I am usually able to fall off to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow last night was not one of those nights.
We had a wonderful worship experience at Church and then and even greater Parish Council Meeting. We are making plans for the future and expanding our ministry to the working poor in Southbridge and the surrounding communities. This is a ministry that is very dear to my heart and I am glad to see it expand. More on that latter.
The Patriots won their game against the Eagles so the day end on a high as it began. Then I watched 60 minutes. I am not what one would call an avid watcher of 60 minutes, I tune in now and again but last night it came on after the game so I watched.
The first story was called “Hard Times Generation: Families Living in Cars.” As I understand it 60 minutes has done stories like this in the past and this was sort of a follow up. CBS does not allow their video to be imbedded in the blog so follow the link above to watch. Please take a few moments to watch.
During the piece it was reported that 1 in 4 children in the US live in poverty. This stat is based on the Federal Poverty Level. Not the best gauge to the real problem but it is what we to use at the present time. I say it is not the best gauge because it is based on outdated information but until we update the calculation it is what we have.
The family profiled in the story last night was a dad and his two kids, living in a truck. According the scale on the page of the Health and Human Services the Poverty Level for this family would be $18,530 per year. Not much to live on with two kids. This really started to bother me. I am not concerned with the politics of all of this because as far as I am concerned neither party is willing to make a difference they want to use issues like this to get re-elected. Don’t get me started.
After the segment was over I posted on Facebook about the 1 in 4 and a flurry of comments started and a good conversation took place. This is why I really like Social Media. Then I did a little research and found that $11.4 billion was spent on Black Friday! By all accounts charitable giving has decreased in the US over the last few years understandably because of the economy. When people are out of work they tend to give less. But to me spending $11.4 billion on stuff whilst 1 in 4 lives in poverty seems a little off balance.
So I went to bed with all of this swirling in my head. I blame 60 minutes, you will be hearing from my lawyer! Only kidding. So I decided to look at Southbridge, since I cannot change the world I need to look at home first.
According to the census of 2010 the population of the Town is 16,719 with 7,077 households. The per capita income in Southbridge is $18,514 13% of families and 15.4% of the population lives below the poverty level. Of that number 25.8% are under 18 and 10.2% are over 65 (the most vulnerable populations). That’s almost 2,600 people if my math is correct!
Maybe it is just me but it would seem that our priorities are upside down. On Black Friday we heard stories of woman pepper spraying people in a store to get an item, there were shooting, riots and other such idiocy for what? Stuff, stuff that will break or be forgotten about in less time then you stood in line for it. Someone on Facebook said that all of this helps the economy. Well sure, there will be tax revenue but as far as the economy goes, most of this shopping was done in big box stores that do not manufacture their goods in the US. So did we help the economy, yes, in China!
This all leads to a much larger conversation about morality and priorities and where we are headed as a nation. I fear we are spinning out of control and getting deeper and deeper in personal debt. How much of that $11.4 million was put on credit cards? How much of that $11.4 million was spent by people who really cannot afford it? Giving is wonderful and a great thing to do but not if it will continue to enslave us to “the company store.”
I will continue this in future posts like what is the real meaning of Christmas but for now my head is cloudy and I need to clear it and think more about the children living in the truck, which really disturbs me. We can afford to spend more than a billion dollar a day on two wars that we can never win, but 1 in 4 live in poverty. For the record I am no fan of more government programs and we will for sure discuss that more.
What is the real meaning of giving? How about just giving of time to your family and being thankful for what you have now. Is there really that much of a difference between a video game bought last year and one bought this year?
I have a lot to think about.