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In the national educational radio network presents special of the week Senator Edmund Muskie what our city should be throbbing centers of commerce and culture. They are loaded with tension and conflict. When they should be laboratories of creativity and cooperation they are filled with this said militancy. Dr. Chester Hartman first things first and the number one task for our nation is to provide all of the citizens with a decent standard of living social justice from the continued existence of our cities demand that Michael Harrington. To guard the people who are the United States of America do not receive one penny of federal relief. Only a minority of the poor get anything from the federal government. Dr. Harvey Cox.
Is meant to be an urban preacher and he finds his film in what is symbolized as the city the New Jerusalem a New Zion the national educational radio network presents challenge 69 the urban crisis the students response. Now here is your host. Henry Morris. Good evening. Every two years a student committee at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem North Carolina sponsors a three day symposium on some facet of American life. Challenge 69 this year's symposium chose for its theme the urban crisis. The students response. The program consisted primarily of lectures and discussions by more than a dozen national and regional experts on Urban Affairs. We hope the program which powers will arouse your interest and deepen your understanding of the problems we must face. If we are to solve the urban crisis. The keynote address of challenge
69 was given by Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine. To him the urban problem centered around the mass exodus from the cities of the white middle and upper classes. With all the resources for improvement in 1966 the average annual alone and that's a good word to you of white Americans. From the city into the suburbs averaged one hundred forty thousand a year in one thousand sixty eight two years right. That figure rose to half a million. And what do they leave behind these new suburbanites. They leave behind a city with a shaky and shrinking tax base. Without the resources to upgrade its school systems to educate its police force. Or provide adequate medical and
social services. And they leave behind. A said he would do an industrial opportunity. Which is the only hope of improvement that an impoverished citizen might have. The solution to the urban crisis will require cooperation among government business in the private sector. He then explained. For its part government. At all three levels. Must act to describe the conditions that breed poverty. Must act to upgrade the quality of ghetto education. Must act to open up opportunities for urban employment. It must act to increase the distribution of food medical and other social services so desperately required.
By inner city residents must be strongly urge the private sector to show some initiative and imagination. Direct assaults. On local ghetto problems can take the shape of a privately funded privately operated Self Help project. Designed to turn vacant blocks into a park. Designed to turn abandoned homes into livable right hold unit. And deserted store into a recreation center. We have a right to ask the private sector. Why aren't you doing these things. And if you're not. Why do you object when somebody else does. Through public institution Clarence Kohlmann southern regional director of the National Urban League echoed musky sentiments. Speaking more directly to the matter of self-help organizations we
think that the government perhaps needs to engage the private sector to do this for them. We think that agencies like for example the American Red Cross the National Urban League might undertake the complete responsibility for not only identifying people who are in me but certifying those people who are in need and assume responsibility for getting the services to them directly. Coleman then explain the program which sought greater student involvement. We have another program we have a large family. We call the Citizens Corps program West students black and white on college campuses and by the doing the regular school year to come to the agency and to work to do some of the kinds of chores that we know the students can fill successfully. We think that this kind of work in the community could you could get credit for it. And we think it would be important if this was the case. We've also worked out some plans with some
students and some of us it is some schools and some of us it is where students are given credit for taking that work in the field doing field work in agencies rather than doing class work. Muskie then stated that students and non students alike must realize the greatest cause of the urban problem is the inner city residents inability to find a job. And again he calls on private industry. And if we continue to move jobs out of the reach of the poor our industry has no choice but to use its leverage to break down the rigid residential patterns of discrimination that are the brand of the suburbs of America. This means creating opportunity for low cost housing. Offering low interest loan. And suburban rent supplement program. And forcing the real estate agent. To
practice open house. Industry also has a responsibility to discourage expansion into communities that continue to practice residential exclusion. I do identify Americans by their color and not by their character. Harvard Professor of divinity Harvey Cox sense this almost moral obligation incumbent upon the power structures of society to provide for the common good in a rather striking argument. He puts this obligation into a theological framework. Have you ever noticed that Biblical Faith sees the fulfillment of an almost holy or corporate metaphor. Whatever you may think about the gates of Jasper in the streets of gold and all of those images in the Book of Revelation the fact is that the
Bible begins with man in the garden and ends with the vision of man in the city. Here are biblical urban corporate images. Man is meant to be an urban creature. He finds his fulfillment in what is symbolized as a city a new Jerusalem a New Zion. If we have always had these corporate metaphors with us what then is our problem. Our solution to our urban crisis by and large has been simply to find our way out of the city. Get enough money to get out. Simply abandon the problem and create our own little half Marrion world somewhere in the suburbs. It may not be completely equipped with warm swimming pools and hot and cold running bunnies but nonetheless. It is just as much our artificial creation as any mansion of Hugh Hefner.
