Co-Author Shaefer Forms U/Mich Poverty Solutions Project

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Co-Author Shaefer Forms U/Mich Poverty Solutions Project

Post by AaronStander »

---------------------------- Original Message -----------------------------
Subject: Jack Lessenberry Review of “$2.00 a Day”
From: John Karls
Date: Tue, January 16, 2019 2:38 am MST
To: Aaron Stander
Cc: Jane Zehnder

Dear Aaron,

Thank you very much for your e-mail which follows below.

Though you really made me work to ascertain who Jack Lessenberry is -- Chair of the Wayne State U Journalism Dept; conducts daily interviews and also authors daily essays for Michigan Radio and NPR. BTW, you didn’t include a source for his essay which comprises 100% of your e-mail, so I assume it is probably a transcript of one of his “daily essays” for NPR.

Do you know Jack Lessenberry???

[My recollection is that you spent your career as an English Professor at Wayne State U -- though in 2000 you retired to Interlochen MI from which you launched your second career authoring, inter alia, 11 successful “whodunnits” and hosting “Michigan Writers on the Air” for Interlochen Public Radio, the latter of which might also be a connection with Lessenberry.]

Lessenberry’s First Paragraph Claim About President Lyndon Johnson’s Announcing His “Great Society Program” at the University of Michigan

That brought back memories!!!

Yes, politicians used to like to make important policy announcements at the University of Michigan.

Because U/Mich did NOT sound as uppity as using an Ivy League school as their venue.

And because U/Mich through the 1960’s was by far and away the nation’s best public university because it was the university of the auto industry which had been the “arsenal of democracy” during WW-II.

Indeed, the auto industry not only manufactured all of America’s military vehicles (including tanks), but also many (if not most) of its heavy bombers which took off for the war zones from Willow Run Airport at the end of Ford Motor’s Heavy Bomber Factory.

Most people forget that until the U.S. Government began exporting automobile-manufacturing jobs in the 1970’s, Detroit was the wealthiest city in America.

And U/Mich was the auto industry’s university, with all of the large car manufacturers and their suppliers having long-since located their R&D Departments in Ann Arbor in order to avoid the inconvenience of commuting to M.I.T.

But back to politicians going to Ann Arbor.

Although Lessenberry doesn’t give the date of President Johnson’s “Great Society” speech, it was delivered at my 1964 commencement from undergrad in “The Big House” (still the largest college-owned football stadium in the nation).

President John Kennedy’s “Peace Corps” proposal???

Delivered on the steps of the U/Mich Student Union during my freshman year 10/14/1960 in the middle of his Presidential Campaign. The Peace Corps website ( records that there were 10,000 students waiting patiently at 2:00 am to hear his speech. Yours Truly was there as well.

Enough already!!!

Lessenberry’s Claim That President Richard Nixon “dismantled the Office of Economic Opportunity, and otherwise weakened the REMNANTS of the war on poverty” (emphasis added)

Lessenberry’s fatuous claim is why American Journalism suffers from the American public’s perception that it is merely an inventor/propagator of Fake News!!!

Medicare was enacted on 7/30/1965 as a cornerstone of President Johnson’s Great Society Program “to provide health insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history”!!!

And Medicaid was also enacted on 7/30/1965 as a cornerstone of President Johnson’s Great Society Program to provide matching funds to the states to enable them to provide medical care to their residents living below the poverty line!!!

I’d be flabbergasted if the American public believes for a moment that either Medicare or Medicaid are “weakened…REMNANTS” of President Johnson’s Great Society Program!!!

And, inter alia, the Food Stamp Program was established by the Food Stamp Act of 1964, which was signed into law 8/31/1964 -- little more than 3 months after President Johnson’s Great Society Speech of 5/22/1964.

Why do so-called “journalists” think they can get away with creating “fake history”???

Lessenberry’s Report on the “Poverty Solutions” Program of Our Author and U/Mich

Lessenberry reports that in the wake of the publication of “$2.00 a Day,” U/Mich provided our co-author, Prof. H. Luke Shaefer, with the resources “to find solutions to the problems of the poor in America.”

Lessenberry’s report on the activities-to-date of the Poverty Solutions Program are truly heart-breaking because although each of the projects mentioned sounds good, none of them (even taken together) would have the scope required to “mainstream America’s permanent 30% under-caste”!!!

