Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What can 4 billion dollars buy?

*This article has been chosen to go in the local paper again. My third one. Woohoo!!*

Another season of campaigning has come to an end. After months of being bombarded with radio announcements, roadside signs bigger than life, and a war of words that left my head spinning, I finally scoot on down to the polling station to cast my very first vote. At the age of 41 I am starting a little bit late in life having my voice heard and hoping my vote counts but it seems I got back just in time to witness a truly historical campaign first. Nearly $4 billion dollars spent by various electoral hopefuls and while I'm no expert on politics and what makes the process tick, I can't wrap my head around that number without asking myself a few questions.

Last I heard we were in a recession and the average American citizen was either struggling to pay the bills, struggling to find adequate health care, or struggling to stay employed. We are told over and over in many different ways that we need to cut back on our spending in order to get through this rough patch. This is sound advice anyone would accept willingly who knows anything about budgeting and planning ahead. Personally I do not have any form of health care because I can't afford it. My biggest fear is getting too sick that staying home and roughing it out with over the counter medication just won't work this time. My apartment complex just raised the rent again by $45 dollars. Compared to $4 billion that's not even a drop in the ocean but it certainly has me scrambling to see where I can cut back even further on my spending to find that $45. I also had to tell my children that I couldn't afford to buy school pictures this time around because paying the electric bill was the difference between lights on...and lights off. While I sit here trying to juggle my bills and the needs of my children and the cost of going to college and keeping gas in my car to get me to work and college and back, my mind keeps returning to that colossal number; $4 billion dollars.

If there is $4 billion dollars floating around out there that can be spent on campaign ads, bill board signs, full newspaper spreads, hand shaking back slapping parties, finger pointing and reputation shredding commercials, and to build those little wooden platforms that would be candidates stand on while making all those soon to be forgotten campaign promises...why isn't there $4 billion dollars to spend on improving the quality of education our children receive in school? Why isn't there $4 billion dollars to spend on providing health care for those that need it most but can't afford it? Why isn't there $4 billion dollars to build more shelters for abused women and children in this country. Currently there are more animal shelters in the United States than shelters for battered women. Most importantly, if there is $4 billion dollars floating around out there being freed up to donate anonymously to campaigns that will soon be forgotten why can't those same anonymous donors donate that same amount of money to those items I just listed where the effect will be longer lasting and more appreciated?

As I walked into the polling station with that number rolling around in my head along with the names and promises of each candidate up for election or re-election, I couldn't help but think one thing. Why is it that Americans can always find money for the things that don't matter and can't be used to improve our lives in anyway, but always manage to find that extra buck, or 4 billion of them, tucked away somewhere for those emergency situations; like a much needed mocha latte frappacino...or an election candidates future vote?


Angel Darling said...

I guess part of it is to feel like we still have some kind of control over some things.

"I may not have enough money for the rent, but I can CHOOSE the latte because that makes me feel better..." I don't know... just a thought.

Forty Pound Sack said...

Very well said, Red. It might be different if those elected actually made some real improvements, but somehow, I think it will more of the same for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you and find myself thinking about that often. I would never donate for a political campaign or animal shelter. There are so many people in so many countries who could live a better life only we didn't have these useless money sucking holes. You should put a donate button on your blog. After all its everybody responsibility to reduce the imbalance of wealth.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Don't forget the $4 TRILLION spent by the GOVERNMENT to bail out the banks! Ridiculous!

The UN asked for $100 million in 2008 to make sure no one starves to death, and the west said they don't have the money. The next year, $4 trillion was spent on bailing out banks.

Susanne said...

Congrats on being published once again! This is a great thought-provoking piece.

Is your gripe more against individual Americans who contribute to campaigns (and their expensive coffees!) instead of to a big pot to help others or against the government or both?

I enjoyed this. Did anyone from your area respond via letter to the editor or anything like that?

Simply Eva said...

