Monday, May 11, 2009

Mothers and peace

A day late, as usual-- I'm a member of Bloggers Unite and yesterday was the day to blog about the Mothers' Day for Peace event. But I didn't get it together to write Saturday and Sunday I was with my own kids. I've been working on coming to terms with how some things will never change, other things are worth the work, while the rest is too good to mess with.

When I stopped over at Arise for Social Justice today, I asked two of the women who were there that I knew were mothers how their day was yesterday.

"Don't ask," one woman said, and then proceeded to tell me her car adventure. The car needed some repairs, so she brought it to a backyard mechanic. Later that night, he "loaned" it to somebody he owed a favor to. That person drove it through a McDonald's where her brother worked, who recognized the car and then reported it as stolen to the police. The car was left in the lot and she came and got it, and then was promptly stopped by the police for driving a stolen car.

This is the kind of chaos that comes with not having enough money and having to cut corners.

The second woman asked if she could talk to me in the back office. Turned out a longtime friend-- who was not even currently a boyfriend-- had blown up at her and then pummeled her with a pillow from the couch.

"It wasn't a soft pillow, either," she said. "I've got a headache and a stiff neck."

So I worked all the PC options into the conversation-- if he did it once, he'll do it again, you should think about getting a restraining order-- but the truth is, life is much more complicated. Her longtime friend had just behaved in an inexplicable way and she saw the possibility of a ten year friendship going down the drain. Without his friendship, her life would also get harder, because he helps out-- not with money, but picking one of her kids up after school if she's working.

"Well, let me make a really white suggestion", I said.

She laughed.

"You know you have to tell him that that can never happen again," I said. "What about asking him if he'd be willing to see a counselor with you-- or even a mediator, just to work out the terms of what's acceptable in your friendship and what isn't?" I could see her running my suggestion through her mind to see if it could even possibly make sense in her situation.

Later she told me she'd called him-- didn't quite catch what she'd said to him-- but his answer was, "That's not your choice to make."

"Well, that about says it all, right?" I said.

We'll have to talk more later. This is the kind of chaos that comes with....well, the life of a single mother with not enough resources, among other things.

This week the local Springfield, MA forum MassLive burned with cruelty and pettiness-- maybe even envy-- because of a very small state-funded program that gives cars to families on welfare that get a job. The program also pays the cost of insurance and AAA for one year, but those payments cease if the working family member loses her/his job or stops working. They get to keep the car, although, seeing as the car is donated and repaired through a Vermont program called the Good News Garage, they're probably no great shakes. Only 65 cars have been donated so far in the $400,000 a year state budget.

Much of the criticism of this program and others such as cash assistance, childcare subsidies and food stamps (now SNAP) seems to come from a basic misunderstanding of what fairness is.

"It's not fair that someone on welfare should get subsidized childcare when I pay $120 a week!"

Yup, not fair. So why not make it available to both instead of taking it away from one? Or is that too hard to imagine?

I could talk about how successful capitalism has been at creating a great divide between the classes.

But sometimes I just want to send people for a brainwipe. Maybe the second time around some people would learn some compassion.


Liz said...

A brain wipe, I like that!

BobUnderwood said...

Welfare and cars

People on welfare and getting cars is nothing new. It has been quietly happening in the past. It is either get the rural poor a car or move them into the city. The cities are complaining they already have enough poor. Some one decided to shine a spotlight on the program. Of course Patrick, our great Democratic friend of the workers along with his Democratic Colleagues have made running the care more expensive.
The real problem is the budget. The US government takes a good chunk of peoples income and pays for warfare and the war on drugs. In addition every law which controls something must have a paid bureaucracy to enforce it.
Now after the federal government takes their cut, the state gets another cut. Senator Rosenburg keep harping on “what would you like cut.” I could name a list and it would not hurt anyone, except for a few political hacks. DSS, the war on drugs, other forms of victimless crime, etc. could be cut without bothering anyone, other than a few cops, informants and judges etc. that we would not need.
Except they have a problem. They passed free trade agreements and shipped everyone’s job to China, so income tax revenues went down. There are people that I would call stupid that could have foreseen this, yet it was almost universally accepted, even by organized labor.
With $1million for a bomb resistant truck for the war in Iraq one can by many cars. I think a Rolls Royce is about $100,000.
Some of my less than intelligent relatives are complaining about the income tax, but they want the war in Iraq. It is driving up taxes. The price of commodities, and creating some of tomorrow’s welfare recipients.
Unfortunately the time to stand up for the poor was last January, during the nomination process . The poor themselves did not do much to help themselves. All they saw was Obama. While you may blame the banker for everything they get a lot of cooperation from the victims. In the book “1984" “prols” and animals are not held responsible for anything, and nothing intellectual is required of them. .
My observation is about 30% of ward 2 is registered to vote. It used to be about 40%. When I spoke in Framingham the history teacher told me the town had about 98% voter registration rate.