The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

Just spoke with a neighbor who lives at 60 Clarkson Avenue, you know, THE 60 Clarkson. She has six kids, she's juggling nursing school. The oldest ones are now in middle school and handle themselves nicely. Lots of help they are, really. Grown up real fast. They're doing okay. Living in a de facto homeless shelter. Doing okay, for now.

But she just told me a new family moved in Friday night. Mom, two kids, 4 and 6. She's a domestic abuse case, so she's not in the "system" yet to get her W.I.C. card. She came from intake in the Bronx with nothing. Nothing. As in nothing. Other homeless families in the building are sharing with her what they can. No sheets. No towels. No food.

Nothing. It might as well be a refugee camp somewhere on the other side of the world.

We're going to the grocery to pick up a few basics and drop them off. The system will kick in a couple days, one hopes. This story gets played out a thousand times a week in this, the richest City on the planet. And on this, a block with houses north of $1.5 million, the difference between haves vs have-nots could not be more stark.

Note to the fallen heroes who fought for the nation:

We're still working on it.


Anonymous said...

The biggest difference between the "haves" and "have nots" is whether one values an intact family, children in wedlock, and self reliance. Those that do almost always have a decent quality of life. Those who don't, won't.

You can characterize this as "Horatio Alger" all you want, but every rigorous study shows that the best predictor of social pathology and poverty is growing up in a fractured family. If you follow the affluent, you will recognize a pattern of growing up with Mom and Dad, and Mom and/or Dad working. Yes there are "trust fund babies" --but the far more prevalent model of affluence is an intact family, education and hard work.

There is a limit to what "we" (the collective) can do. Surely we need to provide a safety net to everyone. But deriding the successful is not the way to help the truly poor. To the extent "we" (the collective) want to help with more than a handout today, "we" need to do everything we can to promote intact families. The rest, in my opinion, is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic (at great expense).

Curious27 said...

It's truly a shameful state of affairs when the system can barely bring crumbs to the poorest while continuing to inflate the pockets of the wealthiest. I wonder how many families placed in these shelters are victims of landlords looking to get folks out for a lousy rent increase? If one thing is for sure, the inability to pay rent (and for food, sheets, towels, etc) is not about a desire to do so, but having the means to, and that is something we should work to rectify. Not that I'm saying redistribute wealth, but I mean, it's gotta come from somewhere.

Any ideas about organizations working to get these folks what they need, at the community level?

Curious27 said...

Oh, @Anonymous 2:38, get off of it. Are you to say that this woman and her children who are now part of that "fractured family" wanted this? Do you think anyone does? Save the bootstraps and get a clue. Systematic racism has put black and brown folks at a disadvantage since the end of slavery, and that's not conjectural, that's proven fact. Maybe pick up a history book and read a little and if you're still not convinced, well, at least keep your racism upfront so we can see you coming.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Listen. I was going to not publish your comment because it's so tone-deaf. Not that we haven't heard your Daniel Patrick Moynihan defense of marriage and apple pie before. But...did you miss the part about domestic abuse? This woman came into the building with one side of her face completely effed up. Likely, this happened in front of the kids, right? And imagine this scenario times 50 apartments and you'll get a sense of what both this AND the next generation at 60 Clarkson are up against.

I don't need to get into the wheres and wherefores, but I've had a fair amount of experience with people who suffered messed up upbringings, and suffice to say you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Abusive, alcoholic, dysfunctional, hateful, violent and incestual families happen at every income strata, and they too have a negative effect on "earnings," self-worth and self-sufficiency. What on earth are you bringing up "affluence" for anyway? The woman's been beat up, she's got two kids, maybe she's made some bad choices. But dang, haven't most of us? I'm just glad my bad choices didn't land me in jail, the poorhouse or dead, but I'll tell you right now it didn't hurt that I was white and from a good home and with a little bit left of Iowa good sense. Little bit.

And what are these "rigorous studies?" Are you a sociologist? Cite them please. Moynihan himself gave next to no solutions. He only described a problem, as you are. You can't MAKE people be the way you want them to.

Also, the greatest single indicator for affluence is...AFFLUENCE. You need start up capital to start a business, right? A head start in life is the best way to get the tools you need to succeed. We love the good Horatio Alger/Ayn Rand stories because we want to believe them. And god knows hard work and dignified behavior have been recipes for success since at least the time of Poor Richard's Almanack.

Listen, I would never argue that a "good home" isn't good, and a "bad home" isn't bad. But my reading and thinking suggests to me that the single biggest cause happens in the market. People, most people by a longshot, want to work. They want to make a decent living so they can take care of themselves and their families. When the jobs aren't there - decent paying jobs - the social structure that you're putting on a pedestal breaks down. And while the Brooklyn version of this discussion often happens around race, it's worth remembering that MOST American poor are white. But say you DID intend to bring race into it.

