by Bruce Grossman
(Plain Press, August 2011) I’m not an economist, and I certainly don’t have a Nobel Prize, but I just can’t understand how taking money from the very poorest people in society and giving it to the very richest is going to make this country more prosperous. In fact, the discrepancy in income distribution is already at an all time high. Some sources state that right now only one percent of the population owns thirty percent of the wealth, and five percent own sixty percent. There doesn’t seem to be much room for improvement.
Here in the inner ring neighborhood, where I live, in Cleveland (Ohio City), I see this dilemma played out on a daily basis. The town fathers are trying their best to upgrade and gentrify this place, but it’s a slow process and there are still lots of dilapidated houses and the wrong kinds of people (myself included).
You can’t walk out door without people asking you for money. Here is where I can see that poor people have it all wrong and are not generators of wealth. I mean, they’re always asking you for a quarter. If you have a quarter, then they immediately ask you for a dollar, then five, and so on, until you feel so frustrated that you give them nothing instead.
They should learn form the Big Boys in non-profit fundraising– “Excuse me sir, but I’m collecting for the Forty Ounces and a Mule Fund and we have four different levels of sponsorship. The Platinum Level begins at $100 and we’ll spray paint your name on our Wall of Fame around the corner. The Gold Level begins at seventy-five and you get a year’s subscription of stolen Bible tracts. The Silver Level is twenty-five and we promise not to follow you down the street. Lastly, the Bronze Level is whatever you feel comfortable with. Which level is best for your budget?”
So maybe the Nobel Economists are right. From now on whenever a mendicant asks me for a quarter, I politely say “Sorry, I don’t have it,” and look for the best-dressed person I can find (usually they’re sitting on the patio of the Belgium Beer Micropub). Like John Rockefeller, Sr., I hand this person a shiny new quarter and say, “Here son, invest this wisely. The nation is counting on you.”