Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'll get off my soapbox in a mo'

Hey kittens -

I've been a verrra bad blogger lately. Happily, DH and I have been so busy with fun things that I haven't had time to post! Turns out people thought I was on the "cool kids" evite list when I wasn't. Now that it has been rectified, we're partying like we're college kids again. :)

Anywho...I need to be serious for a little post to get something off my chest. To begin, you have to know that I had a very long discussion today with a co-worker about the election.

From my previous posts you know I'm a recovering conservative. She, on the other hand, is as right-wing Republican as you come. I was, well...disappointed when she explained that one of the reasons she votes Republican is so that "My father, who has worked really really hard, doesn't have to pay for people who stay at home and watch Maury Povich."

And I totally agree with her on that point. If you can work, you should. HOWEVER, I also believe that it is our societal obligation to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. People aren't *worthless* just because they can't contribute much.

I get that people want to keep their money. They worked hard, they should keep it, right? Yes, that's a valid point. But if you follow any major religion (I'm Christian) then you should believe in helping the poor, the infirm, the old, and the sick.

Second part of the post (it'll loop back to the first part, stay with me). Tonight DH and I went out to celebrate a birthday at a piano bar with a bunch of friends. You should also know that we live in an "up and coming" downtown area. Read: it takes high six and seven figures to buy into our building but we also live across the street from an abandoned lot where a lot of homeless sleep.

Ok, so, anywho... DH and I were walking home and we saw a homeless dude sitting on a bucket, holding a sign saying "Hungry man needs help." Normally I walk by these guys without a second glance. A high percentage of the homeless in SD are schizophrenic and, to be frank, scare me. They cuss and hear things that aren't there. Some of them smell bad. I try not to make eye contact and walk by.

Tonight I was really struck by the guy with the sign. He wasn't bothering anyone. He looked tired. He was a little dirty but wasn't smelly. He didn't have a cup full of change in front of him. I had a pizza box from dinner tucked under my arm, filled with leftovers. I stopped and asked him if he wanted half a pizza. He said simply, "Yes. Thank you." As DH and I continued on, the man put down the sign and started to chow down.

I guess it really struck me tonight that I normally ignore people like this man. I don't know his story. I don't know if he's "gaming the system." I just know he was hungry and asked for help.

In the next couple days we have the ability to help a lot of people. I am extremely fortunate to have a good job, a home, and a family that loves and supports me. There are many people who don't. I believe that it is both my obligation and privilege to help those who cannot help themselves. Yes, I will pay higher taxes to support those who cannot work. Our fellow Americans aren't worthless. Ever.


Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lisagh said...

The idea of paying (relatively) higher taxes to help others is that it's greatly misunderstood when it's stated so simply.

The extra bit of money each person contributes does not go to the needy in the form of handouts. Here Homeless Harry - have five bucks.

That money, which is nominal and is based on a fair system, is used to fund programs to help people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford them. Things like child care, health care, after school programs, art and music programs, etc. etc. etc.

By contributing, in the form of taxes, to these types of programs, a society only lifts itself up as a whole. The effect is far reaching. It's the basis behind the idea that keeping kids off the street now, makes for a safer community later. Healthy neighborhoods are happy neighborhoods. Together we build a better future.

I've also over simplified, but you get my drift.

I'm always reminded of what my mother once said to me: I would love to pay a million dollars in taxes a year. Think of how much I would have made to warrant that!

E said...

i am glad you spoke out because i know a lot of people have stayed away from politics on their blogs-- even though we're all adults and should be able to discuss things without it getting ugly!

i largely agree with you- i just think the other side of your argument is easily understandable when, like me, you work in a field where you see a lot of people wrongfully and wilfully taking advantage of systems and programs. THAT i shouldn't have to pay for.

Flamingos & Flip Flops said...

I feel the need to comment on this one - (remember I am a teacher and have a social work degree)

However, here in MD/DC they did a study a couple of years ago showing how SOME of these "sign holder"/"beggers" if you will, make more than 100K around here. Yes, some do NEED what they are asking for, but there are others that go home, shower, and live a better life than the people giving to them!

I work in a Title I school that has many unemployed parents - why? well, because they don't want to work because they are living in "low income housing" - one family pays $18 a month for a 3 bedroom place! This isn't right - I work hard and my "rent/mortgage" is WAY higher than that...and its because they don't want to work? I have a problem with that! Even with my social work background I have a HUGE problem with that!

Welfare, education, and a few other things NEED reforming!

Now, I will end my "rebuttle" to your soapbox (which prior to seeing this study I would have 100% agreed with...)

adozeneggs said...

I had the same epiphany as I stepped over a homeless person on the sidewalk in NYC. While holding a shopping bag full of new shoes. I'm aware that some of the cup holders on the street are just taking advantage, but many of them are people with mental disorders who fell through the cracks because of discontinued services to people like war veterans and the like. I have experience with the other side of the coin as well, having been an HR manager in an inner city store hiring cashiers and stock people for minimum wage. These people don't know any different than using the system to get an apartment for $18 a month. This is how they've been brought up. Maybe through slightly higher taxes we could educate these people and show them how to get out of the projects and off of welfare. Don't be so jaded and think about how people become the way they are, maybe their course in life can be changed.

*Holley* said...

I couldn't agree more. I too am a "recovering conservative." I come from a wealthy republican family where the mindset is very much like your friend's that "hard work should not be wasted on the lazies." I think that sure, of course there are some people here and there that try and work the system but all in all, we are all neighbors, we are all God's children and we all should just look out for one another. It's just the "human" thing to do, ya know? Thank goodness Obama won.