I grew up in Third Ward. But I remember, as long as my grandparents were living, we survived comfortably. When my grandparents died, we didn’t have nobody giving us that extra money, so then my mother had twelve kids, and it’s hard to make it. I knOw it’s hard with two, so I know what she had with twelve. Those kids suffered. I know I did; I got cold. There were a lot of times we were cold. We were all bundled up, and that’s how kids get sick and stuff like this a bunch of kids in one bed trying to keep warm, trying to make body heat work. And I’m not going to let my kids go through that. If I have to move in somebody’s house, and they don’t know I’m living there in their apartment keeping my babies warm, that’s what I’ll do. If my kids get hungry, and here this little $156 in food stamps is gone, do you think I’m going to let my daughters suffer, be hungry? No, I’ll walk in some people’s store and get me some meat and some bread and food, and go home and cook. Because I’m not going to let my kids go hungry. And that’s what I mean by crime rates are going to go up because people are not going to let that stuff happen to them this time. They’re not going to let their kids you know, like little kids going in and out of stores getting candy and stuff, to try to suppress their hunger pangs. It’s not going to happen this time. People are not going to go for that. . . . LaNess Jenkins ;,,,x-,::,,,,:,,,,,,,,::,,,,w.::::::::::::::::::::,:::::,:::::::::::%::::::v:::::::::::::::::::::::::i:::::::K::::::::::::m:::::m:::::::::::;:::::::::::::::::::::,: ,;:::::::::::::::.::::::;:::::::::::K;:::::::::::::::::ww:*miv ::::::: . . . and my rent would be $235, and I won’t have the money to pay it I get food ::::%: ,,:.: .:.,:: ;:’:.:-:..z:i stamps, but I only get ten because they’re going by what I make, $10 a month, And I don’t g have a child, but my sister died, and I am taking care of her child. And I’m not going to A: have no way to take care of her, because I’m not going to have no money to do what I’m a trying to do now I used to work at a hospital, I used to work at M.D. Anderson Hospital. I r worked in food service there, working with drinks and stuff. I made $3.58 an hour. But I iti: don’t want to do that kind of work; I want to be better, you know, being in an office somewhere. So I had quit there to get into some kind of school, but I couldn’t get into the ii l:i school, so then I found out I could get on-the-job training, but I didn’t get into this until ::::: .E.:1 December And I’ve been working since then, but now I’m not going to have money ::::.: :::::. ::: :::: % again. . . . Doris Scott, 23, of Houston, in an interview with Observer contributing editor Al ::::::: Watkins. .:::. .,:., ;D::::Eignanuogoll:::::Moms:::::0:::::;:m:;;:;:;:ii;;:;:imag::im:i.:::.::::::::::::::::: mm*:::::::;:::g does, “I’m not against pollution controls, but I believe the states should handle the matter,” than to confess, “I am sure the states can’t or won’t handle it.” Now whether Reagan is leading the rich on a raid of the U.S. treasury, as Congressional Black Caucus Chair Walter Fauntroy contends, or whether he is making a sincere attempt to decentralize public services is not really the problem. The problem is we really have to live through all this. In Dallas, where I live, the city council held a hearing to determine “the perspective of the community on the role of local government in human services.” Dozens of individuals and agencies testified. Using cold statistics and heartbreaking anecdotes, they documented the un-met needs of the handicapped, the elderly, young people trapped in the justice system, working mothers without day care, children without dental care, crumbling urban neighborhoods, bankrupt urban mass transit, people who cannot hear or see, and many another person left out of the vaunted Dallas economic boom. Each testimonial ended with an appeal to the city budget. The council thanked us all for coming. Yet if these precariously funded human services are to receive more than city council thanks, those of us concerned about public support for human needs must do two things. We must attend to the political context, and we must understand the structure and control of service delivery. The reason cities and states are being told to pick up the burden of providing social and human services is as simple as it is malicious. The reason is this: the Reagan administration and its ‘supporters would rather spend the public’s money on the largest military buildup in this country’s history. President Reagan’s so-called “program for economic recovery” plots an increase in defense spending of $181 billion over the next five years, from about $160 billion for fiscal 1981 to more than $340 billion in fiscal 1986. The military buildup planned by these new cold warriors is three times greater than that which took place during the Viet Nam War. \(Figures cited by Lester Thurow, “How to Wreck the Economy,” New York Review of Books, So the MX missile is necessary for “recovery” \(though perhaps launched from C-5 transport planes rather than tion, health care, public transit, public service jobs and food stamps can be sacrificed. A new bomber to replace the B-1, yes; bilingual education, no. This is the essence of Reaganomics, this the fundamental characteristic of our present political context. To understand fully the motives behind the “New Federalism,” we need to understand how the federal government came to be the patron of the poor in the first place. Black and Hispanic people, poor people of all races, the elderly, the handicapped, the young these Americans did not look to the federal government for justice and assistance out of some misguided love of centralized bureaucracy. Not at all. As Richard J. Margolis points out in a recent report on farmworker housing, the disenfranchised have sought aid from Washington because for two generations now social progress at the local level has been blocked, delayed and otherwise undermined by the power of local private elites. \(See Margolis, “The Limits of Localism,” Working Papers, July/ only through the federal courts that neighborhoods were able to win genuine local representation by means of single-member district council elections. This legal victory is also a good example of how relief for the most distressed citizens unrepresented minority voters, in this case ends up benefiting the average citizen. It is not a question then of the social service burden shifting back to local and state authorities. The Congress and the Presidency have been filling a local vacuum. Senior citizens, young citizens, citizens of racial minorities, handicapped citizens, and poor citizens of all races are staring into that vacuum again. This is particularly true in cities like Dallas where the public sector is dwarfed in both power and influence by the elite private sector. Does anyone doubt, for example, that the bankers of the Dallas Clearinghouse or the corporate executives of the Dallas Citizens Council wield more real local power on a day-in-dayout basis than the elected Dallas City Council? Or that real estate interests have more to say about the shape and density of neighborhoods than the City Planning Commission or even the residents of those neighborhoods? There are signs that single-member districts and community-based organizations are changing this traditional power relationship. Even so, it is plain that such changes are in their earliest stages. No one can predict what face of power in Dallas will emerge as the process unfolds. The Reagan Administration has two THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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