turkey filled with stuffing. Yams, greens, mashed potatoes, breads made from scratch and
pies, Oh! the pies. Apple, pecan, mince are just a few brought out for dessert. The sights
and smells of Thanksgiving are a staple of American myth and lore about the richest nation
As America sits down for this year's edition of the Pilgrim's meal, a new report is
out from the Agriculture Department showing the number of Americans worried about
having enough to eat rose 31% last year. According to the Wall Street Journal, this translates
into 49 million Americans (including 17 million children) worried about and not receiving
enough to eat. The article goes on to say Americans are not as bad off as people in many
developing nations; but 6.7 million American households experienced hunger and disrupted
eating patterns, and that is 47% more than the previous year.
This new report comes as the Senate debates a healthcare reform bill designed to
provide health insurance to more Americans. Forty-seven million Americans do not have
health insurance and thousands die each year due to lack of medical care.
Over six million households (four people compose "the household" for government
purposes, so this translates into over 24 million people) couldn't get enough to eat. Forty-
seven million people cannot get insurance to pay for medical care. Can there be more basic
needs than food and healthcare? The richest nation on earth hasn't got the resources to feed
and care for it's people?
While you fight with Uncle Arthur for the wishbone this year, the people who staff
and run food banks and pantries and dining rooms report a 30% increase in demand for their
services. Unemployment appears to be the problem.
While Americans get hungrier and sicker, the government gave Wall Street
$750 billion. While many Americans struggle to put food on their tables and can't afford
to see a doctor for an illness, the government has spent close to $1 trillion for the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan and the President is contemplating sending additional troops to
Afghanistan. It's clear that the military-industrial complex is not suffering.
While unemployed Americans try to hold their households together, corporations
shelter billions of dollars offshore to avoid paying taxes, taxes that could be used to feed
and care for our needy here at home. At a time when individual Americans often face
economic ruin if they become sick, one Wall Street firm has a pool of over $15 billion from
which to pay year-end bonuses.
As Americans struggle with the basics, some of their representatives fight to reduce
food stamps and school lunch programs and oppose extension of unemployment benefits.
As Americans fight to keep their heads above water, some of their elected officials are
committed to killing healthcare reform which would expand health insurance to more than
30 million people who currently cannot afford it. While American parents try to feed their
children and keep them healthy, many of their representatives want to spend hundreds of
billions of dollars to expand a war with no definition of victory or how long victory will
take to achieve, if ever.
Want more? Thousands of veterans are currently homeless and millions more
Americans have lost or are currently losing their homes. Thousands of veterans die each
year due to lack of healthcare. Suicide is at an all time high in the military and the Pentagon
admits there are not enough mental health professionals available to deal with the increasing
problems caused by deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Are you sensing a pattern here? The infrastructure of our country is falling apart.
Tens of billions of dollars are needed simply to repair existing roads and bridges. Billions
more are needed to upgrade the electrical grid which has been described as a third world
system which can and has blacked out large swaths of our nation. Fewer and fewer Americans
have access to higher education due to the cost. Our community college system, once touted
as the best entry level system for higher education, is overwhelmed and turning students away.
So, the richest nation on earth is having trouble feeding, healing, sheltering,
educating, and transporting it's people; but has no trouble bailing out profligate banks,
protecting rapacious insurance companies, and conducting wars in far off lands justified
with lies and deception.
The gap between the rich and poor continues to grow with 5% of Americans
controlling as much as 90% of the nation's wealth. The richest 1% of Americans dramatically
increased their wealth at the expense of middle and lower class Americans.
As you consider what to give thanks for this year, perhaps it might do us well to
think about the kind of country we wish to be. Do we desire to be a nation where a larger
and larger share of the country's wealth is going to fewer and fewer people as the middle
class shrinks and the ranks of the poor and working poor grow? Do we want to be a society
where families have enough to eat, healthcare readily available, education affordable, and
shelter plentiful? Do we want an America where parents envision a future where their
children can achieve more economically and socially than they did? This is not a zero sum
game. We really can have a nation where all boats are lifted and we don't need to trickle
down on anyone.
Good jobs, based on a good educational system and protected by union contracts,
could be an option. Tax money devoted to research rather than arms would unquestionably
spur innovation and the creation of new industries. The fact is, there are many options we
are simply not being offered. Having a government dedicated to the everyday American
rather than AIG or the military arms industry would be a start we could truly give thanks
for. So, please stop for one moment amid the fragrances and sounds of Thanksgiving day
and give thanks for those feelings within your heart that care for the less fortunate; those
who are hungry, cold, uneducated and fearful, the forgotten and ignored among us. In caring
about these you are caring about yourself. This path has a future. It's time we re-discovered
America in it's people, all it's people! Trust me, there's enough cake (pie) for everyone.
What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to