Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 3, 1974, Page 7

Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette April 3, 1974

Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - April 3, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Pre-college obligation Idea: enlist youth to serve age By William F. Buckley, jr. I HAVE MADE a proposal, outside this column, which is beginning to gather attention; and so I launch it here believing, as I do profoundly, that it would go far in meeting a particular need and in transforming the relationship, in America, between young and old. Mr. James Michener says it bluntly, that in his opinion the problem of caring for the aged looms as the principal social problem of the balance of this century: greater than ecological asphyxiation, greater than overpopulation, greater than the energy crisis. The figure is, I suppose, scientific impressionism, but it has been said that one-half of those who are now 65 years or older would be dead if medical science had been arrested even a generation ago. It is absolutely predictable that medical progress will continue, and with it the successes of gerontology Already it is a subject one shrinks from dwelling upon — the years and years between the time when men and women are, if the word can be used in this context, ripe to die, and the day that increasing millions will die. Euthanasia, pending word to the contrary from the supreme court, is unthinkable. The cost of caring for the aged, most of whom need supervisory medical attention on a continuing basis, is suggested by this recent datum, namely, that the daily cost of a semi-private hospital room in New Y'ork City is now over $100 Good private homes for the aged are beyond the reach of any except the very very few. There are charitable and religious homes that will take in elderly people in return for their social security checks. But these are necessarily exclusive, with facilities cruelly unequal to the task at hand The physical facilities and professional services needed for the aged are extremely expensive, and there is no way to avoid the capital cost of them. Certainly there is no reason to discourage the private sector from addressing itself as vigorously as possible to the building of suitable homes. Professional medical aid will have to be furnished by doctors and highly trained nurses, the cost of whose services is high, and will probably get higher. The only variable is in the cost of unskilled labor. And the only human leaven is youth, whose functional companionship could greatly affect the quality of the last years One large nursing home I know of in New York employs full-time 41) doctors and 43 registered nurses. The cadre of its professional staff is 50 It employs, as cooks, waiters, janitors, nurses’ assistants, elevator operators, laboratory workers, a total of 311 There are 347 beds in the home, so that the ratio of unskilled employes per patient is very nearly one for one. Or, taking the figures for the nation, In 1969 there were 850,000 Americans in nursing homes that employed 444,000 people, or one employe for I 9 patients (In 1963, there were 491,000 resident patients of nursing homes, so that in six years the figures almost doubled.) The Republic faces a crisis of a very particular and very poignant kind We are aware of the reasons why fewer and fewer aged die at home The principal reason is the lengthening life span Another is the need for certain kinds of (are that (annot readily be provided at home. Another is the diminishing domestic utility of the great-grandmother or great-grandfather Still another is the very high cost of urban living quarters where, now, 73 percent of the American people live. All of these combine to create the institution of the nursing home Simultaneous with the increase in the aged is the increase in the college population. That population in 1930 was l l million In 1970, 8.4 million It is my proposal that the burden of the nonprofessional work done in behalf of William F. Buckley, jr. Opinion Page 2 Ideas Judgments Views Insights Comments the aged should be done by young men and women graduated from high school, during one year before matriculating at college. The idea of public service of some kind or another by the citizenry has frequently been proposed. There has been an instinctive coolness towards the idea primarily because of the conscriptive feel of it. The suggestion that government require anyone to do anything of a philanthropic character tends to put one off, and for reasons not by any means all bad. The opportunity is great for initiative from the private sector. I envision a statement by the trustees of the ten top-rated private colleges and universities in the United States in which it is given as common policy that beginning in the fall semester of 1976 (to pick a year far enough away to permit planning, soon enough to generate excitement), no one accepted into the freshman class will be matriculated until after he has passed one year in public service. I say public service because if the plan were very widely adopted, there would be more young help available than could lie absorbed in the nursing homes alone. There are many other ways in which the young could be used. As guards in the grade schools, just to give a single example (there are 1,700 auxiliaries in the New Y’ork schools alone), but for convenience I dwell on the care of the aged. Insights iv J at; "    , j • ) ' 'n ti . Time does not become sacred to us until we have lived it John Burroughs As regards the financing, it would be required only that the government exclude this category of volunteers from the provisions of the minimum wage. Otherwise the economic advantage would substantially dissipate. The nursing homes would, of course, provide board and pocket money (mostly, the volunteers could continue to live at home). In the unusual case where the 18-year-old is helping to support his own family, the college could cither suspend the requirement or concert with foundations to find ways to permit the young volunteers to eke out the year. The colleges would take the position that they desire, in matriculating freshmen, an earnest of public concern, and extra-academic experience of a useful kind. The intervention of hundreds of thousands of 18-year-olds into the lives of the aged would serve more than merely