Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now more than ever

Today is October 15th. It's Blog Action Day again. This year's topic is poverty.

I've been thinking a lot about income inequality and what I see as the central rationale for marxism. I never studied marxism or socialism in depth, and I do not fully understand what drives me to want equity, equality and collaborative achievement over meritocracy, stratification and differential reward. I do know that what resonates with me most is the idea of the accident of birth. I can't help but believe that I have reaped the benefit of my family's actions and social policies to which others have not enjoyed the same access. And though I have taken advantage of these opportunities of my own accord, who am I to suggest that doors have not been opened for me? It's for this reason that I've never subscribed to the idea that society is fully a meritocracy, and why I tend to advocate for programs that level the playing field, and take care of children and old people.

In the face of this economic crisis (which infuriates me more the greater my understanding becomes), I can't help but think that capitalism without conscience is not a good thing in the long term. People offer platitudes about the stock market returning positive gains in the long run, but the kind of volatility I've experienced in my 401(k) THREE times since I graduated from college makes it hard for me to believe that past performance is a guarantee of future success.

This loss of paper wealth across the board troubles me not so much because I feel like I have been giving my money to jerks for the last 10 years but more so because it will affect social services in this country, and charitable giving and foreign aid internationally.

I have more to say on this but I have to go to work.

So, in this last hour of the day in my neck of the woods after watching the debate and the finale of Project Runway (which seems so trivial in the face of poverty), I wanted to say something about what I will do to fight poverty. My life is one big crusade, but more specifically, I plan to do things within my sphere of influence that I believe can help fight poverty. One of those things is to share my blessings with others, which I think I can best achieve through mentoring. My strong beliefs in the power of education would be most directly realized if I tried to impart some useful nuggets of knowledge to people who could use it. For this reason, I'm hoping to find an organization like Big Brothers/Big Sisters that can help match me with some kids that I can be a help to, however that may manifest. And even more fundamentally, I live near the food bank, and I will learn how to make direct contributions, to do what I can to help locally.

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