I bumped into an idea this morning. It may not be original but I cannot remember seeing it elsewhere. It has to do with the poor among us.
I keep hearing, and I believe, that we are the wealthiest nation on earth and in history. That has not changed even during this recession. If anything, that fact has helped us begin to turn things around. What other nation could come up with massive stimulus funds to defibrillate a barely gasping economy? Those funds are what got me to thinking about our country’s so-called war on poverty.
Mr. President, I realize there are other wars on your mind. Despite the fact that their end may not be in sight, they have not been with us nearly as long as the war we are sporadically fighting at home – a war we should be winning.
The fact is, we are not. At the moment, the recession is a handy reason, or excuse, for that. Still, those among us who are well off or getting through are not like the poor, for whom things are getting worse. You must know the statistics.
My idea came out of a memory of another war, World War II. I was ten years old when it ended and have known the pride of those days ever since. I remember vividly the war efforts of our nation. As a kid I collected and saved rubber bands, sold old newspapers and cardboard by the wagon full, peeled foil from gum wrappers, helped plant a victory garden in a scrubby backyard and left a “victory plate” on the dinner table.
Then I remembered all the war plants/factories doing business to support the nation’s and, back then, a world’s cause in confronting madness. And I asked myself, “What if … ?”
What if some of that returned stimulus money were used to create war plant/factories for fighting poverty? (I have a few friends who, if reading this, will say, “Here it comes – more do-goodism from a ‘Let’s save the world’ Liberal’s heart!” I can get past that, since I do not see myself as a liberal. I believe that people need to be responsible for themselves and that government needs to be smaller, not bigger and also less intrusive. I also believe that my idea is consistent with that thinking.)
By supporting an “industry” against poverty, the government could endorse and encourage the private sector (which, thankfully, is doing most of the work at present) in confronting the madness of poverty among us by trying to solve the problem. The factories could be a countrywide network coordinating and providing shelter, food and clothing for those in need. Staffed mostly by the poor themselves (Hey, people! Jobs!), the plants/factories could provide employment, job counseling, be clearing/supply houses for food kitchens and homeless shelters, even training centers for start-up employment possibilities. They could also provide medical triage intervention. Their mission would be to help people help themselves become viable and productive citizens of their communities. This may seem like reinventing the wheel, since many agencies and programs already exist, doing more than their best to solve the problem. It is not. It is more about providing a better road for the wheel to travel and a synergized surge to get the job done.
I realize we are talking money here, Mr. President. The bankers have had their turn. How about the poor? Can you think of a better use for just some of the repaid stimulus funds? You are, after all, President of the United States, not of the world. What better way to let all of us know you realize that.
— A Dreamer in a Why-Not-Dream Land