the obvious purposes of cleaning the rooms and pushing the wheelchairs and washing the dishes, ll would mean, for the aged, continuing contact with young, spirited people in their most effusive years. For the young it would mean several things. It would postpone by a year their matriculation at college. College administrators are all but unanimous in their conviction that an older student, one year, rather than freshly graduated, from high school gets more out of college. The experience would, moreover, interrupt the inertial commitment to more-and-more education, and some of the less strongly motivated, the rhythm having been broken, would probably elect not to go on to college. The experience — particularly because of the voluntary aspect of it — would remind young people at an impressionable age of the nature of genuine, humanitarian service, which is the disinterested personal act of kindness, administered by one individual directly to another individual. The experience would touch the young, temperamentally impatient with any thought of the other end of the life cycle, with the reality of old age. Y oung people would see the human side of the detritus whose ecological counterparts have almost exclusively occupied fashionable attention in recent years. Their capacity to give pleasure to others—without the stimulant of sex, or the pressure of the peer group, or the sense of family obligation, or the lure of economic reward—could not help but reinforce the best instincts of American youth, and these instincts are unstimulated at our peril. What it might provide for society as a whole, this union of young and old, is, just possibly, the re-establishment of a lost circuit: of spirit and affection and understanding. Washington Slat Syndical# Way with words Who fears what? By Theodore M. Bernstein F RAI DY'RATS. Proving that everything that is written should be ^one over a second time (or, as those in publishing trades say, “edited”) is this newspaper sentence sent in by Annemarie Riedl of V ineland, N J “Mayberry, who off-and-on has silent more than 111 years in solitary confinement, said he had trouble sleeping because rats were outside and feared they might ‘get in.’ ” The rats were afraid? A he ahead of feared would solve everything, except getting an amusing item to lead this column • This is a loo-loo. A while back the origin of the Britishism loo for toilet was taken up here. One explanation had the word originating with the French I eau, meaning water. A second explanation traced it to the French gare I eau, the slops thrown into the street. And a third explanation cited the French lieu d aisance, meaning place or room of comfort. Now along comes K. J. (’arson of Montreal with this theory: “After Wellington’s great victory over Napoleon, the name of an obscure Belgian village became a household word iii England because it was the site of the battle. One day some person with a zany sense of humor referred to the water closet as the water loo, and the VV had a new name ” But hold on, we are not finished yet. Tile Rev. Eugene ll. Bertram of Philadelphia offers a derivation that he says he worked out himself. According to him, many public buildings in Europe have their rooms numbered, but the lavatory is numbered OO. “It would seem simple,” says he, “that somewhere along the line the French article L' would be added and the apostrophe eventually dropped.” Everyone, it seems, is an etymologist these days • Wo rd oddities. An odd word indeed is syzygy Pronounced SlZZ-i-jee, it refers to the lining up of celestial bodies as in an eclipse. The word is derived from the breek syn-, together, plus zygon, yoke. The term came up recently in a column iii the Worthington (Minn.) Daily (Hobe, in which the writer said that syzygy was a word without a vowel. Peter Stain, jr., of Worthington promptly picked up the columnist, pointing out that the word actually has three vowels, that the y is used three times as a vowel. Right he was, too Remember what your grammar teacher, Miss Thistlebottom, taught you: the vowels are a. e. i, o, u and sometimes y. This word presents three of those times New York Tunes Syndical* Ignorance is bliss? News-nibble: loss to public By Don Oakley this right of ‘‘uninhibited, robust and wide-open” debate on public issues, to use the words of Associate Justice William J. Brennan, is in danger of being nibbled away bv a less liberal bench N YEARS ago, in a unanimous [elision, the U S. supreme court dated a doctrine which in the view me critics, granted virtual Duty from the libel laws to news’s. * court ruled that a public official not recover damages for defama-tatements alxiut his oiticial conduct s it could be proved that they were * with actual malice or with the ledge that they were false or with Jess disregard” for their truth or y-    Nixon administration intends to submit lay, journalists are concerned that to congress. The supreme court has agreed to review a case arising under a Florida law which requires newspapers to print rebuttals from people ajiout whom they published adverse stories or comments. The fear is that, should the Florida statute be upheld, it would encourage similar laws in other states, or possibly a federal “right to reply” law which the Even should all tills come true, however, the press would still have one option that those who believe it needs “curbing” or who tend to blame it for the bad news it reports, might bear in mind. That kind of self-imposed news boycott by editors will never happen, of course. It would be damaging to the integrity of the press as it would be to the public interest. But if the public really wants a press that plays it safe — that asks, “How will this story or this editorial affect us?” rather than, “Do the people have a right to this information” — that could be what it ends up with. NewsDODf'i F filer prise Association Last Chance TOMORROW IS CLEARANCE DAV IN ALL TARGET STORES, YOUR LAST CHANCE TO MAKE SENSATIONAL BUYS WHILE THEY LAST TOY DEPARTMENT Shifty Checkers..... 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  • Annemarie Riedl
  • Don Oakley
  • James Michener
  • John Burroughs
  • Peter Stain
  • Theodore M. Bernstein
  • William F. Buckley
  • William J. Brennan

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Issue Date: April 3, 1974

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