Thursday, December 4, 2008

7 Years, 14 days...

That's the time left on the international community's pledge to end poverty in the world. The plan was agreed upon and work begun in 2000, with the adoption of the UN's Mellinium Development Goals. This was the plan: The international community will "spare no effort to free our fellow men, women, children from abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty." By the year 2015. Here's an update on our progress from the MDG annual report: "The current troubled climate poses a risk that advances in reducing poverty may unravel." I bring this up only because I'm sitting with news this morning of Detroit's CEOs on Capitol Hill begging for money to keep their businesses afloat. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are asking for a collective $34 billion from the government to avoid financial meltdown. It appears our elected representatives are going to go for it this time around, in part because of the good faith efforts the CEOs have made to restructure business practices that allowed them...those three individual men...to earn a total of $50 million in annual salaries last year (Ford CEO-$21 million, Chrysler CEO-$20 million, GM CEO-$10 million). They say they'll take $1 salaries next year. And, they drove to DC this week (in pricey hybrid cars), instead of flying in on their personal jets. I am not impressed. Thirty-five million people in the United States live at or below the poverty level - $21,203 a year for a family of four...$10,590 a year for an individual. 1.7 million of those folks are living on half that amount. Half of the world's population - 3 billion people - live on less than $2.50 a day. Eighty-percent of all humans in the world live on less than $10 a day. Ford's CEO, Alan Mulally, makes $57,534 a day. A day. Including weekends and holidays. I'm not feeling much love for our auto industry today. The CEO's claims that they've suffered the biggest losses in 26 years and that sales are down 30-40% from last year just make me want to shrug and walk away. Build an affordable car, I say. Stop paying yourselves obscene amounts of money. Go home and figure it out. This is not a taxpayer problem. Poverty, on the other hand, is a human being problem. All of us who are filling our stomachs and sleeping in locked houses and bathing in clean water and seeing our doctors once a year have a moral obligation to care, deeply, about the poor. Every great teacher has told us this. Here's Jesus' summary: To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) I can't say it often enough...write your elected representatives in Washington (include Nancy Pelosi). Let them know how you feel about this loony automaker bailout. Feel free to mention the fact that, according to Fortune 500, there are 5 other businesses in the US that have lost more money in the last year than Ford, and Chrysler isn't even in the top 20! Remind them of the Millenium Development Goals. Tell them 25,000-35,000 children in the world die EVERY DAY due to poverty. Let them know you are watching the countdown to 2015 as closely as you are watching your 401K. Use this good line from the 2008 MDG report: "We are still hopeful that an end to poverty can be achieved with unswerving, collective, long-term effort." And, thank them for being part of changing the image of the average American from greedy, self-serving consumer to big-hearted, caring world citizen. Peace.

1 comment:

Gay said...

The Detroit CEOs decided to drive rather than fly in their personal jets the last time - how thoughtful of them. Thanks for reminding us that many can not afford going anywhere, for any reason.