Posted by: Patrick Barbanes | September 29, 2008

Community Organizers Will Continue To Help With The Rescue

Piggy-backing on my earlier post, Community Organizers Will Bail Out America, take a look at this article, No Rescue For The Hungry, by Joel Berg. Berg is executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Strong stuff:

In 2006, fully 35.5 million Americans, 4 million more than in 1999, lived in households that couldn’t afford enough food, according to the Agriculture Department. Those households included more than 4 million children.

Last December, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that out of 23 major American cities, 80 percent had an increase in people using emergency soup kitchens and food pantries and 43 percent had an increase in the number of homeless children. All that happened between November 2006 and November 2007.

How did the federal government respond? It didn’t.

Berg is rightly puzzled by this “bailout” of corporations and banks, while a bailout of the hungry and the homeless goes unheeded.

When social services advocates like me hear that the cost of the federal bailout of the finance sector might top a trillion dollars, we’re not quite sure how to process such a massive figure.

Our country has been told that a gargantuan government rescue of the private sector is necessary because the collapse of major financial institutions would lead to unthinkable outcomes for society. Almost as if by magic, our nation’s leaders conjure up vast sums to respond to this crisis.

Yet when advocates point out that our nation is facing an altogether different kind of crisis, one of soaring hunger and homelessness, and that a large-scale bailout is needed to prevent social service providers nationwide from buckling under the increasing load, we are told that the money these agencies need just doesn’t exist.

He finishes with this.

Just as it is unthinkable for the country to allow financial giants to go belly up, it should be unthinkable to look the other way as tens of millions of low-income Americans (the types of people who clean the offices of AIG and Fannie Mae at night) go without food or shelter. It’s time to get our priorities in order.

Yes, community organizers will be even more sorely needed in the years to come.


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