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Kay S. Hymowitz
Did Inequality Make Dasani Homeless? « Back to Story

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I live in Brooklyn, and Ms Hymowitz is quite wrong about Brooklyn rents: they are quite expensive in a decent and clean section of Brooklyn.
I find it amazing that we can read about Dasani and then make it all about us (progressives vs. non-progressives?). Who cares? Let's find a way as humans to help kids like Dasani reach their full potential. Better services, better parents, more conservative values----whatever it takes. It is 2014. This is the USA. We can do this but only if we focus on the real victims---the children, not us!!
Heaven forbid liberals understand responsibility and morality. This child was brought into the world by two of the most vile people a poor child could be shackled to.
Liberalism taught them they did not need to perform, have morals, be responsible and do the best they could by being examples.
Liberalism gave them entitlements and made sure they lived for their vices and acted on their urges instead of rational thought.
So now it is societies fault the child grew up with this scum.
Insanity.
"(It should be mentioned that in Elliott’s nearly 30,000 words, she makes not a single reference to Dasani’s genuinely invisible father.)"

It actually does mention him. It states he is in prison for selling drugs..

It is assumed of course he is just another "victim" in the prison pipeline for the black underclass of course.
excellent, well-balanced, thoughtful piece on a difficult societal issue. Income inequality is a simplistic catch phrase not terribly helpful in addressing solutions to the squalid living conditions described.
Strange that so many comments on this article are accusing liberals of wanting "more welfare" for Dasani's family. Whoever said so? The common ground between the liberal and conservative posters here seems to be an agreement that Dasani's city-provided living conditions were horrible. The finger still points towards the city, which, even under the business-minded Bloomberg, couldn't clean up the waste and inefficiencies in the shelter system.

Also at issue here is the municipal government's blindness towards the larger problems of homelessness and instability-- including drug addition-- that resulted in the city further throwing funds down the toilet. As many have mentioned, a roof is not the end-all and be-all for a family like this. That's not a liberal or a conservative policy-- it's just BAD policy. What's the root of the problem? That they are "animals" as some have written? Not exactly.

My immigrant relatives lived in poverty in NYC-- and, yes, had six kids!-- but the Bklyn projects they lived in were clean and well-maintained, they didn't have a dismal job market to contend with, and were able to pull themselves out of poverty thanks to decently-paying factory jobs that they received with only 4th and 6th grade educations. (Not to mention that city university in those days was FREE, so their kids had a college career within reach.) That DOES NOT exist for families like Dasani's.
The mental and physical health morass that living in a place like Aubern shelter can create then becomes its own concentric circle of hell that is even harder to surmount.

It is those latter two points that I believe Elliot was trying highlight in her article-- the dim prospects and the substandard resources-- but her heavy-handed language and rhetorical flourishes got in the way.

American Winter isn't bad viewing on this score:
http://www.americanwinterfilm.com/

We are all mainly mammals. Dasani and her family are like animals in a zoo- we feed them and keep them alive, so they don't really have any responsibilities. And like animals deprived of the need to make a living that we are programmed to spend 80% of our lives doing, they develop vices.

A horse in a stall too much weaves or cribs, a human loafs, predates, has babies and uses drugs.

You get what you pay for. Put people in zoos, they become only animals. And when they become only animals, they build themselves a wilderness.
Why isn't Dasani in foster care/able to be adopted? If this were Arizona, she would be pulled out of that home. New York may need to strengthen its laws regarding drug abuse and neglectful parenting. It won't stop bad parenting, but at least it would give more children a chance.
I was struck by the fact that the parents received a monthly income of almost $3000 yet they paid

No rent
No mortgage
No rental insurance,
No car payment,
No car insurance,
No health insurance, and heaven knows
No charitable donations.

Where does all the money go every month.
Progressive Liberalism in a nutshell: Reward Bad Behavior.
Drug addict parasites are our fault and we should pay more taxes?

Hmmm....
This story occurred during the Michael Bloomberg term as Mayor of New York. So why these comments:

-- "Will de Blasio ever encounter reality?"

-- "Under DeBlasio, liberals are about to experience the full consequences of their tortured arguments."

-- "Until there are fundamental changes in that line of thinking in the minds of local (e.g., Mr. de Blasio), state and especially our federal officials, the plight and future of the nation's poor is very bleak indeed."

