Showing posts with label Poverty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poverty. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Feeding the Hungry: The Micro Level

The darker the shading the deeper the poverty.
I’ve just posted some numbers of hunger in America on LaMarotte. For a bit, in the next month or so, we’ll hear a great deal on this subject because a documentary, with Jeff Bridges in the lead, titled A Place at the Table, will make the subject current. Then in will fade again. This is a dreary subject, and having come to the end of my post, the only answer I could think of, in the context of “what do we do about this,” was that we should give more to our charities. Brigitte had already produced a list a couple of days ago.

The numbers at the macro level have a dismal sort of feel. Here I thought I’d point to how things work at the macro level. One of our old, old friends is the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP). It serves the central area of the Appalachian Region where poverty is quite astonishingly high (see map, courtesy of the Appalachian Regional Commission). CAP operates the Grateful Bread Food Pantry, located in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, Rockcastle County. Just in the first half of 2012, the pantry served, on average, 2,057 residents of the county, equal to 51.6 percent of those living there in poverty. CAP reported, in October of 2012, receiving a $15,000 donation from The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels toward the purchase of a new 8x10-foot walk in freezer, purchased with that money—and additional donations of $5,660 from people who support CAP, like Brigitte and me. That’s how feeding the hungry works at the micro level. Here is hope that A Place at the Table will inspire many, many to become habituated to donating more; that seems to be the only way; the collective is failing us.

This also permits me, parenthetically, to record here that I am an official Kentucky Admiral. Never mind how that came about. Long story. The certificate is there, somewhere, if someone wishes to challenge me. Meanwhile, instead of belatedly buying myself an admiral’s cap, I’ll send its price to…CAP.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sound Bites

Shopping trips to distant Costco entertain because I listen to the radio. Thus I learned of the decline, and better yet the end, of men—by which respective authors meant the human male. Women are better educated, more ambitious, have more get up and go, earn more too, and the males, stripped of the role of family provider, evidently throw in the dishtowel, embrace drugs, ennui, porn, and depression.

The contributors (a panel, of course) consisted of two men, a female, and the host—all young and from the chattering class. The host contributed an observation of his own soon after I tuned in. He said that superior male strength no long mattered even in defense. The push of a button sufficed to annihilate the enemy. Then, later, a propos of long term projections, the tutorial female voice pronounced ex cathedra that this trend would inevitably continue. Her tone evoked the phrase “manifest destiny” in me; and I recalled Red hopes of witnessing the dawn of a classless society.

Pops of pop sociology. I wondered what the rangers in Afghanistan might have to say about the need of male strength and endurance as they clambered mountains riding donkeys carrying horrendous packs. I wondered about the lady’s time scale; what would be the status of women in, say, 2075 after the oil has run out? I wondered about the sample, if any, on which the findings of decline and end had been so firmly founded. I wondered how many families, and for how long, could afford the mountainous costs of educating offspring at universities...

A day or so later came news that women still make less money than men in the same jobs—and hence are less likely to be laid off. Poverty numbers flickered on my screen suggesting that the poorest of the poor are single women with children. I learned that the most certain predictor of future earnings was to be raised in a family featuring two parents at home. Pop. Pop. A bite here, a bite there. Snacking on the news. The problem goes deeper than male frustration at the leaven that causes women to rise. So many other things in that batter, I thought, later, and then back in the car again: on blog posts time is elastic, you see. Then, almost arrived at Kroger from Costco, I learned from the panel that marriage is disappearing altogether—except among the rich, where divorce is now evidently in sharp decline.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Time Horizons

This may be cheerless reading—hence you may want to skip this. My subject is time horizons, but in a special sense. What’s usually meant is that some people customarily look far ahead in time whereas, at the other extreme, some people live day-to-day. Those who have long time horizons are usually more successful; they plan ahead and also draw their experience from the distant as well as the immediate past.

The sense in which I want to use this phrase today is to signify ample time to concentrate on necessary tasks (long or adequate horizon) and short bits of time bounded by interruptions that come at frequent but random intervals. To achieve longer-term goals, we must engage in a flow of effort we can sustain. Arbitrary interruptions chop this time into segments that are too small. If they cannot be avoided, they produce short, inadequate horizons.

My thesis is that people who’ve passed 70 will find that their time horizons, in my sense, are shortening, and this because medical conditions increasingly interrupt ordinary life or limit our use of bodies and of minds. To be sure, fewer years are left to live as well, but that’s not what I mean. In the usual sense I’ve always had a very long time horizon; indeed I still do. I’m not talking about the approaching end but something much more practical. Arbitrary and unwelcome events that must be minded chop time apart and suck up psychic energy. One consequence is that initiative weakens. You hesitate to start something anticipating another shock. You become gun-shy. After what we call a “medical week” around here, especially two in a row, it’s difficult even to remember the sustained effort we suspended while playing “patient”—much less picking it up again—if, as often happens, ten days out yet another anxiety-producing “procedure” looms ahead. Ten days? Seems like a long time. But it has both a backward and a forward shadow of at least three days in each direction. The tendency in cases like this is to live more in the moment, to enjoy the momentary freedom from “all that.” Time and time again I hear myself saying: “Well, at least I have about three days.” Rarely am I tempted to use those three days in ways that may require effort and may produce stress—even though the goal is of my own choosing. I use the days to build up energy for getting past “the next one,” whatever it is, with the stiff upper lip and a sort of chipper humor trying to convince myself and others that I can handle it. I’m all right, Jack!

Pondering this sourly during a walk on Monday—sourly because two medical events, both very unpleasant, one for B., one for me, were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday—it occurred to me that poor people, living on the edge of economic disaster, have short time horizons in both senses because they too are subject to harsh interruptions that cannot be anticipated or dealt with summarily: failing brakes, a sick child, a breakdown in plumbing, a tooth ache, the arrest of a teenage child, a bus strike, a hike in rent—small things and large are magnified by poverty. The human being copes as best he or she is able. The slow breakdown of bodies or insufficient economic nourishment reaching a family both have the same effect. The highest arts of medicine in one case, or of government in the other fail to do much more than mitigate. Then if you combine the two, aging and poverty, “vale of tears” is not a bad description. Mine, fortunately, is just a complaint. I can’t get things done as once I used to. Botheration. And another procedure is ahead. “In about two weeks,” the doctor said. “We’ll arrange it. We’ll call you.”