Busy, busy day and it's now afternoon. Great morning for the long bike ride, and then back to get dressed for a trip to town. I had some shopping to do at Wal-Mart, ugh! Tis the season for those folks to shop who look as if they've crawled out from under a rock, where they stay most of the year, and only emerge for the jolly holiday buying! =^.^= But I swam through the crowd, got my supplies, and made it fine. I had a couple of other errands to run, but I still didn't buy any gifts. If I decide to go to the family get-together, I'll just give money. I find that my nephews had rather have cold hard cash anyway, and my mother and step-father are always in need of money. But I haven't made up my mind yet about whether to go or not.
Okay, about the poor in America...I've read a couple of interesting articles in the NY Times lately which really detail the plight of those in need -- not just now, but all year. One bad aspect of the Sept. 11th charity fund-raisers is that it seems to have caused people to give less to OTHER charities, and therefore, a crisis is brewing. Many of those who are about to lose their welfare checks had been training for jobs, but now those jobs don't exist, due to our economic recession.
I was not poor growing up; my father made a good income, but unfortunately, he was an alcoholic, and spent a lot of money on liquor, which left us in the low, low income stratus. I can tell you that I NEVER liked any kind of hand-out or charity; it is humiliating in this country to accept that kind of help, simply due to the fact we're a capitalist country and there's a bias here that makes people think everyone who needs help MUST be too lazy to work. So we never accepted any kind of charity, though I'm sure we could have used it at various times. That particular attitude, the bias against the working poor, made me determined never to ask for any help -- and I haven't. I've worked, and I've saved all my life...so that, now, I'm in a position where savings and living debt-free I have a fairly financially stable life. I'm NOT wealthy, but due to pinching pennies, I don't think I'll ever be homeless. But I do feel great compassion for the working poor, because I KNOW what kind of attitude they face from others who are in better financial shape.
Here's some excerpts from the articles:
New Wave of the Homeless Floods Cities' Shelters
By PAM BELLUCK
An unusual confluence of factors seems to be responsible for the surge. Housing prices, which soared in the expansion of the 1990's, have not gone down, even though the economy has tumbled. A stream of layoffs has newly unemployed people taking low-wage jobs that might have otherwise gone to the poor. Benefits for welfare recipients are expiring under government-imposed deadlines. And charitable donations to programs that help the disadvantaged are down considerably, officials around the country said, because of the economy and the outpouring of donations for people affected by Sept. 11.
"This is an unprecedented convergence of calamities," said Xavier De Souza Briggs, an assistant professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "It's really a crisis."
An increasing proportion of the homeless are families with children, compared with the chronically homeless who often have serious mental illness or substance abuse problems. Requests for shelter from families with children increased in three-quarters of the cities surveyed. In more than half, families had to be broken up to be accommodated in shelters.
Some newly homeless people have jobs but do not earn enough to allow use of a home. Low-cost housing is so tight that one-third of the vouchers for the Section 8 subsidized-housing program are being returned unused, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In a school district in Sacramento, Liane Ramirez, who works with homeless families, said she had already seen twice as many families living in their cars as she had seen in the previous few years combined.
"We feel like we're seeing a lot more first-time scared-to-death homeless," Ms. Ramirez said. "And we're looking at working homeless, not just welfare homeless."
Here's some excerpts from another great article about the working poor:
As Welfare Comes to an End, So Do the Jobs
By NINA BERNSTEIN
Daisy Torres, a 34-year-old mother of three who was raised on welfare, gets a subway car's floor so clean that her supervisor swears you could eat off it. James Howard, 42, a 10th grade dropout who did odd jobs off the books to supplement his family's public assistance grant in years past, had almost perfect attendance.
They were striving to join the 122 subway car cleaners who had gone on to permanent jobs with the authority, out of hundreds who began the program. But after many assurances that they were on a list to be hired, Ms. Torres and Mr. Howard were among dozens who got a double dose of bad news last month. Because of the deepening recession, the authority had imposed a hiring freeze. And, under federal law, the city's Human Resources Administration informed them, their welfare benefits were at an end.
You can read this entire article HERE but you may have to register.
And one last disgusting item in the news:
A prison guard was convicted Tuesday of aggravated cruelty to animals for crushing five kittens to death in a trash compactor at Sing Sing.
He can get up to two years, and I hope he does. Apparently he had taken the mother cat and five kittens from an inmate's cell, and then put them all in the trash compactor. The mother cat got loose though. I hope he has to do time in that prison, because I'm sure the inmates will take care of his 'punishment.' If there is one thing that makes me feel murderous, it is cruelty to animals!
Ah...what a jolly season it is! (sarcasm)