindrance, as it’s ‘liberal’ bent was far off the mark and it didn’t make me ‘streetwise.’ I’m glad I didn’t go to graduate school in those fields. My real education was: living in slums and in New York City, the domestic version of the Peace Corps, career counseling, running a home for mental patients, renting rooms in my house, being self-employed, the fallible media, and life itself. As it turned out, I had to unlearn much of what college and the media had taught me. Hence my interest in noted author Ray Bradbury’s saying he was ‘one of the few lucky enough not to go to college.’ Famed Russian author Solzhenitsyn said his ‘education’ was being a prisoner in Siberia. College consists of missing information, useful information, useless information, and misinformation. Those who didn’t finish didn’t miss as much as they’re led to believe. The useful parts were: - Vocabulary and concepts. - Learning to think, speak and write objectively and critically. - Exploding myths. - Independent study. - Writing papers on favorite subjects. - Exchange student programs (tops). - Student government, Model United Nations … . College should retain these, but require achievement in: 1) Traditional values, 2) Mental health, 3) Physical health, 4) Career counseling, 5) Internships, and 6) Practical courses. Back to top
10 Students could be tested and given credit for achievements in outside activities that fulfilled these categories. If this approach were used, more families would get their young people into such activities. Everyone would gain - the school in granting practical degrees, the parents for their efforts, and the student in getting a head start. Regarding the second recommendation above - mental health: schools should require students mature for obvious reasons, but also so the political students don’t end up on the extremes of the Far left or far right People believe what they want to believe; and they want to believe certain things because of how their minds work. The far left and far right go to extremes because they are immature. It seems the far left (hippy types in the late 60s) grew up spoiled, irresponsible, unconditionally loved, and learned to get by on charm and rhetoric. They came of age idealistic and unprepared. They found reality too harsh and rebelled radically. They tear down the establishment, yet expect it to cure society’s problems the way an adolescent criticizes his folks, yet expects them to solve every problem. They don’t hold the poor responsible because they (the far left) never learned responsibility. They put it aside and look for a world that is secure, loving, socialistic, egalitarian, positive, psychologically oriented, well-educated, and rational. They don’t find it and become cynical. The far right (John Birchers) is the other extreme. They are immature in a different way - repressed. They didn’t develop emotionally, establish their identities, or become fully in touch with their feelings. They never resolved many issues, and are angry, fearful. They feel under siege and don’t know why. Their security is the past. They make fetishes of guns, the bible, the flag, and the constitution - beacons in a threatening world of change. They plod through life doing their ‘duty.’ Talking about sex is taboo, homosexuality is an abomination, and issues are black and white - sometimes the work of God, the devil, or communists. Security is the biggest military, biggest police force, and biggest gun in the closet. They over- identify with their leaders and want them to do their thinking, fight their battles, be macho (and ride a white horse). They don’t find these and remain frustrated, threatened, and angry. Far left Moderate Far right Identity……………………… groping…………. Love is……………………… everything….…… part of life………………... to be earned Sensitive……………………. overly……….….. Outlook…………………….. idealistic…….….. Believe in…………………… theories……..…. Orientation……………….… future………..…. settled……………………. stunted somewhat………………... lacking realistic…………………... reactionary practicalities……………… dogmas present…………………… past Back to top
11 . Intellectual approach……… objective………... objective…………………. subjective, mean Social classes……………... anti………………. accepting…………………. regimented Superiors…………………… too chummy……. some distance…………… obedient Traditional values…………. anti………………. valued…………………….. dogmatic Discipline…………………… permissive……... Responsibility………………. pass the buck….. valued…………………….. burdensome Sex…………………………. permissive…….... prudent…………………… repressed Change……………………… worship…………. accept…………………….. fear Future………………………. revolution………. Leaders…………………….. anti………………. work with…………………. venerate Religion…………………….. anti…………….... neutral……………………. fundamental Soc. Problems…………….. guilt……………… empathy………………….. intolerance Psychology………………… worship………… See mankind as…………… perfectible……… Maturity……………….……. immature……….. mature……………………. immature See the poor as…….…….. victims…………… limited…………………..... fools See hardened criminals as. ‘ill’………………… immature (by choice)...... evil Priorities…………………… social programs… ……………………………. defense Priorities…………………... ‘compassion’……. ……………………………. order Approach………………….… sloppy………….… flexible………………….. Approach……………….…… carrot…………….. carrot& stick………….… Lifestyle……….………….…. non-conformist….. straight………………….. Appearance……………….... non-conformist….. appropriate……………… unimaginative Humor………………………. scoffing………..… natural…………………… lacking Results……………………… jaded……………. acceptable…………….… frustrated Seen as…………………….. bleeding heart…… mature…………………… mean firm……………………….. repressive evolution…………………. turn the clock back use……………………….. fear good& bad………………. bad rigid stick too conventional The far right is uptight and often mixes church and state. The far left is irresponsible, idealistic, patronizing, and too generous. A close look at each would probably show many in these groups have not found fulfillment in their personal lives; they seek it in their beliefs, which become their ‘family.’ They seek beliefs that provides all the answers and pervade and control most aspects of life. They want a world that doesn’t and can’t exist. Both can be arrogant, smug, self-righteous, and fanatical. One has only to look at what happens when either has come to power in a foreign country - a left or right wing dictatorship as a ‘temporary’ measure - a Fidel Castro of the left or an Muslim fundamentalist of the right. Another reason schools should require students mature is so they graduate realistic about life, not idealistic. Beware of idealism When we are children we are idealistic in planning to be astronauts, cowboys, movie Back to top
12 stars (at the same time) - and we grow out of it. When we are teenagers we are idealistic in dreaming of the perfect romance, best school, best job, non-stop success, and changing the world. These dreams should be tempered with realism from our elders, but often they are not. In college, students are told they can create a ‘new man,’ eliminate poverty, level the classes, educate everyone, eliminate prejudice, stop war, ‘save’ the 3rd world, etc. Many liberal students believe this, and go into journalism, teaching, or social work. Some churches contribute to this by preaching: a sublime brotherhood, only positives, good intentions are enough, a cult of personality, etc. The more immature the young adult, the more susceptible he is to going off the deep end. Some join communes, cults, sects, or ill-founded protest movements. Some join the Peace Corps with stars in their eyes, and finish their term having accomplished little or nothing. (I saw this when in the domestic version of the peace corps - VISTA). Some go to Wash. D.C. to ‘clean up’ politics. But Washington needs ‘cleans’ only temporarily at a high level after a scandal to quell controversy. Once the scandal fades, they are discarded as Washington is more comfortable with leakers, gamesmen, and backstabbers. Idealistic young people get into the wrong work or marry the wrong person. Idealistic brokers lose money. Idealistic military officers risk their men in battle. Idealistic parents spoil their kids. Idealistic preachers lead their flocks to disaster (Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jim Jones). On a much larger scale the greatest danger, of course, lies in revolutions. Idealistic intellectuals fan the flames to burn everything down so they can come to power. They are hostile to compromise. They lack maturity and patience, and become more authoritarian than the regimes they replaced. In the past some have created communism and fascism, abolished money, and persecuted people wearing glasses. They’ve purged, committed genocide, and started wars. Other idealists have gone off to fight them, thinking the war would be over in a few weeks. During the Spanish Civil War, idealists joined the International Brigade to fight for democracy. Later they found their side was autocratic and backed by communists. In China the idealistic young were unleashed as the Red Guards from 1966-76, bringing one of the worst periods in China’s history. Idealism is the pitfall of youthful inexperience. Older people must expose the young to reality at every step of their development. I graduated highly idealistic with a degree in Political Science and little understanding of capitalism and socialism. I hadn’t heard of Milton Friedman, or the liberal misconceptions in Appendix, or that college campuses and the media are mostly liberal, or anything against unions or minimum wage. I hadn’t read anything sensible (then or since) about how to discipline youngsters. I had driven a school bus in college, and learned how to discipline (Appendix A). This was to turn out to be very important, as later in social work, my supervisors believed in everything but discipline. I was to go through great anguish and testing on this. If I hadn’t driven a school bus, I’d have ended up in the nut house. Back to top
13 Chapter II Oh, to save the world After graduating wet behind the ears and verbose, I moved to the slums of liberal New York City. A Baptism by fire Living in slums who lived in abject poverty.’ I lived in Spanish Harlem and the lower eastside – both in New York in the late 60sand later behind the capitol in Wash. D.C. in the early 70s. Rather than ‘the pitiful and oppressed poor held down by the establishment,’ I found something different. Cars were benches - people sat on them, which ground the grit into the paint. Some stood or walked on them. Occasionally a car found itself up milk boxes in the morning with the back tires off. The next day the front tires and engine parts disappeared, and later kids used it as jungle gym. Some were set afire. So much trash and litter filled the gutters, the streets were almost level with the sidewalk, although cleaned every two days. You knew you were in the slums when coming up the subway stairs. When your eyes came to the level of the street, they saw broken glass, litter, and sidewalks darkened by gum and fuel oil. I got so used to it, when I came up the stairs in a clean neighborhood, it was a pleasant shock. When furniture caught fire or was unwanted, it was thrown on the sidewalk. People ‘air mailed’ trash out the windows. Many phone booths didn’t work, were used as urinals, and were vandalized for change. I couldn’t get insurance on my apartment. When I had people over, they had to come by cab. Kids didn’t yell when playing; they screeched. You never knew when it was an emergency. The laundromat had plexiglas windows and ‘iron putty’ covering the bolts holding the washers down. Once I stopped a 7th-grade boy from beating a terrified girl. He couldn’t understand what I was doing. I wanted to learn about ‘the downtrodden victims of society on a Back to top
