Our Forgotten Priorities
Distinguished columnist Bob Herbert recently explored the
changing and diminishing landscape of social services available
to children living in poverty. Current government policies
have turned a blind eye to the needs of children and the poor
nationwide, a part of society that needs support the most.
"I'm pretty baffled now and very pessimistic about the
future," said Herbert. I was in Oregon in early 2003 when
they were having terrible budget problems. A parent there said
to me, 'We didn't close schools in WWII or the Vietnam War,
but we're closing schools now because we just can't afford
to keep all of them open.'"
Continuing, Herbert said, "In Miami, which is poorer
than Camden, N.J, kids are living just above the poverty line
with working-class parents. But Jeb Bush won't cover them with
public health coverage. He's putting children on a waiting
list. Some of these kids are really sick.
"Go to California where Schwarzenegger
is dealing with his budget. He must have the same advisor
as in Florida. Here in New York, taxes are being raised at
the local level, but you have a governor who wants to fund
public schools with the proceeds from OTB-with money lost
from people who couldn't afford to gamble in the first place.
The policy of N.Y. State is to leave funding for schools
as one of the last priorities."
Herbert underscored the importance of remembering two things:
if you have kids out of work and out of school, they are going
to get in trouble. As a culture, we have a responsibility to
provide for the next generation.#