Interviewee: Leveda Brown
Interviewer: Vernon Kisling
Date: March 22, 1993
K: This is Vernon Kisling interviewing Leveda Brown, county commissioner for
Alachua County. This interview is taking place in Commissioner Brown's office
at the County Administration Building in Gainesville, Florida, on March 22, 1993.
Could you give us your full name?
B: Leveda Brown. That is it [laughter].
K: That is it; the whole thing. How long have you been in Gainesville?
B: Thirty years.
K: How long have you been on the commission? When did you start?
B: This is my eleventh year. I was first elected in November 1982.
K: OK. When you first went on the commission were you aware of any situation in
which they were involved with the homeless at the time you started?
B: I had quite a bit of involvement with the commission prior to being elected. In
fact, my interest in being on the commission is because I had worked with them
off and on through the years. My background is in social work, and I resigned as
assistant director of HRS [Health and Rehabilitative Services] District 3 in 1975,
and for the entire fifteen years or so that I worked for HRS here in Gainesville we
had a close relationship with the Alachua County Commission. They funded
many of our programs on the local level. At that time there were not state funds
for children in foster care in some areas or for medical care for children in foster
care or for a number of things. So yes, I was pretty cognizant of the fact that this
commission had a reputation for being concerned about social issues.
Now, in terms of the homeless issue in particular, I think we have to look at the
fact that we are talking about a number of different dimensions. The dimension
that I was most familiar with had to do with homeless children. This was not
necessarily children who did not have homes, but children who for some reason
either had been neglected to such an extent that they could not remain in their
homes or whose parents did not want them anymore, and that does happen, or
who were orphaned or for some behavior problem or reason had to be removed
from the home for their own protection. So my dimension of looking at homeless
with HRS was a particular one, related primarily to that of children.
Now, prior to my being elected I was also involved with a project with the mental
health services here where I was charged with the responsibility of setting up a
program for the reentry of people who had been in state institutions for the
mentally ill back into their community, the so-called deinstitutionalization
program. Of course, what we dealt with there were a number of adults of both
genders who had been out of their home communities and out of their homes,
many of them for many years. Because of difficulties that they had they had a
great deal of difficulty reintegrating into a family situation, sometimes for no other
reason [than] that they had been gone so long. As you know, or perhaps you
may not know, the Florida situation, like that of most states, [was that] in earlier
years it was very, very easy to get someone into a mental institution.
Unfortunately, there have been people put in mental institutions for twenty-five or
thirty years who never have been mentally ill. So that whole deinstitutionalization
program was aimed at weeding out of that very expensive, very unique setting
those people who could function in a less-restrictive setting. So I had that
experience in terms of reintegrating what were essentially homeless [people],
and also the fact that some will never be reintegrated into their families and will
always need alternate living situations. So I have seen it from a number of
Another different kind of institution was the institutions for the retarded. We have
one of the larger ones in the state here. Its name is Tacachale. You are familiar
with that. It used to be Sunland.
K: I never have figured out how to pronounce that. [laughter]
B: Well, it is an Indian name, and I happened to be there the day they named it, so I
understand it a little better. But this institution was started out as the Florida
Farm Colony for the Retarded and Epileptic, I think was the full name, and over
the years that institution also, like most state institutions, was the recipient of a
lot of people who really did not need to be in an institution for the retarded.
When I was still with HRS one of the tasks that I had was to read records from
Tacachale and see if there were children there that we could reintegrate into
foster homes or back in their own homes, which was a real challenge because,
again, those children are most likely not to be retarded. We do not put children
in institutions anymore because they are epileptic, because that is just not that
kind of a problem. It is a very difficult situation, because many times those
children are rejected.
In fact, the one that comes to mind mostly is the child who was adopted with her
two siblings who nobody ever knew at any point to have an epileptic convulsion
but was placed in what was then Sunland because her adoptive family simply
rejected her totally. They could not face that rejection, so they had to have the
facade that it was not them but was the child. I was supervisor of the foster care
program here when we took her out of Sunland when she was about twelve or
thirteen years old, and I had to get the permission of the Florida Cabinet in order
to get that child out of Sunland. That gives you some idea about how strictly
those institutions were required to keep people once they got them. I am sure
those are not the circumstances of the homeless that you are really targeting, but
I think we have to look at all of those dimensions of homelessness before we can
address the guy that is down there on the street corner.