14 The local SAFEWAY was the only supermarket in one neighborhood. It had Plexiglas windows. Kids ran in and out flirting, chasing, and stealing. People double parked, left their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle, and coughed on you in the slow-motion line. A nearby social agency sent around flyers saying, ‘Let’s stop SAFEWAY from abusing the neighborhood,’ ‘Let’s get SAFEWAY to lower prices and improve service.’ These came through the mail slot on a regular basis. Then a long interval. Finally one came through: ‘Since SAFEWAY closed, let’s car pool to the nearest market.’ Incredible. Instead of bugging SAFEWAY, the social agency should have been trying to keep it open. The agency held LOUD dances. The decibels could have taken the paint off the walls. They blasted out of the building like a locomotive, practically shaking the windows across the street. Inside no one could even shout. These were put on with no notice to neighbors and lasted until 2:00 a.m. The slums had dogs on three legs, blaring stereos and TV’s, babies crying and dogs barking for hours, rock-throwing, windows used as doors, baleful, sullen stares, graffiti, and horn blowing right outside your window in the middle of the night from cab drivers scared to leave their cabs. The pets were vicious or spooked; and when you told a kid to stop doing something, he took it as a challenge to be smart-aleck. Many of the poor didn’t like themselves nor each other. Life was cheap. People spat, cursed, threatened, fought, drank, and took drugs. There must have been a higher percentage of accidents. The mailboxes in some buildings had been broken into so often, people waited out front for their welfare checks. The apathy and the danger affected teachers, police, and other city workers. Some must have done only the minimum amount of work, burned out, or transferred. Chain stores, banks, and supermarkets avoided the area because of: bad checks, shoplifting, phony accidents and claims, shopping cart losses, crime against employees, vandalism to buildings and cars, and time lost in handling food stamps. (I read Ralph’s in Calif. lost money in nine out of ten of its inner city markets.) That is why prices are higher. The slums didn’t need the peace corps; they needed the marine corps. Everything was down 40 notches. But this isn’t what we hear. Somehow the media and academia are compelled to excuse those who live in the slums and blame everyone outside: 1 Blame ‘society’ Most of the problems are the fault of the poor. Where are ambition and responsibility? In sending to school kids who haven’t bathed in days? In the TV on all night instead of homework?In the empty library, the lack of interest in schools, markets, parks, or voting? How long do you have to live in a slum before losing ‘understanding and compassion’ for people who abuse you, their pets, kids, property, and each other? How long do you believe it is ‘racial, economic, or political?’ 2 Blame the police Some cities put their worst cops in the slums, but this doesn’t account for all the nonsense. 3 Money is the answer False. Millions have been spent on social programs and we still have slums. In fact, Back to top
15 many programs have done more harm than good by causing dependence and resentment. 4 No dignity in poverty Only partly true. Slum living and slum schooling are undignified, but being poor isn’t. I have known many who were poor in money and rich in everything else. (Many of our parents and grandparents were poor and didn’t feel they had less dignity or that the government owed them a living.) 5 The poor are ambitious Many people, poor or not, are not ambitious. 6 Mix the slums with better areas This is idealistic, unfair, and enrages middle class people of all colors, some of whom have worked hard to escape the slums. What’s the answer? a Look at history Poverty has been helped more by capitalism than by government programs (socialism). The definition of poverty has been expanded over the years. The American poor have consistently been told they are bad off, when they live like kings compared the way most Americans lived 80 years ago. Our elderly can tell us about this (and how the poor then had more hope and pride). Our poor and are far better off than the poor of many countries b Be realistic Approach the subject without rhetoric or emotion. Find the literature that describes slums honestly and doesn’t excuse the poor who mismanage their affairs. Learn about the poor from merchants, insurance companies, creditors, realtors, city employees, bus and cab drivers, and the working and sensible poor. Learn that higher prices in the slums are the result of the added costs of doing business there. Study how the good people in slums there raise good kids despite enormous odds. Study how poor immigrants do the same and pass our poor. c Avoid liberals Most of those in the media, academia, social work, and the ACLU are liberals. Most have never lived in a slum, nor been poor. They are the ‘excuse industry.’ Even after the facts about many of the poor mismanaging their affairs are glaring clear, liberals are still turning over every rock looking for ‘oppression, cultural deprivation, inequity, exploitation, violation of rights,’ …. d Plain Language No jargon, rhetoric, psychobabble, feel good, or slum jive. e Fair share of services and competent city workers. This is difficult as better workers gravitate to better neighborhoods, and some cities dump their worst workers into the slums. Back to top
16 f Fix responsibility for noise, rundown property, abandoned cars, illegal dumping, crime. g Law enforcement The small matters of noise, litter, parking, panhandling, vagrancy, add up. They are symbolic, they affect morale, and cleaning them up causes interest in going after bigger problems. h Traditional values Whether the law enforcer is from the slums or not, he has to understand the slums on one hand, but BELIEVE in society’s values on the other. He doesn’t think noise, threats, screeching, drunkenness, crime are normal. Such enforcers need maturity, confidence, and conviction as their work is all uphill and totally thankless in today’s permissive society. Such people are usually clean cut. The disheveled ones are often ineffective. They often have more problems than the poor. i Privatize Housing Turn housing projects over to tenants. In part of Wash. D.C.this raised rent collections 105%, cut vacancy rates 13%, and cut administrative costs 60%, crime 5% and teenage pregnancy and welfare dependency 50%. In other cities the same arrangement cut vacancy 18%, robbery 77%, and crime 66%. Next comes tenant ownership. Phase out rent control; it creates inequities and a housing shortage. Allow cheaper housing, urban homesteading, and subletting of rooms. Work Allow ‘right to work’ and ‘work at home.’ Allow kids under 14 to work part time. Study lowering (or phasing out) the minimum wage. This would create thousands of jobs for drop- outs, delinquents, criminals, derelicts, addicts, the homeless, and others - many of whom need to develop work habits. They should be able to offer their services at a competitive wage. Education Allow parents to teach their kids at home and to have a choice of schools with vouchers. Schools would have to compete for students and teachers. Misc. Privatize fire depts., parks, transportation, mail, education, justice, and charity. These have been successful. Welfare reform: see chap II, c, 4th essay All of these would let the poor who are motivated get ahead, and not be held back by those who aren’t. People could live with more dignity and hope - as they did in the past. (Some of the above came from the N.Y. Times, G. Gilder, E. Banfield, H. Hazlitt, Wash. Post, the L.A. Times.) Back to top
17 Domestic version of the peace corps I was two years out of college and floundering in social work when I got a telegram urging me to quickly volunteer for VISTA (the domestic version of the peace corps). It said my background would be good for working with migrant farm laborers. (It wasn’t, but they were looking for bodies.) This was the start of the War on Poverty in 1965. We volunteers were flown to Oregon for ‘intensive’ training - three weeks of classes (no tests), and three weeks of living in migrant camps (best part). There some of us picked crops for an hour before we got tired, played with and taught migrant kids a few things, dug dry wells, helped a tuberculin family, looked for Job Corps prospects, looked into migrant wages and living conditions, improved privies with lumber we solicited, and worked on a contaminated water problem. Some volunteers got into a labor dispute and were kicked out of one camp. Living with the poor and receiving volunteer wages were basic to VISTA. We were paid $l80/mo., which seemed more than what some poor families lived on. We were asked by outsiders what we were doing and found it hard to answer. We asked our trainers what we were supposed to do when we got to our assignments and were told, ‘You’ll find out when you get there.’ When we got ‘there’ and asked, our sponsors said, ‘We don’t know; what were you trained to do?’ (while telling the papers we were receiving ‘in-service, on-going orientation.’ As it turned out, only a few volunteers were assigned to migrant farm labor.) I was assigned to Pecos, a half hour outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. It had 1200 people (and lots of gossip). Outside town there were bald peaks of 13,000 feet and alpine valleys, quiet but for the ring of a cowbell. Six miles away was a town of 13 families without electricity, and below was the Pecos River, from which farmers channeled water with 300 year old ‘ditches,’ governed by ‘ditch associations.’ On the horizon were silent storms with constant lightning. The reddish, clay soil when dry was like cement and when wet, was sticky enough to pull your shoes off. During the rains it washed into the river, turning the falls a reddish color. Some of the adobe homes had this coloring, which gave them a glow at sunset. When I arrived, I drove past these becoming enchanted. It seemed like a Shangri-La. No travel loghad shown such a place (nor captured the deep gazes of the Spanish beauties. ……………. a good beginning). The people were said to be descendants of the conquistadors; and the towns were supposed to be some of the oldest in the U.S. The people and ballot were bilingual. Back to top
18 When thinking about tearing down a house, they would say ‘We have to `throw’ that house.’ When going to someone’s house they’d pull up and honk for the person to come out - even in freezing weather. When invited for lunch, I was told they’d start ‘feeding’ at 2:00. They thought nothing of eating a bowl of red chili - straight. On weekends there were dances with drinking and fighting. (The drinks cost; the fights were free.) About half the homes used natural gas, the rest wood. I bought several cords (4 by 4 by 10 ft.) of piñon wood to warm the two room adobe I rented. I had to chainsaw it into 1 ft. lengths and chop those up. Dry wood was for starting a stove or heater and green wood was for overnight heating, during which the sap hissed gently. Cedar wood was preferred for baking. The stoves and heaters had vents that could whip the flames into a roar or keep the coals glowing. Some were highly efficient, burning most of the ashes. Water jackets heated water and provided humidity. Some people insisted food cooked on a wood stove tasted better. I tried it once, but it was so much trouble, I ate out of the refrigerator the rest of the year. I used an outhouse, drew water from a well, and showered at school. My job was ‘community development,’ which was made to seem exotic, but was simply working on any feasible project to promote self-help. I moved into the less developed part of town and went around to merchants and whomever asking what the problems were (‘felt-needs’ in anti-poverty talk), saying the War on Poverty might have funds to help. I was directed to the leaders and their reaction was good. Then I went to public agencies to look for assistance. Soon it was time to have a meeting. I made the preparations and, as the hour neared, there were a spectacular sunset, a rain, and a wedding. I didn’t expect many, but 25 came, an organization was formed and officers elected. The next meeting only four showed up, and the chairman turned to me and said, ‘What was the purpose of this meeting?’ (Oh no.) The meetings continued and an acceptable issue came up - roads. We got ‘the county’ to help haul gravel donated by Greer Garson’s ranch. She contributed $200 and $500 was collected locally. Soon the county trucks and grader came out, and local trucks were enlisted. A compressor was borrowed from the Fish and Game Dept. for drilling boulders to be blasted. When people saw the work start, they cooperated with money or work. It lasted three weeks and brought great improvement. A water truck was rigged to settle the gravel, and later culverts and lumber for a bridge were obtained. People came from other towns to the meetings; and later a meeting with the governor was arranged where pavement was promised. Such luck after only two months made me heady; but as it turned out, very little happened the rest of the year. In working on these projects, I visited the homes, and noticed in talking to the man and his wife, I was soon talking to the man. Also that only two women shyly showed up at one meeting and looked like they wanted to crawl out under the rug. On the outside, it was a man’s world. I got some female VISTA volunteers to organize the women and they began to meet. Whereas the men’s meetings were formal with minutes and procedure, the women’s meetings were informal, crazy, and fun. They had a tamale sale that quickly raised over $100, but didn’t know what to do with it. I said the men’s organization might use it on the road and asked one of the men. There was a long pause and he answered begrudgingly, ‘Well ... the women can give it to us ... Back to top