Whatever they are smoking, drinking, snorting, popping... well, no. That's bizarre stuff.

Also, from the article:

-- "The reason for this confusion is clear: in the progressive mind, there is only one kind of poverty. It is always an impersonal force wrought by capitalism, with no way out that doesn’t involve massive government help."

That's even wackier than blaming Bill for Mike's performance in office. Write something like that and you lose folks at the Middle Of The Road for good.
There are three distinct inequality issues in America:
1. The way the 1% get most of the income growth
2. The eroding quality of middle-class jobs
3. The permanently impoverished, like Dasani

New York City BENEFITS from #1, and has relatively few of the kinds of jobs affected by #3. It's a city dominated by the kinds of people who created the problem -- the mega-rich and immigrants. The only way out for the nation is to improve the quality of jobs. And that's going to require a political re-alignment away from the two parties who see jobs as a cost to be minimized, or a civil right to be focused to favored demographics.
Ed is quite right in his comments. However, the question is whether small children should live under the conditions that Dasani and her siblings live? And this is considering how much money New York spends on people like her and her family. It seems absurd doesn't it? My question is whether is right for the city and the government to spend so much and to have children living in inhuman conditions that certainly are a violation of their human rights? I agree that the answer to this question is not easy to fathom. What is clear, though, is that the waste of financial resources is clear to fathom as is the violation of the human rights of children who are not guilty of anything except to be the children of idiots.
Inequality is the only natural state. Every living being with unique DNA is different than all others of its kind; different in its abilities and different in its life circumstrances. "Equality" is a concept meant to promote equal legal outcomes before the law. If you wish to extend that to economic equality, you must establish a dictatorship and destroy the people's liberty because it will otherwise be resisted by those desiring freedom.
Carlisle;

Where have you been for the last 40 years? We've had contraceptive education in the schools for many decades now. If poor people aren't contracepting and aborting themselves out of existence, it's because they don't WANT to.
Elliot's piece was geared to the Uptown and increasingly Brooklyn liberals who fetish the poor to assuage whatever version of White guilt they are currently suffering from.

Chanel was raised up in bad circumstances but she had in her mother an example of a successful transition and to break the cycle. Thus far she has chosen not to do so. She squanders a substantial inheritance, most people don't leave or receive legacies of $50K to their children.

Elliot doesn't want to play the blame game on the parents but wants to blame the rest of us for not doing enough to help Dasani. Sorry you can't have it both ways. We are right to question the deplorable job Dasani's parents are doing raising their children. Dasani was already getting into fights and exhibited poor verbal skills.

Finally even the shelter scenes failed to move me. Why aren't the residents organized into cleaning, child care and security shifts? Seems to me if the city is providing you shelter the least you can do is help with the upkeep.
Reply to Tom Blair: When will conservatives stop putting so many road blocks in the way of sex education and birth control?
The kid was named after a brand of bottled water. Nuff said.
When the NYT originally gave us the Dasaani story, they probably wanted us to say, why cant we make gov do more for this family. But instead I asked, why should adults this iresponsible still have their kids. Why haven't their parental rights been permanently teminated already, and after this many kids, maybe any future kids should be immediately removed after birth. Then maybe we can raise them all somewhere that will teach them to not have kids until their lives are together enough to properly raise them.
All it took was that phrase “the whims of the wealthy” to see that reporter Elliott does believe in "the politics of blame" after all. She's just on the other side.
Dasani's family receives a lot of financial support from the taxpayers, but is not on welfare, according to the story. That's because her stepfather, "Supreme," didn't go to job search sessions required under welfare reform.

The family had a decent home for awhile. Supreme worked as a barber. But they lost it all due to the parents' drug addiction.
The NYT writer doesn’t want to get into the “politics of blame”; this requires one to do something that many find difficult. That is: being judgmental. However, this case seems to be a clear case of child neglect and possibly abuse. A just society is morally obligated to act. Among the judgments that need to be made (fairly and openly; not by a faceless, nameless, bureaucracy).
Are the children being neglected? Should they remain in the “care” of C and S? (My opinion: the children should be removed asap)
Have the operators of the shelter acted in the best of their ability to run the shelter? (My opinion: the center should be shut down and all connected fired.)
Have agents of the city connected to this situation acted professionally in the execution of their duties? (My opinion: no. They should be fired.)
The citizens of NYC have acted in good faith to aid their fellow citizens. It appears that they have been cheated and swindled.
Mr. de Blasio campaigned on being more responsive the needs of the poor. Well here’s the opportunity for Mr. de Blasio to “shut up or put up”.
Is parental neglect not a crime in New York? Does New York City not have a child protective services? I am not being rhetorical. From this article it appears the answer is now.
Why not urge Supreme to stop being a "Child-Man" and start manning-up? You're pretty good at that, aren't you Kay?
Thanks, Kay, for a thoughtful article. As I read the original NYT series, I kept thinking two things:

