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American excess in perspective

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 11/25/12

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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.

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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.

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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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