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NYT: No Bailout For Those In Soup Line

From the real voice of the Daily Worker, the New York Times:

For Those on the Soup Line, No Rescue Plans

By David Gonzalez

October 1, 2008

By the time the doors open to the soup kitchen at St. Benedict the Moor Neighborhood Center, the line is already snaking down St. Ann’s Avenue.

Old people sit on crates, children shuffle impatiently and adults avert their gaze. This happens every day of the year in Mott Haven, no matter the weather. That is because for too many years to count, hunger and want have been a constant in their lives.

The people who run this Bronx soup kitchen and an adjoining food pantry do not need economic analyses to tell them things are rough. The growing line and increased demand for food packages and hot meals — sometimes from people who thought they were middle class — is a sure-fire indicator.

And while politicians debate a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, they have long lived with the fact that there is no emergency rescue plan for East 139th Street.

Anthony Jordan, the center’s executive director, said that while Congress tried – and failed – to push the bailout bill in a matter of days, it took about a year to get a farm bill passed that helps food pantries like his meet increased demand. On Wednesday, he is reopening his food pantry, which no longer gives people a sack like a handout, but allows them to browse and pick from shelves stocked with pasta, cereal and baby food. It’s a matter of dignity, he said.

“We want to be open every day, but my fear is with the economy the way it is, we’ll run out of food in a few days and just be open once a week,” Mr. Jordan said. “There is no bailout for us. There hasn’t been one for years. The closest thing to a bailout for us is to do more with less.”

This bleak little strip lies eight and a half miles from Wall Street. Emotionally, it is a parallel universe invisible to those titans of finance for whom fat bonuses used to mean bigger vacation homes, fancier toys and ever more exotic vacations. On St. Ann’s Avenue, a small bowl of meat balls, greens and mashed potatoes and some free condoms are about the only things to salve the sting of bad times.

While people wait for the soup kitchen to open, several community-based health groups offer advice and help under small tents lined up on the street nearby. Tables are set up stacked with free condoms and brochures, as people are encouraged to take a free H.I.V.-AIDS test on the spot. Andres Gonzalez, a volunteer with the Hispanic AIDS Forum, says he has seen little change, for the better, anyway.

“It’s all just going down, he said. “Now they’re cutting money for H.I.V. prevention, even when there is one new infection every 10 minutes. When will that stop?” Even in his own life, he feels the pressure of health care costs, too.

“Look at prescription drugs,” he said. “They always want a co-pay at the drug store. Sometimes I don’t have the money for the co-pay and the drug store won’t give me my medicines.”

Next to his table, St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction, a nonprofit community health group, distributes free hypodermic needles to heroin addicts and diabetics. People line up, many of them in their 50s (or, at least, looking like it), to get a small bag with needles, alcohol swabs and condoms.

Often, people stop by and ask for referrals to detox programs, soup kitchens and food pantries. Volunteers there said referrals for food had tripled since last year alone, to 150 a day. Many of them come from local shelters, of which there is an abundance in this South Bronx neighborhood.

Carlos Flores has been coming to this street ever since he and his family had to move in to a shelter a few blocks away. He lost his apartment when he lost his truck driving job — an insurance problem left him with no driver’s license for a while, which was enough to put him on the street.

Although he has been accepted into a program that covers some of his rent as he starts to work again, he cannot find a landlord who will rent him a place. “I’m still at the shelter,” he said as he waited in line with his 18-month-old son, Sean Carter. “We’re trying. We’re looking, but it’s hard, no lie. Now they took away our food stamps when I missed a meeting with a caseworker.”

Given how threadbare their existences had long been, the idea that Congress had to ease the plight of bankers as soon as possible struck many of these people as preposterous, if not insulting.

“Why should we save a bank?” said Frances Hernandez, who was hauling an empty shopping cart. “Some people don’t have cards to go to banks.”

Edwin Avent and Eddie Fernandez stood near the head of the soup kitchen line. Mr. Avent had just finished a job training program for office help. He had yet to find a job.

“What about the poor?” Mr. Avent said.

“He got to stop spending money on that war,” Mr. Fernandez said. “If they messed up that country, it’s on them, not us.”

“It’s just heartbreaking what’s going on,” Mr. Avent said. “Don’t get me wrong — this is a great country, but we should take care of ourselves first. God bless the child who takes care of his own. Would you tend to your neighbor’s child before your own? We’re spending millions on another country and we got people here who are hungry.”

Yet, even in this place of need, there are scenes of unexpected generosity. It comes not from the government, but from others who walk the same streets with tired feet and haggard faces.

Anthony Echevarria and his wife, Tracy Rosado, stopped at one of the tables asking when the food pantry would open. Mr. Echevarria is a barrel-chested man. He used to be a construction worker until he hurt his spine. His wife just gave birth to a son, Nicholas Anthony. The five-day-old infant lay asleep in a harness on his father’s chest.

“There are people dying in this neighborhood,” Mr. Echevarria said. “They could be giving $700 billion to drug programs, food pantries or housing.”

