This is just one example of where American energy savings could go. There are hundreds. And our administration would exhaustively look for these and “plug” donors into them.
The disparity is so great between America and the Third World that it’s imperative we shift things, quick. As it is imperative we change things on the food front.
Some 24,000 people starve to death every day in the Third World, according to UN figures. And more than a billion people live on a meager one, or two, small meals a day.
While a majority of these people are stick thin in Managua, Port-a-Prince, and so on (as mentioned at the outset of this paper), 66% of Americans are overweight and 33% of them are now classified as obese.
While he was home to see family in Vermont, I talked with Fr. James Noonen who is a MaryKnoll priest stationed in the poverty stricken country of Cambodia. He said that in light of the alarming degree of World Hunger, American people hoarding and over-indulging (as many currently do) is nothing short of: “food terrorism.”
With 24,000 people starving to death daily, this would be the equivalent of a limited nuclear bomb exploding – every day in the world. Or framed another way: Some 3,000 Americans lost their lives on 9/11/2001. The same day 24,000 people starved to death.
In the face of all this World Hunger, our administration would aggressively launch a wide-sweeping “Eating is a Moral Act Campaign.”
And as people here started to significantly cut back on over-indulging on things like junk food and beverages that have no nutritional value (like soda pop), we would point to all sorts of food outreach projects into the Third World.
Projects like: Food for the Poor; Heifer International; World Hunger Relief, Inc…
Note: Some 10lbs of plant protein are needed to make one pound of beef protein. Plant protein used to feed U.S. livestock in a year – could feed 800 million people for that same year. Our administration would educate Americans about the benefits of moving to a more plant based diet, both in regard to better health – and freeing up more resources to help feed more of the world.
During our travels, we stopped at World Hunger Relief Headquarters in Elm Mott, Texas. A Christian organization, their mission is to train people to work with communities throughout the world in developing sustainable farming and gardening techniques.
Another huge “poverty” issue worldwide is water. Some one billion of the poor in the Third World don’t have access to clean drinking water. And as mentioned at the outset of this paper, scores of Third World people are sick and dying from diseases tied to water-born bacteria.
Meanwhile in the First World, not only is there an abundance of clean water, we are tremendously wasting it.
For instance, while little children die from thirst and water born disease, Americans obsessively water their lawns with clean water so the lawns can simply be as green as possible (or at least as green as the neighbors).
How absolutely disparate this is becoming is noted in Case Western Reserve University Professor Adeline Barry Davee’s book: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn. He notes Americans spend $40 billion a year on lawn care – the same figure as the entire GDP for the country of Vietnam.
What’s more, many Americans take baths and showers, do laundry, dishes… without a thought of conservation. (The average Americans consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world’s population lives on 25 gallons. (With many people in the Third World living on a gallon or less a day.)
For Americans, much of this is not just wasted water, but wasted money. Money that could flow to the Third World for all kinds of clean drinking water projects.)
For instance, at an alternative energy seminar in Custer, Wisconsin, I learned a basic solar oven (costing $40) can heat water to kill all the pathogens in a relatively short period of time.
So if a First World household was able to save, say, $40 a month on their water bill, they could annually provide 12 solar ovens a year for 12 families (or even small villages) in the Third World.
So how do you conserve water?
I lived in California for a time during a five-year-drought where the reservoirs were depleted (and it was essential people cut back on their water use).
There were bans on lawn watering, except for a couple designated days a week. People put shut-off valves in their shower heads and took the equivalent of “GI showers” (quick and water efficient.) They made the dish water stretch…
Some got rain barrels. Others put in whole roof cistern systems to collect rainwater. They went to low flow toilets, or simply didn’t flush as much.
To help enforce all this, because the situation was that bad in California, residents would be fined if the water usage went above a certain level.
And it’s my belief the urgency of scores of children dying from bad water world-wide should, by far, even trump the urgency of reservoirs being depleted.
7) American urban poverty
One of the biggest poverty issues in America is the drastic decaying of our urban cores. With the evolution of “White Flight,” from our big cities, the poor have been left behind, stuck in trans-generational poverty loops.
Concurrently with White Flight, the tax base in these urban areas diminishes and the infra-structure breaks down. People here become desperately poor, with virtually no way out. (The top 20% of Americans own 84% of the wealth at this point, while the bottom 20% own 1% of the wealth.) Many of the latter live in these cities.
What’s more, as the poverty levels increase, the desperation increases. The proliferation of gangs, the proliferation of violence… ramps way up – which it is now.
There were 100,000 shooting in America last year, a majority of these happening in our cities. The averages are now that eight youth are killed by gun violence every day in America. (This is way more than the per day average of soldiers we lost in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.)
This just can’t go on.