K: Probably a lot of those people are in categories that might be considered
homeless, but that is not what they were called at the time.
B: Well, they started off not being homeless, as do most people, but they ended up
in situations frequently beyond their control that resulted in their having a great
deal of difficulty having a home. For instance, someone who has been in a
mental institution for twenty-five years is not--I am not going to try to stereotype,
because there are always possibilities--generally self-supporting. A person who
has been placed at an institution for the retarded and stays there for ten or
fifteen years is not at all likely to be able to be self-supporting. We have taken
away those skills by institutionalization.
Another dimension that I think we have to look at is that, by the same token,
people who are incarcerated for lengthy periods of time in addition to becoming
totally dependent on somebody else for food, shelter, and clothing (they are just
there) have the added problem of a "record" so that when they get out finding
work is very difficult, keeping jobs is very difficult, and the recidivism rate just
skyrockets as we keep rotating them through the prison system. So there are a
number of facilities that are aimed at meeting certain needs of people which
through a variety of reasons have generated some of our homelessness, in my
K: So you were involved for quite a while with these kinds of people at the federal
B: No, the state level.
K: Oh, this was state HRS.
B: Yes. The federal is HHS [Health and Human Services], but that is a minor
difference. We already talked before we started about my interest in history. I
think what many people who talk about homelessness do not take into
consideration is that homelessness is not new in this country or any country. It is
just bigger, and I think it is probably different. As you may have known (I will not
get the statistics right, but if we looked we could find them), during the late 1920s
and during the Great Depression, which was not just in the United States but
was worldwide--most people tend to forget that it was not just here--there were
up to 50 or 60 percent of the young males who were "riding the rails" at that time,
for a number of reasons: (1) looking for work, which was nonexistent, and (2),
(and this one as a social worker really bothers me) many of them left home so
there would be enough food for the rest. Some excellent articles have been
written. Eric Severeid [Journalist, CBS]--do you remember that name?--has
written an article on his leaving home at sixteen and what he put up with to try to
stay away from home so there would be more food for the younger ones who
could not leave.
And then all of us grew up with the hobo, and it was sort of unique. They tended
to be harmless. They would come to the back door and get food, and they rode
the rails. What has been pointed out, and it is very clear, is we no longer ride the
rails, but we follow the same transportation arteries--l-75, 1-95--and you find a
collection of hitchhikers or people who sort of are associated with transients.
Additionally, in this community it has been publicized, but we cannot convince
the state legislature of this. I am convinced that we get more than our share of
people who are released from the state prison system because, as you may
know, this area of Florida is the penal colony for the state of Florida, and most of
the major prisons for the entire state are within forty miles of Gainesville, but the
majority of the prisoners for those institutions do not come from this area. You
say, "Well, what should we do?" As a social worker I feel that a person who is
released from prison should be taken home. In the first place, if he ever has a
chance to make it, it is back where he has relationships. We just almost consign
them to recidivism when we put them out the front door with a certain amount of
money. They cannot make it on that money, and it accounts for a lot of camping
under intersection overpasses along 1-75. So it is a very complex problem.
Probably the most disturbing to most of us is that increasingly we are seeing
women and children. That has to do, I think, a lot with the recession. We have
never really called it what it was. It was a depression, and it will take us a while
to come out of it. But we also have not realized that while we give a lot of lip
service and a lot of criticism to our welfare system, we do not really provide
supports for families to stay together. When families fall apart is when you find
women and small children at the mercy of the world out in the streets. You also
find men, but, of course, children are so much more vulnerable. St. Francis
House has an excellent record of how they prioritize their rooms. They
increasingly are needing to provide for small children.
K: Do you think the kind of people that are homeless now and the kind that were
out on the rails and roads earlier in history are different, different in the way that
they require government assistance now, whereas earlier in history they seemed
to be self-supporting somehow?
B: Well, I think there is a reality. First of all, I am always reluctant to refer to "kinds
of people." I know you did not mean it that way. I am not sure that I know all
those answers. When we say that earlier they were self-sufficient, whereas now
they are on welfare, the truth of the matter is there was no welfare prior to 1935.
Most people do not realize that the Social Security Act was passed in 1935 in
this country. Then the federal government, in its wisdom, went home and did not
fund it for two more years, because they went back two years later and provided
the allocation. So essentially there was no welfare program in the United States
until 1937. Most of that riding the rails was in the late 1920s. There were no
alternatives. That was before your time.
B: But that is a section of history that is just fascinating.