Just as much insulated from the pain and possibilities of the real urban world even though it may be furnished somewhat differently. Our solution to complex corporate problems is a simplistic individualistic one. Me and my wife and our kids. Our house and our lawn escaping from the filth and dirt and crime. And welfare. And screaming sirens which we associate with cities. Partly to blame for this is our American religious tradition. Which has put such an enormous emphasis on the salvation of my individual soul. When the Trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more than the morning breaks eternal right in their right when they save the earth from gather over on the other shore and the roll is called up yonder I'll be there.
Yes I have. To solve the problem then according to Cox. We need to look outward to develop a kind of corporate vision. We need a vision of the polis if you will. The Polish. And by Polish and political I don't mean the rather narrowly limited thing to which the word political has been attached in recent years when the Greeks talk about the US. They meant the entire human community. The place in which man became man and he who did not participate in the party list was somehow really not a man. He was an idiot. As we said something less than the man a non-participant. We need a vision which will bring together somehow individual fulfillment the fulfillment of the person and the fulfillment of the polis. Without separating these two if Cox presented the justification for dealing with society as a whole then it was outspoken urban organizer Saul Alinsky who explained how to do it. With his inimitable bluntness. He
first pointed out some of the difficulties he encounters in trying to organize minority groups. The question was once asked him when restaurants don't know what you're doing. Your organization the poor of America for a while for these decadent generous bankrupt materialistic middle class values of America the poor of the world want. I want to get a piece of these decadent degenerate. I am. This doesn't mean it's I don't approve of a person. You got a spare with the world the suddenness the way it does. What are you going to do with the guy who sang you style of being in this family stopping and saying to you. We want bread bread. You're going to turn it on this is typical of a lot of. Apple Sarka the people around us and I would have
pressed a bomb. The real issue with values you know. Now I know that man does not live by bread alone a are you know and you know what the reaction is going to be on Alinsky cites an example of his organizational procedures and getting greater black representation for employees of the Eastman Kodak Company. This is where the first big battle between Eastman Kodak and I saw it because it's been called back to the position. That when I have made a mistake when I first met Rochester at the blacks in Rochester I had absolutely no representation on any decision making body whatsoever. And the freshness of Kodak replied to me that that was shared demagoguery because they had a negro stay on their staff and they put them on every committee to represent the black community and I am. One of the top business
executives put his head down his hands and turned to me and whispered and said Mr. Oscar you're going to have to be patient with us. I am. But the point of that whole struck on the whole point of that whole struggle was a power structure you know and you know and you know you are not going to write those blacks whom you decide are going to represent the black community the black community was so like their own representative. And I am for Kodak to agree to sit down with the. President a fight which is the name of our park. I am. Alinsky counters those blacks who want individual identity first with an example from the same situation one Frank. Present a fight. Rochester.
When five years ago he would go five and four years ago he got a call back and tried to talk about getting jobs for his people and his assistant press. And that after the organization up our. Mass based organization fight when you just got a situation as you did two years ago in the annual stockholders meeting in Flemington New Jersey of Eastman Kodak when Frank got up and point his finger at the chairman of the board abasement Kodak and said I'm giving you a one hour to make up your mind. Yes or no. And walks out of the room with the press of the world following him to find out what he's going to do. I'm telling you he's bought his identity you know. And that's the only way God but unfortunately there are not enough Saul and skis to organize America's impoverished
minorities. Something else must be done. Author Michael Harrington suggested another plan of action. I would like to suggest to you in broadest possible compass. That right before his tragic death Martin Luther King. Stated basically what has to be done and what we are not doing now. He said we must have in this country now an economic bill of rights. Whereby every citizen is guaranteed as a matter of law. Either a job or little income. Harrington then refuted two accepted ideas which he called conservative myths namely that the poor are lazy and don't want to work or they are chiselers trying to milk welfare for all they can. He pointed out. The overwhelming majority of poor people who are able to work do work. The overwhelming majority.
