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10 Jun 88 A PROPOSAL TO BRING DIGNITY AND SELF ESTEEM AND A GREATLY IMPROVED STANDARD OF LIVING TO OUR NATION'S POOR The attitude of the American people towards the poor is mean and niggardly. They sympathize with the needs of the poor, especially the children, and try to meet these needs, albeit grudgingly. Somehow, most middle class americans feel that the poor have done something wrong and their poverty is deserved punishment for their crime. The minimum of help is supplied by welfare grants and/or food stamps. This is the least assistance that will stave off starvation and provide the minimum shelter. It is obvious that their greatest offense against society is their visibility, the poor should really just stay out of sight and show some appreciation for the charity given to them. They are a constant reminder that "there, but for the grace of God, go I". Thus,the poor live in the poorest environs, often rat and roach infested, with sagging ceilings and staircases. broken windows and pipes, old and worn out appliances, inadequate heat and cooling regardless of weather. Add to this the poor nutrition, poor preventive medical care, and the poor cultural environment. In addition they are usually confined to a ghetto with poor schools and unsafe streets, the ever present youth gangs and the growing drug culture. Being forced to live under these conditions is cruel and unusual punishment for the poor and is undeserved. They wonder just what it is that they have done to deserve such treatment. There is one simple solution to their problem. The one thing that separates the poor from the middle class is MONEY!! So, give enough money to the poor so that they are no longer poor. I would suggest $20,000.00 per family. $10,000.00 to young adults no longer members of a family unit. Give the money annually with no strings attached, except one. The exception should be that the annual stipend will be forfeited if the family or the indiviual gets into trouble with the law. This alone might bring about a large reduction in the prison population. It is reasonable to expect that many recipients will manage these funds unwisely. So be it, they live and learn. The first result of receiving such a large sum at once is the necessity to open a bank account, learn to use checks, get a credit card, open charge accounts etc. This alone will put the ex-welfare family well on the way to middleclassdom. The next action will certainly be the rental of better living quarters, the purchase of some decent clothing for themselves and their children, the purchase of better appliances and food for improved nutrition. The former poor should be required to pay a nominal amount regularly for health insurance, perhaps $10.00 per month per family member or something like that. They should be required to accept the responsibility that goes with relative affluence. Perhaps one of the first things that will occur is the desire to make what they have last as long as possible and perhaps even secure more income through employment or a small business venture. In any case, the improved living conditions, nutrition and appearance will result in increased dignity and self respect, which alone could make the program successful. One third of the defense budget, $100,000,000,000.00 (one hundred billion dollars) would supply 5 million families with the $20,000 stipend. It should probably be disbursed through a negative income tax. If there were some other income available to the family, then the goverment stipend would be lessened by that amount. I might add that, in my opinion, the program can only serve to end poverty and change the face of our nation if the recipients are allowed to accept the assistance without in any way demeaning them. NO ONE SHOULD FEEL THAT THEY ARE ENTITLED TO TELL THESE PEOPLE WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR INCOME. The moralists must keep hands off, whether well intentioned or not, otherwise the recipients of the stipend will not experience the growth in self discipline, self respect, confidence and self esteem that is so much needed and to which they are entitled. I am confident that by the time the next generation is producing families, the program will have paid for itself many times over, in salvaged lives, improved cities and a happier people. If this be bribery, so be it. It serves a noble purpose, the salvation of the poor. Pat Rankin 867 N Lamb #180 Las Vegas, NV 89110 702-452-8684


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