Monday, April 25, 2011
No Child Left with Dignity
by Pa Rock
Just when you think the teabilly agenda couldn’t get any meaner or crazier, along comes…State Senator Bruce Caswell of Michigan.
Senator Caswell, a white, male Republican extremist and noisemaker, has kicked his small mind into gear and come up with the newest high-water mark for hate legislation. Caswell wants to deny new clothes to the children in Michigan’s foster care system.
That’s right, as if being in foster care isn’t stigmatizing enough on its own, Senator Caswell wants to kick these extremely vulnerable children one more time – just for good measure – so they understand how truly worthless they really are. Good one, Brucie!
Most states provide a yearly allowance for clothing their foster kids. It isn’t much, usually just a couple hundred dollars for a year – certainly not nearly the amount spent on an average child in a middle class family. But those few dollars represent more than just a couple of outfits, new underwear, and maybe two pairs of shoes. That money brings with it a modicum of self-esteem, an opportunity for the least among us to have a few nice things and not stand out quite so tragically when they encounter their new “normal” classmates at their new schools.
But enough of that liberal nonsense. Senator Caswell says that foster kids should only be allowed to shop in second hand stores and thrift shops. Why, Caswell says that he always had to wear used clothes while growing up – and look what it did for him!
Yes, if used clothing made Senator Caswell the man he is today, funding for new clothes for children in foster care ought to rise to the level of national crisis!
This is a personal issue for me. I worked with kids in foster care for a dozen years and had the opportunity to witness firsthand, over and over, just how cold and dehumanizing that system can be. The young people coming into care were predominantly poor (Yes, the rich also abuse their children, but they have lawyers who can hold the system at bay, whereas the poor go from being victimized by their parents, to an even scarier world where their lives are completely dependent of the kindness of strangers.) They ride away from home in the backseat of a stranger’s car with usually nothing more than a few clothes and maybe a stuffed animal – all shoved carelessly into a black trash bag. (Sadly, in the child protection sector, black plastic bags are referred to as “foster kid luggage.” ) If they’re lucky, their siblings are with them, but that isn’t a guarantee.
I saw kids pulled from their homes and cast into households where they might or might not be treated with the love and respect that every child deserves. Even the best of foster homes – and there are thousands of really good foster homes - even in the best homes a foster child can never know for certain when a foster parent may suddenly get angry over something trivial and call a caseworker to come and take the child to yet another home.
I read once that, on average, an ordinary child in foster care will experience life in a minimum of six foster homes. That’s six trips, usually late at night, in the backseat of a caseworker’s car, with one or two stuffed garbage bags, heading to another stranger’s home – and another placement.
No Bruce, don’t give the little bastards new clothes. For their crime (being poor) they should live in orphanages and make their own shoes and clothes in factories that pay well below minimum wage. Isn’t that part of what the American dream is all about? Or is that just the Republican dream?
One item that I read said that Senator Caswell’s proposal would save the state of Michigan $9.9 million. But, that same Michigan legislature where Mr. Caswell “works” is currently involved in giving $1.2 billion in tax breaks to businesses. Now I know that is the Republican dream - pamper the wealthy and piss on the poor!
Senator Caswell, you are one arrogant and shameless excuse for a human being!
(A suggestion for practical retaliation: Buy one nice suitcase and donate it to your local child protection agency. Let's save the garbage bags for what comes out of these teabilliy legislatures!)