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Senator EAGLETON. What would you have, two sittings?
Ms. PILLAULT. We rotate because while one is eating, the other ones are enjoying themselves and then when one is finished, they leave the room like we did today.
Senator EAGLETON. Have you ever been in a situation where you have had to turn people away?
Ms. PILLAULT. No; we always squeeze them in.
Senator EAGLETON. You can squeeze a few more in? This lady over here wanted to say something. Can you give your name, please, ma'am.
Ms. DENNERY. Joyce Dennery. I am president of the New Orleans Council
Senator EAGLETON. Spell your last name for this man here.
Ms. DENNERY. D-e-n-n-e-r-y. I wanted to make a comment on the meals and the facilities and what George Gates said about supply and demand. One of the things that we are focusing on is not only meals, but activities—as this lady said, to have more resources tying in some with our Outreach program. There is transportation for some of the people to the meal center, but this is based on the title XX recipients who must meet financial need. There are many people who need more activities, more meal centers, more transportation, who are a little above the SSI level, so these people don't qualify.
But if we did have more meals, we would also want to incorporate more of the other activities, not just food. So I wanted to make that comment. There are many things possible, but we also have to have more money, more planning, and more resources in general.
Senator EAGLETON. Thank you. I am going to move on to the other members of the panel and then we will hear from other people as well, but I want to get through the panel first.
Ms. PILLAULT. Can I say one other thing? Senator EAGLETON. Yes, ma'am. Ms. PILLAULT. In this center where we eat here, every center is different. We need more transportation for our people. The transportation has been based on the handicapped profits, not on handicapped people, and I feel everybody should get to our location—but we are very limited on that.
We need transportation to go grocery shopping, to make our little trips. You see, the lady who talked before, they have their own bus they have been given through title XX. We don't have those benefits and we would like to have it, too, because I think all the senior citizens are the same. Sometimes they get jealous one of the other.
Senator EAGLETON. Now, I am going to call on Elizabeth Williamson, who has been very patient. Just stay there where you are and you give us your observations about this nutrition center, what you think could be done better or whatever comment you may have.
Ms. WILLIAMSON. Well, I have been going to this meal center ever since it opened and it is one of the greatest things that ever happened. The transportation is grand, but just like she said, we need inore transportation to go shonping and, vou know, go to the grocery stores, and things like that. We do work, like she said, in my meal center. I go to a day care center at King's House, and we have about the same things she said she has and it really helped me plenty. I don't know what else to say.
Senator EAGLETON. Well, that's very good and well said and we are appreciative. [Applause.]
Ms. Chapoit, am I pronouncing that right? How are you today?
Ms. CHAPOIT. I am fine, thank you. Well, this is a wonderful center and everybody cooperates just wonderfully and everybody is just lively. I think that when you all say transportation, I am one hit by the transportation problem because I don't live in the neighborhood. I live on Pontchartrain Boulevard so I have to come here every day by the bus.
Like today, I brought a whole lot of stuff that I need. I am supposed to be the seamstress here and I had to bring everything by the bus, so I am kind of handicapped and you all can't help me about that, but our meals are delicious. There are several that told me today that if I am going to get up and talk, I must make a report on that. They said that the rice and cheese, nobody likes it. [Applause.]
Then we have a macaroni which is very often and that macaroni, it is so cold we don't know what it is. We think that is terrible. Am I right? [Applause.]
Then they said that the corn is too hard and we are too old; we can't eat the corn.
But everybody is lovely; Kathleen is lovely. Everybody that is here has been wonderful to each other and I can complain because I am the seamstress.
Everything is lovely and this is a wonderful center and we thank you all a million for giving it to us. [Applause.]
Mr. GATEs. Senator Eagleton, I might point out that the rice and cheese are USDA commodities.
Senator EAGLETON. Mr. Gates properly points out that part of the reason you are inundated with rice and cheese, these are USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture-purchases that are made and they store these items and they want to move some of these items out.
Ms. CHAPOIT. It's wasted. It is all thrown in the garbage.
Senator JOHNSTON. We will try to cut out the cheese, but the rice we want to keep eating because we grow that in Louisiana.
