August 02, 2013

Unsportsmanlike conduct...again

About one in five West Virginians are going to take a hit if Congress allows a temporary boost to the SNAP or food stamp program to expire this fall. You can read more in this issue brief and this news article.

I'm not sure how much hope to hold out for Congress. To use just one example, a representative scolded a nun for asserting that the government had a responsibility to help the poor. The nun in question, Sister Simone Campbell, responded by saying that  "Justice comes before charity."

(This is probably not the official position of the American Friends Service Committee, but I kinda wish she had a ruler like the one in the Blues Brothers movie.)

August 01, 2013

Short meditation on death

Sorry about irregular posts lately. There are only so many hours (or miles) in a day. Still, I think I have a thought to share about what to stand for in the brief time we are alive.

Here's the deal. We are only here for a little while. Therefore, it seems to me that what we do while we do here matters.

I don't know with certainty what if anything happens after this life. We could die into God, into karma, or into nothingness. Or into any number of other possibilities.

Still, given the shortness of it all, I can't understand the mentality of people who, at the end of it all, will only be able to say that they helped the rich and powerful stick it to the vast majority of the human race. It seems cowardly. Dishonorable. Disgusting even. Pitiful. What a waste of a human life.

Meanwhile, here are two items, apropos of nothing, that caught my eye today:

CUTTING 5 MILLION FROM FOOD STAMPS seems to be the goal of Republicans in the US House.



July 30, 2013

This must be my week for interesting encounters and unlikely conversations. Yesterday, I headed down to McDowell County to do spend the afternoon with some children in a summer program. McDowell is one of the poorest and most economically distressed counties in the nation. The kids were in Keystone, a predominately African-American community which is a pretty marginalized place in a very marginalized county.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I didn't find it. When I got there, there were three other people who planned on meeting with this small group of kids, including a representative of US Senator Joe Manchin, one from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and a member of the WV House of Delegates.

For real. How cool was that?

As if that wasn't odd enough, the delegate began his presentation to the kids, one of whom was as young as six, with a Latin quote from philosopher Rene Descartes. You guessed it, "cogito ergo sum." He then discussed the implications of "I think, therefore I am" in ways that Descartes never would have thought of. And they got it.

I don't know about you, but generally speaking I can go for a pretty long time in this state without running into someone, much less an elected official, who brings up 17 century French philosophers.

You just never know.

SUPERSIZE THIS. Fast food workers are on the move for a living wage.

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. It's bad for the brain and doesn't exactly bring out the best in people.

"LIBERTARIAN POPULISM." According to Michael Lind, it's Ayn Rand in disguise.


July 28, 2013

Of manna and rot

I heard an unexpected but decent sermon this weekend at a showing of a new film on food insecurity in American titled A Place at the Table. The "sermon" consisted of a few remarks about the issue of hunger by a state senator who is also a Lutheran minister.

He referred to the manna or bread from heaven that miraculously fed the Israelites in the desert after their liberation from slavery in Egypt. Part of the deal with the manna was that you could only gather enough for one day at a time (except on Sabbath eve, when you got a two day pass). If you gathered more than one day's worth and hoarded it, the manna would rot.

The senator suggested that the tendency of a few people in our society to hoard money and resources and keep them from the less fortunate is causing a good bit of rot in our communities.

I thought that wasn't bad for a politician.

META. Here's an effort at a conversation about the conversation about race in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict from the Rev. Jim Lewis.

CHARITY OR JUSTICE? While we're at it, here's a thought provoking op-ed on the "charitable-industrial complex."

WONKY BUT IMPORTANT. West Virginia should end an obsolete tax break for thin seam coal.