19 but we don’t want any damn female telling us what to do.’ (Hilarious, but I bit my tongue.) ‘Community development,’ as it turned out, was anything but ‘technical.’ It meant: - making no promises, - ‘planting’ ideas so other people would think they thought of them, - a few people did most of the work, - the ones that criticized the most, did the least, - many wanted something for nothing, - you could lead a horse to water, but you couldn’t make him drink, - sometimes the boat had to be rocked diplomatically, but firmly, - 20% of those who said they would come to meetings showed up, half late, and occasionally one boozed, - everything had to be kept strictly practical as people got sick of meetings, - anti-poverty workers could be dreamers, and - exposure to the ‘outside world’ and an education enabled an outsider like myself to help with the reading, writing, math., thinking and coor- dinating with public agencies, (but could lead to taking oneself too seriously). People believed everything was political (somewhat truer here), and the poor man had no chance. There was a lot of envy and jealousy. Some believed anyone who got ahead had to be cheating. He was resented and envied. Other obstacles were the spoils system, and nepotism. Those and the ‘compadre’ system of each child having a godparent, caused problems with law enforcement. Also the district attorney was said to be lenient in order to gain votes. On the other hand, the people had superior human values. They would raise their relatives’ and other people’s children. They were gregarious, human, genuine, warm, good natured, polite, and hospitable. When there were lulls in the conversation, they didn’t feel they had to fill in; they enjoyed the quiet. This was the War on Poverty to help the ‘poor,’ but ‘low income’ was a better term as these people were poor in money and rich in everything else - family life, friendships, enviable mental health, and a healthy, robust, close to nature, lifestyle. This was especially true of one prison guard, his wife, and 11 kids - a wonderful bunch - straight out of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Income aside, the rich would have traded places with them in a minute. Anti-poverty work was frustrating and disillusioning. I worked hard and was lucky; however, I had thought I’d get more done. I wasn’t surprised to hear some volunteers accomplished nothing in their year. We volunteers got a lot out of our experience - far more than we contributed. We didn’t bring big changes, and sensible volunteers weren’t ‘radicalized’ (as claimed by one article). A few years later at a party in New York I ran into one of the ‘field support’ people who had visited me in Pecos. She was sitting on the floor. I tried to talk to her realistically about poverty work. She didn’t want to hear it, made up excuses, and looked out the window with glazed eyes. Later in the mid-80s I saw Sargent Shriver on TV explaining the War on Poverty and the Peace Corps, both of which he headed. I found his reasoning full of holes. These two were chasing dreams that could never be. Later in the 90s President Clinton started AmeriCorps – which incorporated VISTA. Did his staff contact former volunteers like me or respond to copies of this article? No. Would they have taken a balanced approach to these views? No. It goes on. Dreamers go into this type of work. Some learn; some don’t. Back to top
20 (Note: One should also be skeptical of the claims of the Peace Corps that serves in foreign countries. Volunteers have the additional obstacles of a foreign language and a much different culture.) B Reflections I had accomplished some things in VISTA, so when I returned to NY, I thought my career would take off. Not so. I wished I’d seen this first: Social work in the past In the 19th century social workers saw some of the poor as improvident and irresponsible. If a man came to a social agency hungry, he had to chop wood to get a meal. If a woman came, shehad to sew. This sorted out those who wouldn’t work, and made others feel they had done something to earn their meal. If a person needed further aid, his background was checked and he was categorized as: a. Unwilling to work. b. Willing to work. c. Unable to work, through no fault of his own, and worthy of relief. When giving short term relief, the charity gave: - in small quantities, - the minimum, - what was least susceptible to abuse, - less than what the person could get by working, and - for the shortest period of time. When the relief was long term, the charity would: Restore the ties between the person and his family and friends. Get their assistance. Assign a volunteer to the person. Require the person to work. This helped those who were motivated. Nothing was more demoralizing than loafers or the criminal poor who got by or ahead without working. Meet the person only half way. Handouts were seen to be as dangerous as drugs; dependency was ‘slavery with a smiling mask.’ Welfare was the worst as it came to be regarded as a right. In those days, knowing when not to give assistance was seen as important as when to give it. This also helped fund-raising efforts, as donors knew their money was used efficiently. Back to top
21 These practices continued until the 1890s when the ‘Social Gospel’ emerged, claiming: • None of the poor were improvident, intemperate, lazy, or irresponsible. • Charity must be universal and unconditional. • Requiring a person to work for a meal was cruel. • A person would not change if challenged, but would change when put in a pleasant material environment where his benevolent nature could come out. Thus government was to provide agreeable housing. • Compassion equaled money. • Raising money through taxes forced compassion from the public. • Professional social workers were best; volunteers got in the way. • Private charities were bad as they made it easy for government to evade responsibility. The 1960s accelerated this trend. Welfare was given on the basis of entitlement, not need, with the result that the poor became worse off, with less hope, less pride, less reason to work, and greater resentment over being dependent. Welfare has broken up families, set fatherless boys on the streets, and polarized those who work against those who don’t. Bad charity (welfare) has driven out good. We’d do well to study the past. I went through many jobs: welfare, child abuse, narcotics, community centers, a detention center, a mental hospital ... each worse than the last. I blamed myself, but noticed no one was getting anything done. Government money for President Johnson’s Great Society program was pouring in and everyone was climbing on the band wagon. (The disastrous results in New York are brilliantly described in THE COST OF GOOD INTENTIONS by Charles Morris.) Many of the social workers used everything but common sense: How not to study a gangbanger To learn about gangs, a woman drove around a hardened 17 year old gang member named Faro, who had 60-year old ‘graveyard eyes.’ (She didn’t think to set conditions about weapons or risks.) During the ride they pulled up next to two other youths, and Faro said, ‘I’m gonna look crazy at ‘em. You watch what they do.’ He did. The other driver glanced over, his eyes widened for an instant with fear. Then he looked away. Faro giggled. When the signal changed, the other driver sped off and turned the corner. The author asked to see the look Faro gave and saw a nightmare face. She asked him what would have happened if the other driver answered the challenge. Faro said they would have gotten into it and he would have killed him. He had a gun in his shoe. A gun?!!!! She was shocked and didn’t know why. (Does someone have to tell her?) She felt betrayed and was angry. He said if you come into this neighborhood, you can’t get angry if it gets too real for you. (Nonsense, but she agreed.) He went on about how Back to top
22 young people gangbang as they have nothing to live for. (Nonsense.) Gangbanging is a chance to get even with those who hurt your family. (Stretching it.) That, if the people you love most are dead, you might as well be dead. (Not really.) That after seeing so much death, you want to die so you don’t have to see more. (Not necessarily.) She didn’t challenge any of this. (Why not?) She accepted his reasoning, criminal behavior, and immaturity. This is typical of many people who study crime or go into social work. In their rush to show compassion and understanding, they don’t use common sense. Another example: Liberal psychobabble One story on T.V. told of a housing project in Chicago. The poor there received many benefits from the government. They wanted the best for their children, but one third of the girls got pregnant by 15. They vowed not to have another child, but did. Many didn’t consider abortion because of an ‘appreciation for life.’ One had seven kids and left them with her mother to ‘self-medicate’ on drugs. (‘medicate?’) She wouldn’t change because ‘chemically dependent people aren’t ready for help.’ (When would she be ‘ready?’) Many of the students didn’t have ‘classroom skills.’ ‘It never occurs to these people to look in the paper for work because the habits of work aren’t available to them.’ (wow) They didn’t look for work because of ‘psychological barriers’ - like racism. (Racism didn’t stop others.) A bunch of young people looked for work. ‘One found a job; for the others, there were no jobs.’ (an assumption.) Many people reached their mid-20s having never held a job. (Many immigrants reach their mid-20’s having never had a vacation.) The people didn’t have the ‘resources’ to visit other parts of the city. (No shoe leather, bicycles, bus fare?) The young people had ‘nothing to do.’ (There are jobs if others can find them, and in this case, there was a nearby vocational school with a 75% placement rate. Despite recruitment drives, it had many openings.) The housing projects appeared ‘hopeless.’ (No mention of how tenant management of projects in other cities had performed miracles.) The people had no ‘daily management skills’ or ‘support systems.’ (What could these mean, but by now who would care? This babble was just excuses.) Too many professionals use jargon, rhetoric, theories, and twisted logic to excuse the poor from responsibility. Until they use plain language and common sense, the condition of the poor will continue to appear hopeless. After many articles, jobs, and programs like the above, I came up with a list of Back to top
23 Social work myths The public would be shocked to learn how little is being done in social work. They’ll probably never know, however, as results are hard to measure and because social workers don’t believe in measuring. One yardstick, though, is the failure of the War on Poverty the 60s. We spent millions fighting poverty and poverty won. Social work fails because it postpones traditional values indefinitely: of Emotion The poor are portrayed as downtrodden ‘victims’ of bad teachers, landlords, employers, merchants, police, clinics - whatever. They have ‘fallen through the cracks,’ are ‘trapped,’ ‘down on their luck,’ etc. …………………………… (Whether they’ve drunk and gambled their money away, committed felonies, or never worked isn’t brought up. Facts don’t count, emotion does.) Psychology Each social problem has some deep ‘psychological’ origin......... (This is taken to great lengths which relieves the poor of responsibility.) Relationships Only through a very close relationship with the social worker can the poor be motivated to improve. .............. (This creates patronizing, unreal relationships which often backfire.) Values are relative This becomes ‘Who are you to impose your middle class values on people in the ghetto?’ ......... (Sounds reasonable, but middle class values are traditional values; they apply to everyone.) ‘ Society’ is wrong It is seen as hypocritical, oppressive, exploitive, and racist. ...... (This outlook, tolerated in college, is impractical in the real world.) The poor are victims (if misguided). They must be helped to come up with values without being prejudiced. ………………… (This extremely indulgent, blank slate, approach postpones traditional values and doesn’t hold the poor accountable for their behavior.) No negatives Back to top
