Monday, February 16, 2009

What Came Before The Henrietta Hughes "Happy Ending"

Come on, I admit it, I got the seriously warm fuzzies when the wife of one of the state reps from my state (FL) gave a place to live (free) to the homeless woman who made her plea to Obama last week. Henrietta Hughes, touring her new abode, seemed, finally, to be a happy news story in the midst of so much gloom and doom.

But then the curtain started getting pulled back, little by little by little by little by little, and it's much less of a simple tale of innocent woe rewarded with a stranger's generosity.

I'd like to see the NYTimes and Washington Post and Miami Herald and other left-of-center media entities look at this and offer a clearer picture of the causes of this family's woes.

It may come down to some very bad choices and some system milking. If the little background work that has come up is true (ie, they claimed they couldn't pay for medical deductibles while being property owners, but living with relatives; bought a very expensive vehicle at a time when they were claiming to have lost jobs, etc), this is just a sadder tale than we were led to believe.

But all the generosity that poured out is still a good thing. It shows people want to help when they are shown just how to, and that impulse is a good one.

A lot of what is going on now around us, this gloom, is due to human frailty and wickedness--be it the greed, lack of economy, vanity, or foolishness of banks, investors, homebuyers, real estate agents, and assorted players in this big, big game. People bought homes they couldn't afford, figuring they'd finance said home with multiple refinancings. People refinanced to take money out of homes that were half or more paid-off, thinking it was free money, that the house would be worth more LATER, so take the bonus NOW. People spent unwisely. Banks gave loans the ought not to have. Real Estate agents out and out lied as mortgage brokers finagled funky loans to make people think they could buy those overpriced homes. CEO's and a host of others cashed out big on these bad loans and the spending frenzy.

I think the government needs to stop telling us to spend. They need to start telling us to live within our means and use credit sparingly. They need to be the example of living within a budget, an example of what we all ought to do.

I suck at budgets, but I know that this is robbing me of a saner future, a quieter retirement. I need to get MY budgetary house in order.

I don't want to end up living in my car. Even if it's from foolish choices. I need to wise up.

And with this second chance, I hope the Hughes sit down and have a nice chat about how the son needs to hustle like he means it to get a job and help out his mom.

I have relatives who came to this country with zip knowledge of English who got jobs within a couple weeks. Granted, we're talking "menial" work--landscaping, laying tiles, fixing roofs, detailing cars, bussing in restaurants, etc. But they were jobs and they got them, not being educated, knowing no English. I'll add that I'm talking some of them as people of color here, not just lighter Latinos. Some much older than Corey Hughes, with much less education. Why is Corey Hughes not able to do this when uneducated, non-English speaking legal immigrants (and some illegals in Miami that I've known) manage to? That's not a slam. That's an honest question. What is his issue that he's living off his mom's disability?

Makes a gal go hmmmm.

I am still aghast that he refused job training.

Yes, why is a clean-cut, educated, 37 year-old male unable to even get a minimum wage job, which, btw, would have sufficed to pay $400 rent and utilities after the free 90 days as offered by that local charity. That's a roof over his mama's head.

Trust me, my brother and my husband would have shined shoes or sold magazines door-to-door or sold flowers on street corners or FOUND A WAY to keep their mothers under a solid roof.

I may be off base, I may be too cynical, but something is not quite kosher in how the Hughes have conducted their financial lives in the last 6+ plus years. How does this family own three lots, make 47K in profit on a sale, still apparently own one lot, and end up profiled in two separate stories on people needing help, not having money for copayments, not having homes?

Man, am I just too jaded?

So be it:

If Joe the Plumber warranted a colonoscopic inquiry, then I think at the minimum, the Hughes do ,too. Get on it, ye journalists, and pay some special attention to Corey Hughes. Is he or is he not a property owner in Lehigh Acres? Why couldn't he sell that to pay for rent, but can keep taxes paid up. Why can't he get employment, of any kind? Why did he turn down free job training when it was offered by a local charity? Why was 90 days of free rent not good enough?

I wouldn't be surprised if the mainstream media wants to avoid this, as it would look like "homeless bashing" or worse, as it would tarnish a HEA tale some. But I hope they play fair and follow this particular trail, or they really are showing their bias.

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