A quick political commentary

I was recently talking politics with a friend of mine (perhaps I need to crack open my new Emily Post book).  Tis the season, and I very much respect my friend’s opinion.  He voiced a concern about the taxation on the wealthy that is used to help those less fortunate.  Here was his example:

Say you have a fishing pole and a bucket and every day you walk the 4 blocks to the lake to catch your day’s meal.  On your way home, you see a man sitting on the street bemoaning his hunger.  You stop and tell him, “Sir, there is a lake just two blocks away.  Go and catch some fish so you can eat.”  The man continues to lament, he does not have a pole or a bucket.  You live only two more blocks away, and offer to not only give him your fishing pole, but to also go home to deposit your fish and return to give him your bucket.  He thanks you profusely, and you feel good about yourself.  You purchase a new bucket and pole that afternoon, and the next day see the same man while walking home from the lake.  He is sitting there with your old pole and bucket still bemoaning his hunger.  You stop to ask him why he hasn’t gone to the lake to catch his own fish, and he exclaims, “It is so far away!”  While you know it is only 2 blocks walk for him, you kindly give him one of the two fish you caught that day.  He thanks you again, but now every day, he expects to have a share of your fish.

Now, that story made me stop and think.  Yes, it’s terrible that we have a country that is apparently full of lazy, unmotivated people who sit around waiting for hand outs.  However, I don’t think that’s the majority of the poor.  I have read numerous articles about the “working poor.”  These are people who work themselves to death and then go bankrupt due to medical expenses because they cannot afford health insurance or preventative care.  They are programmed to eat fast food or microwaved meals that are stuffed full of filler and unnamed chemicals.

Here is another story:

You work very hard at your job making minimum wage in the fishing pole factory owned by Fishing Pole Inc and finally save up to purchase a fishing pole and bucket.  This was incredibly difficult because Fishing Pole Inc. continues to raise the price on poles while making record profits.  The bucket was easy, however.  You simply went to Buckets-R-Us and purchased a bargain bucket made by sweatshop laborers in the Northern Marianas Islands.  They can still say “Made in the U.S.A.” since that’s a territory.  While this isn’t the best made bucket, it’s one you can afford, and you hope it will last.  At least it isn’t made of lead like many of the even cheaper buckets.  During your walk to the lake, you must fight your way past the frozen fish stick sellers who are marketing their “tastes like fish” chemical stick that they are 95% certain won’t give you cancer within the first 3 bites, but they are highly addictive.  You aren’t certain you know how to fish because in school they tossed out all of the fishing books and instead taught you to a mandated test on the best types of fish sticks.

Upon reaching the lake, you wade through dirty diapers and torn garbage bags to reach the shore.  After hours of failed attempts, you manage to catch a scrawny little fish that appears to be only mildly toxic.  The posted signs assure you that Fishing Pole Inc has cleaned up it’s act, and the fish here are safe to eat.  You put the fish in your bucket to walk home, and to bottom immediately falls out.  Buckets-R-Us never promised quality, just quantity, so you can go back tomorrow and buy another bucket.  Hopefully it will last longer.  You carry your fish home in your pocket.

On your way home, you pass a man sitting on the side of the road bemoaning his hunger.  You tell him that there is a lake two blocks away, but you only have one fishing pole and your bucket broke and all you have to show for your day’s effort is this scrawny fish.  He happens to have just received a fishing pole as part of a government plan to help people learn to fish.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t qualify for the fishing manual.  That was considered pork and was cut from the bill.  You tell him that you just spent the day figuring it out, so together you go back to the lake and work to earn your dinner.

You and your new friend return to the lake, and together you clear a space on the shore.  As you show him how to fish, you realize he is a much better fisherman than you, he just needed a little help learning how.  Because you have befriended a good fisherman, you each have a large, healthy looking fish to eat.  You make a pact to return together each day to fish.  It turns out your skill is in finding bait so you promise to find the best grubs and worms for the next day.  As the two of you work together, you learn more and more about fishing.  You are able to catch enough fish that you can now sell your fish for extra money.  You use the extra money to buy a new fishing pole.  You recruit more people to fish.  As they fish, they clean parts of the shore.  People realize they can make better poles and buckets than Fishing Pole Inc or Buckets-R-Us.  A local economy based on the skills of the people in the area begins to blossom.  Word spreads and more towns learn to fish for themselves.  Fish sticks are no longer the preferred food.  Through grassroots efforts, you truly clean the lake and fine Fishing Pole Inc for bad ecological practices.  Buckets-R-Us is brought down by charges of abuse and their sweatshop laborers are offered jobs at living wages.  People are healthier because they eat better and they walk to the lake.

All of this is because one person had some ingenuity and was willing to help his neighbor.


~ by rebeccaclaire on October 28, 2008.

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