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Box 8098 Houston, Texas TOO MEXICO REFUSES, AUSTIN In Texas three of every four persons 65 and over receive “pension checks.” This 315,000 receiving social securityabout 45 percent of the total population 65 and overand another 225,000 receiving “old-age assistance,” about 34 percent of the total population 65 and over. Allowing for 45,000 who get both social security and assistance checks, this means 495,000 of the state’s 671,000 persons 65 or over \(73.8 perfederal pension or assistance checks in 1958. The average old-age assistance check in Texas is $52.05. In May, 1959, the total paid out in old age assistance was $11,694,491; for fiscal 1958, the total was $125,353,296. The state’s voters in 1957 approved spending $47,000,000 a year for state welfare programs, but a bill passed this year allocates only $45,200,000, and there has been political oratory in protest. The legislature this year has not passed enabling legislation to finance state aid to the aged for medical expenses, also approved by the voters at the polls. Strictly speaking old-age assistance, as Alan Leggett, director of research for the Texas Department of Public Welfare, emphasizes, is not a “pension” program but “assistance to the needy.” “It must be determined that they are needy. Our field workers investigate each case on an individual basishow much income they have, what their actual needs are,” he said. Those who meet the standard’s of need get from $5 to $66 a month. All kinds of people get such aid. “I imagine that we have even former professional people who had a streak of bad luck and show a need,” Leggett said. John Winters, director of the Department of Public Welfare, said, “The median person on old-age assistance is ’75 years old and a widow.” Of the people in Texas on old-age assistance, two thirds are women, Winters said. “You have so many women outlive the men. and are left without any means of support. I think it puts a little different complexion on the view that this is just a free-handed pension program.” Old-age assistance \(in Texas last year, 31 percent state money, basic income maintenance program in the South, Southwest, and West,” Winters said, while the industrial East was depending on social security. Only since 1950, with the loosening of restrictions which excluded agricultural and self-employed people from social security, has the OASI program come to play an important part in these regions. “If it hadn’t, we would have another 150,000 people on old-age assistance in Texas today, in my opinion,” he said. Are money payments the only feasible approach to the problem of old people without earning ability? “That’s all that I know,” Winters said. But the question opens up retaining old people on jobs they still can do, he said. WINTERS IS ONE state admin istrator who prefers social security to old-age assistance. Social security is “a contributing plan, and the benefits are fixed you can figure on them ahead of time. In old-age assistance, there is an uncertainty about it, with a third party deciding. In social security they don’t have to ask anybody any questions.” Winters says, “Having a check of their own gives them much more of a feeling of independence. One of the fears the old people have is being dependent on their children. If they can lead their own life, spend $10 to buy a new suit without having to ask son for it, they’re a lot happier.” Winters says that social security is “forced savings, but it’s also non-controversial to a very large extent.” In this country, he said, “we’ve agreed on. the Principle we’re not going to let the old people sufferthey’re not going to go without food.” Under this principle, he says, “the prepaid insuranee idea is much to be preferred over current taxation. Current taxation depends on ups and downs of the economy, while the other goes on steadily all the time.” Winters believes steady old-age payments help stabilize the economyespecially the economies of small rural areas, but also the whole economy to some extent by providing an invariant flow of checks to the aged which almost all go immediately into consumer goods. HOW ABOUT FREE LOADERS? “We maintain,” Winters said, “that there’s not a single person on there who’s not legally eligible we hone it pretty close.” Under Texas law a homestead is not considered, and this can mean a 200acre farm, or a lot in town worth up to $5,000, regardless of improvements. This could lead to absurdities, but in fact, Winters said, a man with 200 valuable acres usually rents them out, and income from land is considered in whether a man gets a pension. “Usually those cases are built out of what could happen instead of what actually is happening,” he said. “Most of those folks are pretty needy peoplejust per se. A 75-year old widow?” R.D. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 3 July 4, 1959 * Mexico has blacklisted the Lubbock area out of the bracero program ‘because when two women from the Mexican consul telephoned a Lubbock beauty shop \(“Jessie Lee’s Hair Design service because they were Mexicans. “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” said Bill Sharpley, co-owner of the shop. So does the Mexican government: about 20 areas are blacklisted for braceros because of discrimination. Lubbock farmers were reported upset at the prospect of the loss of their cheap cotton pickers. * A married couple, both about 40, were fined $40.50 in Denison for petting in a parked car on a side road near Lake Texoma. When the man swore because of the fine, JP Homer Gaddy sent him to jail for contempt. Said the JP: “We are in one of the nation’s outstanding recreational areas, and our roads are used frequently by both unmarried and married couples not bent upon any illegal or indecent pursuits. I will not tolerate their being ‘subjected to the embarassment of discovering parked couples.” A sheriff’s complaint for in decent exposure was filed against the operator of the nudist camp at New Hope. Bills to outlaw nudism failed to pass the legislature. * Four Austin bawdy houses were padlocked. In Dallas, three prostitutes charged with fighting with federal marshals in a courthouse corridor failed to show up at a court hearing and forfeited $7,000 bond. * In Houston, a meeting of of ficials called by Mayor Cut rer heard Cutrer oppose censor ship of pornography because the censors might get “too zealous” and instead somewhat shakily launched a program for a teen age informer corps \(“smut The Way of Life eye out for dirty pictures and tell their parents and school officials. A police captain at the meeting accused Life Magazine of purveying smut; from the discussion it appeared he was alluding to the magazine’s reproductions of Goya nudes. * The Dallas Times-Herald ran a little news story noting that so far this year, there have been 30 murder cases called in Dallas, and only one not-guilty verdict. * Texas ranks second among the states in the number of pilots: 58,517, of whom 25,614 are active. * About 31 valuable guns, in cluding five that belonged to Sam Houston, were ‘stolen from the Sam Houston museum and home at Huntsville. The thieves took along the papers proving the history of the guns. * The Kountze News headlined a news item, “Barefooted Man from Caney Head Gets Bug Poi son.” It seems that Doc Eason of Caney Head attracted attention around the courthouse because of his bare feet. “Doc Eason has been going barefooted quite a while,” reported the Kountze News, “and he does not bother to put on shoes when he goes to Beaumont. You like to look at Doe’s feet. Doc is 64 years old but he gets around like a 15 year old boy. Doc thinks that it would be a good thing if more people went barefooted.” He got the bug poison for his vegetable garden. * John Moses, principal of Spring Branch high school in Houston, accused a father of beating him up. The father said. the principal gave his son a “police record” by indicating to police he might have been involved in the throwing of a bomb in the principal’s front yard. The boy’s mother said the beating-up stemmed from “a constant persecution of our son.” 3 of 4 Aged Texans Receive Pensions
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