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Bob McManus
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Dasani? « Back to Story

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And they'd lose everything. They wouldnt bother, they'd give up. But not me I will stay and plant my apple tree.
It is funny how once you google yourself you find things that you never knew exsisted. There is so many lies and they're just ridiculous. I dont even know the person who wrote about me. It is amazing what people will do. The truth. Truth will set you free. My name is Dasani. I live in washington D.C.. I use to live in a shelter. But know I live in public housing. I am 14 old. I have 7 brothers and sisters. I never been to new york a day in my life. My parents are not drug addicts. My parents got my name because they couldnt think of any names and they were in the store, just a thinking when they came across Dasani water. Thats how I got my name. And if it were a coat I'd wear it every day. One more thing. I will not follow in my parents footsteps. My parents are dependent but not me. Your wrong. If they that the world would end, and they lose everything
All very true! Simplistic whining about the housing situation of a dysfunctional family solves nothing. Let's see how Di Blasio "fixes" an "unfixable" situation (hint: he won't).
Andrea Elliot is a poverty pimp. She will receive a Pulitzer for what is really a political hit job meant to reinforce Mayor-elect DeBlasio's ridiculous campaign theme. Short on potential solutions, heavy on emotional appeal this is the perfect series of articles in the age of Obama. Its basically Obama (and DeBlasio) in a nutshell. Elliot has said she will stay in touch with Dasani in the future. Fat chance. Liberals treat the poor like animals in zoo- something to observe or exploit in the pursuit of greater power over the masses. Its truly disgusting.
The way to help the poor is to create jobs, something Liberals are simply incapable of attempting, much less accomplishing.
I solved my Dasani problem two years ago. I moved out of NYC two years ago. We now live in a nice quiet bedroom community in the New Jersey suburbs, what Ron Kuby used to call 'Whitelandia'
Problem solved!
HI. My name is Ruth.. A mother,grandmother and now great grandmother.. I am suffering the homeless situation of my daughter and her children. She left Florida to tend to her daughter which was suffering from cancer. She has 5 other children. One is an adult the others are ages 15,13-twins, soon to be 7.. She is working as is her husband.. I wanted so bad to fit them in my home but cannot due to the fact that i live in housing.. Couldn't fit them all.. They have been suffering in the system since coming down from Florida. It's been almost if not a yr. They have not seen a grief counseler and have to travel to school alone a long ways... I have them after school to do all i can before they return to the shelter.. They are so depressed... The 15 yr. old is having very bad thoughts.. How can i get help for them???? Can't they be placed in HOusing ???? I am desperate.. I'm disabled and sick a lot of the time... Why can't they receive help but our Government can help all outsiders????? Our people have much more needs and are denied the help, regardless if they are tax payers or not... Shame,shame, shame... My grand-daughter passed on This August on my 40th wedding anniversary, wanting to die at home with her mother and siblings and her 1 yr. old son and husband....Haven't they suffered enought???? I plead for someone , anyone, to please help my babies... Thank you... Ruthy..
Dasani's circumstances are "largely" of her parent's making? You're kidding, right? Any child's circumstance (good or bad) is literally their parent's making. That's the core of the problem.

I think we can all agree, liberal or conservative or other, that this series was incredibly sad, that the reporting was stellar, and that the greatest minds of all political persuasion have failed to come up with effective solutions to the underlying problems so skillfully depicted here. I hope the series sparks renewed efforts by policy thinkers to address the problems rather than compete for who's right or wrong.
What you suggest, though very well intentioned, will not work, as has been demonstrated in the UK.
I suggest you read "Life At the Bottom," by Theodore Dalrymple. He describes the affects of the social support programs, of the type you suggest, on the WHITE underclass of the UK, and contrasts this with the minority Pakistani and Indian (from India)residents of the UK who still retain the cultural mores and values of their native land.
In short, the white underclass exhibits ALL the social pathologies of the inner city blacks of the USA, while those immigrants of Indian/Pakistani heritage in the UK do not. Indeed, these immigrants, in percentages in excess to their population percentage, are over represented in professional positions and attaining higher educational achievement. Further, the numbers of in the white underclass has grown; not diminished as the proponents of these programs maintained when they were originated.
Thomas Sowell has also described situations such as these in some of his books.
The lesson of all this, IMHO, is when you subsidize something, you just get more of it.
So, the perverse results of ample social (i.e, financial) support for teenage , unwed mothers is more of the same.
In fact, prior to the Great Society programs (and when racism and opportunities for blacks was far less than today), the vast majority of black families were two parent families!!
Like I said in my earlier post, I have no idea what the solution is for families like that of Dasani.
For those who refuse to help themselves, I do not think there is much anyone can do for them.
I wish I knew a solution.
Obviously what we need to solve the problem of a metastasizing, dysfunctional and criminal black underclass is some kind of Marshall Plan, as the NYT article itself concluded. Dedicate a trillion dollars or more, start a multitude of social programs, early childhood education, Head Start for the hordes of fatherless children being produced by unmarried teen-age mothers. Good nutrition is important. Create WIC to help feed these hordes of children and their mothers, so the children can grow up strong and healthy. And good nutrition for their mothers, so they can keep producing more and more healthy fatherless children they cannot care for or support. And free medical and dental care. And lots of it. The taxpayers love paying for free healthcare for the population that preys on them. And tell the black males not to worry, the government will take care of everything. Jobs and parental responsibility are white values. Black is beautiful by itself.

