I have a lot of conservative friends, and I know some of them are rolling their eyes when they see how fired up I am about the government mess we're in right now. They know I tend to get fired up about all the things that matter to me, that I can be called extremist, but politics? Why politics?
I'm passionate about reducing food waste, because 25% of our landfills are food waste, and that's creating a tremendous amount of dangerous methane in our air. Pair that problem with the number of people who are struggling to get enough to eat, and I have to be fired up. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't address these problems that could so easily solve each other.
I'm passionate about homelessness, and helping people realize that homelessness is the problem, not homeless people. I know there are solutions that would cost taxpayers less than we're paying now for the repercussions of the problem, but we have to think outside the box and be willing to take chances on radical ideas.
I'm passionate about marginalized populations and have a big problem with people thinking it's OK to treat specific groups as less valuable, less important, less human. Or thinking that we get to tell other people whether their circumstances and choices are good or bad, ethical or immoral.
But most of all, I'm passionate about 21st century America, the freedoms and privileges it offers and the potential for greatness in each of us. I'm very uncomfortable with a president who believes his ratings are more important than legal non-citizens' rights to come home to their families. Who believes shock value works in government the same way it works in reality TV. I'm worried about a bunch of billionaires with no public service experience all of a sudden running our government.
I don't believe our country is safe with this leadership team. Oh, I'm safe. I'm white, a citizen, educated, with supportive family and friends. No, I'm talking about the other HALF of our population. People who weren't born in the U.S., people who can't read, people who are decent and hard-working but unable to rise out of poverty. People of color, a wide range of ethnic groups who enrich and deepen the quality of our country. Veterans left to live on the streets. Young women trapped in prostitution. People not on either end of the gender spectrum but falling somewhere in between, falling where we don't even have an appropriate pronoun, falling through the cracks of our male-or-female, black-or-white, right-or-wrong artificial sense of order. People who made mistakes and got dragged down to a dark underworld of addiction and can no longer see any light.
Half of our country is under attack. Civil rights violations are running rampant, because this administration is allowing white supremacists to believe that they have permission to act out, to hurt innocent people, to judge and condemn and ostracize decent, kind people just because of some made-up difference that they think matters. We don't have the right to do this to anybody, ever, but especially not to the people who have already suffered at our hands for generations. People of African descent have put up with crap from us white people forever. They've fought hard and paid a high price for their rights and their freedoms. You think they're going to just sit back and let that all fade away? Not on your life. Native Americans have sacrificed everything to try to get along with us white folks. We've stabbed them in the back every time. You think they're going to let go of the little land and scrap of dignity they still cling to? Don't hold your breath.
Just because all the garbage going on in Washington right now doesn't hurt us doesn't make it OK. It's not OK. It's absolutely 100% NOT OK, and we owe it to our country to fight for freedom, for fairness, for choice, for rights. We owe it to those who cannot stand on their own to stand up for them. How can we live with ourselves if we don't?
I've learned a lot about respectful conversation in the last month, thanks primarily to the Women's March leadership team, and the wonderful Margaret Jacobsen. The first (and likely most important) step in community organizing is talking and listening. I knew that. What I didn't know was that we white folks are doing it wrong.
You've probably seen the fiery conversations on social media. A white privileged person makes a statement. A marginalized person challenges it. But they don't say, "Uh, excuse me, friend, I think you're mistaken in your assumptions here. Let's talk about this more deeply." They say, "Shut up, Bitch, you've got no idea what your talking about" (likely with more slang and a pissed-off tone).
White clueless bubble-living woman says, "Wow, that's inappropriate. I believe in conversation, but if you could avoid the name calling, we could work this out."
"Name calling, Becky? You think THAT's name-calling? You white cis women sit in your ivory towers, you've got no idea what oppression is. Don't you dare tell me how to talk."
At this point, we uninformed folk tend to wash our hands of that person. We block them or unfriend them or just choose not to look in that group anymore. They just don't get it. If they could learn to speak proper English and show proper respect ...
Bullshit. After oppressing the black community for our entire history, and continuing to allow oppression right before our eyes, after being apathetic to their plight because it doesn't touch us, we want THEM to learn? We think we can tell gay and trans people how they should talk to us, after the insults we've lobbed at them? Proper English and respectful conversation are fine for those of us who have had the luxury of communicating only that way. But we have to open our minds and allow emotionally-charged words and painful labels to be part of this conversation, or we can't possibly hear the pain, anger, resentment, indignation, and frustration that whole groups of our population are living with.