1) No amount of money or help can improve the lives of Desani's parents. If they win the lottery next week, their lives will be a wreck by MLK day and their money will be gone by Presidents' day. They are completely incapable of taking care of themselves, much less anyone else.

2) The "Invisible Child" author Andrea is obviously begging for some government programs to save this tragic child from her circumstances, but she doesn't seem to realize that there are already government solutions in place. The ghastly shelter that they live in IS both one of the worst elements of their lives and the government's contribution to their situation. We don't want MORE of THAT kind of solution, do we?
See the referenced article - NYC paying $3,000 per family per month in 2011:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/311609-homeless-more-lucrative-landlords-their-own-paying-tenants/
I applaud the writer's mention of the complete absence, in the story, of the child's father. Today for progressive reporters a family is "a woman and her children." In the approved narratives men are disposable and bad. They are to be jettisoned (with state help) whenever a woman wants.

Men are therefore unimportant to women and men as fathers are unimportant to children. Because of this underlying belief on the part of feminists, statists and progressive reporters--the absence of a father in a child's life is never significant, never news.

In reality, though, each child has two main assets, a mother and a father. Children sometimes need to be protected from women. A good father can do a great deal to protect a child from the effects of maternal neglect. But this is an idea that most of today's young reporters cannot bring themselves to grasp.
As soon as I began reading the story, I wondered how many siblings does Dasani have? While I kept on reading, my heart aching for this little girl, anger and frustration growing in me, I wondered how many people will stop reading this article after the words “where she shares a 520-square-foot room with her parents and SEVEN siblings”. Why doesn’t the New York Times state the root problem in paragraph 1? THERE ARE TOO MANY BABIES BEING BORN TO PEOPLE WHO CANNOT CARE FOR THEM PROPERLY. Get to the babies NOW and educate them so they won’t grow up and repeat the awful cycle. Pump money into programs like Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children’s Zone instead of homeless shelters and jails.
Nothing new in this story - has been going on for generations only getting worse as the govenement takes on a bigger role with additional goodies.
One thing not mentioned is that the city government inadequately monitors what is gives to shelters - I'm sure the good citizens of NYC are paying four-star hotel prices via city contract to that shelter.
If a $49,000 inheritance did NOTHING to change the lives of these kids, how much government money does Elliott think is necessary for change? Maybe if she was given a million dollars that would do it?

Sometimes the problem looks like money, but the problem is often not money. The problem here appears to be drugs. You can't solve a drug problem with money, whether there are rich people next door wearing gold shoes and eating caviar or not. Money can be helpful in some instances, when there is something concrete that can be improved, but there is a definite limit to what money can do.

My childhood family was somewhat poor (not as poor as these) and the problem was always money, or the evil credit card companies. The actual problem was mental illness and gambling addiction.

Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood; the pillars of humanism, the ideals of every revolution since the fall of the Bastille. In the pursuit of these more people have been murdered, incarcerated, suppressed and cut off than under any other system of thought, including the most ancient, primitive forms of governance. The fact is that words are empty, also semantically, so there is no telling what these terms are going to mean under a given regime. This is my take:
Freedom; the right to pursue any course of action which would not infringe the similar right of another. The right to self destruct. To do nothing with your life, to fail - like Dasani’s mother. It is her freedom then to face the consequences – if not, the principle of freedom is violated.
Equality; the right to equality as a start, not as a conclusion. Of opportunity but not of outcome regardless of merit. This right imposes a duty on the community to provide Dasani an equal opportunity in life, to soften the handicap imposed by her forebears. Which duty is an expression of -
Brotherhood: which is not a right to be demanded, but a sacrifice to be made by individuals in recognition of the fact that “no man is an island”

