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Half a cloak is better than none

A  day of constant QC and a night of writing Christmas cards, and I am... *wince*

More today.  And I finally got the top of the bedcover drawn out, so I am working on that (gonna need lots more wool).  Pictures sometime, I guess.  It's taken me over five hours to do most of a single motif, and that's without any embellishment (I'm outlining everything first, then going back in stages).

I'm always interested in the reactions to comments on charities;  one little tidbit I found out was that the middle classes donate the least to charity.  Apparently, we suck at the "giving" thing (though I'm seeing a little too much of the "demanding what's due to me!!!" thing right now when I make the mistake of actually venturing into a shop).

(Please don't write and tell me how much you, personally give.  I'm happy that you do, and you get warm fuzzies, but the fact remains that most people don't, and this affects all sorts of people.)

I am guilty of not giving much, comparative to my income - despite giving change to homeless people and random charities, I pretty much suck at the larger donations.  I gave $100 to a local wildlife rescue place, but I also gave them a baby squirrel, so I think that gift sort of cancelled itself out.  When I was Baroness, I started the practice in our Barony of making a charitable donation on behalf of the Barony rather than buying a million useless trinkets and possibly forgetting someone who would then be mortally offended and bitch about me forever (oh, wait...).  That continues, but it's no longer my money, so I'm falling behind again.

I'm divided about the cash-for-poor-people idea - as P.J. O'Rourke says, you can't solve poverty by throwing money at it, and we know this to be true, because an awful lot of money has been airborne over the years, and the poor are still with us.  

(Uh, before you yell at me in the comments section, keep in mind that the greatest thinkers have struggled with the question of poverty, and it is still around.  If you have something that will cure it, contact the Nobel Foundation; I think they'd be interested.)

But cash is of immediate help, even if it doesn't solve the long-term problem.  Cash buys food, shelter, and warmth.  Cash makes small children happy because it buys toys.  Cash makes adults happy because it buys heroin food.

(Ha, ha, just a little attack laurel humour, there.  Please don't kill me.)

I applaud going green, and think that  trystbat's ideas for a green Christmas are fabulous, but being ecologically minded is costing us - because more farmland is being earmarked for ethanol production, we have less surplus crops, and more efficient packaging and storage means less damaged food packaging, which in turn means the Government and businesses are giving a lot less to food banks.  In a country overflowing with food, we have a food shortage of epic proportions brewing.  

Bob says that the Star Trek view of the future hinges on free (or insanely cheap) energy, and replicators that can produce anything from basic atoms.  I find if I follow this thought to its logical conclusion, that means the entire society is based on the recycling of waste.  Not so far from what we're trying to achieve right now.

(Though don't think about what happens to poop.  Despite the fact that there's still a lot of unused food mass in human excrement, I'm sure it just goes for fertilizer, right?)

Better get started on those replicators, then - perhaps I should be giving my money to scientific research.  Do I want to think in terms of future generations, and sacrifice the needs of the current poorest segment of the world in the hope that enough money put towards environmental improvements will pay off?  Or do I cut that part of the budget to use the money to give everyone in the world a few years worth of food?  

It's probably a good thing I'm not making those choices.

Money - we middle classes have a lot of it, judging by the number of people I see loading up their carts with useless (but fun!) consumer goods, but is it fair to ask people to give up their fun so that other people may eat?  

(That was a rhetorical question, no need to answer it in my comments section.  But if you're up for some fun, ask someone in line at Best Buy if they would take the money they were going to spend on that Wii and donate it to the local food bank so that little children can have a Christmas dinner.  See what happens.)

I have house stuff I want to buy.  I have presents and nice things to get for people.  But I might be able to spare a bit for something else.  I think most of us with disposable income could, and it could be anything at all - anything, as long as it benefits someone.  It doesn't have to be much - if everyone in the US who could gave $20, there'd be a lot more charity money floating around.  And Bill Gates won't get all the credit.

