Herman Mulman once spent $900 as a candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. When he received 6% of the vote he said that dollar for dollar he won the election. Mulman, who lives in North Hollywood, is not a candidate for office, but he still champions his favorite causes by pressuring bureaucrats and casting votes.
I worked on pushcarts as a little boy in the Jewish ghetto in Newark, New Jersey. It's like a horse-drawn cart except you're the horse. My father and mother would buy vegetables and fruit for the day, and I would help sell it and guard the cart. I learned how to be a quick mathematician because people would try to clip me. They figured, "Hey, we'll go to that place. There's a little kid over there." They found out differently, because I wasn't going to let them take me. They learned that you've got to deal with Herman, he knows what he's doing. And this is when I'm 9 years old, I was doing this.
At 19 I got a job at the Post Office as a temporary, two hours a day for 65 cents an hour. We were the first of the Civil Service workers. Conditions were horrible there. We needed permission to go to the bathroom. If you weren't back in 10 minutes, you were punished for it. I passed the exam and got an appointment as a regular in 1939. I was a troublemaker in the Post Office, fighting for our rights for 35 years. When I was president of the New Jersey Post Office Workers, I started a campaign that lasted 2 1/2 years to "abolish undertime for overtime." It became the national slogan for Post Office workers. In 1945 the United States Congress voted to give postal employees time and a half for overtime.
For the past 12 or 13 years I've been pretty heavily involved in hearings at the Public Utilities Commission, fighting the gas company and the telephone company. I was on retirement with a small income, and I saw in the paper that Southern California Gas Co. was going to get a $400 million rate increase. I thought that was outrageous.
I went down to the Public Utilities Commission and I listened for awhile. I learned more and more about it. I learned the pattern. They would come in for a $400 million rate increase, and finally the commission would render a decision: No, they're not going to give them a $400-million increase, they're going to save the public a hundred million dollars by giving them a $300-million rate increase. It got to the point that I got up and said, "We can't stand anymore of your damned victories, Mr. Commissioner. Don't you know how to say no to a rate increase?"
My wife died of cancer in 1970. She was 38, a young woman. It almost destroyed me. We had a very good marriage. It was like a bolt from the blue. I'm so incensed that the government has all this money to go to Mars, spend trillions for Star Wars and not declare war on cancer. I think there should be an all-out war on cancer 24 hours a day.
It's not just the elderly people. It's the young people. Everybody is under attack. And now we have AIDS added to the thing. There's got to be a little more concern for our health. I think we have the means and the knowledge to do something about it, but it doesn't seem to be a priority.
There are more and more seniors every day. You've got 7 to 10 million people in a bloc with a vested interest. I don't know how you could stop a tide like that if you could get it rolling. But getting it to move, that's the problem. Seniors become disenchanted and discouraged and say, "I just want to go to Disneyland," or, "I want to play cards and have fun."
I don't know what seniors mean by fun. When you get to be 70 years of age, it's no time to have fun yet, it's time to fight. Either we ask for a violent rebellion or we vote. The vote is certainly safer on your head. Be alert, see what the issues are, learn who the rascals are and if they are not serving your interests, vote the rascals out.
I'll be 70 next year, and I plan to sell my house and go to a small town up north of San Francisco and get out of the gridlock of the Valley. I more than likely will get on the local election committee, and after I see what's going on, if I don't like it, I'm going to try and change it.