By Jay - Ottawa
After a big, satisfying dinner exactly 100 years ago the publisher of the New York Times encountered a hungry man in the street. On that occasion the disparity between the two was recognized not just by the poor man but by the rich man as well, and thus was born the Times’ Neediest Fund. For all my irritation with the Times, I salute them for the Neediest Fund and hope that once great paper can bring such needs to the front page for another hundred years.
No philanthropist or charity can possibly meet all the needs of the poor in a nation of our size. However, the government of a big, rich country can come close to that goal -- when it makes the right choices. Today the richest people and their courtiers who run America have no intention of letting the government help its most needy. While neighbors starve in cold alleyways the elites continue to wear a warm smile and spend money, conspicuously, on their pets. (See Reuters photo, previous post.)
For Christians the Christmas story revolves – or should revolve -- around a child born in poor housing to parents barely scraping by. The growing discipleship of Ayn Rand will tell you that Mary and Joseph, like other irresponsible people of today, brought hardship down upon themselves by making poor life choices along the road to Bethlehem and Nazareth and Golgotha.
But why invest in biblical stories of dubious provenance? Moderns should trust in facts that are up-to-date and verifiable. Check reality with measures that stand up to scrutiny. Then chose to respond, somehow. Or not respond.
Thanks to a foreign newspaper I learned that the National Center for Homeless Families (NCHF) just published a report about homeless children in America. Here’s a Twitter-size executive summary: During the course of a calendar year a total of 1.6 million American children experience homelessness. That’s 1 in 45.
The NCHF has an interactive map that allows you to see the homeless child statistics for your state. Just possibly, in light of recent wheeling and dealing in Washington, the numbers will increase dramatically before next Christmas.
The number of homeless kids in my native New York is an embarrassment, despite all the efforts, public and private, to address the needs of poor children. Where does your state stand in the rankings?
There are many reasons to vote for or against certain candidates. I’m not a single-issue voter, but I, like others of you, will hold it hard against certain parties and candidates who have allowed that 1.6 million to suffer in the first place. Just about everything those same powers-that-be do lately tells us that the number of homeless children is sure to increase.
The end-of-year season puts us in mind to ask ourselves and each other, peaceably, how we are to conduct ourselves in the year ahead. By assenting once again to the lesser of two evils will we become increasingly bigger collaborators, despite what we say on the sidelines? To what measurable degree, if any, has the party of lesser evils slowed -- or hastened -- the progress of injustice, compared to the party "In opposition"? Is there a responsible Third Option?
(Ed. Note: In case you missed it, you can watch the excellent 60 Minutes report on homeless children here.)