Friday, June 27, 2008
The Poor In The US Are Sick And Dying: Happy?
The Gini coefficient measures the distribution of income on a scale from zero (where income is perfectly equally distributed among all members of a society) to one (where all the income goes to a single person).
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also
leaks through the holes
in the roof
of this ruined house.
Getting rid of things and clinging to emptiness is an illness of the same kind. It is just like throwing oneself into a fire to avoid being drowned.
Yet do the lazy Snailes no less
The greatnesse of our Lord confesse.
Yesterday at noon I attended a support meeting that I like to go to when school isn't in session. It lasts an hour, is attended by a few regulars, and consists of sitting in silence---unless someone wants to share how the day is going. When that happens we're not supposed to comment back particularly, or offer judgment. It's just practice in offering up something about oneself honestly and simply. On this day, however, (and this happens sometimes) a young, strong-looking woman no one had seen before jumped in immediately. She had been clinging to the man she identified as her partner, rubbing him and caressing him. He was silent but obviously concerned she was coming apart. Her voice and the rest of her trembled uncontrollably as she told why she was there. She said they were not from here, but had traveled the hour and a half down from Columbus, to move in with her grandmother. They had lost their jobs and home, and had a newborn. Grandmother had taken one look at her, called Social Services, taken custody of the baby, and thrown them both out by court order. The girl had been off crack for 3 days, but---and here she began to cry---she knew no other way to deal with a hopeless situation except to drug, she'd relapsed before, and now she was here in this room, with us.
Any reader who has worked or volunteered in a religious institution or social agency of any kind, I'm sure, has had a situation like this land in your lap. Maybe you've been stung before when you offered food or cash. If you've referred the person somewhere else, you probably never did learn how it turned out. Maybe you're in a group, like the one I go to, where you actually get to see the person again and again, and possibly watch the miracle of a recovery occur---or not. Please forgive me if I insulted any reader with the title, which indicates more and more poor people in the United States are becoming sick, that this is one way of taking care of the "surplus population," and maybe that's OK with you. Maybe you don't know what else to do. Maybe you don't want to hear about it. Or think about it. Then surf on, reader, and be well---because a new article on the subject is out, and we need to go into it.
I was set up to read it, which is in the new issue of Harvard Magazine, by another article my good online friend Astrid sent me from yesterday's UK Guardian. The Guardian is another example of world press providing Americans with news we don't get to read over here anymore. This story was written by a correspondent in Los Angeles, about the increasing number of people who now live in their cars. There are so many of them now that a homeless agency in Santa Barbara has launched a "safe parking" service, so that people aren't hit with fines for trying to sleep in the streets. Many are middle class professionals who have been destroyed by foreclosure, and perhaps job loss too, stuff in storage, and maybe nothing left but a car. LA officials estimate they have 73,000 homeless, and a recent poll of 3000 of them revealed 250 are living in cars. How many of us could be in the same situation within a month, if such tragedy befell? From middle class to poor---who increasingly are sick and dying?
So what about this "increasing" thing? Is it so, and what is it about? That's where the Harvard article comes in, and if you have similar concerns I think you'll find it valuable~~~