Get Your Priorities Straight

oldbeggar

REASON TO FEAR

I see myself in this situation.  Anyone that doesn’t given our current economy isn’t being a realist.

Right now, all over this country, thousands of people each day are driven into poverty.  Whether or not you may consider it their fault or not is not relevant.  And virtually all of them become poor and stay that way.

Those who argue that the poor simply have to ‘pull themselves up by the bootstraps’ are completely ignorant of what it means to be mired in poverty.  Those who attack the poor for their situation are contributors to the problem, not offering solutions to that problem.  Those who believe that ‘a culture of wanton poverty’ is something people actually desire are delusional.  The truth is that the vast majority of those in poverty would rather have two very important things: education and jobs.

I hear and read this kind of attitude toward our poor all the time.  The economic news is dire and always getting worse, never better.  And this news, this barrage of negativity, is beaten into those who are already down, who are bereft of important resources like food or shelter.

‘Oh, forget the poor, they want to be where they are.  Why should we care about them?’  Good lord, what would bring someone to believe such a thing?  Can’t they see they’re lying to themselves?

We need an example.  Let’s start with the folks at the country club.

Stonehenge-Golf-and-Country-Club-Richmond-VA-patio-group-960x410_rotatingGalleryFront

CHEERS!

Let’s see: in 2005, the average cost of a round of golf was $36.00, so for the seven people pictured having a delightful afternoon at this country club, that would be $252.00.

A round of drinks, at two drinks per person, at country club prices (oh, and two extra martinis for Claire) would be around $160.00 (those martinis are expensive!).

The cost of gas for large luxury cars, driven about fifteen miles, and based on 5 cars (Claire gets picked up by her husband because she’s too smashed to drive): $52.00.

Lunch for seven at $30/person: $210.00.

Seven people, round of golf, transportation, food, cocktails: $674.00.

Greedy Business Partners

LOOK, MUFFY, MORE MONEY FOR US!

Six Hundred and Seventy Four Dollars.  Imagine: that’s enough money to feed a family of four for two months, it’s enough for a cheap rent, it’s enough to get desperately needed medication.  It’s enough money to make a difference to someone that needs it.

But the only thing that this $674 dollars did was fuel a single afternoon of golf (and a massive hangover for Claire).

Let’s face it.  People don’t think about what money can really do when it’s properly directed.  Let’s take this scenario a little further and make another estimate: the number of people who play golf in this country in a single day.  If seven people generate a cost of $674 dollars, what does a number of 300,000 (an average number of golfers per day) create in expenditure for this kind of lavish, expensive outing?

$28,885,714.  Twenty Eight Million, Eight Hundred Eighty Five Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fourteen Dollars.

Enough to feed a lot, a LOT, of people.  In a single week, that is $202,000,000.  And in a single month, this is an astounding $808,000,000.  In a single month, there’s enough money spent on golf and Rob Roy’s to fund state-wide mental health, which in 2010 for the state of Connecticut was a total of $675,500,000.

If everyone gave up golf at the country club (including lunch and cocktails) for a single month, it would pay for an entire year of mental health costs in the State of Connecticut with a remarkable $132,000,000 left over, and imagine what that amount of money could do toward feeding the needy for a year; it would be a huge impact.

And by the way, the amount spent on golf (and only the golf, not the lunch, drinks or transportation), our estimate of 300,000 golfers per day spend an average of $10,800,000.  In a year, that’s $3,942,000,000.  Almost four BILLION dollars.

Matthew 19:21 – Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.

Imagine all that money channeled into job creation and training for those who need it!  Or used for any other reasonable and humane purpose other than to fund a golf game.  What kind of priorities do you have if you prefer a round of golf or a movie or any other form of temporary entertainment over caring for the needy in our dilapidated society?  Don’t be smug.  You could easily be one of those needy people in a heartbeat.  As a society, we need to get their ducks in a row on this issue, and pronto.

Pop_chanel_by_laveriteetmoncul

BUT SNOOKUMS, I NEED MORE THINGS!

Greed.  It’s a basic human fact, something that does not forward the cause of life and of continuance — and that’s why it’s considered to be a ‘sin’.  Greed is counterproductive to a society.  Greed is a human infection, it’s a sickness.

Greed is not the same thing as ‘making a living’.  ‘Making a living’ is cash enough to run a business, have enough to stay alive, foster some security and make a contribution to the society in which you live.  Greed is a monstrous thing, a destructive thing, not a constructive thing.

