Monday, March 10, 2008
The Injuries We Do
"The injuries we do and those we suffer are seldom weighed in the same scales."
TV, radio, and print media have been full of stories about the worsening economic crisis. Most of the stories focus on the housing market, and how high the number of foreclosures are. I believe there are many other stories in the U.S. that reflect the effects of our poor economy, but those stories don’t often get coverage.
I heard on a local radio station this morning that huge numbers of children are entering the foster care system in the southwestern part of my state. Why? Because their parents are manufacturing and selling methamphetamine to try to make their house payments. Always an area of lower economic means and high meth use, the fact that things are getting much, much worse is very telling for this part of the state. The economic crisis can now be held responsible for increased meth production and addiction and for the dissolution of families, as well as for loss of homes.
Another sign, at least to me, as to how bad things are getting, is the increased numbers of people I see shopping at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. My oldest son and I make frequent trips to our local Goodwill store in search of music for his record player. Being the free spirit that he is, Chip would prefer to listen to old 33 1/3 vinyl records than to compact disks. He claims the music is ‘richer’ on the vinyl. Until the last 6 months, whenever we were in the Goodwill store, which was usually on a Saturday, not many other people were shopping there. That is no longer the case. When we visited last week and yesterday, the parking lot was full, the store was crowded, and the check-out lines were as long as any line in a WalMart. Entire families were shopping together, gathering clothes, toys and housewares. Being forced to shop at Goodwill rather than a deep discount store such as Walmart is also very telling of the current state of the US economy.
The final, and most heartbreaking, sign of how bad things have gotten was revealed in the faces of the homeless family I passed yesterday afternoon. The family was composed of a man and a woman, and three children, the oldest of which was in a wheelchair. They were all carrying garbage bags full of what appeared to be their meager belongings, and bags were also tied onto the wheelchair handles. I see lots of homeless people in our downtown area, most of them, however, are men or women alone, wandering the downtown streets of the city in which I live. This was an entire family, and they were walking the sidewalks of the suburbs, about 15 miles from downtown. Their utter despair was as evident in their slow, burden-heavy pace as it was on their downcast faces.
The next statements I write will be political in nature. If you do not want to hear about my political views, I suggest you stop reading now.
Our economy has been plummeting the entire time that the Republicans have been in the driving seat of this country. Young men have died in record numbers in Iraq – families have lost their life savings and the security they had planned for their retirement years. Legions of families with young children are suffering and the outlook continues to worsen. Might it be time for a different driver?