Sure, we want to know what it feels like to be different, to be oppressed, to suffer constant injustice. Just say it my way, just come into my orderly little white hetero mainstream world and behave like me -- then I can hear you.
It's time to toughen up, white friends, and be willing to hear what oppression feels like. These people have endured so much more than a few offensive names. Let's get over ourselves and really listen.
Margaret Jacobsen, my new hero, has started a real conversation group called "Let's Talk." If you'd like information about February's meeting, please send me a message. As Margaret says, "Let's get uncomfortable together."
The women's march was awesome. It was a safe, organized place for those of us who don't usually protest to get our feet wet. But it wasn't civil disobedience.
I follow Rogan's List and Robert Reich and a few others. They offer suggestions for letter writing, phone calling, boycotting certain businesses. These are all good actions to fight the inappropriate administration, but they're not civil disobedience.
Civil disobedience requires sacrifice. It involves breaking laws (peacefully), rejecting norms, opting out of legally required actions. It's risky and powerful and something we middle-aged, suburban white women don't want to do. We like to express our opinions, but only as long as it's safe, legal, "right," and comfortable.
We aren't living in a comfortable time. More human rights violations against more people than ever are at stake. However we sugar-coated previous human rights fights, however we kept our distance and pretended they weren't really that big a deal, we are being forced, now, to face up to some seriously inappropriate government actions that threaten to (dare I say it?) touch OUR lives!
It's OK if you want to play it safe and only speak up about the actions that impact you or your loved ones. It's OK to defend your own reproductive choices and health with letters and phone calls. But don't pretend that you're protesting. And be aware, the people of color who pass you on the street KNOW that you're not fighting for them. They've learned not to expect it anymore. The prostitutes KNOW you aren't aware that they're trapped, malnourished, abused. The refugees crowding into Greece and Germany, waiting, hoping for a chance to settle somewhere peaceful where they can become part of a community again KNOW that you haven't really noticed that they're living in tents without water or electricity.
For half a century, we've gotten away with ignoring human rights violations in our own neighborhoods, let alone across the world. We can't afford to get away with it anymore. Our whole civic structure is at stake, and the time for true civil disobedience is at hand.
It's not enough to march with a permit and nice policemen wearing pink hats. We have to also march in front of offending businesses, protest at city hall when unfair legislation is proposed, block traffic, picket private property, take chances, be willing to be arrested. We have to stand with Standing Rock and be prepared for attacks from "authorities." We have to withhold our tax returns until the president reveals his conflicts of interest.
Not all of us are in a position to exercise true civil disobedience, but it's important that we recognize what it is, what it requires, and how powerful it can be. Maybe all you can do is boycott companies that do business with Trump. Or donate to a charity that cares for marginalized people. Maybe you can quit shopping at a store that costs taxpayers $6 billion in government assistance for their employees every year, or the fast food chains that are nearly as big a drain on public funds. Maybe you can sit down with your financial advisor and pull out of funds that support slavery and child labor (especially African coffee and cocoa sources), and instead invest in businesses that are working to improve living conditions for the people that source their products.
We can't all go to jail. We can't all get pepper-sprayed. But we can all refuse to participate in SOME WAY, to send the message that we DON'T support current political actions and we DO care about people less insulated than ourselves. If we aren't willing or able to do the work, we can at least take care of the people who ARE doing it, and be grateful to them.
I had the deep privilege of meeting and working with Margaret Jacobsen, the organizer of the Portland march, who prefers gender-neutral pronouns. They work tirelessly for racial justice, in addition to gender equality, women's issues, and the vast, inclusive array of building awareness and speaking up for the marginalized among us. Margaret is my new hero, not afraid of confrontation, encouraging conversation, even heated, in the interest of learning from one another, and staying focused on the justice issues that really matter.
In the conversations about white privilege and intersectional feminism, I'm reminded of a truth that struck me when I was a young teenager. Being that I'm white, blonde, blue-eyed, Christian, smiling, and an active volunteer, people have always just assumed that I'm trustworthy. Without ever having to prove myself, I get handed keys, entrusted with funds, called upon for security. Why me? I did nothing to earn that trust. I realized, at about 14 years old, that I could get away with anything!
That was a troubling realization. I did get away with a few things I'll refrain from mentioning here <snicker>, but luckily for everyone who made assumptions about my character, I am, basically, trustworthy. But so are a lot of people who don't smile. Who aren't white. Who didn't grow up in the suburbs. Margaret is a great example of that, and there are hundreds across the country.