Louis M.
Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood; the pillars of humanism, the ideals of every revolution since the fall of the Bastille. In the pursuit of these more people have been murdered, incarcerated, suppressed and cut off than under any other system of thought, including the most ancient, primitive forms of governance. The fact is that words are empty, also semantically, so there is no telling what these terms are going to mean under a given regime. This is my take:
Freedom; the right to pursue any course of action which would not infringe the similar right of another. The right to self destruct. To do nothing with your life, to fail - like Dasani’s mother. It is her freedom then to face the consequences – if not, the principle of freedom is violated.
Equality; the right to equality as a start, not as a conclusion. Of opportunity but not of outcome regardless of merit. This right imposes a duty on the community to provide Dasani an equal opportunity in life, to soften the handicap imposed by her forebears. Which duty is an expression of -
Brotherhood: which is not a right to be demanded, but a sacrifice to be made by individuals in recognition of the fact that “no man is an island”

Louis M.
I am a benighted, red state knuckle dragger. So I need some sophisticated New Yorker to explain something to me. How is it that NYC can spend so much money on social services and law enforcement but still end up with public housing like the kind depicted in the article? Housing that is so glaringly dysfunctional? Especially when your outgoing mayor was supposed to be such a business-like, results-oriented kind of guy?
Creatures of the state and its heartless apparatus. Indeed, creatures of compassion, and charity. Creatures of Marx. Creatures of the Great Mistake.
It is a fruitless enterprise to knock down liberals' arguments, easy as it is to do so. They know nothing of logic and wouldn't know a false dichotomy from a post-hoc fallacy. "Feelings" are their only lodestar.

Under DeBlasio, liberals are about to experience the full consequences of their tortured arguments. I wish all New Yorkers joy of him.
The causes of dysfunction in the modern-day 'poor' family can be laid directly at the feet of the liberal elite who believe that self reliance and personal responsibility for one's life choices belongs not to individuals, but to the collective state. (Imagine Hillary's "village" if you will.)

Until there are fundamental changes in that line of thinking in the minds of local (e.g., Mr. de Blasio), state and especially our federal officials, the plight and future of the nation's poor is very bleak indeed.

Perhaps nothing short of complete economic and societal collapse will bring forth such changes. Viz., perhaps on that day when everyone else's money has been appropriated by the state, those officials might come to realize: "Good golly - there's no one left to blame."
Oculus:

Q: "Will de Blasio ever encounter reality?"
A: Not until he runs out of other people's money, and perhaps not even then. The short answer is 'no'.
Kay, as always, you tackle a grave issue, and make it understandable and available, to all.
Thank you
This article highlights a brave girl, while exposing its insipid author.
This article highlights a brave girl, while exposing its insipid author.
So the mother received welfare to care for the child and neglected her anyway. Well of course right? Liberals answer? More welfare. If your parent sucks and doesn't love you enough to see to your needs no amount of government aid is going to save you. Take the kids away from these nuts. That gives them a better shot at life and removes the incentive to have kids to get welfare money.
It is a perfect example of the tragedy of nature; a child must suffer for the sins of the parents.

When will liberals learn that being part of a society entails not just rights, but responsibilities. Society works..when people work and support themselves and their progeny.
I agree with the comments of the writer for the most part. The only thing to be said is that regardless of the stupidity of the parents no child should be living in the kind of conditions that the article described. A small child is after all not responsible for drug addiction, etc., and for a small child to live in a place with rats, sexual molesters, rancid food, etc., is utterly cruel and inhuman. The state is paying immense amounts of money for this family anyway (those homeless shelters, employees working there,methadone treatment, etc.) are not free you know. So I would prefer having that money spent in public housing so that children do not live in such conditions. This is all that can be done and one can only hope that the children turn otherwise than the 'idiot' parents did. As I said, the thing is to guarantee that no child has to live in such inhuman conditions. This is not a 'liberal' or conservative issue. It is an issue of the protection of children. It is true that putting children in foundling homes or foster care could also be an option but this is no panacea either and it certainly would save no money either.
"...mayor Bill de Blasio’s “tale of two cities”

There was a time when the reference was "the Shining city on a hill." Most called it aspiration; that must be in short supply, despite "get me some of dat" lifestyles of the poor and paid.

Will de Blasio ever encounter reality?