K: Of course, I guess a lot of those people were men. I do not know if there were
as many women and children like there are now.
B: Absolutely. They were almost entirely men, younger men.
K: So it is affecting different groups of people now. When you came to the county
commission, had the commission tackled this issue at that time?
B: No, we had not, and we still have not. It has been confined largely to the City of
Gainesville. St. Francis House is here, the Salvation Army is here, the other
agencies that provide services [are primarily city agencies]. Now, the county
contributes to the support of many of these agencies. We provide, for instance,
close to $1 million a year to the mental health services that provide services to a
number of these people who are homeless. We provide matching funds to many
of the agencies. But in terms of actually operating facilities, we do not. And of
course, St. Francis House is a private, nonprofit corporation; it is not a publicly-
funded organization except indirectly. We provide funding for the Food Bank
which provides a lot of their food indirectly.
K: So the homeless issue is not necessarily a problem for some of the other smaller
cities within the county? It is primarily [centered in] Gainesville?
B: It has not surfaced as a significant problem in the small communities. But if you
are homeless and need something, you would go to a community where there
are services. That is not to say that no homeless person ever appears on the
street in High Springs. That is not true. Churches all over provide services, like
they do here. But I would say probably the greatest congregation of homeless
are toward a city center where social services are thought to be provided or are
actually provided. That just makes a whole lot more sense. They cannot stay
when there is no way to get help.
K: So most of these problems have been faced by the city commission rather than
by the county commission.
B: Now, the city does not fund social agencies to the extent that we do, but in terms
of St. Francis House, per se, those arguments have taken place at the city
commission because it is inside the city limits, and the zoning issue has not
come to us. In terms of funding, the county does most of the social services
funding that the state and federal levels do not do. Cities normally do not
K: The city is more involved with it not from a funding viewpoint but from the fact
that this is where they congregate, in the city. Places like Salvation Army and St.
Francis House just happen to be there, and whatever perceived problems they
present gets in front of the city commission.
B: Well, as far as the Salvation Army, I do not know that I have heard that
discussed as a problem by the city commission. That is a traditional organization
that has been in operation for a hundred years at least. I have not heard any
discussions really of that. St. Francis House was a sort of a grass-roots effort in
the beginning, as I understand it, of the Catholic Student Center, which provided
a soup kitchen. Always, if you are interested in providing food to hungry people,
you do it where they are, because they do not have transportation. That is how it
gets into a [population] center rather than out in Hawthorne, High Springs, or out
in the middle of the county.
K: Basically, at this point in time it is still a matter for the private organizations.
B: Private organizations for the most part support that effort. As I say, the county
commission provides funding for the Food Bank, and some of the other agencies
provide the services there. But [the county commission does] not [provide funds]
as a direct grant to St. Francis House.
K: You do that as what would be a policy of supporting those kinds of organizations.
Do you do it for others throughout the community in different areas?
B: We have a committee that helps us prioritize. We allocate a certain amount of
money for these kinds of services, as much as we can afford--less than
$500,000 usually for all of them. We have had a committee that has helped look
at the background of the services provided and helped us prioritize. Then what
we do is fund as far as the money goes, starting with priority number one. Of
course, the priorities usually are very basic--food, clothing, and shelter get a
higher priority than the arts or cultural [interests] or things of that nature. Medical
care gets a higher priority.
K: So I take it that this will be the kind of policy that will be continued in the future.
You do not see any particular change approaching?
B: This is the policy that has been followed for a number of years. It we were to get
a proposal, or if some group came forward with something, we certainly would
look at it. There is something very interesting that I will be watching that is going
on in Orange County now. I do not know if you are aware of it. Orange County,
of course, is quite different from Alachua County. First of all, they are about fifty
times wealthier. But they are also a tourist mecca. A lot of private concerns and
tourist attractions like Disney World were very interested in looking good--"the
tourist needs to see us looking good"--just as some of the concerns of the city
commission--"all of these people are not always pretty, and they do not smell
good and they embarrass us." So Orange County has launched into a
comprehensive homeless center where they provide an array of services from
counseling to job location to a bed to sleep in if that is what is needed, a place to
wash clothes--the whole thing--in an attempt to get them off the streets. They
are spending a tremendous amount of money. It is a very interesting effort in
terms of really providing services. I have some of the background material on
that that I pick up as I go around the state. But this is something that is probably
unique to a community like Orlando.