Mr. Taylor. That stringy chicken, yeah—they got rid of that. Senator EAGLETON. All right.
Next, we have Mr. Albert Cooper. STATEMENT OF ALBERT COOPER, MEMBER, ADVISORY COUNCIL OF
THE AREA AGENCY ON AGING
Mr. COOPER. I am not a member of the center. I would like to make a statement because there are some things that have not been covered that I think need be.
Senator EAGLETON. Good. This is the time. Mr. COOPER. I am Albert Cooper and I am retired. I am a member of the advisory council of the Area Agency on Aging. I do volunteer work in several different areas and I am mainly concerned that the programs are causing the elderly people to become in an adversary condition.
Senator EAGLETON. Explain that, sir.
We are having to compete with children. We are having to compete with all other programs and we are saying, “Give us this, give us this, give us this," and people are becoming tired of hearing this.
I have had one State representative state that the medicare and medicaid programs were a Government giveaway. Goodness, there are people that could have no medical care at all if it wasn't for these programs, yet here is an elected representative stating that this is a Government giveaway.
Now, I feel like that there needs to be some type of thing addressed that would try to remove this from us. We are not asking more than we deserve. In my particular case, I worked for 32 years and 7 months. I have contributed certainly something to the development of this country, and I believe that the country does have some responsibility toward me.
Transportation, where I live—where I live there is none. I live in an unincorporated area in another parish and there is literally no public transportation whatsoever. I believe in my own heard that public transportation is a public responsibility, that there should be some means provided for people to get around and get where they want to go.
Now, another thing that bothers me is legislation that causes me or us to pay a higher utility bill and then you subsequently turn around and subsidize us in paying this utility bill and we are called welfare cases. That is literally what is happening and that is not right. There should be some means of keeping us from having to pay the high utility bills in the first place.
I don't know what to do. I am sure that you have heard this same type of thing from a lot of different people, but it seems to me that there should be some way in which we could gain support, and I mean general support for the types of things that are needed. The needs of the elderly are not greatly different from the needs of any. one else. We are all human beings, and we all have the same needs and desires and wants. If you specialize in a particular area and point this out, then it is an adverse reaction. The people in this country are getting tired. Why do you think the man put on a $250 rebate amendment, of rebate for sending people to college ? That is simply because he wanted to give or help out the people who are having to support colleges or send their children to colleges.
Now, this has nothing to do with the actual bill that was before the thing. To me, it didn't.
Senator EAGLETON. You are absolutely right.
Mr. COOPER. It was taken out, but I can't believe that this has to go on where we are constantly fighting for everything that we, in our opinion, deserve.
Senator EAGLETON. Let me comment in part on what you said, Mr. Cooper. I think your testimony has been excellent and we have heard some complaints before, but you and Ms. Capers summarized it as well as I have heard. Here is a very real problem, and I don't want to frighten anybody when I mention it, but it is a fact of life.
I have been in the Senate 9 years. That's not very long in the scheme of things, but 9 years. I am guessing that the first year that I came to the Senate, that was back in 1968 and 1969, really. I am guessing that perhaps in the whole year, we didn't get 50 letters from young working people complaining about social security, amounts taken out of their pay checks. Maybe we got 50 letters the whole year saying, “Gee, this tax is high. I don't think I can handle it. It is taking too much out of my income.”
I can tell you this: In the last year, or this year, 1977, we've received literally hundreds of letters from young working men and women who say:
Look, I am not against my grandparents, I am not against my parents, I wish them well and I know it is an expensive world in which we live, but, look, I am married, I have got three kids. I am making $15,000 a year and I am paying nine hundred and some odd dollars in social security tax and I just can't hack it. I just can't handle that.
To even be a little sadder, come 1979, not in 1978, but come 1979, when social security taxes are going to go up, we are going to hear even more complaints. I am talking about people in the age range from, say, 20 to 40, who are trying to buy a house, educate their kids, and what have you. That is what you said at the outset about this competition. The senior citizens, in a sense, compete. They compete in the social arena for all sorts of benefits. They compete for educational benefits, as you say, for young people, or health benefits for blind, or what have you. It is an increasing social problem.