Why have we not grown to trust facts, evidence, science, instead of making emotion-based judgments? Why are we still scared of black men at night? And potentially worse, why do we trust people who "feel" trustworthy? No wonder con artists are so successful!
I work for food justice and waste management, that's the little thing I can do. But I also have to work for awareness. We all do. We have to question information, look into our hearts, know whether our decisions about people are based on fact or emotion. We can't elect presidents because they're entertaining or famous. We can't run from people who happen to speak a different language or look different or have fewer resources. Equally, we can't blindly trust the white guy, or the accountant, or me.
Blindness got us into this mess. Only vision will get us out.
The new buzz phrase since the women's marches is intersectional feminism. To quote Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means." White feminists seem to want to claim the phrase as a way we can connect with feminists from minority groups, or intersect with them on the issue of feminism. That's not it at all, and it's important that we stop acting like we know what oppression feels like.
We, white feminists in 21st century America, even under Tr*mp, are not oppressed. We have more freedom, luxury, opportunity, education, and choices than any society of women ever. EVER. Fighting for our rights to healthcare and equality is important, but it's NOTHING compared to fighting true oppression.
We need to take a step back from our own arrogant perception of reality. Intersectional feminism isn't whatever we decide we want it to be. It's the definition of women (and men) who bear not only the burden of fighting for the rights of all women, but also fighting for the rights of their literal identity. Black, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Latina, lesbian, transgender, and all the other groups that our society treats unfairly and apathetically, these people are not only standing up for feminism. They are fighting for their lives intersectionally. A white women has NO IDEA what life is like for a transgender black Muslim. One oppression intersects with another and another and there is ALWAYS a fight for the right to exist.
White feminists getting politically active is important. Let's do it. But let's recognize that it's a stroll down a country lane compared to the multi-high-speed-highway-junction of intersectionalism that so many people are trying to live with and survive under, let alone fight.
Our grandmother feminists fought for the vote, and that was hard and important and necessary. Our mothers fought for the right to make our own decisions about what happens to our bodies, and for our reproductive rights. That was also hard and important and necessary. Now that a new generation has tasted inequality, now that all our hard-won rights are threatened, we have a much greater fight ahead. With the access to information, the ability to network and build virtual communities out of thin air, we need to learn to fight for the rights of ALL women, of ALL people -- especially those whose rights are threatened on more levels than we can ever really understand.
Intersectional feminism is a burden that minority women have carried since the concept of women's rights was first expressed. We as a society have ignored it. Our new feminism, our enlightened, modern, informed feminism, requires that we humble ourselves, we recognize our privilege, and we walk alongside the women who have fought alone for so long.
This generation's feminism will be all-inclusive and compassionate. It will lift up those who live with multiple intersections of oppression, for the sake of all of us. This is the only road to true freedom.
A long-time friend called me yesterday because he was trying to understand. "Is this about that video? Because that's not all that unusual." I agree that it's not unusual, and it's certainly not the worst I've ever seen or heard. Trump seemed to be marveling at how women fawned all over him just because he was a TV star, more than he was bragging about sexual conquest. A lot of women were offended, sure, and rightfully so -- nothing will change if we don't express outrage, and there are plenty of amazing, supportive men who would NEVER say anything like that, in a locker room or anywhere else. But that's not what marching was about.
I had the privilege of joining the Portland planning team just a couple days after it formed -- a mere two weeks before the march. I had no idea who they were. I realize now that I also had very little knowledge of what the march was about. There was a lot of conversation beforehand, and some arguing and accusing and hurt feelings, all parts of learning and growing. It was powerful and educational and humbling.
I am a white woman of privilege. It doesn't matter that I'm poor or disabled or old. I grew up in an outstanding school district. I had access to college. I was safe walking alone at night. The police were there to protect me. Here in Portland, my neighbors support me and my work. I could name a hundred people who would come to my defense if I were ever in serious trouble.
A lot of white women of privilege marched because they are offended by Trump's sexist comments, his belittling treatment of women, his sexual-predator behavior, his complete lack of understanding of women's issues. But that isn't really what the march was about, and I hope these women take this opportunity to look deeper and grow.
