Second Annual Convention, LWV of Hawaii|
Are League Husbands Misrepresented? (George Simson)
Come to Convention!! (Marguerite Simson)
Human Resources (Lila Grossman)
"America is winning the war on poverty." said Sargent Shriver in a Time Magazine report last month. From Progress or Poverty Leon Keyserling wrote, "We in the United States in the 1960's have reached a new stage in mankind's concern about poverty over the centuries. Due to our unparalleled productive capabilities and the need to use them more fully, the abolition of poverty has passed from a "dream" or "possibility" or mere "practicality" to a veritable necessity. In this country, for the first time in human history anywhere, massive poverty has now become intolerable because it is no longer unavoidable."
Two years ago when the League membership selected Human Resources as the national program to be studied by all local Leagues the Economic Opportunity Act was still in its formative state and the term "War on Poverty" was yet to be spoken.
In January and February, League members met throughout the nation to evaluate federal policies and programs as a means to provide equality in education and employment for all citizens. The purpose of a League study is not to have all members pass on the effectiveness of each piece of legislation relating to the subject. Rather it is to establish criteria by which League legislative observers and board members may measure specific bills and laws. Mrs. George Walker, the New Jersey State Human Resources Chairman, expressed it so well when she wrote, "In the Development of Human Resources we are aiming at criteria which will apply equally to all legislation dealing with the equality of opportunity in education and employment. During the past study we had the opportunity to observe how laws, such as the Economic Opportunity Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, are working out in practice. But we must always try to see local activities in the context of federal legislation. The time was short in which to consider this vast subject yet the material available for study was voluminous. Every newspaper and magazine has had some comment on the federal programs. Not one of us should say, 'But I don't know enough.'"
During the past two years we have been engaged in three projects concerning our Human Resources study: studying the item, recommending areas for broader or deeper study, and reaching a consensus on what we have already learned. Consensus in the League means agreement among a substantial number of members reached after sustained study and group discussion in which the expression of all points of view has been encouraged. It is not just a simple majority nor necessarily unanimity.
The Hawaii County and Honolulu Leagues sent similar consensus reports to the National Office last month. No attempt has been made here to put together a "state wide" consensus, or to summarize either consensus report. Instead, interesting individual suggestions which add sauce to the meaty areas of agreement have been selected from each statement to share with the state-wide membership.
In evaluating criteria to be applied to federal programs these additional ideas were suggested: the term "qualified personnel" should be defined as not only professional ability and training but also knowledge of the local situation. Programs should be administered at all levels by "qualified personnel." The programs should be nondiscriminatory and selective. Greater effort should be made to coordinate different programs to avoid duplication, competition of manpower and even beneficiaries of programs. Along with continuing evaluation of the programs a method should be drawn up by which each program would be discontinued when it either solves the problems at hand or when found not to be an effective means for solving said problems. Greater efforts should be made by local and state governments to help themselves.
Sample suggestions for handling administrative problems of depressed areas which cut across state lines included the following: Representatives from each affected state should make up a board of Administrators. These representatives should include persons who would be affected by the program. They should exclude the governors of the states and should be people with as little political aspiration as possible. They should be trained in the specific field which is basic to the major problem of the area.
Many forms of federal assistance to communities in the area of integration were suggested by each League, most requiring federal funds as well as advice: Help to create such excellent public schools that everyone will want their children to attend regardless of racial factors. Encourage industry to employ and train the disadvantaged with financial considerations. Whenever possible use local people to help other local people. Each family eligible for federal programs should be contacted personally in order that they understand fully the opportunities available to them. More should be done in the area of housing.
In the enforcement of non-discrimination, the role of the federal government is mainly one of example. These are sample suggestions from the Leagues: Federal funds should be withheld and contracts withdrawn where discrimination is discovered. The government should more actively search out discrimination. Labor unions could be forced to be nondiscriminatory. Employers could be fined for non-compliance.
These were some suggestions for improving federal programs and our effectiveness in judging them: Programs which create unnatural situations may only create new problems. Housing and birth control study could add on other dimension to present studies of equal opportunity. Quality education is stressed as vitally important. Suggestions for enlarging coverage of present programs included raising the income level of those eligible to participate, with a sliding scale of partial payments for services received.
These points show some of the very lively thinking by Hawaii's League members which has gone into formulating consensus in the local Leagues. I trust we have grown an inch due to this very human study item.
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