I have managed to block most of my church school teachings, but I still remember the parable of the man who shared half his cloak with a beggar - who, in classic Cecil B. DeMille fashion, turned out to be Jesus in disguise!!!.  I never took it as a threat - "be nice to people, or Jesus will spank you!" but as a reminder that we are all worthy of kindness, no matter how stinky and unphotogenic we may be.

Comments

( 40 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
heatermcca
Dec. 11th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC)
About how many motifs will be on the bedspread as you've got it in mind?
attack_laurel
Dec. 11th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
A couple of hundred on the top, and about as many again on the sides. Probably more; I haven't counted. :)
(no subject) - heatermcca - Dec. 11th, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maricelt - Dec. 11th, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Dec. 11th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Asking a stupid question on the basics. - maricelt - Dec. 11th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Asking a stupid question on the basics. - maricelt - Dec. 11th, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
kyrakai
Dec. 11th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
Giving
I have really enjoyed reading your entries, especially these last few on "giving". I have found your view to be well thought out, insightful and pretty darned accurate.

Unfortunately, we have whole generations in this country who were not taught the values of giving to others, which has created some people who feel "entitled" to everything and anything. My own sister suffers from the "I didn't get a pony" syndrome.

Thank you for being one who is willing to stand out there ( or sit) and say something.
attack_laurel
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Giving
Ah, talk is cheap. But thanks! :)
amykb
Dec. 11th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
I think the rich give for the tax help it gives them, and the poor as a sort of pay-it-forward. A lot of the middle class is stuck in the living paycheck to paycheck world and the spare funds just aren't there, especially with escalating mortgage payments. Donations don't have to be money though--they can be time. Time is mostly what I have had to give over the years.

Giving money is, as you say, a difficult choice--do we do something to help now, or to create a better future? For me, mostly, if it is a money donation, it either goes to the Salvation Army Santa or to a military organization in a pay-it-forward choice. Army Emergency Relief has helped me out when I needed it, and I know how tight things can get for lower level enlisted at times.
hazebrouck
Dec. 11th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Money problems are not new to the current times. And yet, previous generations managed to make donations to charity. I don't know you and I don't mean these comments to reflect on you, just on people I have observed. I think that Generation X never learned how to be poor and still enjoy life. I know a lot of people who could balance their budgets by just packing a brown bag lunch every day and learning to live without Starbucks. Not only would they not be willing to do that, but they would never even think of it.

I don't know about your 'pay-it-forward' idea. I would hope that experiencing adversity would make humans more compassionate to others in need. I'm not saying that's true, I'm just hoping that it is.
(no subject) - amykb - Dec. 11th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hazebrouck - Dec. 12th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
loosecanon
Dec. 11th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
There's a cool foundation near me, local only, which pays rent so we don't have homeless people. They also run a "roach coach" to the areas wbere day laborers and really poor people live, using restaurant excesses.
Not too many areas have obviously great groups like this, and so many of them are corrupt or nauseatingly religious, so people get uncomfortable donating.

On recycling human waste; never buy French Milled Soap. That's all I'm sayin, and I'm in a position to know with absolute certainty.
damedini
Dec. 11th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

I have been observing with both amusement and disgust a group here in Toronto. A somewhat hysterical appearing group lobbying against poverty. their last big hoorah was closing down the downtown office towers. Now who does that hurt, really? The bigwigs VPN in and it's the mailroom clerks, the receptionists and the cleaners who can't get to work and who get sacked. And companies that lose enough productivity on a given day have to layoff. And it's notthe bigwigs getting laid off either. So that all backfired.
Now today they're trying to shutdown the underground PATH system that runs beneath the financial district. And again it's the coffee kiosks that will suffer, and the dry cleaners and the lotto booths. The secretarys and clerks who will be late to work and suffer. *sigh*

