Thank you for the amazing article by Benjamin Hardy and Kathryn Joyce about the overhaul of our [state Division of Children and Family Services] system to be inclusive of relatives after all of these years (at least nearly three decades) of frequently excluding family members as foster parents. As the de facto kinship caregiver liaison in this state since 1994, I know these exclusions have been painful. I have heard the anguish of these families who lose touch with the children of their relatives. I have averaged four to six calls per day for the past 20 years of keeping documentation of relatives left behind by the system.
Their tears and heartache were truly hard for me to bear, but I continued to receive their calls despite the little I could do to remedy their exclusions. I would call various caseworkers, or even senior management, nearly always to be told, "You don't know the other side of the story." I would then observe so many of these children remaining in foster care, never knowing there was a caring relative who wanted to be there for them but a 20-year-old marijuana charge was in the way, or a caseworker claimed their frequent calls were harassment, rather than full-blown anxiety on their part.
I am so grateful for these remarkable policy changes. Thank you to all who helped make these changes possible. Personally, I would love to be part of this change happening, and I will certainly do everything I can to let our families know they will be better considered than in the past.
And thank you to Hardy and Joyce and the Arkansas Times for the role your reporting may have had in pushing this policy change.
Dee Ann Newell
Be truly progressive
It's time for the so-called "liberal media" to stop telling red-staters how shameful it is to support such a mean-spirited political agenda like that of the modern-day Republican Party. For years now, we've read the writings of left-leaning journalists telling us how evil conservatives are for supporting a political party that promotes such an angry and discriminatory agenda. Rural white evangelicals and alt-right types will not be swayed by heart-felt appeals to secular humanism's color-blind benevolence. Pointing out decades of bigotry and ignorance have done nothing to convince the right to embrace a more socially tolerant and economically viable approach to government. To keep populist conservatives from voting against their own self-interest, Democrats are going to have to embrace a truly progressive message that shows them in no uncertain terms how voting for Republicans is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot financially. Stop focusing on the mean-spiritedness of those who placed Trump in the White House and show them how a progressively liberal approach to policy is better for most people, economically speaking. Continuing to focus on the racism and lack of education of rural white voters will do nothing but encourage them to keep voting Republican.
Trump doesn't want the job
It would be better if Trump just admits he never expected to actually win the presidency and knows he is not up to the job. His wife knows it — she does not even want to go with him to Washington, D.C. They only wanted to enhance their brand to advance the chances of their various businesses. Now they'll have to use a blind trust to avoid the appearance of profiteering from their high government positions. That's got to be hard on a legendary capitalist's capitalist. Now they clearly see all the thankless years of selfless work ahead and how it is all going to be an uphill daily battle — with already more than half the people in the nation disgusted by them and most of those who voted for him disillusioned before too long. Already you can tell the Trumps really just don't want to do this and are looking for a way out. The Electoral College unfaithful throwing their votes to Hillary might be it. Trump can even afford to pay all faithless elector's fines — it will be cheaper than building that wall, deporting all the millions of immigrants or settling any more multimillion lawsuits with scammed students, vendors, workers, investors, etc. Hamilton would be rolling in his grave now — as would all the famous, quite white forefathers — to see the ham sandwich who got elected by their foolproof electoral college system designed to disenfranchise non-property owners, minorities, women and slaves. Well here's the news — it's now the 21st century and, like the actor sings in "Hamilton," "We're not throwing away our shot!"
Watch out for Social Security
The Wolf of Wall Street is going to eat our Social Security. Real- estate tycoon President-elect Donald Trump and Ayn Rand-fanatic House Speaker Paul Ryan will surely see to it that former President George W. Bush's dream of funneling Social Security funds to Wall Street comes true. Remember Bush's 2005 State of the Union address: "As we fix Social Security ... the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts." Thank God Bush failed! Right? Had he succeeded, millions of Americans would already have lost their retirement accounts on scams like Trump University and Trump real estate. Even worse, all that money would be gone from the national Social Security fund and retiree benefits would be a fraction of what they are today. Trump and Paul have at least four years to make this scenario come true.
Seriously, when FDR presented the New Deal to America in his first term, Republicans opposed Social Security. FDR insisted that Social Security payments should be drawn straight from our paychecks, and he crowed, "With those taxes in there, no damned politician can ever scrap my Social Security program." However, Republican presidents have been known to borrow heavily from the Social Security fund.
The Wolf of the White House might not "scrap" our Social Security funds, but he sure will gobble them up.