Drowsey had an interesting post about Kiva yesterday. If you don't follow her blog let me catch you up on her a little. She is single, middle-aged, divorced and drives an old car. Her follies with keeping this old car running can be quite interesting to read.
Even with all her financial woes she donates money to KIVA. Please visit her page for that information. It sounds like a nice thing, but I am not ready to endorse it here at this time.
What wows me is that as little as she has, and as much a financial struggle she has as a single woman who doesn't have the help of a spouse, she takes whatever she can and gives it to someone across the world. Someone she doesn't know.
And I think this is great!
There's in another part of me that gets a little peeved at this. Hear me out first. We hear so much from politicians about doing our part. How we should tighten our belts, help our neighbors, and they preach social responsibility to us! I am sure Drowsey heard these lessons from teachers and family and friends as a part of her society's values, growing up.
And it is noble and good.
But when the onus is put on the little person to achieve this thereby thwarting not only responsibility but deflecting attention from our government officials we elect to take care of us properly, so that they can missappropriate funds, vote themselves Cost of Living raises each year as well as enacting laws that give them huge perks and health benefits for life, there is not only gross misjustice but gross imbalance!
In the New York Times article on May 1, 2008 and the New York Daily News article on April 29, 2008 we learn that while gas prices soar, jobs are lost, people can't pay their mortgages and forclosures are at an all time high, rent in NYC are outrageous where people are forced to prove that they earn 40 x their annual income to rent a pathetic little apartment, our government officials are receiving huge perks they voted themselves to have legally. All while they ask the little people to tighten their belts, buy less gas, spend more for basic needs such as food. People are now resorting to selling their belonging on Craigslist.
I did some math. Let's see if you find this as pathetically unjust as I do? I am keeping this local as I am a Queens gal :-)
According to wikipedia the median income in Queens is $37,439 per household and $42,608 for a family and 16% of families and 21.6% of it's population live below the poverty line.
Poverty line as per wikipedia: "Since the 1960s, the United States Government has defined poverty in absolute terms. When the Johnson administration declared "war on poverty" in 1964, it chose an absolute measure. The "absolute poverty line" is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health...The Department of Agriculture found that families of three or more persons spent about one third of their after-tax income on food. For these families, poverty thresholds were set at three times the cost of the economy food plan. Different procedures were used for calculating poverty thresholds for two-person households and persons living alone. Annual updates of the SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes in the economy food plan.
Two changes were made to the poverty definition in 1969. Thresholds for non-farm families were tied to annual changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than changes in the cost of the economy food plan. Farm thresholds were raised from 70 to 85% of the non-farm levels...In 1981, further changes were made to the poverty definition. Separate thresholds for "farm" and "female-householder" families were eliminated. The largest family size category became "nine persons or more."
Ready? Household of:
For each additional person, add
In Queens from About.com the average rent as of 3/3/2005 for a 3 bedroom apartment was $1750. I can tell you that it is way more than this average. I have a one bedroom and I pay $1100 a month and I do not have a seperate kitchen. (mind you I am not complaining) But going on About.com's average if that is correct than this is just about 50% of the median income each family has totally about $21,000 a year on rent alone.
While my State is strapped for cash, and my mayor is asking for budget cuts to the police department where the starting salary is already about $300 a week for newbie officers, I learned that the Assembly and Senate appropriate about $170 million a year that they allow the members to distribute as grants to any organization they wish anyway they want with little to no requirement as to how or accountability of where they divy the money to.
$170 million dollars! I bet half that could help the police department for at least a years worth of salaries.
On a national level I learned that as of 2008 Senators earn the salary of $169,300. A Representative earns $165,200 annually. President Pro Tempore and Speaker, Majority and Minority Leaders earn more. The Speaker earns $212,100 as of 1/3/2007 and party leaders earn $183, 500. They voted themselves an automatic COLA, cost of living adjustment each year. After serving five years in Congress they can retire with full benefits, healthcare and pension and social security.
If the average Queens family earns $42,608 then those fat cats are already earning about 4 times what we do in Queens. And they have the audacity to get a COLA!
What do they have to do with this salary they earn? Pretty much NOTHING.
According to the Times article ( link above ) Charles Rangle of the House Ways and Means Committee rents on tax payer dollars a 2004 Cadillac DeVille for $777.54 a month and brangs about having a desk inside. He says, "I want them (my constituants) to feel that they are somebody and their congressman is somebody."
You can view the article to see the rest of the luxury amounts they spend.
According to the Times 125 members of the House make use of this benefit.
But wait...there's more. They also receive free gas and insurance and registration fees and excess milage charges all paid for on taxpayer dollar.
But hey, you little person do your part, eat less, buy less gas, and give to charities all over the world. VROOM VROOOM!