Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Posted: January 19, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Children, Goals, Government, Homelessness, Morality, Politics

Tomorrow, Barack Obama will take his Oath of Office and become the 44th President of the United States.

Mr. Obama has already announced who will become members his Cabinet: folks who will become his "advisory board" throughout most, if not all, of his Presidential term.  

Although I personally question some of those appointments, nonetheless I hope they will be more than just a bunch of "yes" men. More importantly, I genuinely hope they will advise the President based on what is best for the nation rather than what may or may not be politically expedient. And, like most Americans, I’m hoping for a better future for our nation.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve read numerous news articles, commentaries and opinion columns regarding what folks believe Mr. Obama’s approach should be to get our country "back on track." Thus far, the best one was in this past Sunday’s edition of the Boston Globe. It contained excerpts of six letters from Americans who truly expect Mr. Obama to make the world a better place to live. Those Americans were students who attend the South Lawrence East Elementary School in Lawrence Massachusetts.

For me, the most poignant of those letters came from 4th grader Alex Nolasco – who, in part, gave offered this advice to Mr. Obama,

"Another piece of advice I have for you as president is to build homes for the homeless and poor and help them get more money to buy food. Shouldn’t homeless people have a house and money so they can eat?"

As I read Alex’s words, the phrase "out of the mouths of babes" came to mind. It also made me wonder how a 4th grader seemingly has a higher sense of duty to his fellow man than so many of our nation’s politicians.

The harsh reality is this:

  • This year, some 1.35 million children will experience homelessness. Of that number, approximately half of them will be under the age of 6.
  • Homeless children go hungry twice as often as non-homeless children.
  • More than one-fifth of homeless preschoolers have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care, but less than one-third receive any treatment.
  • Half of school-age homeless children experience anxiety, depression, or withdrawal compared to 18 percent of non-homeless children.
  • Homeless children are sick at twice the rate of other children.

Perhaps that harshest reality of all is that government does have the wherewithal to provide relief for those children, but has yet to do so.

Whenever legislation to assist the nation’s homeless has been introduced in either the House or the Senate, the proposed bills have either "died" before going to the floor for a vote, or have been pared down into virtual impotence. In addition, whatever legislation has been passed has been ridiculously under funded. Yet somehow, legislators have still managed to find a way to fund all of their "pork barrel" projects.

Despite – and because of – the current economic climate in this nation, our government has been forced to "bail out" big business. Moreover, it seems as though those businesses are going to continue to ask for additional "bailing out." And, from what I’m reading in the news media, they’re probably going to get more funding.

But, who is going to bail out those families who have fallen victim to a failing economy and have subsequently become homeless?

I wonder.

If all of the nation’s homeless children were to send "letters of advice" to Mr. Obama, what would they say?

Would they simply be variations on a theme? Perhaps something along the lines of:

Dear President Obama,

My name is Jimmy. Me and my parents are homeless. Could you maybe pass a law to help us? Please?

Your Friend,
Jimmy

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