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American excess in perspective

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Thursday, November 22, was the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. In addition to giving thanks for the good people and good things in our lives, we use the Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate gluttony, over huge turkey dinners with all the trimmings. We go into it planning to eat too much, and then we do. No qualms about it. It's what Thanksgiving is all about, it seems. It's the American way.

Thanksgiving Thursday is then immediately followed by Black Friday - the busiest shopping day of the year. Many retailers even opened their doors on Thursday night this year, instead of waiting for Friday. While their turkey dinners were still digesting, hordes of shoppers descended on their local Walmart, Target, and Best Buy stores and elbowed their way to the best deals on large-screen TVs and other treasures. It is American consumerism at its most obscene. And it has become almost like a sporting event. No qualms about it. It's the American way.

At the very same time, some 15 percent of households in this country lack food security. Many of these families must routinely skip meals, sometimes for a full day, sometimes for much longer. The lucky ones are able to get food assistance to keep themselves alive.

Even more alarmingly, over 21 percent of American children struggle with hunger today, through no fault of their own. That's some 16 million kids who aren't sure where their next meal will come from - or when. They would be grateful for some of your discarded turkey scraps at best.

Sadly, too many middle class and wealthy Americans have no qualms about this inconvenient truth. They may put an extra dollar in the church collection basket and think they're doing their part to help the poor. Or they may take the easiest way out and blame the victim, blame the mythical "welfare queen". This, too, now seems to be the American way.

Thankfully, in this year's elections, voters rejected many of the politicians - including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney - who would have instituted even more policies that favor the rich corporations over the middle class and the less fortunate. But that is not enough, especially with the Republicans still in control of the House of Representatives.

We must push our leaders to do a serious reality check and adjust their priorities. Our government cannot continue to be a government of, by, and for the wealthy elite and their fossil fuel interests. We must resurrect the vision of our founding fathers, in which the United States of America is a government of, by, and for the people. All of the people.

Until then, even with President Obama in the White House, the middle class will continue to shrink, and more and more ordinary Americans will find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Each Thanksgiving and each Black Friday, we'll have less to eat and less to spend. And more and more children will starve.

 

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 
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As long as our leaders are owned by Corporations, ... by Don Caldarazzo on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 11:17:52 AM
Many Americans haven't faced the fact that we're g... by intotheabyss on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 2:22:51 PM
What is it called, the Friday after Thanksgiving, ... by Mike Stewart on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 5:59:33 PM
Is so much larger than most people realize. Much l... by Kim Cassidy on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 10:05:47 PM
Food stamp program was meant to help hunger.How an... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 10:49:44 AM
food stamps were started to help farmers. That's w... by John Sanchez Jr. on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 12:28:35 PM
It is an important part of the puzzle of obesity A... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 3:04:31 PM
 But I would still like to know how come that... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 6:35:47 PM
To file has many people too frightened to even try... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 7:30:58 PM
 And I do understand the difficulties, the bu... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 8:15:11 PM
Please don't get me wrong, the food stamp program ... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 11:20:11 PM
Agree with everything you say. Up to your touching... by K V Ramani on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 8:04:16 AM
but we must understand that poor person  has ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 12:52:38 PM
Why I can be such a b*tch! I freak out when I see ... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 11:29:35 PM