Their problem is not as the Conservatives think that they are lazy. Their problem is that they work long hard hours and are paid a poverty wage. Because you see half of the poor cannot work. They cannot walk through no fault of their own they come out right but cause they are too young to die are disabled. As a matter of fact one of the most tragic aspects about poverty in America today is how youthful it is. Almost 50 percent of the poor people in the United States as defined by the federal government are under 18 years of age. We might ask here just how does the government define poverty in America. Dr. Herbert Kramer senior consultant and past director of the Office of Economic Opportunity spoke to this question while discussing the crisis of underemployment. But if you are an American and you have 23 cents a day per meal for three meals a day at a dollar
forty cents left over for everything else you're poor. That's $2 a day. If you have two dollars and twenty cents a day as an individual your regular $2 a day of course is a major sin. But as Harrington points out even that is not being supplied in most cases to the people who are in the United States of America do not receive one penny of federal relief. Only a minority of the poor get anything from the federal government. The average amount that a person on welfare or the one third of the Americans lucky enough to be on welfare. The average amount they receive is one half of what they need. And you imagine a society that says to a person here's what you need as a minimum. And here is one half of that. More it. Not only do many of the poor go neglected but
strangely enough the government cannot even find all of the nation's poor. In order to become a government statistic in order to be unemployed as far as the government is concerned. You have to be out of work and looking for work. But the Department of Labor in. November of 1966 did a survey that was a little bit more sophisticated than that. They took the people out of work and looking for work and counted them. Then they took the people who were working but paid poverty wages and counted them. Then they took the people who were part time workers and therefore part time unemployed and counted their part time unemployment. And then they took two interesting groups. They took a group of people who aren't looking for a job because they know they won't get a job. The people who have literally been driven out of the labor market and do not have the dignity of a statistic. They added them. And then finally they added in the most extraordinary
category of. The invisible the poor. Because you see we have discovered in the nineteen hundred and 60s. That the 1960 census. Systematically under-counted poor people and black people in America. That as a matter of fact we have now discovered by mathematical computations that in the urban slums there are 15 to 20 percent more adult poor and black males than the United States census. Says there are. All of our poverty figures there are poor are low. And when the Department of Labor took over all of these other factors and counted them in not into a definition of unemployment but a definition of under employment it discovered that underemployment in the slums of New York City primarily black was at a rate of about 30 percent. That is to say higher than the Great Depression and that under employment in the slums of New Orleans Louisiana was around 50 percent.
Harrington went on to explain a program which would help those who can't work and many of those who do the Council of Economic Advisors this year has come up with a an outline of a guaranteed income program. It would cost 20 billion dollars a year when it's completely funded. That is to say it would cost. Although a little more than half of one year of the war in Vietnam. Twenty billion dollars. But the good thing about the council's guaranteed income. Is that it would not simply apply to poor people. Because it would be a guaranteed income and then if you want to have to work. You wouldn't have a hundred percent of what you made taken away from you. When you got your job and you got your first dollar above the guaranteed income so to speak. You get to keep 90 cents of it. And then at a certain point eighty cents then at a certain point seventy and so forth and so on. And the result of grading it in this way. Is that under the council scheme there would be
income supplements for Americans some stop them. Getting smaller of course but some supplement for people with incomes up to $6000 a year or into next proposed a plan to help those over 65 whose increased benefits from Medicare have been completely up by inflation. He says we must reform the system. To take it out of the area of regressive taxation and make it part of the federal income tax. And secondly to have Social Security with built in escalators. So that Social Security goes up automatically with the cost of living. In other words what can't be destroyed by inflation. And secondly this is an idea that's already in effect in West Germany. To increase Social Security according to the percentage of the gross national product increases. What you're doing there is you're saying that aging people's pensions are not simply going to remain stationary while the economy gets bigger.