The march was about human rights for everyone, mostly those whom society passes over. It was about shining a light on the dark underside of our political system that still ignores the voices and needs of our black citizens, our Latina citizens, our mentally ill, our religiously diverse, and so many others. It was about taking this opportunity, when all women felt the outrage of our rights being threatened, and building it into a meaningful statement and conversation about ALL Americans deserving decent treatment, respect, a voice, and the so-elusive equal rights we think we've already talked to death.
Trump is a disaster of a choice for president, and we'll have to watch him like a hawk. He over-simplifies every complex national and global situation and bulldozes his way through delicate relationships and alliances. He thinks his job is about winning rather than about serving. He isn't willing to learn and grow, or even read. He lives in his own fictional reality. But that's not our biggest problem.
Our biggest problem is that radical, wealthy, religious ultra-fundamentalist conservatives think that they have the right to decide who matters and who doesn't. They believe they have the power to run America. They have the support of the president, and they can influence him dramatically. It's not about our new president's vulgarity. It's about his weakness.
With all that money trying to take over our government, those of us without any have to work far harder than we ever have before to rebuild our democracy. Those of us who never really understood oppression need to learn from our diverse sisters and rise up, not only for ourselves and our rights as women, but for all of them, whose voices haven't been heard, ever.
If we are to be a truly democratic, fair, healthy civilization, we have to stand up for the least of us. We have to recognize that demographic statistics reveal NOTHING about character and strength, intelligence and value. The women who organized Portland's march were powerful. They were also black, trans, Jewish, disabled, old, gay, abused, underpaid, indigenous, and mostly unseen. Until now. We must see them and learn from them. We must value ALL our people. This nation was built on diversity, and diversity is under attack.
It's time to stand up, speak out, and march.
I can't express this better, so I'm sharing an article from today's Oregonian.
A man who died of exposure in the woods near Southwest Barbur Boulevard has been identified as Zachary A. Young, a 29-year-old from McMinnville who was likely living there before he died of hypothermia.
Young's father, Vance Young, said Thursday his son dealt with mental illness that fueled extreme paranoia for most of his life. He hadn't seen or heard from his son for about a year and a half before he was notified of the death.
Zachary Young's body was discovered Tuesday on a steep hillside, the fourth person to die of exposure in Portland this year.
His father said Zachary Young had fallen off his skateboard at 15 when he wasn't wearing a helmet. He underwent brain surgery. He was never the same, his father said.
"For me this was a heartbreak," Vance Young said. "Zach was a great kid. He had all the other aspirations that a kid would have -- just a really lot of promise."
For years, Young was angry at the world. He was fiercely intelligent and could have in-depth conversations about all sorts of topics, his father said, but he couldn't quite put words to what he was feeling.
His paranoia and fear alienated him from other students at McMinnville High School, and he spent time in a special home for boys.
Young's parents were divorced, and his father said that Young's mother spent hundreds of hours working with him, trying to get him help with his mental health. But once Young turned 18, they couldn't force him to get assessed to get the social services he qualified for.
Young refused, saying he didn't think it was right to apply for free programs or get government help, his father said. But he couldn't hold down a job to provide for himself.
Eventually, he stopped trusting his parents and chose to live on the street. Vance Young said he and his ex-wife deposited money into a bank account that Zach could access. They kept tabs on him that way, by tracking when money was withdrawn.
They also paid for a storage unit in Tigard for his belongings. He lived in it off and on for years. Occasionally, they changed the locks to force him to contact them.
That backfired when he got so mad more than a year ago that he stopped visiting and withdrawing money.
Since then, Vance Young said his son's life was a mystery to them.
Now, he said he wishes he had looked into having his son committed for mental treatment. He didn't try before because Zach was an adult and he didn't seem like someone who couldn't take care of himself.
Young said it seemed like an unreasonable step and would have hurt his relationship with his son, but wonders if it would have kept him alive.
"I wish we had done something beyond what we did. You can sit there and say I've done enough," Young said. "Yet, he is an adult and once he hits that point, he has to ask for them."
What you can do
If you need help: Call 211. There might be a wait, but stay on the line. Someone will answer. They can direct you to the nearest warming shelter and arrange for a car to come pick you up. No one will be turned away. There's a list of warming centers at 211info.org.
Use public buildings, such as libraries and community centers, to get warm during that day.
If you want to help: Donate new or lightly used clean clothing and supplies -- hats, coats, gloves, socks, men's and women's underwear, tents, sleeping bags, blankets and tarps. Go to 211info.org/donations to find out where you can drop off items or donate money.
Call 911: If you see someone outside who appears to be in danger or is in the midst of a medical crisis.