24 ....... (Nonsense - if there are positives, there are negatives; if there is reward, there is punishment, joy/pain, pride/shame, love/hate, success/failure.) No Authority nor discipline, and certainly no punishment. It’s all carrot and no stick ... results in chaos.) (This No ‘humiliation’ Even minor teasing is considered ‘humiliation.’ Lure the poor Programs have to be so appealing the poor will want to join, where society’s values might eventually rub off. This is far too indulgent. ‘ Equality’ Everyone has to be included and everyone has to progress together. ..... (Naive. It allows the bad apple to hold the rest back.) An example of these myths is a picnic for poor youths from the inner city. Most of them don’t have the interest or skills for preparing the food and making the arrangements for the picnic, and they are not asked to. Some show up, some don’t. Some expect everything to be done for them. Some complain. Some of the table manners are awful. If there is a baseball game, there is often profanity, cheating, screaming, and bullying to win. There can be property damage, injury, verbal abuse, a fight, annoying others nearby which can increase ethnic or class prejudice, the chance of getting kicked out of the park, and embarrassment for the staff (if they will to admit it). The next day, however, the staff laughs off everything and talks about all the ‘fun,’ ‘growth,’ ‘relationships,’ and ‘colorful’ stories. In my many jobs, social workers spoke psychobabble and spent months developing ‘relationships’ with the youths in hopes some values would rub off. There was a lack of basic literature, and what there was, was unreadable or worthless. The poor were portrayed as miserable, when many were happy (some happier than their social workers). Programs lacked definition and management, and the poor stagnated. The window dressing kept changing, but the work stayed the same (babysitting), and social workers became disillusioned. There were only a few good programs. They swam upstream against the nonsense above, doing thankless work, and producing results, but were constantly criticized by bleeding hearts in academia, the media, and the ACLU. If social work wants to take its place, it should: Drop emotion, guilt, and love and be realistic. Use plain language and short, sensible titles. Rate the programs and literature. Find out how poor immigrants with limited English pass our poor who are fluent in English. Find why non-professionals are effective. Instill traditional values. Back to top
25 Gear its programs to the real world by starting with getting the poor volunteer work or jobs at any wage and later consider education, job training, counseling, etc. In those days in New York City, if you worked for more than a year in the Welfare Dept., you were considered a martyr. After a year and a half, I left, concluding: To reform welfare • Turn it over to competing private agencies which are rewarded for getting people off welfare (like America Works). Require fathers be identified, pay child support, and help raise their children. Require the person receiving welfare to do volunteer or paid work (in the private economy) at least part time for the welfare she receives to earn part of it. (Broken furniture, lost checks and winter coats and would mean more work.) Those with youngsters could work at places that provide child care. Require youngsters maintain certain levels in school or do volunteer or paid work. Allow parents and children, after fulfilling their obligations above, to get side jobs and save money up to a point of self-sufficiency. Then phase them out of welfare. Knowing when to phase out assistance is as important as knowing when to start it. Promote abortions. • • • • • These steps would cut down on resentment, abuse, fraud, additional births, stigma, and moving to another state to get higher benefits. Taxpayers would get a ‘return’ on their money, and welfare recipients would gain pride, responsibility, and some independence. I got tired of social work and took a job teaching English to foreigners. I got more done in the first three weeks than I had in five years of social work. If a student was troublesome, I put him out of class for a day. I’d have NEVER done that in social work. Later I had the fortune of stumbling upon career counseling. A godsend. (Why didn’t we have it in school? Why don’t counselors in many fields mention it?) It brought out my interests in politics. I didn’t want to have anything to do with New York City politics (too liberal, too crazy) and moved to Wash. D.C. With all the social work on my resume, interviewers said it looked like I should work for a flaming liberal. (One interviewer even suggested I take off being born in Berkeley.) After doing volunteer work and working on ‘the hill’ for some congressmen during Watergate, I moved my vagabond self home. (Looking back I wished I’d applied for work at one of the think tanks.) Back home in Calif. I managed a shelter for The homeless They are portrayed as the ‘nation’s failure,’ the ‘disenfranchised,’ who were ‘abandoned’ by the economy, ‘never had a chance,’ and have ‘fallen out of the mainstream.’ They are ‘victims’ who are owed food, lodging, clothing, and services. Some are shown on a food line with mountains of hair and dirty, Back to top
26 matted beards. No one would hire them that way; yet they’re never asked to get a haircut and shave in return for meals and lodging. We are rarely given the views of those who deal directly with them - bus depots, blood banks, merchants, neighbors, thrift stores, parks, libraries, burned-out relatives, and burned- out public servants. We rarely hear, ‘90% of them don’t want help’ (from one shelter worker), or ‘one-third are crazy, one-third lazy, and one-third drunk’ (from one who used to be homeless). We’re told nothing can be done about skid row. We were told the same about prostitution in Los Angeles before it was cleaned up. Free food is supposed to be temporary, yet one patron of a mission didn’t miss a meal in 30 years. Shelters in New York were for temporary housing, yet the average stay was 11 months. One skid row drifter won a huge jackpot, blew it, and returned to skid row. Another thought he would ‘go on welfare, when it began to rain.’ The subject needs cold-blooded realists to cut through the rhetoric, emotion, and finger-pointing, to contact the neglected sources above, and to come up with recommendations like: - Study what has worked in various cities and countries. - Clarify rights: the homeless have a right to provide their own shelters (in some areas under certain conditions) when the city doesn’t. The public has a right not to be panhandled and not to have derelicts sleeping about. - Find out why there were homeless during a labor shortage and why few immigrants become homeless. Find out why one homeless man said it’s easier to be homeless than to work for low wages. - Consider returning to the past customs of dealing firmly with vagrants, mental patients, runaways, alcoholics, and addicts. - Promote private solutions, realizing the government has done a poor job of running shelters and welfare hotels. - Encourage non-professionals to run shelters, by making it profitable. Let them use campgrounds, farm labor camps, abandoned buildings, parts of military bases, and fallout shelters. - Let businesses hire the homeless for sub-minimum wage plus room and board. - Require each community provide shelter, only for their share of the homeless. Require they be run strictly and fairly. - Study the shelters that are run by the homeless. - Study the ‘poorhouse’ in Sacramento, CA. in the 80s. - Let the homeless homestead abandoned buildings, homes and vacant land. - Allow tents and shanties next to city dumps, where the homeless can use cast off material. - Wave liability for impure food from restaurants, markets, and other outlets. This would give access to eatable, but unsalable food. - Permit powdered milk and donated or homemade food in shelters. - Require work, haircuts, and resumes in exchange for food, clothing, & shelter. A stricter approach in general with the homeless would: - Show that some people prefer to live near destitution, - Make the homeless accountable for their hygiene, grooming, clothing, manners and participation in self-help groups and volunteer work. - Make shelters safer and less infectious. - Bring responsibility, which would separate the motivated from the free-loaders. We shouldn’t be misled by idealists and guilt-mongers. They give the homeless reasons for self-pity, and never look for nor credit the few good shelters. They blame society, yet tie it’s hands. If immigrants with little English can get ahead, the homeless can, when the responsibility is imaginatively, firmly, and gradually put on them. I gained further insight into the poor by discovering a book by Henry Hazlitt at a book sale. (Where were books like this in college?) Back to top
27 Hazlitt on poverty After fruitless years in social work, it was with relief I read Henry Hazlitt’s THE CONQUEST OF POVERTY. Published in ‘73, his insights are as pertinent as ever. They explode the following myths: The amount of wealth is limited. (False, there is a much as people want to create. The poor are trapped. (False). The rich get richer, the poor, poorer. (False, both progress proportionately.) The rich cause poverty. (False). The owners of a business get most of its income. (False, most goes for workers’ wages.) Capitalism helps the rich the most. (False, it helps the masses the most.) Social programs help the poor. They are: guaranteed income, negative income tax, minimum wage, laws increasing union power, government spending, graduated income taxes, opposition to automation, ‘spread-the-work’ schemes, and punitive taxes on capital gains, inheritance, and corporations. (False, they hurt the poor and society.) Hazlitt says to gain perspective we should be aware that: • There had always been mass poverty until the mid-18th century, when it was reduced in the advanced countries by capitalism. All poverty cannot be eliminated as some people prefer to live near destitution. Government handouts easily get out of control. This happened in ancient Rome; and it happened in 19th century England to such a degree, laws were passed to keep benefits beneath the lowest wage so the poor would every reason to look for work. • • Hazlitt says in order in order for social programs (and I add foreign aid) to be effective: • They have to be keyed to promoting work, saving, and skills, which is best done through capitalism. Capitalism depends on the enterprise of the few and the labor of many. The large salaries of the few are irrelevant when considering the many jobs and valuable products they create. Trying to redistribute the wealth of those few is pointless and suicidal. • • • He says we have been led astray by social workers who: - Talk as if anti-poverty is a recent effort. - Never define poverty. - Pity the pauper, but not the worker nor the taxpayer. - Insist on seeing the poor as ‘exploited victims of maldistributions of wealth and heartless laissez faire,’ - Haven’t faced the disastrous results of social programs. - Want no loss of dignity for a person when he gets on welfare, but a gain when he gets off. - Coddle the poor Back to top
28 despite their agency’s policies to the contrary. - Work to make everyone equal by leveling down, never summoning up. - Preen themselves on compassion. - Systematically ignore the reasons for poverty. - Don’t learn from the past. - Don’t distinguish between poverty caused by misfortune and that caused by folly. After many jobs in social work, I couldn’t agree more. Why haven’t we heard more of such views? Let’s take a break from liberal guilt and change the air with these ideas. Another approach to poverty I’d never heard of was that of looking at Why immigrants pass our poor With the help of the spokesmen for the poor, we have come to believe our poor are trapped. Yet we know that poor immigrants can get ahead. Our poor are fluent in English and are ‘left behind,’ yet poor immigrants with limited English get ahead. How did we develop these double standards? To find out, let’s compare both groups: Many immigrants come from countries where they’ve seen: squalor, illiteracy, disease, civil unrest, war, hundreds of homeless kids on the streets, low status for women, and corruption we could never imagine. Some have had relatives taken away. Some have left or escaped through great hardship, been preyed on by smugglers and pirates, and lived in miserable refugee camps. The American poor, on the other hand, have never had such hardships; but are pictured as ‘victims of a post-industrial, technical society,’ where they have ‘fallen through the cracks,’ and are ‘caught in a cycle.’ Some immigrants here live in slums, garages, and converted chicken coops. When Americans live like that, it’s ‘dehumanizing, substandard, and stigmatizing.’ Many immigrants come from countries where there is no minimum wage, welfare, medicaid, unemployment insurance, poverty ‘line,’ etc. They had to work. Here they pick crops, wash dishes, work on assembly lines, collect newspapers from trash, get parts from junk yards, shop at thrift shops, save pennies, never eat out, etc. Many American poor thumb their noses as such practices. They are told menial work is undignified and welfare reinforces this by making it impractical. Their work habits deteriorate, and they fall out of the mainstream. Many immigrants avoid gambling, alcohol, drugs, and crime and illegitimacy. When the American poor get into these, it’s blamed on ‘poverty, discrimination, peer pressure, boredom, lack of alternatives, stress …’ Immigrants pool their money and start small businesses in ghettos where it was thought impossible. Some work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some of the American poor criticize them, their prices, their not hiring locals, and say these immigrant shopkeepers should give something back. Give back? They provide a service no one else will! Some American poor harass immigrants, boycott their stores, beat them up, and worse. They’re a scapegoat. Back to top
