Voices From Street Corners (Vol 14)

In a few days, the first month of 2011 will be history. It has been quite a month in our County, our Country and our World. As I write this, I am listening to live feeds from Al Jazeera on the upheaval in Egypt and can’t help but be amazed and proud of all those who have risked their lives for the sake of freedom and democracy. Even the mere mention of a shutdown or change in the Internet is hearsay. Yet, the Egyptian Regime has done it to counter a large march that is expected to have up to a Million People out protesting many rights we take for granted. President Obama broke his silence on it during his YouTube Interview:


The President’s wide ranging interview on YouTube did give some insights about what is going on in his mind. As I have traveled around our County, though, I continue to be concerned about where we go from here and continue to wonder whether Washington, Sacramento and Santa Ana truly are aware of the realities on Main Street.

The budget calamity we are faced with is real. The expected bloodbath from Sacramento and the across-the-board budget cuts that the County CEO and the Board of Supervisors propose will wreck havoc. What is bothersome is how there is talk of budget cuts everywhere. Yet, there seems not to be any discussion about the day after tomorrow.

As I was traveled around town, I was on the lookout for those I’ve met on our Street Corners to see how things were going. A few weeks back, I had a chance to catch up with the Old Veteran to see how he was coming along. I asked him if he ever got out to the VA Service Center in Laguna Hills. He told me that he had not. I offered to take him, but he politely declined. He thanked me for stopping by and wishing me well. I really hoped I could somehow help him.

I had a chance to see one team that periodically “drops by” in Laguna Niguel continuing their work to reach out. As I have seen them, I think that there has to be a better way. I wonder what will happen to people who are disabled, who are unable to work and have to rely on handouts.

I listened intently to Congressman Ryan lay out his doomsday vision of what was to come. I also listened to Congresswoman Bachaman as well and was amazed to see the disconnect that existed between their vision and what I am seeing and learning on Main Street throughout my travels.

I was “in town” yesterday when I noticed one of the people I;ve met at Laguna Niguel’s Plaza de La Paz. I went up to see how he was doing. He had an apparent place to sleep at a church. He had initiated a permanent disability claim after he spent time in the hospital and the arthritis which has prevented him from working. With all the clamour for cutting the budget in Washington, I wondered what would both President Obama and Congressman Ryan would tell this man? Would they just let him be part of the “individual opportunity” and “responsibility” which seems to be the order of the day.

Kaleidoscope mall in Mission Viejo - Photo by Mark Avery / Orange County Register

The stock market rise and the lofty rhetoric out of Washington is great to read about. But, what will happen to all those who are still trying to find a job so that they can put their lives back in order. When I am driving around town, I look at the old Mervyn’s Store that lies empty. I look at the Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo and how horrifying the boarded up shops are out there. I look at the discrepancy between the number of job openings and the number of people who are actually looking for jobs. I continue to wonder where the jobs are.

I did run across Congressman Campbell’s “America’s Financial Statement” report to the 48th District. Everyone realizes that we are in dire straits. I wonder whether the courage to truly go beyond today and do the right thing is there for the sake of all those “Voices” who are truly voiceless and are not in a position to speak for themselves. I have to wonder if President Obama will remember that as he gears up for his re-election bid.