I've always had mixed emotions about the arbitrary lines our government draws concerning the "poverty level." Given the fact that our very poorest have so much more than many third world countries, it seems a slap in the face of humanity in general. Also, so much of the current welfare system in our country relies on these arbitrary lines drawn in the proverbial sand, causing hundreds to "work the system." Why get a better job when that will cause me to get less aid? Have you seen the movie Million Dollar Baby? It is a poignant scene when the star of the show, Maggie (played by Hilary Swank) earns enough money boxing to buy her mother a home and help her out of destitution, only to have her ungrateful mother refuse to sign the papers because she won't be able to get her welfare check anymore. I suppose there are those who would say this wouldn't happen in real life; they are wrong. I know some of them personally.
Most of you know that I grew up in rural Maine; this was and still remains a very economically depressed area. I didn't have hot running water until I was in middle school, I qualified for free lunches and my dad--and many other men--poached deer and other wildlife to put meat on the table. Still, we had more than many other neighbors, some of whom don't have indoor plumbing even now, and never, ever did I consider myself poor. I never remember being hungry, cold or without basic necessities. It wasn't until I applied for college and had to fill out financial aid forms that I discovered that I had grown up "in poverty." Yet, my parents were always generous to everyone around them. In other words, neighbors helped neighbors.
"Last week, the Census Bureau released new figures showing that nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty, a record 46.2 million people. The poverty rate, pegged at 15.1 percent, is the highest of any major industrialized nation, and many experts believe it could get worse before it abates." (from Yahoo News)
So there are those numbers again, telling us who is poor and who isn't. And the bottom line is, it's not going away soon, regardless of where we draw the line. So what can we do? Well, personally, I don't have to look very far to find someone I can help. I know many on a very personal level who can use a hand right now.In some respects, this is why I write this blog: to help others find creative ways to save money. And also to find creative ways to be grateful, because no matter how little you have, I can guarantee you that somewhere in this big old world, somebody has less.
So my goal this week is to find a different, concrete way to help someone each day. I have some ideas, and I won't blog about them because this is really a personal issue, but I do challenge my readers to help someone this week, even just one time, regardless of how strapped you are financially. Maybe you can't give money, but could donate a few hours at the homeless shelter or give a bag of clothes to a family you know who may need them.
I really think this is the heart of the American spirit, or at least it used to be. And if a neighbors can help neighbors, we'll get through this thing called "recession!!" Happy Giving!!
As always, thanks for voting for me! I'm up to #20 in the nation, second in the state. You all are the best!!