He asked if the food pantry would open. It would not, he was told, until Wednesday. His little family of three walked away, calmly. He toted a small bag of clothes his newborn child did not need. He gave it to a woman leaving a church down the street.

On this gloriously sunny day, where the noonday light revealed every wrinkled face, grimy shirt and busted shoe, a man who received nothing managed to give a little to someone who had even less. He did not call it a bailout. He called it his duty.

“God is a good God,” he said, stroking his son’s back. “A giving God.”

What the New York Times lacks in subtly, they make up for in their relentlessness for socialism.

That is the “God” they speak of here.

Still, “free condoms”?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, October 1st, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

9 Responses to “NYT: No Bailout For Those In Soup Line”

  1. lobogris says:

    No excuses. When I got out of the military I was jobless. I spent a year away from my family at a trade school in California learning what I hoped would be enough to get a start at the entry level. I have been working that job for the last 10 years. I will be done paying for that school, and the rest of the debt I incurred by living in California, next year. No one made me go to school. No one gave me the money to pay for the school (it was a loan). And no one bailed me out. I will not listen to or support excuses from full grown adult human beings who will not even try to do for themselves. There are jobs waiting. The only thing is…the jobs will NOT come to you.

  2. artboyusa says:

    “Look, Mom; I know the candy store’s been in the family for generations but that’s not my problem. Yes, I know it’s your and Pop’s whole life but that’s tough – you’re just not very good businesspeople, are you? If you were you wouldn’t need me to bail you out, cappeesh? No, sorry; it’s against all my principles. Why don’t you try selling your corneas? Mom – you don’t have to use that kind of language. Look, I’ve gotta go…there’s some people here.

    Hello there! Nice to see you! Welcome to Artboy Investments, a division of PredatorCor. I’m Artboy, the President and CEO – welcome to my private office, high atop our towering, gleaming, shining new building here in beautiful midtown. This place was designed by top architect Frank Gehry and he ain’t cheap but, boy, it’s worth every million of your money it cost.

    “Nice pad, huh? That’s my stunning view of Manhattan and this is my big desk and that’s my marble floor and that’s my indoor waterfall and that’s my pet cheetah wearing her diamond collar and those are my Degas bronzes and that’s an original Picasso and that’s my PA Jenna –not now, Jenna. I’m busy. Come back later. Don’t forget the baby oil.

    “You may wonder why I’ve asked you ordinary people here today and offered you this glimpse into my magnificent lifestyle. Well, it’s very simple.

    “In these times of turbulence on the world’s financial markets I want all of you to know that Artboy Investments remains rock solid. Your deposits are perfectly safe and I remain confident that I’ll be acquitted of all those unfounded charges. You can trust Artboy!

    “That said, I still need $700 gazillion trillion of your tax dollars, just to tide me over. I’ll pay it back, I promise.

    “Gee, that’s a lot of money’, you may say, and I suppose to you it is. You may wonder what exactly it is that I do or what it is that I know which justifies these kinds of numbers? Good question. What did I do to the company? I took a piece of shit and turned it into a pile of crap, is what.

    “And why should you give me the money? That’s another good question. Where did all the company’s own money go? Another good one! Why should I be trusted not to mess up again if you give me all that dough – did I suddenly just get a lot smarter overnight? Exactly!

    “You say people like me have done more damage to our economy than Osama Bin Laden ever did? Correct! – and he’s still walking around free, isn’t he? There you go!

    “This is America, my friends, and if America stands for anything it stands for two enduring principles. One is that celebrities must never go to jail. The other is that rich people must never, ever, lose money.

    “That’s right, my friends. No matter how reckless, greedy or incompetent we may be our wealth insulates us against all the unpleasant consequences, just as your relative poverty exposes you to the same. It’s the American way! You believe in the American way, don’t you? Huh? You’re not some kind of Communist are you? Of course you’re not!

    “My friends; look at you and your narrow, empty lives; grinding away at your miserable jobs, coming home to the same woman year after endless year, lucky to squeeze out a couple of week’s vacation in some godforsaken theme park, knowing that your wife will just get older and your children will only grow up and disappoint you.

    “Now look at me; with my glossy hair and my nice clothes and my handmade shoes, my seven houses and my fleet of classic cars and my boat the “SS Lay-Z-Daze” and my reserved table at trendy eateries like The Veal Crate and my fifth wife who is 23 and used to be a lingerie model and my PA Jenna and her friend Candi and you want me to give all that up for the sake of a few lousy trillion dollars?

    “Come on, America – you’re better than that! This is the most generous nation on Earth and you know what they say: charity begins at home. Not your home – my home, remember?

    “Look at all the terrible things that happened when the House voted down Hank Paulson’s brilliant bailout plan – oh, right. Nothing happened – but it might! It just might! Do you want to take that risk?

    “So please; dig deep in the pockets of your faded TJ Maxx pants and hand it over. Don’t ask questions; there’s no time for discussion – this is a national emergency! Just cough it up and make me happy, okay?

