Guess what? Michigan is making national headlines again for its innovative Republican solutions to the problems that confront us… This time it’s State Senator Bruce Casswell getting the attention for his exciting “out of the box” thinking. Casswell, if you haven’t heard, is suggesting that foster kids in Michigan only be allowed to purchase secondhand clothes. Here’s a clip from Michigan Public Radio:
Foster children in Michigan would use their state-funded clothing allowance only in thrift stores under a plan suggested by State Senator Bruce Caswell.
Caswell says he wants to make sure that state money set aside to buy clothes for foster children and kids of the working poor is actually used for that purpose.
He says they should get “gift cards” to be used only at Salvation Army, Goodwill or other thrift stores.
“I never had anything new,” Caswell says. “I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was — and quite frankly it’s true — once you’re out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes.”
I don’t know Casswell, a Republican who represents Branch, Hillsdale, Lenawee and St. Joseph counties, and I certainly don’t have a problem with purchasing clothes at thrift stores, but this seems to me to be punitive to the extreme. It’s bad enough that clothing allowances for foster kids haven’t been increased in Michigan for the better part of a decade – now they want to step in and tell those frivolous foster parents that they can’t exercise their own judgement as to where they buy underwear and shirts for the kids in their care. Casswell may have good intentions in mind – certainly one can stretch a dollar a lot farther at a thrift store than at Macy’s – but it’s hard not to read this and sense an appalling lack of empathy. What it says to me is, secondhand kids deserve secondhand clothes. And, judging from the comments being left on Metafilter by former foster kids and current foster parents, I don’t think that I’m alone.
And, sadly, this may not be the worst of it. From what I understand, while Casswell’s proposal is being considered in the Michigan Senate, Representatives in the Michigan House are considering a proposal to eliminate the back-to-school clothing allowance for orphans all together. Following is a clip from an article written by Susan J. Demas, a political analyst for Michigan Information & Research Service:
…About 160,000 kids wouldn’t receive their back-to-school clothing allowance under the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget passed by a House subcommittee. That saves $9.9 million (which will go a long way to pay for the $1.2 billion tax break we’re handing businesses).
Chair Dave Agema (R-Grandville) — best known for skipping the crucial 2007 tax hike votes to obliterate sheep with a shotgun in Siberia –suggested that the money isn’t being spent on clothes anyway by those greedy urchins.
“I think the hardship is negligible,” he shrugged…
But, poor kids don’t vote, right? And Michigan businesses need those tax breaks.