Friday, November 14, 2008

Hunger, poverty, "entitlements"

With all the coverage lately of government bailouts, I've been reminiscing about a childhood lived in poverty. I was nine when my parents divorced, leaving Mother on her own to feed, clothe, and raise four children. Dad made good money, but for some reason did not feel obligated to support his children. Mom worked at low paying jobs to support her brood but really had to struggle and pinch pennies when it came to Christmas or buying school clothes and supplies. We had a local Sears store then and she made good use of the layaway plan. She started every January laying away things for the next school year or Christmas. A dollar a week accomplished a lot in the 1940s and 1950s.

I can't say we little urchins were ever actually hungry, but our diets left much to be desired. High calorie, high carb, high fat foods were cheap when I was a child. Mom made huge pots of navy beans or noodles or potato soup which we ate with bread or crackers to put a chunk in our young stomachs. Menu variety included pancakes, french toast or a tasty meal Mom called "eggs a la goldenrod." For that delicious meal, Mom hard boiled 2 or 3 eggs then stirred them into a white sauce -- milk and flour -- spooned over toast. We did not always have meat. On Sunday she'd fix a roast or fried chicken. Other days of the week were often meatless. Most of our protein came in the form of lentils or eggs.

I know poverty first hand from those childhood years and understand how desperately low income parents want a better life for their children. My mother was one of those desperate parents. Contrary to the picture painted of low income parents, she did not sit around waiting and hoping for handouts. She plowed on, earning what money she could and spending the majority of her income on her kids. She could not afford to buy a house, to wear fancy clothes and shoes, or anything else that was a non necessity.

So when millionaire politicians cast aspersions on people who get "entitlements" while bailing out the millionaire bankers and businessmen who have mismanaged their businesses into the ground, I think of my mother. She wouldn't have paid attention to entitlements for the very rich. She would have been too busy fighting to survive. But I pay attention to every word describing every bailout. Rich bankers and businessmen who need a bailout should have to bail themselves out like my mother did -- by working and struggling and managing a budget and pinching pennies and taking care of business. They shouldn't stand around whining with their hands out waiting for taxpayers to shovel more entitlements down their bottomless pits of greed.

1 comment:

Matt D said...

I agree for the most part. The problem is--in theory--that when a skyscraper collapses it does a lot more damage than when a hut collapses. I don't know what a proper solution is, but the current one sure doesn't feel right.

Do your part to stop hunger everywhere

The Hunger Site

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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