The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that the Thanksgiving dinner will cost approximately 4.4 percent more this year. Of course, that's only for those of us who can afford such a thing. That is a very real issue with those furloughed government workers who are facing one less paycheck this month. Moreover, to the International Union of Gospel Missions, an association of rescue missions in the United States and Canada, that increase could prove significant. They reported there will be several thousand children, approximately 11 percent, of the over 75,000 homeless in this country having Thanksgiving at shelters this year. Don't forget that these shelters are staffed by dedicated, compassionate people whose efforts go thankless the year 'round, and who are not all volunteers. This is just representative of the generosity that will be displayed at this time of year. For example, Death Row Records, home of such rap artists as Snoop Dogg and now Tupac Shakur, will be distributing some 2,000 turkeys to needy families at the headquarters of the Brotherhood Crusade in Los Angeles, California. Churches, missions, and charity organizations across the country will follow suit in an attempt to fill the void left by poverty, unemployment, and a depressed economy no one wants to acknowledge. You might say Death Row Records can afford to give the turkeys away and I might agree, but the point is that the cost of giving is going up. If the cost of living and surviving is increasing, this impacts our ability to give to organizations like the International Union of Gospel Missions, the Brotherhood Crusade, Public Broadcasting, or the United Way.
Charity organizations report every year that the donations are decreasing and the cost of doing business is increasing. Times are hard, notwithstanding the leading economic indicators or the declining unemployment figures, or the strength of the dollar against the British pound. Most people in this country find it very difficult to save money for a down payment on that "dream" home, afford college for that so called Generation X teenager, and still have enough for a comfortable retirement Ÿ then this time of year sneaks up on them. There is just not enough money to go around, much less give to charity. Maybe this explains the mean spirited tone coming out of our lawmakers lately. For, I am sure you know that our politicians are simply conduits for the wishes of their constituents. They only reflect what the people want. You've heard it before; welfare recipients don't deserve a free ride and should work like the rest. The homeless are slackers; there are jobs available, just look at classified ads. Affirmative action is giving others an unfair advantage and resulting in reverse discrimination. Illegal aliens are invading the land, soaking up services reserved for "real" taxpayers. And speaking of taxes, hard working Americans are tired of the government on their backs and in their pockets. The American health care system is the greatest in the world and the cornerstone of that system is a choice of doctors. Simple economics Ÿ supply and demand. The supply of benefits and services are limited and declining, so America demands their fair share and those who have not contributed are not entitled.
Come now, folks .
It is understandable that competition for limited goods and services is fierce, but the targeted enemy appears to be the poor, the homeless, disenfranchised, and the unempowered. They are easy targets because they lack political power or the financial wherewithal to be influential. The ludicrous, inane and cruel arguments given above are offered to an already distracted public. Most people are grappling with mortgages, rising prices, and corporate downsizing; to incense their emotions with such rhetoric is irresponsible. This causes them to lose sight of the enemy; the poor and disenfranchised no longer have faces, but become designations for the distant masses. When shortsighted politicians move to put in place policies purported to "reinvest in America," but the profits go to the few, in lieu of the many, I question their leadership. But to go further and accuse the poor and disenfranchised of not contributing to the American dream, thus messing it up for everybody, is approaching on desperation.
It is that time of year when we remember those less fortunate. When you are cooking, cleaning, eating, shopping, fighting traffic, cooking, eating, (we do a lot of that) and buying the gift for the person who has everything, remember that there are those who would have you believe that the ones you pass on the street are there by their own hand. I would remind; there but by the federal loan program and financial aid, this public educational institution, available health services, public transportation, those who fought for all this before you, and the Grace of God, go I.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a safe holiday.
David Benton is the president of the Black Law Students Association. His column normally appears every other Thursday.
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