To rectify the problem, we believe there can be nothing short of a “Marshall Plan” for our cities. That is, funds need to be earmarked to significantly restore these eroding urban cores. And besides basic infra-structure, there needs to be way more funds for social service agencies to help those on the margins as well.
As part of this infra-structure restoration, we’d propose designing “mixed income neighborhoods,” as were designed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as part of the restoration. (We toured one of these neighborhoods a few years after Katrina hit.) The idea is to entice some people who are more well off back into the city, while keeping other residences affordable so the poor aren’t pushed out. What’s more, the poor would benefit from the redesign in general.
Note: As mentioned earlier, our family intentionally moved near the urban core of Cleveland, Ohio, (the poorest big city in the country at the time) to live in one of these mixed income neighborhoods. We were involved with a Catholic Worker outreach there to help those on the margins.
The Catholic Workers had set up a drop-in center for the poor and a home for the homeless. They also coached local Rec. Center teams, mentored refugee youth from other countries, set up an urban farm and involved area youth and adults…
8) Other Models
The following is a cross section of other models for impacting poverty, both in U.S. and around the world that we researched in our extensive cross country travels.
Hispanic Council / Alterna Community
Poverty is a huge issue for Hispanic immigrants (both legal and illegal).
In Eunice, New Mexico, we interviewed Leon Navarette who is one of the founders of the grassroots “Hispanic Council” here. This ad hoc citizens group puts on seminars to help new immigrants understand the ins and outs of the job market, including how to start their own businesses. They also hold seminars on how to access local social service networks.
Also, some Hispanic Council members help tutor immigrant children and others help raise college scholarship funds. And they serve as advocates on a variety of issues for these new arrivals.
Along these same lines, we stopped in LaGrange, Georgia, where we met with Hispanic social activist Anton Flores. He helped start the Alterna Community here, which is a cluster of homes for newly arriving Hispanic immigrants.
Besides shelter, there are volunteer tutors and day care workers for immigrant children. Donations cover food, education, job training, and the like, for the adults.
Flores said to us that the key to the immigration issue is looking at the systemic issues behind the poverty and violence that drives many people to flee Mexico and Central America. Flores said this is often “structural.” That is, the wealth in many of these countries is concentrated in the hands of a few, with much of the rest of the populace living in abject poverty.
Economy of Sharing
In Fishers, Indiana, we met with John Mundell. He is involved with the Economy of Sharing business network. These are Christian companies worldwide that adhere to specific earned revenue formula.
The first third of profits go to outreach projects into the Third World. The next third goes into a pool to help fund the start up for other Economy of Sharing businesses.
And the last third goes back into the company, etc.
Mundell said the ethos of the movement is to promote as much social justice around the world, and here as well.
For instance, Mundell said if an EOS business hears a competitor isn’t doing well, they will offer all kinds of help (lending employees, consulting, money…).
In Cortland, Ohio, we learned about the non-profit CHOW (Cortland Humanitarian Outreach Worldwide.) This organization believes: “… (the) world suffers from an unequal distribution of goods and resources. So seven churches in the area regularly raise money and collect goods to send to the Third World.
They have sent winter clothes to the formerly war-torn Kosovo, medical equipment to the Honduras, school desks to El Salvador…
International Financial Adoption
On a stop in Piqua, Ohio, we met with Ellen and Dudley Johns in their modest (by American standards) one-story ranch style home.
Ellen explained they had cut back on their lifestyle considerably, and for the past 13 years they have financially adopted 10 children through Childreach International. (The most recent had been Nagina, a 10-year-old at an orphanage in Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border.)
Common Ground Growing Project / Church Farm / Peace Corps / Global Concerns Group
While campaigning in Indiana, we learned about the “Common Ground Growing Project” in Noble County, Indiana.
This project involves a group of people getting together to farm a common plot of land. Once harvested, the crop is converted to cash, which is donated to supply seeds, tools, irrigation equipment, animals and instruction to local villagers in 25 countries who then work to create community gardens, wells, and herds that will sustain them long-term.
At a stop in Neola, Iowa, we learned about a “church farm,” where members of St. Patrick’s Church here farm land donated by a deceased farmer. And some of the money is set aside to help the disadvantaged.
Likewise, the Peace Corps sends people all over the world to help Third World villagers with farming techniques, how to start community gardens…
For instance, I interviewed Ed and Dorothy Bailey, who in their retirement did a tour with the Peace Corps in the Philippines where they helped provide loans to small farmers.
And another type of loan, or rather Third World donation, that makes tremendous sense to us is the donations to Heifer International. In Bluffton, Ohio, I interviewed Amy Marcum whose Global Concerns Group at St. Mary’s Church there had just done a fundraiser for Heifer International.