Oh, come to think of that we have been enjoying exactly such a program since 1965. All must be going well now. My mistake.
JA - culture matters - in the story Dasani's teacher describes her journey. She mentioned that her mother did not approve of her going to college - accused her of "acting white". Similar social pathology exists in the white underclass as well.

However, in order to break this cycle, people such as Dasani's parents must make the climb out of dependancy - how could anyone with eight children do so in a city as expensive as NYC?
Sometimes I think some problems are simply intractable; there simply is no solution.
If this family is given,tax-free, $500,00 per year, chances are that the parents would just have their drugs delivered to their apartment and they would just drown themselves in booze and drugs and the children would still be neglected.
Money, for this family, is NOT the problem; the parents have given up on life and the victims are the children (what else is new?).
Maybe NY City and State should instead spend the money on well-run children's homes, where the children are provided support, skills, education assistance, adequate housing, meals, supervision etc., and are taught the necessary study/social/personal responsibility skills necessary to succeed.
Frankly, if I had the authority to impose my solution upon this mess, I would not know what to do; though I do believe that today's message the downtrodden repeatedly receive, "you are a victim," (just like a victim of a major natural disaster) inculcates within many of them the notion that there is nothing that they can do for themselves to ameliorate their lives - so why try?
How do you help people who refuse to help themselves??
I wish I knew.

No one wants to admit it, but the best "solution" is to remove Dasani and her siblings from the parents. Her problems are entirely of her parents' making.
TailKinker is correct - compare/contrast SofM issues in the convent with Dasani's issues at school.

Yeshi -Bloomberg did not sell drugs to Dasani's parents and grandparents. Neoliberals did not force Dasani's parents to have children when they were not ready. If you want to place blame, blame it on the 1960's pread of the drug culture and loosening of traditional (uptight) mores. What was all fun and games for some people (white, upper middle class) was devastating for blue collar and poor folks.
I definitely recommend Andrea Elliot's editorial Invisible Child, but responses like this are very annoying. Dasani is a bright young girl with strong values and a resilience unseen in many adults. Dasani is a child. SHE IS NOT A PROBLEM. Bloomberg's legacy is a problem. Urban poverty is a problem. Neoliberalism is a problem. Please people!

Clearly a lot of people have never heard of a small movie called "The Sound of Music" or the second full song in the movie "How you do solve a problem like Maria?"

I think it is strange that everyone assumes they must stay living in New York City. Conceivably the city itself could offer one of the many surrounding communities the money it would cost to keep them in their substandard room, and it would result in much better services and housing opportunities. There are plenty of ways to handle this that does not strip them of their dignity while taking into account their difficulty in managing their own money or apparent psychological problems.
The Times article was excellent writing. Yes, it is an article written with a leftist sensibility intent on indicting income inequality and mayor bloomberg. And yes, it was likely timed to be an assist to a Deblasio administration. But having said that, it was truthful, and unflinching in its depiction of this family's life. And one of the things it told clearly was that this "homeless" family was receving, based on calculating up the cost and value of benefits provided in the Times article, $57 thousands a year. Both parents received free Methadone to aid in their recovery from opiate addictions, the husband free residetial treatment, and various agencies provided food, shelter, education, and psychotherapy for the family. This "homeless" family had family members less then a few blocks from the shelter whom could have provided support. They also had previously inherited a large sum of cash from a relative and been granted a housing subsidy for two years. During that two year period the family was unable to sustain employment, and lost both the inheritence and subsidy.
As long as the kid is living in that dysfunctional "family" there is little hope. You could give them a house and 100 grand per year to live on and she wouldn't be much better off.
Dasani may not be a "problem" nut her mother and mom's boyfriend definitely are.
To Richard Grayson:

The real joke is on the taxpayers, who will be paying out huge sums of money - well into the high six and even seven figures - over their own and their children's lifetimes to keep these two parents and their seven offspring in drugs, booze, welfare and prison, which, statistically, is where most of these children will eventually end up - welfare or prison. My money is on mom producing one or two more offspring to keep her benefits up and pop and herself in liquor and drugs as the older children, including Disani, start having babies and move out and into the shelter system on their own welfare case.