“Mainstreaming America’s permanent 30% under-caste” would have been accomplished if President Barack Obama or any of 20 other U.S./California Governmental Officials, or any of America’s 43 news media super-stars had “lifted a single finger” to permit $84 Billion of PRIVATE funds to provide 10 MILLION inner-city children with tutoring/mentoring as they progressed from third grade through high school graduation with a guarantee of college tuition.

[Details are available in the third and fourth sections of entitled “Inner-City Holocaust and America’s Apartheid ‘Justice’ System (In Honor of Jonathan Kozol and In Memory of John Howard Griffin).”]

That opportunity has been lost forever.

As explained in a posting entitled “Why Condemning 10 MILLION Inner-City Children Is Irreparable” which is currently the first of 5 postings in the “Participant Comments” Section for our 9/6/2017 meeting which focused on Heather MacDonald’s “The War On Cops: How the New Attack on Law & Order Makes Everyone Less Safe.”

In a nutshell, it would be impossible to provide the 10 MILLION tutors and 10 MILLION mentors without involving religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church’s 77.4 MILLION members in the U.S., comprising 22% of the population.

And the U.S. Government, which is the only other likely source for $84 BILLION, is barred by the U.S. Constitution’s “no establishment of religion” clause from collaborating with religious organizations.

Imploring Jane Zehnder To Join With You In Skyping For Our Feb 7 Meeting

I have copied Jane on this e-mail in the hope that she can get you to join with her in Skyping with us for our Feb 7 meeting.

After all, a quick search of for “Aaron” discloses that you have made numerous comments over the years as early as 2009.

And your e-mail of yesterday shows an interest in the focus of our Feb 7 meeting.

Imploring Jane Zehnder???

I know from Jane’s recruiting you to attend our 50th High School Reunion in 2010 that she has a tremendous influence over you and Mary K.

And although Jane has never inkled to me that she knows anything about inner-city poverty, you mentioned during our 50th Reunion that Jane had spent her career working in the field of educating economically-disadvantaged children --

Since 1994 as Project Director of “Kids Count in Michigan” at the Michigan League for Public Policy (supported primarily by the Annie E. Casey Foundation); also currently serving as Co-Chair of the Child Care Task Force of the Michigan Coalition for Children and Families; prior to 1994 managing the Survey Research Facility at the Project for Urban and Regional Affairs at U/Mich-Flint.

Which is why I have always thought it tragic that Jane, like you, has never participated in any of our meetings despite receiving our weekly e-mails for more than a decade.

BTW, you might not be aware that Jane and I both faithfully attended Ames Methodist Church through high-school graduation. So I would be curious to know whether Jane’s lifetime concern for the poor, like mine, was/is motivated by religion.

Meeting our RSVP’s for Feb 7 --

(1) Attila (Relenyi) -- escaped Hungary following the unsuccessful 1956 revolution with his family of origin; became a PhD Chemist in the U.S. and went to work for Dow Chemical; thereafter formed his own worldwide company (Amsa Inc.) to exploit all of the inventions that he knew he would continue to make; still based in Midland MI except during the winter when he skis Utah.

(2) George (Kunath) -- one of my former NYC partners with whom I have now had weekly multi-hour gabfests for more than 30 years on sports/religion/politics; George was our worldwide coordinating tax partner on Mobil Oil and handled several other clients including prominent LBO Funds; when Mobil moved its worldwide headquarters from NYC to Fairfax VA in 1987, George stayed in NYC because his wife (Kathy Shannon) was AIG’s Corporate Secretary (No. 2 in the AIG Legal Dept), so George became the Senior International Tax Counsel for McKinsey & Company. [George has always participated in every meeting for many years via Skype.]

(3) Janice (Shawl) -- wife of Attila; taught in the public schools of Flint MI until she met Attila; thereafter taught at Midland’s Dow High School until she joined Attila’s Amsa Inc. to help him run it.

(4) Jay (Hansen) -- biologist who has spent his career as a “Medical Writer” for various pharmaceutical companies (currently in his 70’s but still working from home as the “Principal Medical Writer” for Allergan, the Irish-based pharmaceutical that recently attempted to buy Pfizer); like Attila and Janice, Jay is an avid skier; he was also a world-class ocean-going sailor for many decades.

(5) Kathryn (Kair) -- a practicing PhD Psychologist; I don’t know much about her, such as whether she is (like most of our members) in Utah because she is an avid skier.