    “You will? That’s great! I’m really glad we had this little talk. You can show yourselves out now – please put that ashtray back – and send Jenna in here, would you?”

  3. Look at it this way – when Obama wins and we’re all eating out of soup kitchens because “change” is what will be left of our paychecks and our savings, the spin will be “communities share a meal together!”

    Positive spin changes everything!


    We. Are. Totally. Screwed. Obama’s up in the polls and this election is over. Enjoy a lifetime of socialism, USA.

  4. BillK says:

    Alas, eq01, we get the government we deserve.

    The American people have spoken, and they want socialism.

    This is the final culmination of the “tear the successful down to our level” mentality promoted by prominent Democrats like Jerry Springer.

    We’ll be a country of trailer trash (well, not Palin-like trailer trash) who will be happy to let the Government handle everything because we don’t want to be bothered with doing it for ourselves.

    I’ll just sit back dumb and happy waiting for my Government check and let those folks in Washington and the Ruling Class figure everything out, because the TV says they’re smarter and stuff.

    It’s just too bad Reagan deregulated all that stuff or think of how good things would be if Carter had been reelected. That’s what the Time magazine I was reading at the barber said…

    But really, as I’ve said before, it’s our own fault.

    Because we let the left write the history books, we let the left teach it to our kids, we let the left report the news and we let the left tell us what to think by letting the left control the media.

    We let the left take over Government, we let the left take over the courts, we let the left write the laws and we let the left water down enforcement of laws they didn’t like.

    What did conservatives think would happen?

    We squandered Reagan’s legacy, we squandered our time in control of Congress, and in an effort to get invited to the right parties the GOP acted more like the party of Olympia Snowe than the party of Ronald Reagan.

  5. Gila Monster says:

    “…..and some free condoms are about the only things to salve the sting of bad times.”

    That’s Dhimmi socialism in a nutshell, heh. Screwed up and lost my job, government handouts ending, I’m so oppressed, sigh, but I can still do the horizontal lambada,

    Glad they have their priorities straight. ;o)

  6. Colonel1961 says:

    BillK: you hit a lot of correct notes!

    I’ll use the analogy of protesters. People have asked me why there are never any rallies for conservative causes. I say it’s because we are too busy rearing our children, paying our taxes, working our jobs, paying our bills, giving our time and money to charity, etc. The bad news is what you alluded to: while we’ve been doing this, the left has been tirelessly re-writing the rulebooks, moving the goalposts and are now trying to shove it up our collective arse.

    It is time to fight back, but it has to be a commitment that is difficult for people doing the things I mentioned above. I don’t belong to a union that will pay me to protest in DC, etc. I do, however, explain in careful detail, the machinations of our political/economic system and enlighten my children (not brainwash them) about what I believe to be an accurate vision of reality, vis-à-vis capitalism/conservatism versus socialism/liberalism. I am proud to report that they have stood up to teachers spouting liberal dogma. It’s a start…

  7. artboyusa says:

    “Look, Pop -I’m sorry Mom’s upset but the answer is still no, I can’t help you. Maybe you should just go bankrupt: there’s more to life than the candy store you know. If you need the money so bad, why don’t you sell one of your livers or something? Only one? No kidding. Pop – please; shouting won’t get us anywhere…look, I’ve gotta go. I’ve got people waiting…okay, you too.

    “Sorry about that, people. Hello and welcome to Artboy Investments. I’m Artboy, president and CEO. Well, today is a special day, isn’t it? Our bought and paid for Congress performed like the bunch of trained seals they are and did as they were told and today I’ve got $700 billion gazillion trillion of your money in my wallet. Thanks, Congress and thank you, America – when the going got tough you got going and rewarded my incompetent recklessness (or is it my reckless incompetence)? Anyway, thanks for the bucks. I promise to pay you all back someday – in fact, here’s an IOU for the full amount. See? ‘IOU $700 billion gazillion trillion’ -I ‘ll just hang on to this, okay? You might lose it. Anyway, we’re all off to the Veal Crate now to celebrate. Can you come? Oh gosh, I’m sure you wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s not really your kind of place, if you know what I mean.

    “You just go home know and keep quiet and don’t ask any questions, okay? Fine. I’ll let you know when, sorry, IF I need to tap you for some more, okay? You know the way out. Bye for now. Come on, Jenna, that champagne won’t uncork itself…”

  8. texaspsue says:

    Your story gives a great analogy to the situation, artboy. It’s socialism in a nut shell.

    Glad we could help Artboy Investments with that $700 billion gazillion trillion handout, can we have our soup now? :-)

  9. artboyusa says:

    Thank you, tex. Yeah, we’ve been celebrating all weekend – no more dog food for Artboy!

    I’m sorry, though, that with oncosts and compensation packages and, um , wastage, there just won’t be anything left for your soup. Tough break, tex. I’d kinda like to wanna help you with that but I’m a dedicated free marketeeer, you see -except when I get into trouble and then I believe in sharing the wealth, and then sharing it some more when this fiasco of a bill doesn’t work, as it won’t.

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