Whereas, in 1969, I don't think there were five Senators who voted against a social security bill. There were many of us who voted against this year's bill for a whole host of different reasons. Social security is in difficulty—I don't want to scare anybody—it is not going to collapse. I know this is important because Reader's Digest, among other magazines, write articles about every 6 months that “Beware, you won't get another social security check." Well, we are nowhere near that kind of a disaster, but the system has some problems, I think one of the key problems is that point that you raised earlierthe competition for Federal dollars and State dollars, the elderly needing some help and assistance, yet younger working people saying, “Look, I don't care how you get that help, but I don't want it to come out of my paycheck.'
Mr. COOPER. Now, what has happened to the compassion that is supposed to exist in this country? Is there any? I don't believe so. Are we developing people that are so selfish that they cannot in any way feel that they have some responsibility to their fellow man? Do you feel that way?
Senator EAGLETON. No, I don't. I don't think we have become devoid of compassion, but that guy making that $15,000, he has got two young kids, he is trying to clothe them and educate them and $15,000, back 10 or 15 years ago, that wasn't so bad—you could make do on that. You can't live now like the King of the New Orleans Mardi Gras on $15,000 a year educating two children. It isn't all
Senator JOHNSTON. Let me respond, also, Mr. Cooper, because you nut your finger on one of the greatest problems that we deal with all the time. We deal with it every day in the Congress, and that is setting priorities.
Now, what we have got to do and what we have done in this country is set a higher prioritv for senior citizens, for older Amer. icans. The funding, for example, for the Older Americans Act is
now $700 million. That touches, according to testimony, only about 3 percent of the population, not nearly enough, but that $700 million represents several hundred percent more than it used to be. We haven't had medicare and medicaid but a very few years. Before that, we just had nothing.
Of course, we had some charity hospital system in this State, but it wasn't nearly what medicaid and medicare are. So the line, if you had a graph, the line would go and is going to go in that direction in terms of funding for older people. We are going to be there to help push that line in that direction, but in the process, somebody has got to pay. You know, there is no free lunch and there are just going to be some people who are going to yelp a little bit and you have just got to take that, and we, in politics-you don't get it so much—we, in politics, have to get a little thicker skin. We are going to do what is right and we are going to increase that funding:
I agree with you; we do owe a debt to the people who built this country and labored for 30 some years and helped build it and we are going to fulfill that. There is going to be some talk and some murmuring and yelping along the way. That is part of the democratic system.
Well, I was just going to say that is part of the democratic process. Expect to hear it some more. Get out your senior power labels there like Ms. Capers. Part of a democratic process is a robust and healthy debate and don't be too sensitive because that is part of our system.
Ms. CAPERS. While you are fighting over funding, I just want to ask you for the senior citizens that you give us a little bit of icing on our cake. We know you are fighting for the basics, but recently we have been a part of a very beautiful art program. Now, everybody feels that art is a frill and that we don't need it. We as citizens did so much enjoy this theater sponsored by the Art Council of Greater New Orleans. They came to our center and they taught us to do little exercise movements to music. Then after we did the movements, we sat down and we put those movements on paper with colored chalk. We used the contrasting colors and it was such a beautiful purpose. It was just a pilot, but we are asking if you hear anything about that program, that you talk about it because we loved it and we would like to have it back. [Applause.]
Mr. COOPER. I would like to respond to Senator Johnston since he has made a statement that we become more militant in our stand. I believe that is what you said.
Senator JOHNSTON: Well, I said active, not militant.
Mr. Cooper. I can be militant. I have been militant. I was an angry young man and I am an angry old man. I do not want to get into personalities, but I can be as militant as is necessary.
But as part of my volunteer activities, I take part in a volunteer income tax assistance program. It is sponsored by the AARP, and I helped people fill out their income tax returns without charge. We did this in the Lake Side Shopping Center last year and I expect I helned several hundred people.
Now, if you want to find out how peonle feel about the Federal giveaway programs, go help them fill their income tax returns out and you will find out and you will find out very quickly. If you want