Cool Red, I wanted to comment on your whole blog--not just this post. I have been following you for years and remember the days your online friends were trying to get you home to USA--I tried to help in some small way with that. I hadnt read most of your blog at that point--still havent in fact but am slowly remedying that, and wanted to say I am absolutely blown away by your story.

I know abt abuse of all kinds--on a personal as well as professional level. I know very well one does what one learns. I know that while it may not make sense, abused women, wives, mothers, daughters, etc often do make the wrong choices because this is their only frame of reference from which they draw. It isnt easy--in fact in some cases, it is downright impossible--for an abused woman to see through it all and make better decisions. In any case, you have done remarkably well trying to change your life and that of your family, finally escaping from that HELL---and you are to be applauded for that.

Your description of your life with your step-father--and then going on to marry the man you did--and his ensuing abuse and your terrible, gut-wrenching loneliness in Bahrain where you were little more than a prisoner in a quite bare jail cell--my God the suffering is palpable and I felt it deep into my soul. You are a gifted writer.

I hope your story makes it out into the world, and with it, at the very least, you can help to head off someone else walking blindly into much the same kind of situation.

I hope you continue this blog for a long time to come, and am anxious to hear your life is constantly improving and becoming everything you and your family have ever dreamed of.

Btw, you and I are facebook friends but by my real name--not this alias ;-)))

coolred38 said...

simply eva....thank you for this lovely comment. People quite often ask me why I keep bringing up the past and the abuse and and and...and for me it's simple. I talk about it, write about it, and purge it from my system rather than let it fester in my mind, heart, and soul. It's a way to release it and it feels damn good afterwards...for me anyhow.

Hmmm...we are facebook friends...shall have to do some sluething now to figure out who you are....shouldnt be too hard since I dont have too many FB friends...prepare to be outed!!! LOL

Just kidding.

Simply Eva said...

You just keep on bringing it up Coolred--anyone doesnt like it--well--this is your house and they dont have to come visit. I suffered an abuse of monumental proportions at the hands of my first husband. Maybe one day I will tell you abt it privately. I had to basically keep it all in and hide it to protect my children. For years we have carried around a secret so horrible, but I thank God every day my kids turned out normal and successful adults and have made lives for themselves I could only dream of. They insist on giving me all the credit for this, even though I barely had the strength to go to work (something I had never prepared myself to do) to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I did give them plenty of love though so it seems that counted for something. I wish I could have spent more time with them just doing "mother" type of things---but in my situation--for my kids--I was the whole enchilada. I literally was the only one they had in the world. My own family and my in-laws didnt give a damn about us, but alhamdulilah we survived and they have flourished. Alhamdulilah for Allah's infinite mercy and benevolence upon them.

More women need to speak up and KEEP talking--not just in order to help heal themselves, but hopefully to help others avoid these kinds of tragedies.

So keep going Coolred, and I sure hope you come out with an autobiography. Maybe it will save someone else. Peace be upon you, and all best wishes for your success!

Marahm said...

Great article! Your writing has improved-- NO, it was never bad, but I can tell you've been revising, revising, revising....

coolred38 said...

marahm...lol...somebody else said that as well and all I can say is that...this particular bit was written with the paper in mind so I mind my grammar and spelling etc more closely then when writing on my blog...where I tend to just write it once and post. More of a what you see is what you get first time around kind of thing.

I can polish it up when I need too...believe that. Ha.

coolred38 said...

simply eva...I can understand and I wait to hear all about it. A mothers job has so many facets and obligations...people dont even know the true depth of our sacrifice when push comes to shove. You have to be a Mother to get that...at least for most mothers...there are few out there that definitely didnt get the memo on what it means to be a mother.

I spent all my childrens childhood with them...both by choice and by force as I wasnt allowed to work etc...but now that I do work and they are older and doing their thing...I really do miss that closeness and time we spent together. My kids and I had some good times when they were young. Wouldnt change that for the world.

Anonymous said...

Eid Mubarak