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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Good news/bad news (10/19/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Read it and weep. It seems that all the magazines are rife with politics and scandal these days. The more you read, the more anxious and enraged one can become. We live in a global society of statistics and surveys, political rhetoric and empty promises, greed and power seeking, and bold scientific predictions concerning a catastrophic future for our planet. Where’s the good stuff?

Chip Paillex’s story in the last Reader’s Digest did help to restore some faith in our fellowman. “Make It Matter,” by Martha Fay, tells of a mortgage banker’s lowly garden, planted to feed his family, somewhere in rural New Jersey named Pittstown. From the abundance of his first harvest, Paillex was able to donate 120 pounds of fresh vegetables to a local food pantry.

What began as a handful of volunteers who produced 1,500 pounds of fresh vegetables, a project dubbed Grow-a Row now has close to 1,000 volunteers and will deliver an estimated 250,000 pounds of produce to food banks. That’s not all! Local school kids have proudly worked in the fields. One unpaid staffer muses, “Chip has given us a way to raise our kids with a giving heart.”

We can’t blame the media for everything! It’s sad to be living in an era in history when the United States doesn’t seem to stand for liberty and justice for all of “US”! Statistics from the Sept. AARP Bulletin make a person cringe. For instance: “Food price inflation averaged just 2.1% a year from 1996 to 2006. From June 2007 to June 2008 it jumped 6.1%.” It goes on to report: “One Georgia food assistance program estimated that the number of older people coming increased 100% in the past year.”

Michael Crowley wrote an article in the October Reader’s Digest that would incite anger in all honest taxpayers! He writes, “…our tax code encourages companies to do business in places like Mexico, China, and India – which sticks the rest of us with a higher tax bill.”

“According to a 2006 government report, U.S. companies have nearly $500 billion stashed abroad that could be taxed here at home,” Crowley writes. How can the overlooked American citizen survive at a time when higher health care and energy costs plague those whose means of making a living has been slashed due to jobs created overseas?

Don’t ask what Congress can do for you; ask what you can do about Congress! Congress can change laws so that earnings overseas would be taxed at the same rate as domestic income. In any case, cheaper labor will continue to entice profit-minded companies. Will our hardworking middleclass go on being the sacrificial lamb for America’s inordinate CEOs? One wonders, is politics merely a game for the rich and privileged? Is political turmoil an inside job? The October Utne Reader adds more stink to the fumes! As U.S. corporations become more powerful in the global arena, their capacity to violate human rights increases. Investors are less inhibited as they read impressive-sounding corporate reports known as “corporate social responsibility” (CSR,) that play up community involvement.

It’s not all as it seems. International human rights abuses, such as Abbott Laboratories withholding much-needed pharmaceuticals from Thailand to punish their government for approving competitive generic AIDS drugs, is one of many improprieties of CSR initiatives. Corporate abuses violate the International Bill of Rights.

Along with the Wall Street crisis, it appears that retirement savings, S.S. benefits, and peace of mind of United States taxpayers have been greatly jeopardized. Remember those companies with billions hoarded in foreign countries to avoid paying U.S. taxes? And what about the exorbitant compensation received by executives of lending institutions who initiated countless risky mortgage-related loans?

The good news? All of those responsible for these catastrophes will surely come forth to bail our country out of certain demise. Any day now!

When pigs fly! It seems like it’s up to all of us duped taxpayers to create our own good news! Keep the faith!

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.

 

 

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