UC Davis Magazine Online
Volume 23
Number 4
Summer 2006
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Spring 2006 UC Davis MagazineWhat a surprise that a politician’s (John Edwards’) solution to poverty is to create more government programs [“Poverty in the Land of Plenty,” spring 2006]. It has been more than 30 years since LBJ rolled out the “Great Society” programs, and despite billions of taxpayer dollars spent, your story shows that nothing has changed. Roughly the same percent of the population is below the poverty line. You also state that 90 percent of the homeless in the Placer County study had current or past alcohol or drug problems and 30 percent dropped out of school before high school. Excuse me for appearing to sound heartless, but the obvious cause of the economic problems for a large group in the Placer study, and perhaps by extension to the rest of the population, is themselves. Get an education, stay away from drugs and alcohol, don’t get pregnant at a young age or out of wedlock, and shazam, your odds of being poor and/or homeless dramatically improve. Is this news to anyone? Granted, this is anecdotal data, but I know of numerous examples of friends and family whose parents or grandparents came to this country with minimal, if any, education and managed to greatly improve their stations in life and, by extension, that of their children and grandchildren.

John F. Jacobs ’88

“Poverty in the Land of Plenty” painted such a picture of failure and doom in America that it’s hard to believe 12 million illegal immigrants can bear to live here!

Where’s the balance in an article where UC Davis sociology professor Block faults the American market system that has pulled millions of people out of poverty?

Increased employment and upward mobility in our society have been the proven forces for reducing poverty. Increased employment has resulted from fewer regulations, tax reductions and growing global trade. In spite of the highest immigration in recent history, the poverty rate has continued to decline due to the strength of the U.S. economy. The article never examined this point.
Instead, the article quoted Professor Block stating “the economy hasn’t improved” in 25 years.

Perhaps he confuses the U.S. with one of the failed socialist economies of France or Germany where growth has stagnated and unemployment has stayed over 10 percent for the past 15 years due to high taxes, excessive regulation and ballooning welfare payments.

There’s a poverty industry in this country that stays in business by helping poor people stay dependent. Lack of values, self-discipline or a family support structure is not something government spending can address.

Ed Kahl, M.A. ’72, Economics

Fred Block responds: The article did not examine how “the poverty rate has continued to decline due to the strength of the U.S. economy.” This, however, does not reflect a lack of balance; official government figures show that the poverty rate has been rising since 2000. The reality is that our economy has not been improving for those at the bottom, and those who preach to the poor about the need for greater self-discipline simply provide comfort to those who are already comfortable.


It was fun to read about the new Segundo Dining Commons (“Fine Dining,” spring 2006, page 8) especially when the $10,000 chicken dish was mentioned. My mom submitted this recipe for the Cooking from Home (I don’t remember the exact name) contest back in 1998 when I was a sophomore living in Castilian. My mom was amazed when I told her that the dining commons is still serving it, almost 10 years later! I look forward to eating at the new Segundo DC the next time I’m in Davis. I thought it was excellent back when I was a student and I can’t imagine how great it must be now!

Elaine Gee ’01


I suppose it was only a matter of time to complete the educational amputation. As a UC Davis geography student, I dealt with age-old technologies within the department, especially in cartography (that’s map-making for those geographically challenged), but that was OK. I learned enough to get a job actually using those skills. Visiting campus on Picnic Day a few years after graduation was I ever excited to see the department actually updated to current computer-driven technologies in a real lab setting. Sadly that excitement was dashed shortly thereafter when the department was unceremoniously dismantled. I have held a personal commitment to not donate to the university until the geography department is reinstated. (My financial support to UC Davis is currently being made in the form of contributions to the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh endowment.) The heads of Letters and Science have now determined the future donation amount from me with their view of the study of this earth and man’s interaction. I give their final exam of this important and valuable field of study an F.

George March ’85

Social sciences dean Steven Sheffrin explains: The decision to eliminate the Department of Geography was made in the early 1990s in the context of budget reductions. This year, the remaining faculty retired from UC Davis and geography courses will no longer be offered in the College of Letters and Science. However, UC Davis still has a graduate group in geography, and courses related to geography are taught on the campus.


With great sadness I read about the passing of Professor Evelyn Silvia at the age of 57.

She taught the first class I attended at Davis—wildly energetic at 8 in the morning. I took three more classes from her, and her enthusiasm for mathematics and teaching was unequaled in my experience.

In addition to her teaching skills, she helped me when some ridiculous administrative issues came up. I remember her telling me she would take care of the problems that day, and I believe she was more upset about the problem than I was.

I am so sad to hear of her passing. She was a very important part of my education and one of the reasons I enjoyed my time at Davis so much.

Edward “Ted” Jenvey


I have an apology and a correction to make in regard to a past issue of the UC Davis Magazine.

I had sent to you a recollection I had of a memorable athletic moment from the past and you duly published that recollection in a recent issue [winter 2006, page 34]. I had attributed a wrestling event involving a Canadian Olympic Silver Medalist to Grover Ford, a wrestler and football player from the ’60s. As I was reviewing some documents the other day, I came across a picture and a thumbnail description of Tim Lacjik, and I realized that the incident I described involved Tim and not Grover. I’d like to extend my apologies to both men and beg forgiveness on the basis of encroaching old age and fuzzy memory.

Kenneth Komoto ’74


Wall photosThanks to the magic of HP scanners, I’m pleased to be able to provide photographic proof of Robert Celaschi’s story about the weekend Room 206 disappeared [“Up a Wall,” fall 2005].
The before and after pictures on the left show what Bob Celaschi and Greg Damron saw when they left for the weekend and when they returned. The middle and right pictures show the work in progress while they were gone, and the writing on the blackboard reads “MEETING TONIGHT PLASTERERS UNION LOCAL 3707 LOBBY 9:00.”

Bob and Greg were valued members of K Building ’75–’76, and their parents were right to be “rather proud that their sons deserved such attention from their inventive young friends.” I’m glad to hear that Bob now considers the disappearing room a badge of honor.

Steve Roti ’80
Bend, Ore.


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