Call 211 or the Portland police non-emergency line: If you're concerned about someone who might need help. The non-emergency line is 503-823-3333.
"It was a dark and stormy night" may just be a cliche to you, but to me it can mean life or death, depending on how cold it gets. Staying dry doesn't matter if it isn't too cold, and sometimes it isn't worth the enormous effort it takes to shelter myself. When it snows, like today, shelter is priority one, even before food. It takes a whole lot more than those old blankets people keep handing out, thinking they're helping. Well, they are, a little. But if you live out in the elements, it takes at least four layers to stop the cold of the concrete from seeping through, and at least one better be waterproof. Nobody out here really has enough hand-offs, sheets of cardboard, and plastic trash bags to ever be really warm and dry.
I found a covered doorway last night that kept a lot of the wet off me, but there was enough wind to make it less than perfect. I don't have a shopping cart like some of the people who have been out here a long time. I have a little suitcase on wheels with a broken zipper that I found in a dumpster. It has some cartoon character I've never heard of on it. I'm still learning what I can keep and what just weighs me down, and the most important thing I'm learning is that staying dry isn't optional, it's absolutely critical.
I went to college, just like most of the people who pass me on the street. I didn't finish, but I knew enough to get a pretty decent job. I'm glad I didn't have kids, because my husband would have hurt them, too. It took years for me to run, to give up the job, to drive to a different city in a different state, to build a whole new identity so he can't find me. It was tough to choose to run, to give up any security I had. It felt like jumping off a cliff. But when somebody's chasing you with a baseball bat, you jump.
I lived in my car for over two years before it was stolen, along with everything I owned. At least that happened in summer, when not having a jacket didn't mean certain death. But man, that first winter outside taught me things I never dreamed I'd need to know. Now in my third winter outside, I'm an old pro, and I try hard to lend a hand to newbies, especially the younger women like me. I know how vulnerable they feel, and I know at what price those survival lessons come.
A couple generations ago, people could live without property. There was open land. There were fruitful trees and it was OK to catch wild animals to eat, and to build a fire, and to pitch a tent. A hundred years ago, people didn't have to have jobs to earn a living -- they could live off the land, provide for themselves through ingenuity, cooperate with neighbors and share resources. Nobody thought you were crazy if you carried a pack and traveled, always looking for a peaceful place to rest. And if a stranger knocked on your door and asked for food, you gave it to them, because nobody deserves to be hungry. Sometimes you asked for help chopping wood. Sometimes you let them sleep out back under the eaves.
Maybe it's just because there are so many more people now. Maybe access to so many "things" has convinced everybody that we all need all of them. He who dies with the most toys ... still dies. We don't trust anybody anymore. Everything is competition. People don't even know their next-door neighbors.
Let me tell you, when your survival is on the line, you KNOW your neighbors. You'd better be darn sure you know who to trust and who to be wary of. You share, no matter how little you have, and you know others will share with you, because we don't look like much, but we're people too, and each of us matters.
You'll usually find me crouched up against a building during the day. It's partly how I conserve my body heat, it's partly to be unobtrusive, and it's partly because you all have convinced me that I'm just in your way. I might suffer from a little mental illness -- post-traumatic stress or something -- who wouldn't, living this way? But I don't do drugs, and I never hurt anybody. My wish, every day, is that when you see me crouched there, you'll give me the benefit of the doubt and behave as if I were the same as you.
Anthropology fascinates me. The workings of the human mind, how our thoughts and actions are influenced by social factors, what we learn to cope with and what we learn to fight -- it's all learned, and that means that if we're paying attention, we have the power to choose.
I've been following Robert Reich and George Lakoff, both professors at UC Berkeley. Reich was Secretary of Labor in the Bill Clinton administration, and now teaches public policy. Lakoff taught cognitive science & linguistics, and is now the director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society. These two gentlemen encompass a broad and deep wealth of wisdom about where our society is and what we can do about it.
One major mistake we've all been making is repeating stories about how horrified we are about the incoming president's comments, cabinet choices, and plans for our country. We follow everything he says, which is important so we know what we're up against, but more than taking tangible action, we express our disgust, frustration, and feeling of powerlessness.
It's important that we process our emotions. I wonder if we can do that without talking about the man who seems to be the cause of our pain. It's not all on him -- there are strong forces of white supremism, racism, entitlement of the wealthy, nationalism, selfishness and greed at work in our country. Political correctness, once a positive force for managing these negative forces, has been attacked and weakened.
