||Fall Bulletin 2008
Vol. 24 No.3
In the annals of Plenty (I guess we’ve been around long enough to have “annals”) you could say it’s an article of faith, backed up by experience, that the only sustainable wealth is wealth that is shared. One of our founding Board Members, Karen Flaherty, who passed away much too young six years ago, was known to say, “All you have is what you give away.” In a sense, life is a process of giving everything away. It’s one of the enduring human aphorisms that “you can’t take it with you.” This can be depressing or liberating, but since it’s inevitable we might as well make the best of it. One way to make the best of it is to discover the joys of generosity, the unequaled satisfaction that comes from sharing our good fortune or simply “sharing the love” which doesn’t cost anything. On the occasions when I manage to practice what I preach, I can testify that the rewards are returned a hundred fold.
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When I sit down to write these Plenty Bulletin cover letters, I feel an obligation to say something sensible, to make some kind of sense of the world from the perspective of our experiences gained through our projects. At this moment in time, that effort is challenging to say the least. What with the extraordinary drama of this presidential election, another devastating hurricane season, the Wall Street meltdown, seemingly never-ending wars...anyone could be excused for feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I do have a couple of thoughts I would like to share and invite your feedback. The financial crisis appears to be systemic in that wealth, if left to its own devices, seems to go nuts trying to reproduce itself beyond all reason and real value. The latest data show that the income gap for Americans has doubled since 1980 to where the top 300,000 have as much income as the bottom 150 million, or 440 times as much, which is a level of income inequality not seen since 1928. It’s easy to understand how a system with that much imbalance will eventually topple like a house of cards.
The 2009 military/defense budget equals the size of the proposed Wall Street bailout which also equals the cost of the war in Iraq so far, $700 billion. That's a lot of money but the financial costs don't even begin to compare to the human toll and the wasted opportunities to advance the human condition and deal with our most serious planetary challenges.
Remember the Millennium pledge where world leaders made the commitment to cut global poverty in half by the year 2015? Between 2005 and 2007 aid from the overdeveloped world to the world’s poorest fell 13 percent to a grand total of just $104 billion. The US is the stingiest, giving just .16 percent of its income for development assistance. Canada gives .28 percent. A billion and a half of the world’s people currently live in poverty. The Millennium pledge appears headed for the bulging warehouse where pledges to address world poverty are shelved.
Okay, climbing down from the soapbox, I have to say a little something about how grateful, even joyous, we are within Plenty for the opportunity to do the kind of work we get to do with the kinds of people we are working with. With your help Plenty will continue assisting people who are struggling just to survive. "Just surviving" is no way to live and all of our projects are designed to promote self-sufficiency well beyond mere survival.
Lastly, we have recently learned that hurricanes Gustav and Ike destroyed many more homes in the Gulf (some for the second and third times since Katrina). Plenty volunteer and nurse Elaine Langley, now living in New Orleans and working in a city hospital, is visiting some of the hardest hit areas, delivering aid and sending us reports that you can see at www.plentyblog.com
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