K: Do you think that kind of a program perpetuates or attracts even more people to
the point that it might not be able to support the homeless the way it was
B: I think that is always a possibility. Of course, the other argument is that when
people have these kinds of needs we can either try to figure why they are here
and help them with that, or we can continue to feed them forever. Some you will
continue to feed or ignore, because they will not be self-supporting. People who
have been in a mental institution for twenty-five or thirty years have a very limited
possibility for supporting themselves with the very limited opportunities there are.
Now, they will get SSI [Social Security Insurance], but some of them are really
not able to even live on their own, even with the stipend from the federal
government. That is why mental health has supervised apartments; they have
supervised living situations so that people can manage at whatever level they are
able to manage. I think that offers some answers for us, because some people
are not going to be self-supporting, and I think we need to concentrate our
attention on those who have the potential.
Now, those children and those young families that are on the highway, we can
make a difference for them. They do not have to grow up like that. But if we
ignore and say, "If we provide services you will just come," of course if I know
you have a service that can meet the need I will do my dead-level best to get to
where you are. That can be a positive rather than a negative.
I may really want to change, and you are not going to know that unless you try.
So I am optimistic about Orange COunty's programs, although I am absolutely
sure it can be abused and will be. But we do not live in the rest of a free society.
There are people as you walk out this door who ask you for a quarter or five
bucks who very well might invest it in transportation to get to a job but just as
likely might go down to the liquor store and throw it away. I am sorry. That is
just my philosophy coming out.
I feel it is incumbent upon communities to try to help people who want to be
helped and can be helped.
K: Do you think the programs in Gainesville are working?
B: I think they do a tremendous amount. That does not mean that we do not
perpetuate some of these. Everybody does. But I think there are people who
get help too.
K: Sometimes it seems like the city with some of its actions tends to work
counterproductive to what some of the organizations are doing; for instance,
when they limited how many people can be fed at a time.
B: You need to speak with the city about that. [laughter] You are asking people
with no transportation to go home, because you are saying, "Well, you can do it
in all the churches," but they are spread out everywhere. There is a critical
mass. You can provide a tremendous amount of food for the same energy or
you can provide the same amount of food for a few times that energy cost. I
agree. I think that is counterproductive, and I was disappointed that they saw
that as a response.
K: Gainesville and the population around here seem to be pretty sensitive to these
kinds of issues. It just seems like the trouble that St. Francis House has had in
trying to find a bigger and better location has been kind of unusual, and I do not
think you would expect that in Gainesville, considering their usual sensitivity to
these kinds of things.
B: A lot of the concerns about St. Francis House have been generated by a
remarkably small number of people.
K: Mostly business downtown, people who are concerned with those people being
in their area.
B: And my contention is they are going to be in your area anyway. They are going
to be begging at your door whether they are going to be down there getting ready
for lunch [or not]. I have served from time to time on an ad hoc advisory
committee to St. Francis House because of the concerns I have about it, and it
has been very interesting how few the people are who object and how effective
they are. I will not say anything more. I will let you do your homework.
K: If the Orange County plan does appear like it is workable and there is a
possibility for the county to do more than it is doing now, then that would be a
real possibility for the future.
B: A pilot project. A great concern that I have had, and I share Chief [Wayland]
Clifton's concern about this, is we cannot seem to get anybody's attention. For
instance, Chief Clifton is the chief of police in the city of Gainesville. We have
known each other and talked for years. When the Salvation Army takes
someone in they run a police check. They require that. It is for the protection of
everybody. I am told by Chief Clifton that about once a week with those routine
checks they pick up somebody who is wanted someplace for a serious crime.
Now, I am convinced that with the proximity we have to the state prison system
that we are particularly vulnerable to be dealing with an element that really could
be dealt with in their home communities. For instance, I am absolutely
convinced that our crime rate here is high for that, because if you get out, no
matter what your good intentions are when you run out of funds and are still 600
miles from Miami where home is, you have to live, and 7-Elevens are easy, or
they appear to be easy. They must be easy; they work.
So I think that is a separate problem here that we are going to have to deal with.
I think if you look at our crime rate, and not just our crime rate but the kind of
crime, it makes us look like a very violent community. We really need to take
that dimension out of it and see what we are doing wrong in terms of our own
people that make us do things like killing a sister in a bathtub by burning her,
[which is something that happened only] last Friday. Those are strange crimes.
K: And those people actually are not homeless, but if you do not take them home
then they become homeless.
