It is hot and humid tonight so I decided to take a walk on Mass Street at 9:15 PM. It is a nice time to walk but it is not nice to see a mother and two babies homeless on a bench in the 900 block. This is not the first time I have encountered mothers and babies on the street in Lawrence.
One has to ask what kind of government we have right now. Obviously a government that will let babies live on the street. The demeaning Temporary Aid to Needy Families – the name is even demeaning – is the handiwork of the Clinton era Democratic Leadership Council, which, along with the Republicans passed off punishment of the poor off as “welfare reform.” As opposed to the old AFDC, TANF provides an extremely small amount of help to destitute families and provides it only for a limited time.
I have actually seen hungry children interviewed on a major news network. On a Brian Williams anchored NBC evening news program, a correspondent asked some African American children what it felt like to go to be bed hungry. These children answered the question with dignity and grace – much like the migrant children working as child labor I saw interviewed on a Dateline NBC program.
I laud the First Lady’s focus on childhood obesity. But she and the President should be acting more like Eleanor and FDR right now. What could be a greater priority than childhood hunger and homelessness? The President and the First Lady are identified to much with inside the belt way elitists and not coming across as fighters for the poor and working classes.
To the President and the Democrats credit, they have pushed for an extension of unemployment benefits over the opposition and filibustering of the mean-ass Republicans. Republican oligarch flacks representing so-called Washington think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute have been all over talk shows pontificating about how helping the unemployed will make them lazy and shiftless. That is exactly what the neo-cons said throughout the 1960s and 70s about public assistance for poor families.