I'm reminded of the complicated physical battle in Syria. We started out fighting ISIS, but then we were also fighting Assad. Then we couldn't tell which rebels were fighting Assad with us, and which rebels were with ISIS. Russia openly supporting Assad's regime made relations with them more tense. We hardly know where to step, only that we don't want to step on innocent victims, yet that seems to be all we manage to accomplish.
We were starting a movement against income inequality, in our less physical but equally complicated battle here in the states. Then we found we were fighting a large force that thinks America should belong to the white man. Some of that force is wealthy, but a lot of it is the poor people we thought we were going to help by fighting for income equality. So now two wars are underway, and we're not sure exactly which people are enemies and which are victims. We'd like to put the whole mess on the president-elect's shoulders, but just like bombing Syria, that doesn't accomplish anything.
Worse, it feeds the narcissim that will soon be in charge of our government. The more we talk about him and his outrageous comments, the more we reward his unhealthy ego. Rather than bombing his lack of character, we need to focus on the positive actions we can take, and minimize the one enemy of both our fights, while watching his actions to keep our defenses up.
How do we do that? We network. We work on strengthening the democratic party, our most powerful weapon in both these battles. We train up new leaders with wisdom and self discipline. We exercise all the powers of our state and local governments and minimize federal influence. We starve the monster and feed the victims.
I'm still registered republican, but you can bet I'll be reading Reich and Lakoff, meeting with local liberals to protect the rights of the poor and marginalized, and speaking up, a lot, about all the issues, never mentioning the man we want to blame.
Make America Kittens Again
JK Rowling on Twitter
Remember that old Monty Python routine? (http://www.montypython.net/scripts/4york.php). "You had a crust of bread? Luxury! We only had rocks to suck on" (or something along those lines).
We just spend a week at my parents' home in Walnut Creek, and every moment was luxury. I know they're a lot better off now than when I was a kid, but a few things haven't changed. Most notably, my mom is still the most generous person I know, and she's always looking out for the comfort and well-being of everyone in her home. She keeps an incredibly comfortable guest room, maintains a spotless house, constantly prepares food, and dreams up ways to provide extra luxury. She took me out for my first-ever mani/pedi, and out to have my hair done -- not even cut, just washed and styled. Who does that? Mom and Dad both worked hard all their lives and I'm so glad they have a comfortable retirement -- they deserve it.
Back home now, I'm realizing that even without a lot of money, I have a pretty luxurious life. It's warm. We always have plenty to eat with extra to share. We have all the labor-saving appliances, internet, cell phones, and a reliable car. We even have some equity in our house, a nice little safety net for the future.
It was 20 degrees outside last night, and more than 1,000 people in Portland slept outside. We're working to provide more affordable housing, more emergency shelters, more free food and clothes. But that work is all only a bandaid. People in our cities won't stop dying from exposure until we reverse the financial policies that are allowing the rich to get richer while dramatically increasing the number of people living below the poverty line.
The Walton family (owners of Walmart) is the richest family in America. One of their practices that helps them acquire so much wealth is to hire at or near minimum wage and to limit hours to 30 or less, so they don't have to pay for benefits. As a result, their employees need government assistance to survive, most often food stamps (SNAP). Walmart employees receive $6.2 BILLION in food assistance, medicaid, and subsidized housing. MORE THAN SIX BILLION DOLLARS a year!
Walmart profited $3.3 billion in 2015, almost half of what they cost taxpayers. We'd be better off handing them at check for $3 billion a year in trade for them going out of business! They do provide jobs, so people who are poor but want to work can do so, but the cost of those jobs is staggering.
One solution to this form of public parasite is to legislate mandatory reimbursement of public expense from companies profiting more than a specified percentage of their value. Another, of course, is to boycott these companies. Better yet, write to them and expain why you will only patronize their stores when you see a significant increase in social responsibility.
Big business isn't just turning a blind eye ala Atlas Shrugged. Big business is creating the poverty with unethical employment practices.
Just for the record, Walmart is now working to donate excess food and reduce commercial waste in response to an $82 million fine for dumping hazardous waste. The largest retailer in the world seems to only act responsibly when they get hit in the pocketbook.
Want to see both sides of the luxury coin? Look at the Walton family and any one typical employee's family.
Susie Snortum is passionate about improving society's compassion for meeting basic human needs -- food, shelter, clean water, and dignity.