B: They have to be homeless. It is very difficult now to have a mentally ill person
institutionalized, for good reasons. We abused the system, and now it is harder
to do. But it means that sometimes families are coping with situations they really
cannot cope with, and it is awfully hard to make those judgments.
I talked with a mother when I was in mental health who is an upper-middle-class
working woman who is very valuable to her community who has a daughter who
became schizophrenic as a teenager, which is when you pick up that particular
kind of schizophrenia, and it follows you for the next twenty-five or thirty years.
She says, "I would just love to see the day when I could take a shower in my
house without worrying about my child." That is sad. Yet that child, who is an
adult, cannot be institutionalized.
She probably is helped by a drug maintenance program, because the drugs
really do control schizophrenia better than anything else that we have ever
looked at. But still you have to be sure it is absolutely done regularly, absolutely
the dosage it is supposed to be. It is almost like maintenance for diabetes.
Excitement will make the drug pull back. It is just very hard to handle this, and I
am totally sympathetic. At the same time I was totally horrified at what I saw in
this institution, both at Tacachale and at the state hospital.
K: That brings to mind the fact that there are a lot of ways that governments
probably do and can help to prevent people from becoming homeless, through
various social services.
B: Strengthen the family. One of the ironies that those of us in social services are
constantly looking at is that we will spend $3,000 a month of your tax money to
keep a person in a nursing home, but because of the rules and regulations that
have been promulgated we cannot afford to pay for that respirator in her own
bedroom, which might cost only $300 or $400 a month. With a family who would
love to have them at home, who is willing to take care of her as long as they can.
But they cannot afford that $400 a month respirator, or whatever they cost. We
do strange things. All of them were set up to accomplish something, but we
have become so rigid.
For instance, the state of Florida will not give aid to families with dependent
children to any family where an able-bodied man lives. That is intended so that
lazy louses do not sit around and let the state feed their kids. But what does it
really do? It means that if he loses his job or if he cannot make enough and she
can make more on welfare if he is gone, then what is going to happen? He is
going to leave, the children are going to be without that strong father figure, the
wife is going to be alone and dealing with the kids, and if you have not done that
you have a real treat ahead of you. It is counterproductive; it is just
counterproductive. Yet to justify before a house committee in Tallahassee why
they should allow assistance to go into a home where there is a lazy, able-
bodied man, you just meet yourself coming back. Yet you know it is
counterproductive; it is really counterproductive.
We have a guy at the state level in HRS who is so good at describing this, and
he said, "If we could just unbundle the requirements so that rather than giving
you what you need we give you what we have." And we have a nursing home. It
happens to cost $3,000 a month and may not be a good place for an elderly
person unless they really have to have twenty-four hour care. But we have that,
and we will put you there. But we could not pay for a good LPN [Licensed
Practical Nurse] to come into your home once a day to give you a bath and help
you turn and give the medications, which would cost peanuts in comparison. So
we end up giving you what we have rather than what you need. He and I joke
about this--"If we could just ever unbundle those services and sit down with you
as a householder and say, 'You have an elderly person in your house,' or, 'You
have an alcoholic who really cannot be gainfully employed. What is it that we
can do for you that can help you keep him and maximize your relationships and
help him to be a human being?'" You say, "Well, I have to go to work. If you
could just send somebody in a couple of days a week to clean up or to do the
laundry or a variety of things," or with an elderly person, "If you could send in an
LPN four days a week or every day. ." There are people who do that, who go
from house to house giving medications, because "I do not know how to do that."
We would save a tremendous amount of money, plus we would salvage the
relationships that were going to break. You are never going to take them back.
In the nursing home they are going to live there until they die, and if it is your
brother who is an alcoholic and you one day say, "I cannot do this anymore," and
I understand that you cannot, he is going to be helpless. But if we keep saying,
"Oh, it is pie in the sky." I say, "I am not talking about more money. I am talking
about using it differently."
K: We tend to get into the established way of thinking or doing things.
B: It is not only that. This is really not the point. I know you did not expect to talk
about this, but you never know what you are going to talk about. The federal
government and the state governments and even local governments with the
best intentions in the world set down rules and regulations to avoid fraud and
abuse, and then they try to force us all into that little mold, whereas if somehow
we could just do the accountability to a more-realistic setting. I could get almost
anybody in a nursing home. It is the most expensive setting. It is more
expensive than a prison. It is like we say about our prison system: we could give
them all a college education for what it takes to put them in there. But we
choose to do it this way. Having been a social worker for a hundred years I
really am frustrated with this. I see so many needs.
