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Do you remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from back in your school days? Maslow drew a pyramid, with human needs stacked according to their importance to us. The lower 4 are considered deficit needs... meaning we actively seek them out when we are deficit (lacking) in them. The needs are stacked in order of importance to us, with the lowest layer being absolutely primary. Even within layers, there is an order of importance: If you cannot breathe, you surely are not concerned about food and shelter at that precise moment.
The top level is actually different, it's things/traits we'd like to have in order to really feel fulfilled in our lives. Things like Truth, Goodness, Morality, Meaningfulness, Creativity and quite a few more that capture the essence of self-actualization.
Do you think in this desperate economic downturn that the starving, unemployed and/or homeless folks are thinking about those things at the top of the pyramid?
My bet is they are thinking about food and shelter (the basics to survive) which is the bottom, foundation level in Maslow's chart. I'm thinking that many folks now have nothing left but frustration, nothing else to lose, and even food and shelter seem elusive to them. Time bombs ticking...
If they cannot get those basic needs legitimately (like they could with the ex-paycheck from the company that closed its domestic doors and moved manufacturing overseas for more profit), they will ultimately resort to whatever means is at hand, including violence or unlawfulness of some sort if that's all that's available. Unlawfulness might be as benign as a mother shoplifting a can of Spaghetti-O's to feed a starving kid because she can't get food stamps, but it could be a purse-snatcher looking for a few bucks for groceries (or drugs or alcoholic beverages), or worse yet, home invasion.
Do you think their frustration or anger doesn't build when they hear of bonuses in the millions of dollars being paid to the people perhaps responsible for their dire straights? And to rub salt in the wounds, those bonuses are often paid with federal bailout money the now-unemployed people paid into for years as taxes, and their children (if they live long enough) will have to repay?
To be sure, there are always freeloaders who think the world owes them something for nothing. I'm not talking about them because I have no clue as to why some people are like that.
And I'm not even talking about those who would rather get food stamps and cry 'poor me' than have a job that pays minimum wages. I see those people in my small town all the time. A friend's daughter is out of work, has been for over 2 years. She gets free housing and food stamps because she has 2 dependent and "fatherless" children. She has no real incentive to get a job because she knows the system will take care of her as long as she has dependent children, but she also has no need to resort to violence because she has food and shelter.
I do not believe being on the dole is a Right. At the same time, I do think most of us feel some obligation to help others in an emergency if we are able, for instance victims of tornado, or hurricane devastation, and floods. That's not the same thing as a 'required' handout or someone being on the dole.
I believe that we owe it to ourselves and our children's children to clean up this mess, somehow, someway. And truthfully, I have absolutely NO earthly idea how we can do that. Like many people, I am never more than a few days or weeks away from being homeless and hungry myself. Our 'system' takes care of the children, but unfortunately not the elderly.
There must be a way of creating some opportunity for "Joe and Jane Average" to survive (which probably won't include cable and a 60 inch HDTV); and if they need some help UP, then we help. By 'we' I do not mean the federal government. I mean me... and you. Local, community involvement. Maybe even just 'on your street, or on your block' involvement.
Some of our biggest banks are sitting on large profits from the bailouts (profits made by using our tax money) but they won't lend it if you don't have both a job and excellent credit. Even then, they might not lend it. But look at it this way: who really needs debt anyway, except for maybe a very large purchase like a home? Who convinced us anyway that more is better, that we aren't 'worthy' unless we have a McMansion and a new car every 2-4 years?
It's time to stop favoring the Good Ole Million Dollar Boy Network. It's time to get lobbyists out of the pockets of our legislators and out of our Laws.
Time to start teaching people how to fish... somehow, someway.