The first in the series of articles carried this week by the NYT just briefly, very briefly, touched on the New York City program that provided rental payments, job training, psychological counseling, etc. by the Bloomberg administration. The first article stated that the family spent two years in their own, city-funded apartment, with the above benefits, and, when the program ended due to the end of state funding, ended up back in the homeless shelter system. When the program ended, (and this was conveniently left out of the article), the NYT reported at the time that 80% of the families that had gone thru the program had found permanent housing that they could afford, had gotten some kind of employment, and were actively receiving personal counseling by an assortment of city and private agencies. Obviously Disani's 'family' failed to get thru this program.

Why should the taxpayers be punished for this?
Several decades ago Newt Gingrich was demonized for suggesting that children living in circumstances such as Disani be removed from their dangerous, dysfunctional homes and biological parents and raised up in state-run orphanages.
Tell me why this young lady and her siblings are better off living with two alcoholic drug addict with criminal records who use their children as a cash cow to support their dysfunctional and aberrant lifestyle.
There are 22,000 homeless children in New York City.....
“the highest number since the Great Depression,”
"In New York, where the shelter population has reached levels not seen since the Depression era,"....

To sum it up, “Invisible Child” lacks any meaningful connection to reality that might help indicate a way to remedy dome of the problems. Typical for the Left.
What the hell kind of headline is this??? Dasani, the person, the child, is not "a problem," her life circumstances are. Poverty is the problem, the historical and present iniquities that under-gird this unbalanced system are the problem, not the *people.* Might seem like I'm getting caught up on semantics, but the it makes a big difference in how we look at the situation.
Harold W commented:

"According to the NYT, the young lady was named by her mother when the mother passed a bottle of Dasani water in the local supermarket just before she gave birth and was attracted to the product name.

Dasani should consider herself lucky. If mom and dad had been shopping for dinner in the local liquor store just before mom gave birth, this young girl might have had to go through life named 'Manischewitz'."

So you read the series, or at least the first article and your response is to make a silly joke? Very nice.
So I guess your solution is to look the other way and get annoyed when the story of kids like Dasani are brought to your attention. Very nice.
Dasani is not a "problem." She's a child.
I read the series - my heartgoes out o the Dasanis of the world. However, what ails her family is not a function of the economy's ups or downs. Even if we had full employment and higher wages, families like Dasanis would be tethered to the welfare system.

What always gets me is that contrast in these stories - the very rich vs. the underclass. Most upper middle class people could not afford $35,000 tuition for multiple children - I believe that given NYC's tax structure, that $35,000 represents nearly $70,000 in gross income.

What none of these stories contrast are the lives of the struggling working or middle class who have to pay for cell phones, food and shelter. What it would probably show is a standard of living nearly on par with the underclass - the only difference would be the cleanliness, decency and order of those truly struggling to stay afloat. It would certainly render the underclass way less sympathetic.
According to the NYT, the young lady was named by her mother when the mother passed a bottle of Dasani water in the local supermarket just before she gave birth and was attracted to the product name.

Dasani should consider herself lucky. If mom and dad had been shopping for dinner in the local liquor store just before mom gave birth, this young girl might have had to go through life named 'Manischewitz'.
I read the Dasani article with fascination and horror. The opportunities are presented to her parents over and over and over, and they can't take advantage of them. It seems clear to me that 2 hopeless drug addicts do not need to be raising 8 children. Foster care or even a group home would be a better setting for these kids, and getting out of New York City even better yet. Yes, they would lose the "family bond", but in a family where the worthless dad steals his 11 year old's money, the benefits of separation outweigh the disadvantages. The tragedy is that when puberty hits and the adolescent power struggle is all about sexuality, we all know what is going to happen to this little girl if she remains in this situation.
I started to read the first installment on Monday but I had to stop. Once I saw the picture of the giant flat-screen TV in the family's government-provided housing, that was 3x the size of my first 5th floor walk-up studio apartment, I was so heartbroken I could not see through my tears to read anymore.

What horrible suffering. It just goes to remind us that little if anything has changed since the horrifying era of Jacob Riis.