K: Do you see any of your fellow commissioners or people in the state government
who are willing to think in these terms, or do they tend to stay on track with the
B: Well, my fellow commissioners all come with different backgrounds, and that is
very important, because we do not deal with just social issues. You name it, and
we almost always deal with it. So they probably would have a totally different
dimension because this may not be an area they have ever had any experience
with or know anything about except seeing these hungry people sitting on the
street corners. At the state level the people who have been involved with
programs are very, very interested in a little more freedom, a little more flexibility,
a little more targeting to need rather than "what we have." It is hard to do; it is
really hard to do because when you decide at the state level what you want to
do, then you have to get permits from Washington.
I do not know if you keep up with the health care issue, [which is] another of my
[pet peeves]. You do not want to get me in that one, because that will get me
away from [our topic here]. Oregon finally has gotten a waiver, maybe, to
administer a health care system in Oregon. The people of Oregon have worked
on that for seven years, and they are convinced they want to do it. So even once
a state or local government gets its act together, in other words, the way they
think, then you have to get these permissions all the way up the line to use that
other money which you will need to plow into the system.
K: And of course there is all that bureaucracy you have to get past and all those
B: Right. And fear of abuse and fraud, and it is real. There are abuses; there are
frauds in all our programs. So much of our program is geared toward that rather
than meeting need. Do you want me to say that again?
K: No, I know.
B: You understand that.
K: I have worked with some federal programs in Miami, and it seems like most of
the money is absorbed in paperwork and administration, and very little bit trickles
down to the actual person.
B: So you actually have a welfare program, but it is not a welfare program for the
people that you thought you had it for. It is for middle managers and
caseworkers. And there is value in that.
K: It keeps them off the street.
B: Right. But it does not provide benefits to the people for whom it is targeted, not
to the extent it is intended. We are all hung up in this country with "deserving." I
remember when I first went into social work I still had people who would say to
me, and this was probably before you were born, "But do they deserve to have
food?" I would have to recompute that in my brain. How could you think of a
situation where someone did not deserve to eat? More recently there arose a
question which some people confronted for the first time: "Do you really believe
that everybody has a right to health care?" Think about that. "Do you really
believe that everybody has a right to health care?" These are the kinds of
philosophical ratcheting-up that our society has not faced very much. It is an
interesting culture. I will not get into that either. [laughter]
K: Do you think that there are more and more homeless people in Gainesville now
than there were? I mean, do you think this is increasing?
B: It depends on your length of spectrum. Back during the early 1960s when I was
very actively working in social work here the estimates were that we had between
1,500 and 2,000 street people on the street on any given day. These were
usually young persons caught up in the anti-Vietnam rallying, and they were here
primarily because they could blend in with the college students. Nobody noticed.
So from that perspective, no, we do not have more. But we have a different
group and maybe a different kind. These were not homeless people. These
were people who were homeless by choice. And some of the people on the
street today are homeless by choice too. You have to take that under
I am told, and I have no information to refute this, that the people begging on the
street corners make good money. That was demonstrated recently in
Jacksonville when one was murdered by two of the others who shared his corner
because apparently he would not give them their turn there, and that particular
corner generated a couple hundred dollars a day. But then those are the
exceptions. That is not the typical kind of homeless person.
K: I think that some of these people, like you said, really do not want to get back
into society for whatever reason. Either they cannot read or they do not want to
deal with having an address and a phone to get a job, and they do not want to fill
B: And somebody may find you for whatever reason. Sometimes it is a mental
illness that causes them not to want to be a member of society. Paranoia. I
think we just have to assume that will always be there and then see if there are
those who can be helped.
K: I wonder if sometimes society is getting too complex for some people to handle.
B: We started off this conversation by talking about the overload in the last thirty or
forty years. There is no question in my mind. Many of the people, for instance,
who would have made it by dropping out of school in fourth or fifth grade half a
century ago will never make it in this country. They will never make it. Someone
who cannot read and write, you can write them off. Yet literacy is a tremendous
problem. Absolutely. And they will not make it; they will not make it if they
cannot read or do basic math. Fifty years ago they would have. There were all
kinds of jobs they could do, but they are almost nonexistent now. So yes, I
believe complexity of culture is a problem.
[End of the interview]