The lost of manufacturing work in the North - after, let's not forget, decades of sharecropping and before that slavery - have every bit as much to do with black generational poverty as any cultural or social work ethic or family structure. Are you suggesting the poor don't revere family and hard work? Or are you focused on a certain subset of the poor, a subset that has, so we're told, ALWAYS existed. I think that was Ta-Nehisi Coates that wrote about that. Certainly since the Industrial Revolution.

In fact, the shiftless, non-maritally-loyal exists in EVERY income and class strata. Believe me, I know plenty of people who have not exhibited the most upright or diligent behavior, but still have nice homes and vacations to show for it.

cheryl on parkside ave said...

Tim, please forgive me for changing the subject a bit. I was just told today that CAMBA no longer manage 60 Clarkson.....that the landlord of the building have created his own agency and is now managing the shelter portion of the building. Isn't this a conflict of interest....landlord and now the social agency managing the shelter portion of the building??? I was also told that 250 and 270 Clarkson have the same landlord as 60 Clarkson and they are also shelters. Why is the city allowing landlords to create and manage their own shelter systems. What do you think the community as a whole should do to bring this issue to the public. At the same time I do not want to violate the privacy of many of the shelter tenants, especially the women whose lives are at risk.

Carmen said...

And anonymous, I hate to break it to you, but people also die. Its the one guarantee that you have in life. You can have the "perfect" home then the working parent dies and bam, you're homeless. True story.

FlatFen said...

Why do people like anonymous even bother to post that sanctimonious junk? I'm inclined to think that it's because on some deep level they feel implicated in the injustice of it all, and that rather than face it they need to ostentatiously justify it and the play the part of moralizer.

diak said...

I've sent in this link to a Nicholas Kristof op-ed before. But I think it bears repeating in light of the comment at the top about "haves" and "have-nots."

Anonymous said...

If this woman was abused and she left the guy that means she did the right thing not the wrong thing! I am from the Midwest and South and there are far more people married multiple times in red states than blue states, a fact you can check and I saw it with my own eyes. The only thing conservative brands of Christianity does for families is make people marry too young to somebody they're not suited for leading to divorce or abuse. My evangelical tea party cousin has been married twice and basically abandoned his first wife and daughters, she just happened to have a good job (which he didn't like) so she didn't end up homeless. These types do love to rant what heathens all the rest of us are though, with no family values. Signed, an atheist who has been married longer than this cousin was the first time.

Anonymous said...

Wow a lot of vitriol against a brief observation about what are, objectively, the correlates of success.
So its either ALL nature or ALL nurture, either ALL society's fault or ALL the individual.
That's a false choice, and not what I was saying.
I'm not at all saying that every individual in a bad circumstance somehow "deserves" in a moral sense to be there.
Yes there are plenty of true victims, including of domestic abuse.
I was responding to the article/think piece which seemed to extrapolate, from the plight of this individual a sort of systematic defect in our society, which seemed to imply that for the most part, the solution to pathology and poverty is more income redistribution.
On a purely individual level, there are always exceptional people, who start with nothing and go very far, and vice versa.
But once you start playing the game of generalization, it is a fair observation that, as a generalization (i.e. more often than not) the strongest correlates to not being dependent, and in poverty, are education and intact families.
So those who admonish "read a book" etc how do you account for the increasing out of wedlock percentages since the 1960s?
Was there a sudden increase in the legacy of slavery? I don't think so.
Yes I agree this is not solely a black underclass problem, but disproportionately it is.
And so, on the level of generalizations, if one goes there, I think it is more correct to look to cultural issues than "racism" or "income inequality" one is actually looking for ways to help people escape poverty.

It has been observed that there is a paradox in the modern, liberal elite which could be summed up as "Do as I say not as I do" (the reverse of the traditional definition of hypocrisy). Actually, the liberal elite tend to defer child rearing, tend to be married more, tend to value education highly, and so do quite well --although they refrain from "judging" others to do so, and wonder why those who do not are so poor and dependent.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Dude. It was your generalizations about family that got you the responses you deserved.

Despite harping on the supposed liberal elite (as if there weren't an enormous conservative elite as well) and the dysfunction of black families, perhaps you can suggest a solution? Tell everyone to enlist in the school of hard knocks and get off their butts? Good luck with that. You seem more interested in pointing fingers than suggesting solutions.

Most people try hard. Some people get screwed. Is that general enough for you? To those who are lazy or born to lose in love, I don't know what to say. We try not to let children go hungry or sleep in the streets. It's a social compact we've made, and if you'd prefer to pull out the rug and see what happens, I can send you to a number of countries in the world to show you exactly what comes of that tactic.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

And to your implication of laziness among the under-class, I suggest you consider the following. If you're lazy and poor you get berated by the likes of you. If you're lazy and rich, you get called eccentric or a "gentlemen." But if work ethic is your issue, I don't think it's a matter of race. That has certainly not been my experience in life. Look at the loafers in the hundreds of coffee shops in this City, or in the thousands of bars, and you'll get your answer. Like intelligence, moral rigor is not income or racially based.

babs said...

Ah, to be lazy and rich! Truly my dream occupation.