We have way too many people yelling about poverty and too few people doing anything. Talk is cheap. And easy. I am sometimes just as guilty. I think I need to buy a few goats.
hazebrouck
Dec. 11th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC)
Wow. Are they lobbying against poverty or against having to look at it's consequences? Weird.
(Deleted comment)
hazebrouck
Dec. 11th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
Hah! I should have read your post before I made one above about Starbucks. Good for you!
(Deleted comment)
zsof
Dec. 11th, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
A few years ago I used to host a weekly public affairs radio show. The vast majority of my guests were the Presidents/CEOs/Exec. Officers of various non-profit agencies around NE Ohio. I don't know how people decide where to send their money because I did the show for 3 years and never ran out of agencies. I will admit I developed a soft spot for the local homeless advocacy group and they get my money and word of mouth first. But I also tell folks to give to United Way more often than not because they help so many agencies. If more companies would join them with the yearly drive they do it would help--you can donate money right out of your paycheck. Brilliant!
trystbat
Dec. 11th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
The problem of poverty is a bitch. But one recent development that I find encouraging is the microloan movement, like that started by Muhammad Yunus (who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year) & sites like Kiva.org. Even Heifer International are in the same vein. They give poor ppl a chance to earn a living, instead of just giving a temporary handout. "Teach a man to fish..."
attack_laurel
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
And the Grameen Bank. They were notable because they loaned in groups (with the other group members' money as collateral), and they only loaned to women, on the premise that women wouldn't blow the cash on booze.

I'm paraphrasing, of course. But it was a fantastic success.

There's been a whole lot written on poverty, and the consensus seems to be that a number of factors make or break a person on the poverty line - the help they receive, the attitude they hold, ambition, educational opportunities, economic conditions, work prospects, and a bunch of other stuff. I wish I had a solution - I could really use that Nobel prize cash.
mistressrhi
Dec. 11th, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
I certainly don't consider myself middle-class, but I often am on the edge of paycheck-to-paycheck living. Even so, I started something for the holiday season that I'm thinking I'm gonna keep on doing next year.

Every time I make a trip to the grocery store (which is about once a week), I buy 5-10 canned goods of varying kinds and donate them. In the grand scheme of things, my sole contribution may not be much, but I've inspired a few others to join me and it makes me think more about what I'm buying, since I need to calculate that $10/week into my grocery budget. So, maybe one week, I don't get that box of Crunch-n-Munch so I feel I can better afford those canned goods. And you know, I get more out of collecting canned goods than I would have that snack...
attack_laurel
Dec. 11th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
And considering how cheap decent canned goods are - you know, that's a pretty good idea. I might steal it for myself, hug it close, and croon over it occasionally. :)

Actually, they almost always have a "help fill the basket!" sign at our local grocery store - I'll have to look for it next time and throw some nice things in.
xntryk
Dec. 11th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Watch out -- I'm about to say something horrible.

(glances left and right)

(whispers)

I'm glad I grew up poor.

No, seriously. My brother and I were 12 years apart. I was raised by a single mom who scrapped for every bit of food and shelter we received.

My brother was born into a family with two parents (three if you count me, two again when you look at his dad's indifference, but that's another story), with plenty of food and toys and the latest this and that.

Difference? I tend to overwork, but I always have some way of making ends meet. I'm able to do stuff for and with others. My brother, on the other hand, can't understand why he can't make his paycheck stretch... when he's working.

It's almost a generational thing as well as a socio-economic one.

Sure, I'd like to give my kids (and Lord knows we're tryin' to make 'em!) everything in the world. But I won't. Because there's something about desire and drive and compassion you learn when you're not blessed with a silver spoon.

Okay, better get my helmet, before the stones fly.
attack_laurel
Dec. 11th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
No, I get where you're coming from. I've been impecunious myself, at times, and you appreciate a dollar much more when you know exactly how far it will stretch.

Warren Buffett, of all people, will not give his kids most of his fortune (and he is a rich, rich man) because he believes it would be a disservice to them. He thinks (as I , and apparently, you, do) that children denied nothing never learn how to fend for themselves, and will be nothing but leeches all their lives.

