Thursday, June 23, 2005


Old folks' homes are in the news today. The first story I heard on NPR's "Morning Edition." It was about the Green House Project in Mississippi. They're basically reinventing the nursing home concept, scrapping the old model because it doesn't serve the needs of elders. Instead of packing seniors and people with profound disabilities into big, institutional facilities (which the Green House director calls "prisons"), these folks are building small homes for up to 10 residents and their caregivers. They've even re-named caregivers -- instead of "CNA" or "assistant" they use "shahbaz" -- a "made-up" name that forces everyone involved to start thinking differently about the nature of care-giving. Elders are thriving in these new spaces, where they have freedom and comfort they only dreamed about in the old facilities. One dear senior began talking and feeding herself after being moved from the old institution to the new home. It's a great story. If you have a few minutes, you should have a listen at NPR's website.

Speaking of creating homes for elders, the Supreme Court is doing exactly the opposite. With your tax dollars. In a 5-4 ruling, the (let's just say it -- elderly) Court gave a Connecticut city the right to take away property from its citizens when it's believed the community will benefit. According to USA Today, "The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years."

But wait -- there's good news: "City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum."

Maybe some of those seniors who used to live along the river can go to work selling trinkets to the tourists. That would be nice.

If you're a legal geek, the opinion's here.

If you're pissed and wondering what to do about that, send some love to the Institute for Justice , even though they're libertarian. They're representing the homeowners of New London. Finding lawyers to take cases like this one is tough. They're good people for taking on Big Government.

You can direct your anger toward the National League of Cities (Executive Director: Donald Borut), which is helping New London kick the homeowners out. How do those guys look at themselves in the mirror? When their mothers or people at cocktail parties ask them what they do for a living, what the hell do they say? Do they have trouble sleeping at night? I hope so.

Also on the Evildoers List is the New London Development Corporation (Chief Operating Officer: Dave Goebel). When you visit their website, you will see that "The New London Development Corporation (NLDC) is committed to creating public-private partnerships that act as an engine for economic development in New London. The goals of this private, not-for-profit organization are to increase the city's tax base, to promote an increase in the number of jobs available in the city and to enhance the quality of life for New London's residents." Well, some residents. Not the residents who worked for 30 or more years to pay off their mortgages. Other residents. Like, say, Pfizer.

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