Over 100,000 people who used to have snug little houses in the Big Easy are homeless now. So why am I getting upset about one little homeless boy? Charity begins at home? "Home" is the key word here.
Somebody just e-mailed me an article by Robert Tracinski, who proclaimed, "The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view. The man-made disaster is the welfare state." He's got that right! I think that he's referring to food stamps but what he should really be up in arms about is the CORPORATE welfare state -- instigators of "governments who prey on their people."
We are living in Neverland here, guys, and who are you going to believe? Peter Pan or Captain Hook? Looks like the Red States are still going for Hook, line and sinker. But I digress.
What I really want is some advice.
Some of you may remember my stories from last year about 15-year-old Jordan who bravely escaped from yet another in a series of "Brat Camps" his parents had sent him to -- he escaped by trudging through the mountains of Montana all by himself until he came to a farmhouse and used their phone to call his family. "Either you come get me or I spend the rest of my life hiding out in the Montana woods."
And, no, Montana is NOT Neverland. Not even close
Fortunately, rationality prevailed and young Jordan was allowed to come home -- but now he is homeless again. One day when things weren't going too well -- bad day at the office for Daddy -- Jordan's father kicked him out. So. Now he's camping out with us and I need advice.
"If you take that child in, that's KIDNAPPING," said my next-door neighbor. "You are going to jail!"
Okay. So now I'm doomed to Death Row at San Quentin just for trying to help someone out. So be it. But in the meantime, Jordan needs to be clothed and housed. He needs healthcare. He needs to have his school information changed to reflect his new reality. And we gotta pay for his cell phone too. And what if he gets in an accident and has to go to the hospital? Who will sign for him? I am not legally allowed. Only his parents who threw him out and told him not to come back are legally allowed. There are children all over America who are on the horns of this same legal dilemma -- You either live in a burrow with the Lost Boys or you ship out with Captain Hook.
I called the Alameda County emergency food bank. They were really helpful and gave Jordan a free box of food -- mostly consisting of canned peaches and Rice Krispie Treats. He loved it!
I called Child Protective Services. They said it would take a week but they WOULD get back to me. I told them they could try but I didn't yet have a phone number on Death Row.
I called the school district. "You need a notarized statement from Jordan's parents that you are the legal caregiver." They faxed me a form. If I was the legal caregiver I wouldn't need the form. Duh. I called the food stamp/Medi-Cal hotline. And was on hold for an hour. "You have no standing," they said. "The boy will have to go home."
I suddenly felt very sorry for the homeless people flooded out in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. They were in for it. Days, weeks, months -- years! -- stretched before them, filled with red tape. Talk about your Neverland!
IT SHOULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN TO THIS!
Jordan is a bright boy who had been making friends and doing well in school. He should never have been forced to become just another Lost Boy statistic. He should never have been driven out of his childhood home. And, if it all should have had to have happened, HE SHOULD HAVE HAD A SAFETY NET. George Bush and the slime at the White House all have safety nets. But Jordan? But the people of New Orleans? Nothing. They have nothing. And they are being called names for wanting more.
The corporate welfare recipients get hand-outs. Why can't we get just some simple HELP.
My next-door-neighbor said it all. When a neighbor in America is in trouble, dump them, harass them, call them welfare cheaters or throw them in jail -- unless you are in a position to steal elections, take over Congress, get no-bid war contracts and have off-shore tax break accounts. Then ANYTHING GOES.
When we who care for people, we who drowned needlessly in the levee's flood waters and we who are laughed at and threatened and ridiculed by our neighbors because we chose to do good deeds because it feels right -- when we die and go to Heaven, "Welcome home," Jesus will tell us. "No, sorry, George. You already made your choice. We have another place reserved for the likes of Captain Hook."
PS: If Hook and Smee get away with the Rape of New Orleans, they can get away with anything. As my friend Katherine says, "The country is getting used to the idea of losing a major city... So when a bomb drops on, say, Chicago... Well, too bad, lets all donate to the Red Cross...."