But their pensions will grow as the gross national product grows. That for the people who cannot work. But for those who can work the government must be the employer of first resort not last. It must find jobs for the poor again Dr. Herbert Cramer explains one such new and encouraging employment program. One of the most promising solutions I think to the problem of unemployment and under-employment of the poor is a movement called new careers which had its legislative beginnings in 1966 as part of the Economic Opportunity Act. With a program introduced by Congressman Scheuer James Scheuer of New York. In this program and if you haven't heard of it before you'll be hearing a lot more of it as you go along. Poor people are getting jobs and job training largely in the public social welfare human services sector. Like education health
recreation municipal governments of course where great shortages exist. This is where most of the new careerists are getting jobs. First of all they are getting entry level jobs they are coming in at the bottom that's true but the new careerist approach says that even before you come into the entry level job there has got to be a career ladder. Clearly established. So that if you come into a headstart agency as a teacher's aide in which you are going to be putting on children's go washes and opening and closing their zippers at various times of the day and that doesn't demand much skill if you're a mother you can do that. Even if you're a father you can do that that you can't go in there and expect that two years from now you're going to be opening and closing those same zippers on different children or putting on those same garages. You have got to have first of all a training program for the next rung on the ladder. Second of all you've got to have released time from your job so
that you can work for if you desire that credential which is so important to qualify you ultimately as a professional. So the new careerist is a sub professional who can ultimately aspire to become a professional. And also increasingly implicit in the new careers movement is community participation Community Action maximum feasible participation in their own destiny. The poor people themselves Harrington then explained that in this country we measure poverty in terms of money but if we measure it in terms of housing there would be many more poor people because there is just not enough decent housing in this country. Dr Chester Hartman director of Harvard University's urban field service explored the housing problem somewhere about 11 million American households give or take a few million depending
upon how you want to count them. In 1960 were living in homes that were not rated by the Census as with all facilities. And the census ratings are quite limited in themselves. They only measure structural condition and plumbing facilities. They don't even begin to count some of the gross housing inadequacies such as vermin infestation and lack of central heating. In addition there are several million families living in housing that is unacceptable. That is an acceptable condition but doesn't offer the family enough space. In other words these families are overcrowded. Several million more families are living in housing that is perfectly acceptable in terms of the quality and quantity of space they've been able to manage to do this only by spending of income for housing. That requires camping and other necessities of life. The family and particularly the low income family who is paying 35 percent 40 percent and sometimes over 50 percent of its income to secure a decent house and in all probability is eating poorly and poorly clothes and is receiving inadequate medical
care. And these people I said made a probably worse off in terms of us. Health hazards and the general effects of poverty than most families are living and technically substandard housing. And finally we come to that most elusive phrase suitable living environment. What about all of those families again probably numbering in the millions. Who are living in a good dwelling unit of the right size and paying an acceptable portion of their income for rent. But living in a neighborhood which is distinctly hazardous to physical and social and mental health. The truth is that if we were to look honestly and comprehensively at the nation's housing and environmental problems. We probably find that somewhere between one out of every four and one out of every three families in the US living in conditions that cannot be said to meet the National have single. Nearly 40 years ago President Roosevelt cried the fact that one third of the nation was ill housed. And I don't think we've made all that much progress since that time. Hartman then proposed a program of federal subsidies as a partial answer. But he warned that present practices in this regard are often both harmful
and wasteful. One of the real tragedies of traditional public housing is that when a family's income exceeds the maximum stipulated amount it has to move so that apartment they become available to another needy family. At some arbitrary point then it's not necessarily the point when the family wants to move or psychologically or financially ready to move. It has to break whatever social and personal ties exist to their home. And incur the expense of moving and seek another place to live. My answer to this question is is to provide a system of subsidization that allows maximum free choice. Creating what might be called Sovereign housing consumers through the use of subsidies. Instead of providing only one type of housing on a take it or leave it basis. Subsidies should be provided in such a way as to permit families maximum choice as to location and housing type. A widespread system of rent certificates good for a wide range of housing types could provide families with this freedom of choice. Dr. Chester Hartman for the last 30 minutes we have been
examining the urban crisis in America. It is our hope that through study and hard work each of us will be able to share in its solution. Good night. This special challenge 69 program was produced by Henry Morris and WFTDA FM and Winston-Salem North Carolina. The entire series of challenge lectures will be available to any our member stations later this summer. Your announcer is Richard Honeycutt. This is in. We are the national education already O Network.
Special of the week
Issue 24-69
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 24-69,” 1969-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
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