Today is another beautiful day in South Orange County. The Sun is out and the weather is beautiful as we travel through Spring and looking to embrace the Summer. It has also been quite a month. Between Presidential Candidates popping up like gophers, Celebrities getting into trouble and IPO’s breaking records, there is never a dull moment.
This past Friday was especially telling. I was running around town and happened to see the usual “sign people” in Town. I saw a new lady and had a chance to strike up a conversation. She told me about how she lost her job at Rite Aid.after taking a medical leave to take care of her husband who had cancer. She also had what I believe was her daughter with her. She noted that she had to raise funds to avoid being evicted because she had gotten the 3 day notice. She also told me how the employer had fought her all the way in terms of even disputing her unemployment claims. Apparently she had someone tell her about one of the local churches helping with rent. I urged her to fight on and was happy to hear that she had retained Counsel and that the Counsel had agreed to take this on a contingency. As I walked around the local center in town when Walmart was, I saw one of the other regular “Sign People” who was in car and we exchanged pleasnatries. I wish her well as she was on her way to visit one of the regular corners. I saw her this past Saturday further down south.
I then happened to run across another one who was also about to lose his house, standing by Costco. He told me about how he worked his way through School, graduating college and culinary school and becoming a Chef. He was renting a room that he could not pay anymore. He also told me that he was a Veteran and that he was trying to get his rating changed and that the VA was not helping him one bit. As I spoke to him, I noticed his cell phone ringing with one of the other regulars. I had known of the lady with four kids who was also one of the “Sign People” who apparently had somehow gotten off the street so that at least her kids were not homeless.
As we talked, he started telling me about some of the “Sign People” who are trying to “milk the system”. He talked about a mother an daughter that happened to be further up the street. I walked up shortly to talk to her. She happened to have her daughter–and I asked them about how they were doing. Her comment to me was “…We’re trying to pay some bills…” I could tell that they felt I was wasting their time especially after I saw that the older lady had a Dolce and Gabaana Sun Glass on. It may well have been a fake, but still it showed that there was more to it. What riled me even more was another old man that was trying to also come up with some money. I went up to talk to him to ask and see how he was doing. For instance, I asked him if he had looked at any disability programs. His comment to me was, “…I don’t do that…”. I figured I was intruding on his space and I walked away. But He really got to me and I went back to him to tell him that if someone cared enough to approach him for him to at least be courteous enough to give him the time of day. He strated to swing his cane and told me to get out and told me that I had an ugly voice and an ugly face. I also was on the lookout for the old Veteran to see how he was doing. I saw him driving around in his Van trying to find a spot. It was interesting that he was receiving both disability and a pension, yet he had elected to live out in his car.
During a recent Laguna Niguel Public Safety Committee meeting, the plight of the “Sign People” came up. The Chief of Police Services told the Committee that the “Sign People” had a First Amendment Right to be there. As long as they did not break the law, the Police could not do much about them. But, they did keep tabs on them, though.
As I thought about this old man, I remembered that there are thousands that truly are in dire need due to the continued changing circumstances before us. One person does not necessarily represent the plight of many. The struggle, though, is just not confined to our beautiful County. Everywhere one travels, the challenges abound.
I was in Carrollton Georgia a few weeks ago. As I read the headlines, it brought me back home to Orange County about the plight of the Schools. Carrollton Schools faced budget cuts, teachers faced furlough days and larger class sizes. It was under this background that Georgia’s adopted Son, Newt Gingrich, finally said the key words, “I do”…to go out and run for President.
Gingrich is an odd character. Many will fault him for his multiple marriages. But, what I found especially striking was the total lack of regard he had for history as I saw him on Fox while in Georgia. He railed against the “liberal media” and how he could beat the President in a “fair match”. What he failed to tell us was how the odds were actually stacked against the so-called progressive/liberal elite because of Citizens United and the ascendancy of all the so-called conservative causes that Karl Rove and the rest of the crowd are spreadheading. 2010 was just the opening.
One of the things I have been trying to do is to try and figure out what is meant by “Secular Socialism”. Any sensible individual realizes that what the President tried to do with his health reform propsal was to help preserve the status quo. The Healthcare law, for instance, will eventually force 30 Million People to buy insurance from private providers–the same people who have been making record profits year after year. Beyond this continued debate on “Socialism”, what I have found quite distrurbing about the current bunch vying to challenge President Obama is how they seem to be so narrow minded in their focus. Gingrich is probably a more reasonable alternative to Herman Cain who announced yesterday. What is unfortuante is how these guys are pushing the old politics of fear and blame while pushing for the same old tired solutions of Tax Cuts and Government Cuts. They seem to forget that America is one of the lowest per capital taxed countries in the World.
As I continued to think about the plight of the “sign people”, I wondered what went through Tom Coburn’s mind when he dropped out of the so-called “Gang of Six” that supposedly was working on a compromise plan to help tame the beast that was the deficit. The continued uncertainty about the future brings home the total lack of regard that I see with what is going on especially in Washington. As I continued to think about the Ryan Plan and the Speaker of the House throwing down the gauntlet about “no new taxes” , I thought about the raising of the National Debt. The so-called budget “grand compromise” turned out to be a bunch of smoke and mirros, anyway. Yet, the Republicans are demanding trillions in cuts before they agree to raise the debt ceiling again. This is as Standard and Poors has already sounded out the warnings that must be listened to.
As I saw reports of the aftermath of the “Great Flood” and the Tornadoes that devastated Alabama, I continue to be ever more convinced that there is a role for Government. Yet, the debate over less Government seems to be the order of the day by those who believe that the Government that governs best is one that Governs least citing the intentions of the founders. This clears goes against what Jefferson said when he said, “…..I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitution…but laws and institutions go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind…”. What is especially troublesome is how we seem to not accept progress and work to truly build a more perfect Union.
Do I expect too much?