Times is tight like that
photo: Nick Hardy
The American Dialect Society chose "subprime" as 2007's Word of the Year at its annual convention. In light of the effect that the credit industry’s reckless practices has had (or has yet to have) on our economy, I’d have to agree with their choice. A few of the other nominations that the society of word watchers considered were real estate or credit related as well, such as “Exploding ARM”, "liar's loan", and "NINJA" -- No Income, No Job or Assets.
As I turned the pages of the newspaper, the next article that caught my eye was about the decline in charitable giving by the middle class. Charities, such as the Salvation Army and the Food Bank, that rely on gifts from everyday working folks are seeing a sharp decline in giving. The article went on to say that overall charitable donations were up slightly over this time last year. The difference this year is those whom are making the donations and the beneficiaries of their graciousness. While giving to food banks and homeless shelters has dropped off, charitable gifts to the arts is on the rise. Regional symphonies, ballet companies, and art museums are enjoying a bountiful year of donations.
These seemingly unrelated articles made me pause to wonder if there was a common thread in these stories. It seems to me that the working and middle class are starting to tighten their belts to cope with rising housing prices, increasing food costs, and more pain at the pump. On the other hand, the wealthier class is donating more of their disposable income to charities and causes that are largely a benefit to themselves.
From one coast to the other, Food Banks across North America are facing severe shortages. The Yarmouth County Vanguard (Nova Scotia) and The Daily Californian (Berkeley, California) both include articles of major shortages at local Food Banks and an increase in people requiring their services. America's Second Harvest, the national organization of local and regional Food Banks, anticipates “an immediate food shortage of 15 million pounds -- the equivalent of more than 400 truckloads or 11.7 million meals -- by the end of January.”
Thanks, once again, to Walt’s cousin Wes for this1950 78 classic.
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