The crux of this program, which is based in Arkansas, is that local people here raise money and purchase cows, chickens and other animals, which are then shipped to communities around the world.
The livestock arrives in the impoverished villages bringing the benefits of milk, wool, draft power, eggs – and offspring to pass on to other farmers. In fact, every family and community that receives assistance through Heifer International promises to donate one, or more, of their animal’s offspring to another family in need, and on, and on…
Healthcare here and around the world
I mentioned at the outset that one aspect of poverty revolves around healthcare, both for Americans and for people around the world.
Our administration believes every American should have access to quality healthcare, as should every citizen of the world.
In America, we would propose a Regional Health Care System that contained much of the spirit of a National Health Care System in regard to everyone being covered. The Regional health care System would include a local tax that would go into a pool to cover a local version of Medicare and Medicaid for low income, uninsured people. (This would be administered by regional governments.)
However in poorer areas of the country, we realize that a regional area’s tax base might not stretch far enough when paying for everyone who needs healthcare. So as a supplement, we propose a series of community initiatives from county to county that would include components from some of the following grassroots healthcare models we’ve researched.
For instance, in Monroe, Louisiana, we interviewed Cindy Smith who is on a Pharmacy Board for a “Community Pharmacy in this town. The Pharmacy, which is a non-profit effort coordinated by the local chapter of the St. Vincent De Paul society, provides affordable medication to low income people in the area. The Pharmacy gets financial donations from the community and beyond.
It also receives donations of sample medication from area doctors, and left over medication, often from area nursing homes.
In the same spirit, Dr. Myron Glick has rolled up his sleeves and moved his Jericho Road medical practice, and his family, into the heart of the inner city in Buffalo. Dr. Glick told us he’s a Mennonite and believes his faith calls him to help the poor with the talent God has given him. (He operates on a minimal sliding fee scale, doesn’t turn anyone away – and his work has inspired some suburban doctors to come into the city regularly to volunteer at his practice.
The uninsured in Grand Junction, Colorado, are also taken care of by local people. On a stop in Grand Junction, we met with Dr. Carl Malito. He told us local doctors and nurses volunteer time at the Marillac Clinic (a two-story hospital with complete services) here. Likewise other local people volunteer as intake workers, secretaries, janitors… What’s more, regular fundraisers keep the clinic afloat.
Dr. Malito said not only do the uninsured of the county here get medical help, but the intangible (as far as town camaraderie goes) is that they also get the assurance their neighbors are concerned about their welfare.
On a more global perspective when it comes to healthcare…
We stopped at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Started by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn, part of the Center’s Mission is to impact as much disease as possible worldwide.
The Carter Center is currently focused on helping eradicate parasitic disease in African countries through technical and financial assistance. The Center also promotes an array of drug treatment programs and health education initiatives in the Third World.
And through the Center, Rosalyn Carter is spearheading initiatives to get more help to people with mental health issues worldwide.
Our administration would also point to other initiatives to get more healthcare to the Third World. We stopped in Waconia, Minnesota, where we met with Paul Turek, who is a representative of Caribou Coffee.
Turek said Caribou is starting to help build health centers in some of their grower’s villages to help support them.
Note: These are just a couple of a vast array of programs we’d promote to try to get as much quality healthcare into the Third World.
And at the front end of bringing more healthcare equity to the world, our administration would help Americans focus on the myriad of ways they “over-doctor,” over-medicate, over (nutritional) supplement themselves.
As mentioned earlier, during a stop in Athens, Georgia, Dr. Jonathan Davis said some 33% of all emergency visits in America are not needed. Concurrently, a significant number of doctor’s office visits are unnecessary.
Dr. Davis said that many people in American society simply don’t want to feel uncomfortable for even a short time. And so not only do we go to the doctor’s office and ER too frequently, but we way over-medicate in order not to feel this discomfort.
And as mentioned earlier, at the far end of the continuum I learned at a health seminar in Lancaster, Ohio, that the average American now will spend as much on healthcare in the last six months of their lives (on extra-ordinary means of staying alive, and so on) – than they will for their entire life prior.
So much of this is unnecessary and the savings could be used to get at least the basics in medical help to the poor in the Third World who often have access to virtually nothing.
The bottom line is America could help way more than we do. And it’s time we did.
An addendum: We stopped in Tehachapi, California, where we met with Kelly Rogers who majored in Economics at the University of California at Berkley. (She went on to be an IRS agent.)
She said sound civic and spiritual principle would be to see paying taxes as a “privilege,” especially if it was going to the right place.
Foreign Aid in the Federal Budget is currently at 4%. It is our belief, through increased taxes, etc., that that figure should rise almost exponentially to help the poor in the Third World. And our administration would create a paradigm to get Americans to see this type of giving (going to a series of effective programs) as, indeed, a “privilege."