Tantrum Tuesday: Stupid is as Stupid Does

  • Posted on September 1, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Ok, today was supposed to be Timeless Tuesday, but as with all things, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way we had planned.

When it comes to the poor, unemployed or those who have made bad decisions in their lives I have a spot in my heart for righteous anger.  Oh, I’m not mad at them at all.  I’m not mad at people at all.  Ok, that’s actually a lie because systems don’t design themselves.  I am so sick and tired of listening to people berate those who are trying very hard to better their situation and stand on their own two feet.  Why?  Because ‘the system’ sets people up to fail and fail miserably.

The first excuse I received is the old blame the ‘feds’ game.  That doesn’t fly.  It’s the beauty of living in a border community and working with two different state systems — states play a significant role in the rule making process.  Yes, they have to follow the Federal Guidelines and ensure that the rules they make are in line with those guidelines but as far as the feds making the details of the rules that’s not always the case.  If it was everything would be standardized across the country and we wouldn’t have the beaurocratic BS that seems to plague our systems.

We need to get up off our duffs and start demanding that the system works for people.  We can complain until Christmas about the people who are desperately trying to comply with the outrageous demands of the system.  It’s been determined that there are two main obstacles in the process of moving from state assistance to self-sufficiency:  Transportation and Daycare.  Neither of which have been adequately addressed by the state of North Dakota.  We are sitting on a billion dollar surplus and we cannot figure out how to fix the two biggest issues?  Perhaps we need to take that billion dollar surplus and hire a think tank to figure out our problems for us. 

We have a bus system in Fargo that does not work.  For God’s sake this is the 21st Century and our bus system does not run on Sundays and closes down at around 10:30 p.m.  It doesn’t even go to the industrial park where many people work.  People can’t accept retail jobs because they have no transportation to those jobs on Sundays. 

I find it interesting as well that a client was told to purchase a bicycle to transport two kids to a non-existent daycare that she couldn’t afford anyway.  Yes, that will work.  Especially in the winter.  I’ve been to meeting after meeting after meeting where agencies lament the problem of transportation but nobody seems to want to do the work involved in getting the funding for adequate transportation.  Yet at the same time it is perfectly acceptable to REQUIRE the clients to utilize a broken useless bus system to transport to daycare, multiple appointments and sometimes work and then punish them for being late.

I used the bus system for six months two years ago and found myself late for work more often than not.  I found myself standing out in -30 degree weather waiting for buses that did not come.  I stood outside in that weather for an hour at a time.  It seems to me that our population has grown to the point that we need 24/7/365 bus service.  I’ve seen little kids two years and younger under county requirement standing out in that weather waiting for buses that don’t come or are late.  I’ve seen elderly and disabled standing out in the  cold waiting for buses.  And we can’t think of a solution for this problem?  Get a clue:  The reason people don’t use the buses is because you can’t depend on them and they don’t go where you need them too when you need them too.  Not a difficult thing to figure out.

Several years ago, I believe it was in 2002, there was a project proposed called Kalidescope that would have centralized all the necessary services in one location.  The death blow:  2.5 million dollars.  With all the federal funding seemingly flowing out there could we not explore this option again?  It would solve a myriad of problems experienced by hundreds of people.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, give the police department a new building in South Fargo and another in North Fargo.  Move them out of their current location and put the services in that building on 4th street across from Family Health Care.  I know money is the issue, well, money well spent reaps more profit than this foolishness that we currently have.  If we want people to succeed we MUST give them the tools to do so. 

The solution to the problem of daycare is not to grant the daycares money as a private business.  Put that money into daycare assistance to allow individuals the opportunity to work.  It’s ridiculous to ask someone who receives $487 a month in cash assistance to pay $500 in their portion of the daycare.  This is not the fault of the daycare providers they have to make a living too and after all their expenses there is not much profit in the game.  The $487 is to be used for household expenses such as toilet paper, diapers, soap, clothing and so on.  And yes, I realize that there are people abusing it but there are many more who are not.

Then, lastly, I would bring back the fraud investigators especially in Housing.  The list is almost 2 years long.  That is not acceptable when you have many women receiving housing who have working boyfriends living with them and they are not reporting the income.  I feel that it should be a requirement that any property management company or private landlord is mandated to report.  Not reporting if they feel like it.  The only incentive to make them report is to relinquish their ability to accept Section 8 housing if so many infractions are found in their buildings — and I mean their buildings as a whole.  For example Goldmark (this is not a bash against Goldmark) they may have a few thousand units but if three of those units are found to be in non-compliance the whole lot loses out.  I think that would be incentive enough.  Federal housing dollars is a big business.  Guaranteed rent payment for the property management company or private landlord.  Why should they care who is living there or not unless there is consequences? 

Our system is broken.  The system doesn’t care.  Some of the employees have really, really bad attitudes and no real understanding of the clients they are serving.  Maybe NDSU, MSUM and Concordia need to implement a required class strictly devoted to poverty and the causes thereof for their social worker students to prevent them from making complete asses out of themselves when they make retarded statements about a subject of which they obviously have no concept.  When these ill prepared case managers and social workers go out in the field and berate the clients they are supposed to be assisting they look foolish and ill-educated and reflect poorly on their agency.  I have a list of same said ill-prepared case managers and social workers in my head and it just keeps getting longer. 

It’s frustrating to say the least to try to do the job of someone who gets paid significantly more than I do, went to college to do said job and fails miserably leaving the rest of us in the underfunded nonprofits to pick up the slack.  The state needs to pull their heads out of their behinds and get real.

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