I'm having particular trouble this year with Toys for Tots. Put it on me for being a grinch.
But, look. I see this big smarmy hoopla on the TV news every night with the weatherman and a bunch of shiny-eyed volunteers in North Face parkas handing out useless plastic Big Box crap for the poor children and, in my view of it, they look awfully damned pleased with themselves. So this is my question:
Is anybody involved with Toys for Tots a Rick Perry Tea Party Republican? I hope not, but if so, here is my holiday thought for you. Keep your damn toys.
If you fit my description, then you are personally responsible for this year's state budget, the one Governor Rick Perry keeps bragging about because it doesn't involve a tax hike or money from the state's reserve funds to stanch the bleeding in safety-net agencies.
As a result of your budget, Texas Child Protective Services will eliminate 800 positions this year and slash rates paid to service providers by 12 percent.
Cuts in their phone-answering staff are expected to produce 85,000 instances in which people try to report abuse of a child but no one takes their call.
How bitter is the picture for children in our community?
Ten years ago, a report by the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) found that 200 children a year in Dallas County were being abandoned by their parents to CPS solely because the children were mentally ill and giving them up was the only way their parents could get mental health services for them.
That's a national phenomenon -- your kid is crazy, you're broke, giving him up is the only way to help him -- but it has an especially nasty flavor in Texas, one of six states in which it's illegal to give up your kid solely to get mental health services.
In order to get rid of the kid here, you have to show a pattern of abuse. Don't even ask me how that is accomplished.
That was 10 years ago. Do we think this situation has gotten sweeter or more bitter since then? I know what I think.
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Little kids are not the only victims of Dickensian Tea Party cruelty. So are adults who are mental children. Kim Horner at The Dallas Morning News did a story October 10 on a program called The Arc that provides adult guardians to look after the well-being of mentally disabled adults. She gave an example of a guy whose landlord was cashing his disability check for him, which more than paid the rent, but the landlord was pocketing the rest. A guardian assigned by The Arc put a stop to that.
Half of The Arc's budget came from the state. Thanks to Perry and the Tea Party, all of that funding was cut.
We could go on. But here's the bottom line. The Perry Tea Partiers comprise the worst plague to afflict poor children in Texas since the Comanches. At least the Comanches scalped and disemboweled children as a legitimate expression of their culture and morals. I don't know what to say about the Tea Party.
It's a free country. Do as you may. But I hope you guys aren't also popping up on TV in the expensive parkas doing the Toys for Tots thing for the cameras. Because if you are, somebody ought to punch you in the mouth.