29 Many immigrant youth are taught respect, obedience, manners, chores, and hard work. They have to honor their folks and retain their culture - often going to language schools on weekends. Since their parents sacrificed to come here and hack out a living, they are obligated to get an education they could never have dreamed of in their country. Back to top
30 Some are not allowed to date till their late teens or out of college. Some stand when the teacher enters the room. Some carry a text under one arm and a bilingual dictionary under the other. They crowd the libraries. Some have gone from arriving without English to graduating from high school five years later with top honors. In their youthful idealism, they only hope to pay back their new country. Many American poor fight the schools. They have been told schools should lure them into education, which is supposed to mean social success, mental health, career, and maturity. When they don’t study, drop out, get pregnant, commit crimes, and can’t get a job, it was the fault of the school, ‘society,’ immigrants, or the economy. Some cry ‘discrimination,’ yet the Jews and Japanese advanced most when discriminated against the most. Some cry ‘color,’ yet the Blacks here that came from the Caribbean are far ahead of American blacks. Immigrants have different meanings for ‘poverty, family, work, saving, and education.’ Little wonder they despair about what the American view of poverty is doing to some of their people. American poor Immigrant poor Live like kings compared to 3rd world……... ‘Street’ values………………………………… Getting ahead means luck………………….. Weak families………………………………… Become homeless…………………………… Won’t take any job…………………………… Panhandle…………………………………….. Often poor work habits………………………. Can’t save money……………………………. Retain poor English………………………….. Some harass teachers………………………. Drop out……………………………………….. Reach mid-20s without working…………… Rarely start a small business………………. ‘Decent, living’ wages & benefits………….. Look to government…………………………. Self-pity, resentment, protest………………. Are ‘alienated’………………………………… Bored………………………………………….. Disprove the Am. dream……………………. have seen absolute squalor traditional values means hard work strong don’t will don’t superb ones do & send it abroad to relatives try to improve their English most respect teachers study hard without a vacation often start one any wage to selves gratitude are the real aliens never enough time prove it. Poverty spokesmen Immigrant poor
31 Crowded living is subhuman………………... More subsidies……………………………….. Welfare is a right…………………………….. The poor are ‘oppressed’…………………… is nothing fewer a cancer have seen no freedom of speech, press, protest, business, etc. much quieter opportunity they are a blessing Yell about rights……………………………… Am. is discrimination, exploitation………….. Schools ‘fail’ the poor………………………. Crime, drugs, alcohol, illegitimacy, etc. are due to poverty………………………………… no excuse for these. Advice to the poor Be aware that many social workers: Have never been poor nor lived in a slum. Put down unskilled work (flipping hamburgers, etc.) Feel sorry for bums and criminals and ignore decent, working people. Are sure poor Americans cannot get ahead, yet are sure poor immigrants will get ahead. Try to push the poor into college when they generally don’t have the interest and often drop or flunk out. Promise to rebuild riot torn areas, but don’t. Have no business sense - no address on the building, no sense of time, bottom line, efficiency, management etc. Don’t look for the difference between poverty caused by bad luck and poverty caused by foolishness. Think they are Robin Hood, talk psycho-babble and talk forever. They know more, but you often know better. Are ‘bohemians’ with more problems than those they are trying to help. Get too soapy and buddy-buddy. Look for a social worker who is sensible, clean cut, uses plain language, is like an agent (not a buddy), has something practical to offer, meets you only half way, understands your situation, but doesn’t encourage you to feel sorry for yourself. Beware of the poor who are ‘lowlife’ They don’t plan ahead. They live for the moment, work only when they have to, are often violent, and neglect and abuse their kids. They have a short adolescence, little interest in school or public service, and little privacy. They are afraid of failure and rejection, and they prefer to live in the slums. They could get
32 ahead, but choose to remain spoiled, immature, and irresponsible. Avoid vice: alcohol, drugs, and gambling The middle class has money to spend on these; the poor do not. The poor gamble more often and a bigger share of their paychecks than others. Many of them believe getting ahead is luck, and gambling reinforces this. Getting ahead comes from traditional values. Misc - Avoid living places (like New York City), where the poor are encouraged to feel sorry for themselves and to look to government. You’re better off where people believe in self-reliance. - Consider the benefits of being around your relatives, your ethnic group, and a good climate. - Avoid welfare. The longer you’re on, the harder to get off. - Watch how poor immigrants get ahead. - If you have to put a relative in a social program, look for the strictest as most are too lenient. - Learn about self-help groups. If you can’t find one, perhaps you can start one. - Give yourself credit for raising good kids in bad neighborhoods. - Use humor o ‘If it wasn’t for my bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck.’ o ‘I got so low, I had to reach up to touch bottom.’ o ‘If poverty builds character, I must be a saint.’ o How many social workers does it take to change a light bulb? Five – one to change it and four to ‘share’ the experience. Your rights To live in quiet, safe, clean neighborhoods. To have a choice of decent schools. To have less. To not be misled or patronized by dreamers who think everyone should go to college and become an executive. To not be flattered or patronized by people looking for votes or trying to be Robin Hood. - - - - - C Independence Next I worked in a couple of ‘board and care homes.’ These sound like they are supposed to be halfway houses, but they just ‘warehouse’ people. After a while I decided to run my own as I craved independence. I could have run an aged
33 or retarded home, but the mental health field interested me as psychology is the backbone of social work. I started one for mental patients and soon clashed with liberal mental health workers. How to kill a care home I started a home for men in their 20s and 30s with mental illness (not retarded). I rented a home, furnished it, and called county agencies to get it licensed. In the rush away from anything ‘institutional,’ social workers stressed making everything ‘homelike.’ Dishes had to match; dining room chairs had to match, etc. No mention was made of what patients would do once they got to the home. The county sent mental patients with the barest details, though required to provide a full report. I had to go through hard times to learn what was common knowledge. What I learned was vital, yet therapists and others were not interested. I sent my notes to them and called. After talking a while, they began to see the value of the information. Did they follow up? No. These frustrations outside the home made me determined to run things properly inside the home. I was gung-ho and ... naive. I insisted the patients handle their hygiene, chores, and manners, and go to some sort of day program. The patients met these with lip service, minimum cooperation, and resentment. Responsibility was the last thing they wanted. I held meetings about who was making these matters as well as noise at night, botching the dish washing, missing appointments, tying up the bathroom, etc. Everything was resolved, everything fine; next day, same nonsense. There was no purpose having a home without these meetings; but some patients didn’t like them, rules, nor authority. They complained to their social workers, who believed whatever they said, and came right out to protest. The social workers tore down meetings, rules, as too much ‘structure,’ but had no alternatives. They were good with theories, but had nothing for practical matters like chores, part time work, manners, getting people up after 12 hours in bed, etc. Enter the one resident who would not complain to social workers, because he rarely talked. He would not cooperate on simple matters. I cut his cigarettes down - no cooperation. I cut them further - still the same. I cut them off. He collected bottles for money and later got his first job in 12 years. Everyone was amazed. He went on to get other jobs. Much later he told me in the nine years he had been in the system, I was the only one to crack the whip. (You live to hear such things.) County social workers taught patients arts and crafts when patients didn’t know household chores. They tried to recruit patients for college. Extremely naive. They took the side of the patients in all matters, including assault, cheating, and swindling. They gave classes on how to run a home (though none of them
34 had). (The classes had nothing on paper.) They didn’t get my patients the right pills 12% of the time, which caused serious problems, one of which was a patient putting himself and his mother in the hospital. One patient had never gotten an artificial leg replaced. I made a few calls and it was done - one of the few good moments. Another patient drove a stolen car without a license, landing in jail. The judge let him off because he was a mental case. His Dr. sought to put him on a more restrictive status. A jury trial over this was narrowly averted, and he was on the new status. What did it mean? Nothing. So why was he entitled to a jury trial?! Much later he assaulted me over money matters. The police said not to press charges as the judge wouldn’t look at a mental case. A social worker twisted this, saying the patient ‘had to get the police to get his money.’ Matters were going downhill fast. I had accomplished a lot, but credit wasn’t given. Instead social workers picked away at rules, meetings, turnover, and using powdered milk. Without a hint they stopped sending patients and my business died on the vine. All this was similar to what social workers did to Roloff’s Homes (seen three times on 60 Minutes). The homes didn’t want a state license nor the meddling of social workers. The homes were some of the best in the country. They were doing the government’s job, doing it far better than the government, and doing it without government money. Yet government bureaucrats fought the homes 13 years, jailing Brother Roloff twice. It was easy to get into this type of work and run a home which only warehoused people. But if one believed in traditional values and wanted to help people, this was not the place. Incompetent and idealistic, social workers tied your hands, which allowed patients to abuse each other, you, and your staff. It was one of the worst ways to make a living. (Like the other jobs I had in social work, there was more dignity in pumping gas.) I complained to a grand jury and there was an investigation, but it produced little. I had lived with the patients for two years. It took a lot of time, discussion, and soul-searching to appreciate their characteristics. These were seen differently by liberal professionals and by the conservative live-in staff. (I’d seen this gap throughout social work.) The professionals saw patients as: The live-in staff saw patients as: Immature Irresponsible