And he's right - look at the difference between the current crop of celebutards and their parents and grandparents. You know, Paris Hilton and Brandon Davies were ragging on Lindsey Lohan for having to work for her money, but that's what makes her better than them in my eyes.

And no, selling a sex tape and making paid "celebrity appearances" isn't work.

The money paid for that little bedazzled phone Paris carries around would feed a *lot* of people. Who's superior?

Yeeesh.
(no subject) - gianetta - Dec. 11th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gottasing - Dec. 12th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC) - Expand
gianetta
Dec. 11th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
Being able to donate straight out of my paycheck is the best thing since sliced bread. I can sit down and calculate the percentage of our income that we're donating. It puts it into perspective - what sounds like a lot to a couple of former perpetual students really isn't all that much now that we both have jobs. It lets us really think ahead of time about which local groups we want to support, and I only have to think about it once a year, which means that it actually happens instead of just *meaning* to get around to doing it. It doesn't have the same warm fuzzies as handing over cash, which we still do on occasion, but it makes me feel better than wondering if we're giving enough - I still do that, but at least I have hard figures to work with. Oh, and since the federal government has chosen to subsidize charitable giving, it means I only have one major receipt for the tax deduction.
cathgrace
Dec. 11th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
I am always torn on this subject, we have no debt, but also no savings to speak of either, we live with only one car, but we do have a 32” (albeit not HD) TV. We could definitely give money to charity if we never went on dates, got rid of cable, didn’t go to the movies, buy fabric, or play SCA, possibly a couple hundred dollars a month. But well…………that money is ours. Paul works for it, he works very hard to give us our lifestyle which although is hardly excessive, is a comfortable little corner of the universe. I like that I can afford (with a little careful planning) to go to Plymouth, and I am even contemplating selling some stuff on eBay or whatever so I can earn some spending money to go to Italy next November for the Janet Arnold Lectures. I have given to charity and will do so again, but pick and choose who that will be very carefully (I like shelters for abused women) . I know that money should be given no questions asked, but I have to admit that when I see people that look perfectly healthy and employable begging to share that which my husband has spent hours of his life earning, I feel a little pang of rebellion and resentment. I am pretty sure that makes me a bad person, but there you go.
attack_laurel
Dec. 12th, 2007 11:30 am (UTC)
Nope, that makes you normal. :) When I say those that can give should give, I mean those that *can*. I am not in favour of giving up everything to the less fortunate - that's Communism (and it doesn't work - people who have no vested interest in working tend not to work well).

But see if you can slap a bit of that money into a savings account every month - it's dangerous to live without savings. :)
(no subject) - cathgrace - Dec. 12th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
lorebubeck
Dec. 12th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
As usual, you're right on the money (pardon the pun). If anyone is looking for a quick and easy cause, OrlaCary has a friend in need right now - If you like kitties and would like to help out her friend and his cat, go check her blog. =) I admit to mostly giving to charities in the past that, in the end, benifited me in some way. My husband has diabetes - I donate to the ADS. I have high blood pressure - I donate to the AHA. I've taken 4 ambulance rides with my children - I give to our local volunteer fire and rescue (and always will!) Now I think my heart strings get more of a vote sometimes. This years CFC (combined federal campaign for those who don't work for the government) went to St. Judes, Habitat (a perenial favorite), a group for abused women, and a group for homeless families. Other years it has been the Red Cross. You get so much more back than you give I think. It make me feel good so in a way it's selfish I guess. Reminds me of a "Friends" episode (God help me) when Joey was trying to prove there was no such thing as a selfless act. Pheobe, of course, had to prove him wrong, but because doing nice things made her feel good, he was proved right. (Well until the very end when she did something for him that made her feel icky, but I can't remember what it was). So there you have it - the ultimate truth from a sitcom. Wait, that can't be right...
( 40 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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