More national stupidity While our national policy makers bolster exorbitant energy prices, extortionate interest, and aggressive pollution, one aspect of our muddled welfare system sustains the poor, who bear the heaviest burden of stagflation. It is the food stamp program. Now the President proposes to economize at the expense of those who benefit from this program by sharply increasing the amount of cash they must put up to buy the stamps. When a disabled client on a small fixed income is offered $23 in stamps for $21.50, the saving hardly covers the bus trips he must finance to stay in the program. This program has been flexible enough to give practical help to the working poor, the unemployed, the retired, and the helpless. It has been well enough focused to keep hungry people eating. These strengths have expanded its use so that expenditure for it is now conspicuous in the budget. Washington scrutiny of categorical aid programs works this way: As soon as a program provides professional readers of computer printouts with evidence of success, it is said to be too expensive and is discontinued or sharply curtailed. The food stamp program will follow other valuable innovations into oblivion unless the President revises his plan to curtail the service, beginning in January. If the thought of hungry people does not disturb our policy makers, perhaps the need for public order will. This generation of Americans are too sophisticated to starve quietly. While the decision makers are finding answers, the yokels intend to eat. Margaret Carter, 2816 Sixth Ave., Ft. Worth, Tex. 76110. A tiny step As Bob Atwood pointed out in his letter direction of limiting the wholesale dissemination of computerized criminal justice information. With respect to the content of that information, Congress has also taken a tiny step that may be beneficial to the citizen who is arrested but not tried or, if tried, is acquitted. 24 The Texas Observer individual who believes that criminal history information concerning him contained in an automated system is inaccurate, imcomplete, or maintained in violation of this chapter, shall, upon satisfactory verification of his identity, be entitled to review such information and to obtain a copy of it for the purpose of challenge or, correction.” An early inquiry to the Criminal Justice Council brought a response from the Criminal Justice Division, Office of the Governor of Texas, to the effect that the Texas Department of Public Safety was scheduled to implement its LEAA funded criminal history system earlier this year and that although federal guidelines had not then been promulgated “procedures already exist to handle such requests” should be directed to DPS. Accordingly, while as yet expungement is not legally required, a citizen may review such information contained in the automated system maintained by DPS and obtain a copy of it for purpose of challenge or correction. Mass utilization of the available procedure may well bring DPS and contributing law enforcement agencies to the realization that obtaining accurate information in the first place is more feasible. Sam Houston Clinton, 600 West 7th, Austin, Tex. 78701. Nuts and Butz We as Texas consumers are upset over the outrageously high prices we are forced to pay for most agricultural products today at the supermarkets to feed our families. We are aware that it is not the farmers, ranchers, or cattlemen who are “ripping us off,” when we find that some of our cattlemen friends are having to sell off their beef at auction for prices as low as 12i a pound while we are asked to pay as high as 99i to $1.49 per pound for hamburger and on up to $3.19 a pound for steaks and chops. At 12i a pound, the producer cattleman is getting 21 percent of the retail price we pay at the stores, based upon a 1,000 pound steer making only 435 pounds of supermarket beef, according to USDA figures. The November, 1974 USDA average price for beef, all cuts, was $1.34 per lb., so that 435 pounds cost the consumer $582.90; of which the producer got $120 and the various middlemen received the remaining $462.90, or 79 percent of the retail cost! We can readily see that it is the “middlemen” between the producers and the consumers who are literally exacting their “pound of flesh” from both groups, buying low and selling high with a huge profit mark-up. What is needed, we believe, is citizens’ action to stir our government officials to correct this deplorable situation by adopting proper policies affecting middleman profits, feed costs, incentives to produce, imports and exports, transportation and retail and wholesale marketing procedures. It is time for a change and the place to start is in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There needs to be a change made not only in the present secretary, Earl Butz, but also in the policies of his department that so vitally affect the livelihoods of both producer and consumer. Butz is a good man but in the wrong job, a la the Peter principle. Would that he had spent his years as dean of the Purdue Agriculture School doing research on the nutritional uses of the peanut, as did that great black scientist, Dr. George Washington Carver, rather than teaching young men to go into management and agricultural economics and statistics; the nation might be in better shape today. We have initiated a “NUTS TO BUTZ” campaign, utilizing bumper strips and letters to government officials to call the attention of our political leaders to sentiment as it exists here at the grass roots level. If anyone would like to join in this effort, we would be happy to hear from them. We can still effect change in this free society of ours, if enough of us express our opinions publicly! Yours for fairness and equity for all three groups: producers, consumers, and middlemen, Bob & Rae Sindermann, 6622 Rowan Lane, Houston, Tex. 77036. HELP! A limited number of press proof copies of the Observer’s 20th anniversary issue are still available. There were originally 200 of the numbered copies, which are distinguished by a -scratch in the plate used ‘for the Observer’s first color cover. The scratch is between the b and the s in Observer. You can get one of these collector’s items, signed by all the editors, by donating $5 to THE TEXAS OBSERVER LEGAL DEFENSE FUND. As you may know, the Observer has been sued for libel by Lester Roloff, a fundamentalist evangelist from Corpus Christi. The Observer is one of five publications being sued by Roloff. The cost of defending a libel suit is very, very high. We hope you can help us. Ed. Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 West 7, Austin, Texas 78701.
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