Okay, I’m back. Or more accurately, I think I’m back. It’s been six months since I made a blog entry and I can’t believe that it has been that long. Where have I been? Busy, of course. What else could I say?
And what is it that has brought me back this morning? Boiling blood. That is, my blood is boiling. About what? The usual, the always, the ridiculous: bureaucrats and their nonsense.
I got a call last night from a young guy who aged out of the foster care system. He’s 24 now. Like so many of his aged out peers, he has not been doing well preparing for his adulthood. Like so many of them, for whatever reason, he has never learned to protect anything or anybody. He’s thrown away opportunity after opportunity. He blew college; he had his driver’s license snatched; he has no money; no career direction.
As we talked, he told me that he had gone back to a job that I know is not good for him. He knows it too. I asked him why the heck he was doing that. And his response is what made my blood boil – still this morning.
He told me that he had no choice.
Yeah right. What does that ever mean?
Well, it turns out that the only picture id he has – since 9/11 required by almost all jobs – was his license. Once it is an expired license, it doesn’t count as an id. So he needs his birth certificate to begin the process of getting his license back. He claims that he can’t even get a non-driver’s photo id because despite the fact that the DMV KNOWS who he is is – they gave him his license after all – it is bureaucratically irrelevant. His old license, which he only got because he once had the right paperwork and showed it to them, and they know it, is EXPIRED. His picture is on the damn expired license, keep in mind. He has his SS card; school records, etc. But his evidence that he is himself is EXPIRED!
So, my boy contacted Dade County Florida (Vital Statistics Office) where he was born – in order to get a new copy of his birth certificate. And guess what? He must submit a photo ID to get the birth certificate. He was on the phone with them for over an hour, he told me, and got nowhere. And this is the CATCH-22 that drives me berserk.
I figured he was missing some vital detail in his story and there had to be a way to get the birth certificate, even without the picture id. So I tried every which way I could to get it this morning on-line. And I could not get around the system. There was no way to deal with this not-so-unusual circumstance. Except one, right there on the form: a lawyer. Hire a lawyer. Just what every aged out foster kid can afford.
I did that this morning. I asked a long time friend of Family Focus, who is a lawyer, to take this young man on as a client and she has agreed to help. But where would this guy be if he didn’t know me or I wasn’t willing to help? Exactly where he is: working a job that he shouldn’t be doing with no hope of resolving this.
The kids aging out of foster care continue to have enough things stacked up against them. They don’t need the bureaucracy to make it all worse.
Some of these bureaucratic systems feed hopelessness and disempowerment. And it’s not just poor folks either. Have you heard about this medical insurance nonsense that some doctor who is not covered by your insurance can be called into the operating room while you are under, to help out. I’m sure we signed – under duress, of course – permissions for it before the operation. And then folks are getting hit with medical bills from these non-covered doctors for tens of thousands of dollars.
Thieves and criminals are bad enough, but at least they don’t hide what they are doing under a cloak of reasonableness. Bureaucrats do. These anti-human systems should be outlawed, dismantled, or drastically changed. They are disgraceful, and even disgusting, in their disrespect for the person.
Taking away hope from people is very wrong – and very dangerous besides. We don’t get that.
I guess I’m back for real.