Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hunger in the USA #2

Yesterday, three teenage girls were killed by a train in Florida.  So far the news isn't defining "teen"; my guess would be 13-15.

They were on a railroad bridge over a river.  Just goofing around together.  A train came, and hit them.

There were people yelling at them to jump into the river, about 20 feet down according to some reports- another one says there was a parallel track they might have jumped to; old and rusted- but without a train on it.

Yes indeedy; they made really bad choices, every step of the way.

Sharon Astyk is writing about living on food stamps today, and has this to say at one point in the comments:   "Look, no one is going to argue that it would have been better for her to make better choices, but when you start 500 yards behind everyone else, you are going to lose the race unless someone provides some extraordinary help."

In my previous post on this topic we got to this point: " Very simply- lack of food is NOT the problem; and money is NOT the answer. Can't get much simpler than that."

Which is not a very useful place to get to, unless, maybe, it can suggest a new way forward.  What is the problem?  What is the answer?

I have one.  Answer.  Not, alas all of them; but maybe one.

Which hit me as a result of reading all the comments on that post.  Good stuff; good thinking- stimulating.  I'm proud of you readers.

One of the problems is - people making bad choices; repeatedly.  Being judgmental about that is totally useless; finger-shaking never fixed anything.  Besides which- if you know anyone in this kind of fix; it usually turns out there's a real, unfixable, reason for how they got there.  Being abused as a child being one of the most common.

We can't go back and fix that.  So- what could we do; now?

You know- there is something; and it actually hits several needs, in a really serious way.

Typically, with a person like Sharon's Eva,  or our Christina, when they go for help, they are connected to some kind of social worker.  An overworked one.  And most likely, since humans work this way, someone they may fear, or just not be able to connect to.

The social worker gives advice- the client listens, and takes a crack at it- and nothing happens.

Eva, and Christina- and those 3 dead girls - never had anyone teach them "how to live".

They really don't know how; for one reason or another, their ability to deal with reality is just very thin.  (My suspicions would be dismal parenting; and too much "screen time".  It's easy these days to grow up in a world where when you die, you just go get another life, and try over.  I think kids really need to fall out of trees- and we've made it very difficult.)

What they need is - someone to teach them now.


Not the social worker.  The woman down the street who is in the same financial fix- but is coping.  A peer.  A neighbor.  Someone with the time to come and cook with them; and coach- to show them not just what to do, but help them build the habits that are so crucial.  Probably share a little child care.  Maybe share a ride to a good grocery.  Shop together.

Now- the social worker knows both these ladies.  They're both on food stamps- it's just one is lost, and one is struggling through.  The social worker could put them together.

Are we throwing tons of money at this problem?  Is it helping?  (that would be 'yes', and 'no').

What we truly could and should do is start a "coach" program.  Let's pay the lady who is coping, to spend time with, and teach, and coach, the lady who is failing.   (What the hell, we're printing money like it's going out of style already- just not getting any of it to anyone who needs it.)

Somebody would get paid a little money (JOBS!!) - and - an ineffective program could be make somewhat effective, at least.  And you know- it's a sure bet that some times, a lady who managed to get turned around- will go on to become a coach.  Paid.  And really effective.

If the two ladies don't get along?  Pick someone else.  There are plenty to choose from.

This could be done.  And it could actually make a difference.  And cut down on isolation.  And build community.

Sharon and Crunchy - here's your next project.


Anybody know any legislators working on this kind of stuff?  Send them this post.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dumb Doom.

I'm feeling doomed at the moment; and "dumb" because, as is so often the case, it's my own doing.

When we lost the cat, we were sharply reminded of how expensive it is for us to be without cats.  Really expensive; we live in the woods and the Peromyscuses are freaking everywhere, and breed like hyper-rabbits.

Then- the other house cat vanished.  When he was gone for 4 days, we started to believe he was really gone; partly because this cat is a bit on the slow side, physically.  If you push him off your chair, he'll land on his head, or back- not his feet.  No reflexes; which is very dangerous in a forest full of owls and whatnot.

So; we started urgently talking about getting kittens; now, because of the need.  And, baby animals are a lot of work; first they poop everywhere, then they climb everywhere, then they eat everything...  lots of hours training.

And I thought to myself; hm; if we're going to have two; or three kittens inside, and be going through all that; maybe we should get the next puppy now, and do it all at the same time; won't be much more work, and we won't have to be stepping over (some of the time anyway) poop for two episodes; just one...

I talked my gullible family into it, and Spice was authorized to start looking.  She didn't have to; immediately she said our friend at the shelter had called her a couple days ago, asking if we were ready for the next puppy (we knew we needed "more") - because she had a litter of Collie/German Shepherd crosses on hand, right down our ally.  Pics on line.

Ok.  Why not?

Then.  In the next phone conversation it turns out that there are two sisters left of the litter; and they were scheduled for the end of the line next week; been held a month; no takers...

Crap.  Ok, I said, to my gullible family- maybe we should take both sisters.  Only have to go through all the puppy training stuff once, see...  and I'd wondered about getting sibs from  one litter; might be easier handling... maybe...

As the two puppies are being picked up- the wandering cat- came back.  So, not quite so urgent to get the house kittens right this second; he's a good mouser, even though his reflexes are slow.

And right now, in day two of New Puppy world, I'm asking myself "What the hell were you THINKING!!"


Ah, well.  A few more days of total exhaustion, what the hay.  It'll get easier, right?