Wednesday, February 4, 2009

President Obama, Come With Me

There are them and there are us. "Them" as we are finding out is that special class of people who think it's horrible and a fundamental flaw in moral character that a father or a single mother seeks help from the government to feed their kids, provide medical care or a roof over their heads. "Them" have no qualms in not paying their taxes or using unfathomable taxpayers monies for luxury jets, multi-thousand dollar waste baskets, and billions of dollars of bonuses for job performances at the level of null and void. When the government provides "them" with billions of dollars to save their sorry asses from their greedy and irresponsible management of their businesses, they thumb their noses at the taxpayers and refuse to divulge what they do with the money.

On the other hand, one of the dangers of the presidency as exemplified by Bush is the creation of a bubble in which the president lives aloof and remote from the reality of what is going on out here among "us." In that context I would like to relate information about a local clinic which provides free legal services to those who qualify. Legal Aid of Manasota handles civil areas of law including family law (limited to domestic violence, child abuse and/or neglect), guardianships, bankruptcy (to preserve homes), housing law, consumer law and probate for any person who resides in Sarasota or Manatee County or whose legal problem is in these counties who meet case eligibility guidelines and whose household income and assets are within 150% of the federal poverty guidelines (125% for family law). Legal Aid of Manasota also offers a Pro Se Divorce Clinic for income eligible people who would like to learn how to represent themselves in a divorce proceeding. This clinic is taught by attorneys who walk the clients through the necessary steps. Seniors, age 55 an over, or the terminally ill may qualify to obtain a will, power of attorney, or designation of health care surrogate without charge. Legal assistance is also provided to individuals with AIDS or who are HIV positive.

Before President Obama gets too far into his presidency, I respectfully invite him to visit this clinic with me which would help him bring into sharp focus what "us" are experiencing while the Nero's of American life are fiddling away our money. On a typical day, he will see and hear about scurrilous used car dealers screwing people out of hard earned dollars, banks foreclosing on disabled people living in mobile homes who simply cannot afford to meet monthly payments because of lost jobs, and other dastardly life situations caused by the current economic downturn such as to cause one's heart to nearly break. Mr. President, if you think giving up on the tax-cheating Tom Daschle was disturbing, try listening to the young father of four small children whose power was cut off the night of a near freeze in Bradenton because he could not pay the electric bill. This is the "us" of our society and it should be noted that Legal Aid of Manasota has just had its funding reduced so that employees are reduced to a four day week. It should also be noted that I make no claim personally to have experienced any of these profound hardships that one sees daily at this clinic. It is just that these people are the "us" of our society and they are hurting bad. They need help.

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