35 Self-centered………………………………. Past dependence on folks……………….. Low self-esteem…………………………… Unmotivated……………………………….. Rigid Unassertive Overly sensitive Resentful…………………………………… selfish clinging to folks refusing to take pride lazy extremely so unhygienic Mental Identity problems, buried emotions, isolated, private logic ………………….… little effort to resolve these Spoiled -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----- - I gathered a great many notes about these approaches and wrote an article. (Being new at writing, it probably took six months of full time work.) It was published in Dr. William Glasser’s JOURNAL OF REALITY THERAPY, Spg ‘83. Amazing. I sent it to Dr. Garth Wood, author of THE MYTH OF NEUROSIS.) He wrote back saying it was ‘wonderfully perceptive.’ Incredible. After a spotty career, I’d been published in a professional journal by one well-known figure and been commended by another - from rags to riches. Such experience gave me insight. Now I saw one of my friends much differently. My suicidal friend I had a friend off and on for 25 years; he was always depressed. I believed his stories about his various mental ‘conditions’ and trying to improve. I was blind to his parasitical nature. He was always dumping his problems on me and on complete strangers. That’s how he got attention. When I had problems, he didn’t care.
36 This went on over the years as he moved around the country going through self-help groups, therapists, jobs, acquaintances, and infatuations. He never seemed to improve. (He didn’t want to.) He had a high IQ, an Ivy League education, and great talent for comedy, but was an encyclopedia of misery. He let everyone know how awful life was and made a career of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. He began to talk of suicide. About then I ran the home for mental patients. They were 10% crazy and 90% spoiled, immature, and irresponsible. Ah ha - a light went on. I began to see why my friend didn’t take care of his hygiene, wardrobe, car, apt. money etc. He didn’t want responsibility. If he could blame everything on ‘life,’ he wasn’t responsible. Once we made plans to go out as a foursome, but when he saw his ‘blind date,’ he wanted to cancel. He went, but was a brat and ruined the evening. Another time he was invited to a party. He made a play for a much younger woman, who didn’t respond, and left without saying a word. Later he dropped out of sight for four years, and then resumed the friendship with no explanation or apology. In his 60s now, he chased women in their 30s and 20s. He drove with no license, or insurance, and had his car repossessed. He got a mysterious inheritance of $2000, spent it on a TV, a VCR, and a bike, and gave the bike away. By now his depressing stories were worse. I had no desire to see him, and soon didn’t want him to call. All that was left were the great jokes by mail. They had a richness unequalled. But he didn’t see this nor the worth of a mutual friend, the good times the three of us had had, nor women, work, life, relatives .... He resented everything and wanted his folks to take him in. He wrote I was all he had. I let slip something critical of him and he dropped me. Why, if I was ‘all he had.’ Another game. His unwillingness to accept responsibility and his decline could have been charted on a graph. However ‘mental’ he was, his behavior was increasingly inexcusable. He might fool psychiatrists, but I knew better. All his life he had done everything to keep from growing up … and paid the price. How does this relate to liberalism? Liberals put off responsibility forever and indulge in psychoanalysis forever. The mental health field is full of them. I used the same lessons on another friend, who did want help. I kept after him about taking more responsibility for his life. Slowly he did, got better, and said he owed it all to me. You live to hear such things. My home for mental patients had been in a residential neighborhood. Liberals love this - putting such homes in regular neighborhoods. I had had blinders on and thought it was OK, but it didn’t belong. Even though I ran a good home, I’d never do it again in a residential neighborhood. After a year and a half, two neighbors got wind of it, overreacted, and petitioned the city, which asked me to move. It made headlines.
37 Neighborhood care homes Many people believe in homes for the disadvantaged, but ‘not in my backyard’ (NIMBY); and after working in several and starting and running one of my own for mental (not retarded) patients, I agree. Many of these homes are noisy, boring, dirty, with nonstop TV, no privacy, and mutual abuse among the disadvantaged residents of the home (the retarded, aged, mentally ill, alcoholic, poor, etc.). There is a lot of this because of their ‘rights,’ and because it’s easier for staff to go along with it. It’s glorified babysitting. The disadvantaged vegetate and staffs burn out. Neighbors too. They chafe over parking, yelling, profanity, panhandling, poor grooming and attire, depressed behavior, traffic in and out of the house, etc. Homes are run permissively despite what is claimed - especially smaller homes, as when a resident moves out, the drop in income is substantial. If the staff of a home wants to do more than baby-sit, they are in for a difficult and thankless job. They have to fight the disadvantaged, the relatives, sometimes the neighbors, but most of all, permissive social workers, who (with the media) take the side of the disadvantaged. Obligation The public is made to feel it is their obligation to accept the substandard behavior of the disadvantaged (and possibly lower property values). Not so. It is the obligation of the disadvantaged (with the help of social workers) to learn how to live in society, find work, and then move into regular neighborhoods. In the meantime these homes can locate in industrial areas or on the outskirts of town. ‘Family-like’ A myth. No sensible family operates the way these homes do. Licensing This sounds like a good idea, but are their unlicensed home that outperform the licensed ones? Size Since large institutions are supposed to be bad, these small homes are supposed to be good. But small homes don’t have a fraction of the resources and aren’t any more successful. The reason California wanted these homes is that mental patients could be housed for one fifth of what it would cost in an institution. These homes should be: outside residential neighborhoods, unless they are an overwhelming asset. They should be run and monitored by competing
38 private agencies. They should require the patients hold part or full time work in sheltered workshops or regular employment; and they should use a no-nonsense approach to teaching traditional values. Chapter III Land lording I moved my care home to county land for less harassment. I found a home in a neighborhood that wasn’t too fancy, and had no neighbors on three sides, which meant less chance of problems. I bought it. Here came another set of lessons [written in the present tense:] A run-down neighborhood
39 There are liberals in universities and the media who believe bad neighbor- hoods are caused by prejudice, the economy, absentee landlords, neglectful city agencies, poor education, etc. Most of them don’t live in a bad neighborhood. I do and this is what it’s like: Some people leave their trash barrels out for days. Some leave shopping carts around, sometimes taking sections off to use as barbecue grills. Some don’t get rid of their gophers or weeds. Some don’t water, cut, or edge their lawns; or when they do, don’t sweep up for days. Some never trim their bushes or trees which block the sidewalk. Some fences tilt forever; junk cars and debris stay on front lawns. Some lawns have as many cars as will fit. Some have vehicles in the drive, a boat on the lawn, and an RV on the side of the house. One had six vehicles on the front lawn, though the street was empty. Another had nine vehicles in the driveway and two in the street. Noise: TVs, stereos, yelling, horns, and tires squealing. One kid had a radio turned up OVER his lawnmower. Some people rev up the car or boat engine they’re working on for long periods - some without mufflers. Untrained dogs bark for hours, their owners home, but oblivious. Some ice cream trucks are merciless, coming around 12 times a day with their brainless music heard 7 blocks away. They can get away with more in unincorporated areas like this as the sheriff’s deputies and county officials will do nothing. Occasionally there will be a tremendously loud stereo or a live band in a backyard, heard 10 blocks away. Outrageous, yet people do not call the police. If I call, I do it anonymously. If I’m leaving the house, I do nothing. If neighbors don’t want to call, they can suffer; and after they’ve suffered enough, maybe they will call. (Doubtful) When I call, the deputies say the noise is disturbing my peace, not their peace. (Oh boy) They will ask the neighbor to turn it down; but beyond that I have to sign a complaint, which means the neighbor will find out who it was. Why can’t the deputies park around the corner, hear the noise, and stop it? The last thing you can have is your neighbors finding out you turned them in - especially in a bad neighborhood. When complaining to the authorities about dogs in my county, your neighbor WILL find out it’s you. You can handle the young kids with problems on the street, but with those from middle school on, you’d better know what you’re doing as they can do things to your property or car. You wonder how they can be so bad until you see their homes or meet their folks. It’s disappointing to know them when young and cute and see them grow up to become tough. Many times I put out a HELP WANTED sign. It was knocked over a lot. Only one teen responded per month; and most weren’t worth minimum wage. Then I hired ‘undocumented workers,’ who did 10 times the work for the same wage. Dogs run loose without collars. If you coax one into your yard to keep it from being hit and call the animal shelter, you’d best do it on the sly. It’s ‘meddling.’ When you have helped a dog from being hit, don’t expect to be thanked by
40 the owner. The same with stopping a fight or helping at wrecks. The next day the kid who could have gotten hurt badly walks by. You ask if everything’s OK. He says yes and maybe smiles, but doesn’t think to thank you. There are a lot of wrecks. People come out of their houses to watch with their hair in their face, their underwear and tattoos showing, and their dog loose. Some get in the way. Some say ‘Gee you’re bleeding.’ Some joke and yell across the accident to their friends to get attention. A lot of the wrecks are hit-and-runs. You learn to rush out to get license numbers. People abandon cars, dump trash on public land, steal from construction sites, and harass Asian refugees. When they call you by mistake, they don’t excuse themselves; they just hang up. Profanity, name calling, and letting property run down - some seem to take pride in being a mess. The school district here is the poorest in the county. For years a nearby school didn’t keep up its grounds, wasted heat and tons of water, and threw out desks, lumber, books, and supplies. I called everyone, got few results, and no follow up. ‘Nobody cares’ as a cop said, and realtors agree. You don’t realize it pulls you down. When I visit a good neighborhood, it is a pleasant shock. When I come back to mine, it’s with resignation. Improving the neighborhood requires comparing these observations with those of realtors, creditors, police, insurance companies, merchants and others who know such neighborhoods and are never asked (not academic and media liberals who’ve read about them from idealistic books). This would point to law enforcement (preferably by a private group like a homeowners association) - no theories, psychobabble, nor endless meetings - just constant enforcement of all laws, big and small, to discipline and slowly shape up the neighborhood. I rented rooms in my house there for 25 years. I learned things I should have been told in social work. Living with bums Most of the roomers were working-class guys and good tenants. If there were problems, things could be worked out because they were self-respecting, mature, and responsible. There were others, however (who slipped through my screening process), who were bums and problems could not be worked out because they were immature (by choice). They lacked empathy and wanted lots of favors - stamps, envelopes, change, jump starts, tools, etc.
