Escapist Fare

To the Editor,

Our friendly proponent of a kinder and gentler society, Stuart A. Hoenig, advances the following propositions in his recent letter to the editor ("Class Dismissed," Tucson Weekly, August 21):

Mailbag 1. "The USA, Germany and other countries are developing a two-class society--upper and lower";

2. "There will be no jobs for most of the lower class";

3. "Cities like Tucson will grow increasingly poor and unimportant in our society; the very reason for cities is disappearing. The city will be a location for the poor, the homeless and minorities. With e-mail, phones and computers our cities are not needed anymore";

4. "The two classes will be separated in living areas, schools, business, shopping, entertainment, etc. They won't even see each other. On that basis the upper class is not going to support education for the lower class";

5. "What will keep the lower class from revolting? Narcotics are the answer."

The basis of Hoenig's unpublishable book, The End of the Middle Class, is fallacious and overly simplified. Traditionally, since the Industrial Revolution, there have been four classes: 1). The "filthy" rich who have inherited or acquired sufficient wealth to become the leisure class; 2). The propertied class, including factory owners, merchants and professionals such as lawyers and medical doctors who earn large salaries, constitute the middle class; 3). The working class who must work for wages or modest salaries; and 4). The poverty class, officially defined now as earning less than $22,000 per year for a family of four.

Class 1 ("filthy" rich) and 2 (middle class) constitute about one-third of the population and will hold their own for the foreseeable future. Class 3. (working class), constituting about 50 percent of the population, has lost buying power since about 1980, along with an increase in class 4 (poverty class). In a just society, automation would allow the working class to obtain a fairer income, and with government as the employer of last resort (WPA, CCC, etc.), there would be no need for a poverty class.

According to Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics at M.I.T., in "the Labor Department's list of 'occupations with the largest job growth,' the top five categories are cashiers, janitors and cleaners, sales persons, waitresses and nurses. All of these jobs involve 'being there'--having face-to-face contact with the consumer or dealing in a hands-on way with the unpredictable messiness of the physical world." All of which Stuart Hoenig, Emeritus Professor of electrical and computer engineering, would like to avoid, sitting at his computer and looking down from his foothills home at the decaying city with its "poor homeless minorities." Hoenig would not have come to Tucson if it were not for the University of Arizona, but feels no responsibility for its welfare. Will all of Class 3 (working class) move to the foothills in newly incorporated suburbs behind walled and guarded enclaves? Better cook your own meals, Stuart; someone may slip you a Mickey Finn, or worse. Stay out of restaurants and government buildings, including the university or, stoned or unstoned, the "rebels" may make your worst reactionary nightmare come true.

From my point of view, if there is to be any progress it must include the attempt to raise the standard of living and consciousness of all of the people, not just an effete elite. Someone said Hoenig is a fascist. Actually, his views appear not to fit that classification. To understand fascism one should read Mussolini's Manifesto on the Corporate State. Rather, Hoenig's views would be in accord with General Golbery do Cuot Silva's ideas advanced in his book The Doctrine of the National Security State (in Portuguese translated to Spanish). Silva was one of the generals who ruled Brazil in the 1970s. One of his solutions was to round up street sleepers and beggars, have them dig a ditch, machine gun them and bury them. Hoenig prefers narcotics, at least for the time being.

What worries me is not so much an extremist like Hoenig, but others who, for whatever reason, want to escape the city in which they earn their livelihood. At least half of the professors in my department at the UA live in the foothills. I doubt that any of them would not be appalled by Hoenig's views, and I do not know how many of them would support incorporation in suburban towns. However, the law of unintended consequences tends in the same direction. That is the tendency toward impoverishment of the city in which they earn their livelihood and will enjoy its culture, at least before it decays, if Hoenig's prophesies come true.

Some of us will continue striving to improve the city that we have come to love. Hoenig's dismal future is not inevitable unless we make it so by escaping responsibility and retreating to incorporated suburbs with walled and guarded enclaves.

--Paul E. Damon

Corporate Hot Air

To the Editor,

I'm amused by all the advertisements that Intergroup/Thomas Davis Medical Centers have been running in various local publications. Apparently they feel a need to counter the publicity associated with the disclosures of sky-high executive salaries, large numbers of physician resignations, apparent illegal anti-union activities by management, and hiding behind loopholes to deny needed medical care in many cases.

I didn't pay much attention at first, since I'd been receiving excellent, but infrequent, care from my Intergroup primary care physician and various specialists. However, when I called for my annual exam with an ophthalmologist-- a must to preclude serious eye injury-- I was told that:

• My eye doctor was no longer with Intergroup;

• One of the two remaining doctors was not accepting new patients; and,

• I would need to wait four months for an appointment.

This shows me that the ads are pure hot air: "Members have access to care in a reasonable amount of time;" "Patient care is, and will continue to be, our number-one priority;" "We make staffing at our facilities a priority;" "A TDMC doctor will give you the personal attention and quality care you've come to expect."

After many years with Intergroup, I will be looking for another health plan come open enrollment time. Everyone I talk to will be doing the same.

HMOs started out with the right idea. It looks like corporate greed--with the full support of various levels of our government--is killing it.

--Barry E. Austin

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