Greed kills, both literally and figuratively.  By hoarding and withholding the lubricant of the turning wheels of our society (i.e., cash), breakdown of the machinery cannot be far behind.  By hoarding cash and not recycling that cash back into the community the end result is a loss of social equilibrium.  That loss of equilibrium is quite evident when you look at the widening gap between rich and poor in this country.

Those who hoard cash deny the people who made that cash for them — from the sweat of their brow — the opportunities they need to thrive and grow.  Without those opportunities a collapse is inevitable.  Rot, it is said, spreads outward from the core, and those who do not assist the needy are certainly rotten in every sense of the word.

You may think ‘Okay, enough diatribe’.  But just take a moment to think of the enormity of only one example like the one I’ve outlined.  To make additional comparisons, what is the cost of going out to a movie?  A single film rakes in millions and millions of dollars in a weekend.  What about the expenditure of eating out at a restaurant?  Almost incalculable.  Add up those dollars, and do you see the potential?

What kind of positive impact would that money have toward the devastating is the cost of mental illness, the cost of homelessness, of education, health care, child care?  These costs prevent our society from its true potential because all that energy must be expended in assisting those who need it, and yet it is is the price we must pay in order to move ahead.

These costs are realities that are everyone’s responsibility.  If you think of it that way, it’s worth paying until we eventually find more reasonable solutions.  It means doing the right thing, the moral thing.  Everyone must pay what they can, be it monetary or not, but that contribution must be substantive.

‘Do not waste your time on social questions. What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.’

George Bernard Shaw

The rich in this country have a responsibility to give back to the nation that made them what they are.  The rich need to be involved with making a future happen for this country rather than depleting the best efforts of others and then shunning them when they need help.  There are some notable examples of people who do give to others, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, but sadly the philanthropic are an exceptional breed of human, and not the norm.

The Dow Jones is at stunning highs, as well as the S&P index.  Trading and profits are at an all-time high while the poverty level grows and grows, the numbers of unemployed grow, the numbers of the mentally ill grow, the numbers of homeless grow.  There is something desperately, fatally wrong with this trend.

cols_ventura-39636

AMERICA, WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.’

St. Augustine

Do not misunderstand our new ‘reality’.  America is a poor country now.  The greed and excess of the few have led to the pain and suffering of many.  Some may believe that being rich is part of the American Dream, but that is not the case.  Being secure is the American Dream and that, my friends, is gone.  Long gone.

I think the quote above by St. Augustine is a very good one, indeed.  Where there is no love there is greed, there is jealousy and miserliness, there is decay.  There is death.

No one wants to take what a person has earned.  But we all hope that what that person has earned is not only money made on the backs of others; one hopes that they have earned respect as well by giving to those less fortunate.  It is the middle class in this nation that gives the vast majority of help to others, not the wealthy, not the billionaires.  It is the poor in this country that suffer needlessly — that’s right, needlessly — because those who have not so greatly outnumber those that have the means to help others.  Those who do not contribute to our society pose a problem to our society.

So just for one day, just one day, forgo the thing that you think you ‘need’ and give that money to an organization that feeds the hungry.  Just give up, for a single month, all those unnecessary expenditures that you ‘think’ you need.  Then, when you’re wondering what to do now that you’ve given up your golf game for a month, give your time and your funds to those who need it so desperately.

And according to a recent press article, 4 out of 5 Americans are on the edge or have fallen off the cliff; imagine, only 20% of Americans have any sense of security.  We are something new: a third world super-power.

sparkling-pills

PILLS FOR OUR ILLS

There is no ‘magic pill’ for this situation.  There is no pharmaceutical that everyone can take to make this problem go away.  The problems of mental illness, homelessness, poverty, disease and the wrenching cries of hungry children are YOUR responsibility, OUR responsibility.  You can’t sugar-coat those problems and pretend that they don’t exist.  You can ignore them but only at your peril.

This age should not have people dying in the street.  There should not be a child that cannot concentrate in school because they are hungry.  There cannot be growth as a society without food, shelter, medicine.

But we can live without a Chanel suit, a Rolex watch, a Miami condominium.  We can live without the rot that spreads from the core.  We can live without malnourished children lying dead in the street because someone who had money refused to help.  We can live without people huddled together in a room, hobbled by illness, riddled with tuberculosis or plague.  We can live without greed.

‘When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.’

Jean-Paul Sartre

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