41 They wanted attention and wanted to talk about themselves at their convenience, not mine. They were overly sensitive, defensive, and wouldn’t sit down, stay seated and discuss matters when a problem arose. They got buddy-buddy too fast, and expected their messes to be forgotten because we were ‘friends.’ They thought they could find a job and a woman far beyond their reach. They had com- panions, not friends. They were impulsive in eating, drinking, entertainment, and spending. They ignored the house rules or tested them; if you gave an inch, they took a mile. Some ate very greasy food, had terrible manners, needed haircuts, kept locking themselves out, left shopping carts out front, stole food from others in the house, slammed doors or didn’t close them, broke things and denied it, wasted my utilities, wasted their food, clothing, and tools, and seemed to yell or mumble. They got behind with their rent, which brought lots of stories, moving out in the middle of the night, and bouncing checks. Some put off small repairs on their cars, costing them twice as much. Some told adult stories around youngsters. One hid a motorcycle in his room to work on. They resented banks, bosses, cops, girls - life owed them a living. They wouldn’t manage their weight, diet, health, belongings, or money and drifted from job to job. They drove uninsured cars with no spare or jack, and they ate out - always broke, but always ate out. Some stole, gambled, drank, and smoked pot. Many counselors would say their problem was mental, educational, intelligence, alcohol, ‘deprivation,’ etc. Nonsense; it was immaturity. Take Pete: he was 40, had nothing, and promised he would be a good tenant. He had a new job. Save his money and get ahead? No, he gambled and drank it away. His room smelled terrible, he had a bad attitude, and he made messes in the kitchen and bathroom. He loaned his uninsured car for months at a time. He got terribly drunk on a work night, and he fell behind on his rent. I asked him to leave, and he did - sleeping in his car in front of the house! The police picked him up on outstanding warrants and put him in jail. Enter Bob, a divorced 36 year old escapee from a communist country, father of two, with a high paying, skilled job. He was happy, fun, big-hearted, and very likable. He had a strong body odor. He knew it, but did nothing about it. He even went on job interviews that way. He was in and out of love every other week with barmaids, one of whom took his money. He went through a number of jobs and ran out of money. He worked around the house for minimum wage, but still ate out. Once, when totally out of money during an emergency, he worked for me four days, was paid each day, and at the end of the 4th day was broke! He needed a loan for a big date who stood him up to go to bed with someone for $50. The next day he was way down in the dumps. He called his kids, cried, and swore off his night life. Then what? He went out again that night! (You have to see such things to believe them.) Eventually he moved out, leaving a big mess and the police on his trail. If these bums didn’t respect their property, why should they respect mine? If they didn’t respect themselves, why should they respect me? There were thefts,
42 property damage and near fights. I had to ease them out gently, taking a loss so they wouldn’t retaliate. They knew where I lived; I would never know where they lived and couldn’t collect as they didn’t have anything. Someone else who had been in social work, learned the same after having 25 homeless families on her ranch for seven years. It wasn’t until she was personally affected that she understood. You can read, hear, and discuss this, but you won’t understand till it affects your property, your time, and your peace of mind. These bums and criminals take an enormous toll on society. It can be assumed they were the kind of people who in one survey of St. Paul, Minn, were the 6% of the families that absorbed 77% of the welfare, 51% of the health services, and 56% of the mental health and correctional services. These are the kind that loot during a riot or natural disaster. Most middle class people are unaware of such people, but the working class and the police are, as they have more contact with them. They call them ‘riff-raff, rabble, trash, deadbeats, animals, slobs, punks, wise guys, lowlife’ and worse. They know what they are talking about. Many counselors, however, are middle class, have gotten their ideas from books, and keep excusing bums and criminals. Bums and common criminals have chosen to remain immature and irresponsible. Any rehabilitation should meet them only half way and involve lots of discipline and hardnosed counseling. They have the slow, painful job of growing up. Cold-blooded realism is needed, not hearts and flowers. Strangely enough … most would agree. Legal nightmare over rented room
43 I’d had some bad tenants, but eventually they would move out. Enter Sharon who would NOT. She had a poverty lawyer. I called my lawyer friends, paralegals, landlords, and the courthouse. Paralegals wanted $25 to fill out each form, so I tried it myself. I began the clerical ordeal of serving Sharon with different notices (on obsolete forms as it turned out), running from the post office to the courthouse to the copy place to home to read the LANDLORDS LAWBOOK. (All this over a rented room?) I learned the court had to ‘file’ some forms, ‘conform’ others, and ‘enter’ others, and all of them had to be typed in black ink. No one doing this the first time could avoid mistakes. I ran around filling out a ‘complaint’ and went through the tricky business of serving her with it. She didn’t respond in time. Ah ha! I ran in to file a ‘default,’ which would win the case. I was elated. But wait; something was wrong with my paper work. Her lawyer filled a ‘demurrer’ later that day; and, I was not only back to square one, but liable for her lawyer’s fees! Now I had to get a lawyer. He told me her lawyer was a zealot, this could go to a jury trial (over a rented room?!), I couldn’t cut off Sharon’s cable hookup, phone, etc., and, if I locked her out, I could get sued so bad I could lose my house! I also learned if I won my case and the Marshall came to put her out, she could declare bankruptcy. Then I would have to pay $600 for a ‘lift of stay’ to get her out. Every time I turned around she had more rights, I had nightmares. (Who made up these laws?) After three and a half months of this, she moved. Throughout she had a free lawyer, I didn’t. She could sue me. I couldn’t sue her and get anything. She gained about $1000; I lost $l400 on a $200/mo. room. She and her lawyer made my life miserable; I couldn’t touch them. It caused me anguish and great amounts of time; it caused them little. What was the point? The poverty lawyer didn’t benefit her by helping her cheat a landlord, earn a bad credit rating, and lose an inexpensive room. I lost my shirt and became embittered against tenant laws. Everyone lost. The laws regarding rented rooms are elitist, senseless, petty, unfair, and far too technical, time-consuming, and expensive. They coddle cruel tenants and persecute and endanger landlords. What if Sharon had been a criminal and I had had a wife and kids in the house? Other states and countries are not drowning in legal nonsense and ridiculous rights. Our laws should be simple, sensible, and fair. When a landlord wants to evict someone from his home, the legal part should be handled in a few hours by a qualified, private arbitrator, and not cost over a week’s rent.
