The working poor as society's greatest philanthropists
Aug 08, 2006
They serve us at restaurants; they trim our lawns; they clean our houses and hotel rooms; they take our money at convenience stores. They are the minimum-wage earners, who, if their state’s minimum isn’t higher, are paid just $5.15 an hour. At 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, that amounts to $10,700 annually—nearly $6,000 less than the federal poverty line for a family of three.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) provided a pleasant respite from the normal summer news of denominational wrangling over homosexuality. The PCUSA General Assembly actually talked about God. Delegates last month voted to “receive” (rather than approve or send back to committee) a study document that encourages churches to explore various words and images for the Trinity.
A few years ago, after government officials decided to return some unearthed Indian artifacts to the present-day descendants of their original owners rather than ship them to a museum, a Saturday Night Live spoof put this act of generosity in perspective: “As for the rest of North America, we’ll be keeping that.”
Ten months ago, the nation was riveted by televised images of people, most of them African Americans, fleeing the floodwaters in New Orleans. It was obvious that poor black neighborhoods were the most vulnerable when Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, and that blacks had the fewest resources with which to cope with the disaster.
Martyrdom was part of the founding of the Shi‘ite branch of Islam, which presently dominates Iranian life. Following that tradition, children as young as 12 were sent to the front lines during the war with Iraq in the 1980s to clear minefields with their bodies.
The growth in the number of civilians owning military-style guns can be traced back to a deal made in the mid-1980s between Rene Carlos Vos, a gun dealer, and Wayne LaPierre, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. They formed a company called Blue Sky to import from South Korea M-1 rifles that had been used in the Korean War. The legislation that made the project possible was an amendment to a Senate bill offered by Bob Dole, Republican senator from Kansas, which for the first time allowed the importation of U.S. military weapons as long as they were “curios and relics.” LaPierre soon pulled out of Blue Sky when it faced criminal charges, and Vos was killed in a plane crash in 1987, but the company opened a floodgate of guns. By 2012, one million of what gun advocates call “modern sporting rifles” were flooding the U.S. market each year, from both foreign and domestic sources (Washington Post, May 3).