(6) Marcia (Hansen) -- wife of Jay; I don’t know much about Marcia except that she has an MBA, she had a successful career in business (if memory serves, she and Jay met while both were working for Upjohn in Kalamazoo and sailing Lake Michigan), and (like Jay) is an avid skier and, for many decades, was a world-class ocean-going sailor.

(7) Yours Truly -- about whom you undoubtedly know more than you would care to!!!

So, both you (Jane) and you (Aaron), please let me know what you think about Skyping with us on Feb 7.

Your friend,

John K.

---------------------------- Original Message -----------------------------
Subject: FYI
From: Aaron Stander
Date: Mon, January 14, 2019 10:04 am EST
To: John Karls

U of M continues fighting for poverty solution

ANN ARBOR — More than half a century ago, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, then in office barely six months, came to the University of Michigan to proclaim his vision for a “Great Society.”

The key to that, as he saw it, was a major “War on Poverty” that would dramatically improve the lives of America’s poor.

But the early excitement generated by the program soon waned, and enthusiasm and money available declined as the nation turned its energies — and its funding — to the war in Vietnam.

Four years later, Richard Nixon was elected president, dismantled the Office of Economic Opportunity, and otherwise weakened the remnants of the war on poverty.

Today, conventional wisdom says the “war” was a failure — though the numbers show a very different story.

What is clear, however, is that political will to help the poorest Americans pretty much ended with the 1960s.

Yet the poor are still very much with us. And a little more than a year ago, the U of M launched a new, much more modest attempt to find solutions to the problems of the poor in America.

H. Luke Shaefer, a 39-year-old associate professor of social work and public policy and the co-author of an acclaimed book on the plight of the poorest of the poor, was appointed to lead the effort.

They call it Poverty Solutions. “Our mission statement is to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty,” primarily in Michigan, but also in the nation and the world, Shaefer said.

LBJ got Congress to pour billions into his War on Poverty. So far the university has thrown in a few million dollars and made the resources of a vast array of its experts available.

They’ve tried to learn from “big government” mistakes in the past. “We think that has to be done working with policy makers and communities. We’re interested in anybody who wants to test innovative ways of doing things. Our primary focus is on economic mobility — and for now, that is focused on the city of Detroit.”

Shaefer got national attention a few years ago for a book he co-authored with Kathryn Edin: “$2.00 A Day — Living on Almost Nothing in America,” a book that focused on extremely poor people who were neither drug addicts nor criminals, but who had fallen through the cracks of the system and were just scraping by.

“When I talked to people for that book and asked them what they wanted was jobs,” not handouts, to help them reach their full potential, Shaefer said. Beyond any doubt, he added, the biggest cause of human misery is poverty, and the biggest cure for poverty is good-paying jobs, and giving people the potential to reach them.

Currently, the federal government defines poverty as an annual income of $24,600 or less for a family of four. It quickly became apparent that there could be no better laboratory for trying to fight it than the city of Detroit, where the poverty rate is, at about 40 percent, nearly three times the statewide and national average.

Child poverty in the city is even higher — 60 percent. What the city did have going for it was an energetic mayor — Mike Duggan — who was willing to try new things.

“We made the decision we are going to partner with the city of Detroit. We are going to try some things that won’t work; we’ll try some things that will work, and that will help build knowledge that will spread across the city and nation, frankly,” Shaefer said.

Right now, they have a variety of small neighborhood and city-wide projects going on, from opinion surveys to trying to employ community health workers in one blighted neighborhood on Detroit’s west side to a city-wide effort to reduce property taxes for the poorest residents to help them stay in their homes.

Poverty Solutions are also developing data to show the effects of a minimum wage increase on the poor and the economy. “My reading of the evidence is that if you raise the minimum wage to $10 or $11 it’s all good,” but beyond that the outcome is debatable, he said.

Beyond that, he and Poverty Solutions are looking for other targets of opportunity when it comes to limiting poverty.

In reality, despite the conventional wisdom, much of the old 1960s war on poverty was actually a success. Nationally, poverty fell from 17 percent to 11 percent from 1958 to 1973.

Some programs, like Operation Head Start, still exist. But others were poorly thought out or not adequately funded or expertly managed, and ended up withering away.

What’s needed, the Poverty Solutions team believes are new sustainable community approaches. One intriguing idea moving through the legislature: Permitting the creation of “dental therapists,” who are not fully-fledged dentists, but who could do simple fillings, say, for people who otherwise can’t afford to see a dentist at all.


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