44 Chapter IV The light goes on Through renting rooms, investments, frugality, and being single with no kids, I gained some degree of financial independence in the late 70s. I had gone from often out of work, frustrated, social worker, poor man to retired (busy body). What luck. Paradise. I was free to spend my time writing (as a hobby). I started with a typewriter, which spent most of its time in a repair shop, and later switched to a computer. I was happy to be reading and writing about everything I’d been in and thought about. My Christmas newsletter to friends describes this: The creative life
45 Having been in several fields, I wanted to put my pen to paper. I went to writing clubs and learned writers are bright and different - some write standing, some in restaurants; some share everything, others nothing. Some say there are no rules; just write. I learned you can say a lot in a few words, you write the way you talk, you write 10% of what you know (like other fields), and you reveal yourself. If you don’t make money nor get much recognition, you’re writing for yourself. Friends and family don’t understand, but get used to it. Such a life offers: no commute, no 9 to 5, no interruptions, meetings, dead- lines, explaining, compromising, office politics, or big wardrobe. Ideas come out of the blue, so I keep one recorder on the night table and one in the glove compartment. I listen to cab drivers, check-out clerks, gas station attendants for the wisdom of the common people. I clip things from papers and watch documentaries. Once a subject takes form, the ideas percolate. I take notes, organize them, and write the piece. Then comes revising. It never stops, which makes a computer indispensable. After I got one, my writing exploded. Each article is its own reward; and if it gets published, that’s extra. If I know a particular field and criticize it, I don’t send it to a publication in that field; they often don’t want to hear it. I send it to a paper or magazine. The public can see what I’m saying; the field sees what it wants to see. I send copies to people who feel the way I do and they love it! I’ve gotten notes from Milton Friedman, the president of Boston U., the principal in the movie LEAN ON ME, people running half-way houses on TV, and others. You learn to tell good writing and TV programs from bad, and the importance of objectivity, firsthand experience, and age. Creative work is self-absorbing, impractical, difficult, solitary, intuitive, vindicating, engrossing, compelling, and a privilege. Harkin to the voice within. In the past I’d taken the NEW YORK TIMES and the WASHINGTON POST when living in those cities, and by now I had been taking the LOS ANGELES TIMES for years. (These and the WALL STREET JOURNAL were considered the top four papers at the time.) I watched most of the documentaries and programs like 60 MINUTES, and clipped a zillion articles. I could more clearly understand many errors by liberals and some by conservatives. A Liberal pitfalls Liberal myths
46 Having received a liberal education (in conservative Orange County, Calif.) and spent years in liberal social work in liberal New York City, where I daily read the liberal N.Y. Times, I found ‘liberal’ is used as the good housekeeping seal of intellectual thought. One might think conservatives would have good ideas, but not so. ‘Liberal’ is seen as ‘progressive, educated, compassionate, and generous.’ But many liberal programs have been disasters. How could that be if based on such good intentions? It’s because they were based on the false assumptions of: Ideal The liberal believes a better world is just out ahead. We need only to be ‘freed’ from the ‘repressive’ past to ‘express’ ourselves, our good intentions and new ideas, and we’ll create a society of equality, peace, and security. This sounds good in school but isn’t real. Guilt As the world isn’t ideal, the liberal is quick to point the finger. He blames the older generation, the establishment, the upper classes. They have more because of greed or capitalism and become mean conservatives to preserve it. Those with less are victims. This is why the (mostly liberal) media, are so negative. Old is bad The liberal thinks that our problems came from the past. An example is the 19th century. He consistently runs it down as one of exploitation of the masses by the robber barons of Wall St. who conned Main St., bled Mid-western farmers, and fleeced immigrants. He’s mistaken; the standard of life for the common man rose dramatically. In disparaging the past he doesn’t learn from it - a fatal mistake. The past contains the wisdom of traditional values gained at great cost, but he believes old is bad and New is good New ideas from new fields are something he can sink his teeth into; psychology, socialism, ‘modern’ economics, and other social ‘sciences’ are ‘technologies’ which can ‘engineer’ a ‘new man,’ New Deal, New Frontier, Great Society, etc. While he might claim to believe in traditional values, he postpones them indefinitely. Equal As Robin Hood he wants redistribute the wealth. He wants to push working class people through college, when many are not interested. He is sure our poor are trapped, when immigrant poor, with limited English, pass them every day. When it comes to bums and criminals, he has a thousand excuses.
47 Secure He wants a world free of risk and want. The earlier days of heroism, tragedy, and the free market are to be leveled for predictability and safety. This can only be done through programs that promote: Socialism Where socialism (heavy government involvement) has been tried (India and East Germany in the 50s & 60s), development has been hindered. Where it has been held back, development has flourished (Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and West Germany). Thus he tends to be: Anti-private He’s not interested in understanding private schools, charity, prisons, nursing homes, fire depts., mail, transportation, utilities ... Anti-business He sees the high salaries of top executives as great inequities. Henry Ford the 1st put the country on wheels, but the liberal sees that Ford was rich while others were poor, and goes on to support the graduated income tax, capital gains taxes and other measures which penalize the Ford types. He sees profit as mean. If nursing home A makes a profit and clearly does a better job than non-profit nursing home B, A is bad and B is good. Nursing home A can be ten times better than B, but liberals are reluctant to give it credit because it makes a profit. Caring The liberal claims to have a corner on caring and ‘love.’ His is the soapy, coddling kind. It spoils those he’s trying to help. He can’t imagine anything hardnosed or authoritarian as ‘caring.’ He needs to know that coach Vince Lombardi and General Patton were hard on their men because they cared about them. Permissive Seeing the past as repressive, believing in psychology, and seeing himself as a ‘caring’ person, he is tolerant of vice and seeks to ‘understand’ crime. He doesn’t believe strongly in authority or discipline, and considers punishment ‘medieval.’ If ‘boot camp’ programs help delinquent youth, you won’t hear much - it’s outside his frame of reference. Overly-generous He spoils children; spoils the poor by paying them not to work; and spoils 3rd poor countries with foreign aid. His programs pay farmers not to grow and the American Indian to be dependent.
48 The conservative disagrees. He is often older and more experienced and realistic. He venerates the establishment, capitalism, and traditional values; he sees social classes as overlapping, natural, and healthy; his ‘caring’ meets a person only half way; he holds bums and criminals responsible for their behavior; he shows how the private sector has taken over many government functions and done a better job. Let’s hear more from the conservative side. Let’s promote it in academia and the media. Let’s remind our youth, as people get older, they get more conser- vative because a lot of liberal ideas are idealistic and flawed. As much damage as liberals have done, they deserve credit for: • • More rights for minorities, women, gays, the handicapped. More openness about battered spouses, addiction, child abuse, incest, abortion, impotence, etc. More acceptances of ethnic diversity and intermarriage. More acceptances of separation & divorce. More use of psychology to get to the roots of one’s problems instead of ‘keeping it all in’ and enduring ‘long suffering.’ More openness about public figures instead of putting them on a pedestal. More open-minded about premarital relations in long-term, responsible relationships. More questioning of religion. Integrating newsrooms. • • • • • • • Liberals led the way with these because of their challenging old ideas, being open to new ones, and because of their interest in those who have less. A look at history shows they led the way in abolishing slavery, getting women the vote, civil rights … The liberal media The importance of the news media cannot be underestimated as most issues are decided by public opinion. But are the media fair? We get an idea from a widely quoted survey taken in ‘82 of ‘the prestige media’ (NY Times, Wash. Post, Wall St. Journal, Time, Newsweek, the 3 major networks and PBS). It said the media have a liberal bias as: Three times as many of their newsmen considered themselves liberal as conservative.
49 80% favored affirmative action. 79% believed in the welfare state. 80% voted democratic from ‘64 to ‘76. Why are the news media liberal despite the fact most Americans are conservative? One reason is liberals tend to go into the media, and conservatives tend to go into business according to David Brinkley. What is the liberal bias? In my opinion it is: an ideal world is possible, old is bad - new is good, anti-establishment, anti-business, pro-union, less defense, more social programs, and level the classes for ‘equality.’ (Conservatives take the opposite positions.) The following show the liberal tilt of the news media. History • Many in the media snicker at ‘status quo’ presidents like Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Eisenhower. They prefer men of ‘action’ like Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and JFK. Many find the 50s sterile and glory in the protests of the late 60s. Many didn’t like Reagan. John Chancellor called him and arch- conservative; Walter Cronkite gave him a low rating; Harry Reasoner implied he was a cowboy; and Gloria Steinem said he was just lucky. When George H. Bush promised a ‘kinder, gentler’ day, the media jumped on this and milked it. Brokaw said Bush had started ‘the process of healing.’ Leslie Stall said Bush was a rejection of the Reagan values. John Chancellor said, ‘The 80s are over and Carter is more popular than Reagan.’ March ‘90. • • • • Anti-business The media and business have been hostile for years. Each sees the other as dominant, and each would like to dominate. • The media say capitalism caused the Depression and government got us out of it. But conservatives say the government caused it and made it worse. • When the price of gas goes up, the media raise a fuss; when down, silence. When profits in business are big, the media complains; when losses are big, silence. • If G.M. makes big profits and closes a plant, it’s a conspiracy. • When Polish citizens drove long distances to sell goods in West Berlin in ‘89, a reporter said they were ‘greedy.’ • When more college freshmen than usual signed up for business, it was a rise in the ‘greed index’ (John Chancellor).
50 • When David Stockman left the Reagan government in the 80s to make more money, it was our ‘greedy’ system (said Chancellor, whose high salary comes from the ‘system’). When AT&T was broken up and banks deregulated, these ‘helped the rich and hurt the poor’ Ray Brady, CBS. When capitalism brought great progress to parts of China, our media stress the problems. They said the economy there was ‘overheating’ and the government should restrain it. A reporter interviewing a new millionaire there, asked him if his success hadn’t created ‘inequality.’ When the free trade pact with Canada brought benefits, the media stressed the problems. The same in ‘91 when talking about free trade with Mexico. The media continually suggest the business community fill in for schools, family, and government with education, health care, child care, etc. Once there was a report on 20/20 about how much better various businesses did when government got out of regulating them. Reporters Hugh Downs and Tom Jerrel were surprised. Reagan and Thatcher were never understood by the media, nor fully credited. Those two understood the free market; the media don’t and don’t want to. • • • • • • ‘ Equality’ • An article in TIME said Avril Harriman was ‘born almost embarrassingly rich ....’ Mike Wallace asked Brook Aster if she felt guilty about being rich. Donald Trump said he did. The media blame the haves, and fawn over the have-nots: Labor is right; management is wrong. Tenants are right; landlords wrong. The poor are right; the rich are wrong. Minorities are right; whites are wrong. Consumers are right; big business is wrong. Those over 30 are wrong; those under 30 are right. Detention for illegal aliens is ‘dehu- manizing.’ Confronting a delinquent about his crime is ‘brutal.’ Getting up at 6:00 am for recovering alcoholics is ‘tough.’ Spanking is ‘beating.’ Rules are ‘regimentation.’ Innocent teasing is ‘humiliation.’ The media pity the poor without talking to those they hurt: merchants, insurance companies, employers, credit bureaus, teachers, police, public utilities …. They feature the poor who do not work, not the poor who do. The media endlessly indulge criminals who excuse their crimes with asinine logic. The media support admitting under-qualified blacks and Hispanics to college, at the expense of better qualified whites and Asians. The media blame drug addiction on poverty and discrimination, and ignore the poor and minority people who do not take drugs. When treatment programs (only 25% successful) are not immediately available, it’s society’s fault that addicts continue to take drugs. • • • • • • •