Charity – Good and Bad

I went to a fundraiser earlier today for a group dedicated to feeding the hungry in Israel. The organizers gave a brief speech and included some statistics about poverty there. Here are some from 2007 cited in Haaretz:

  • 1.6 million Israelis (almost 25%) live below the poverty line.
  • “The number of children living in poverty reached 804,000; or 35.9% of all Israeli children.”
  • “40% of the families living under the poverty line are working.”
  • With devastating numbers like these, there’s clearly something fundamentally wrong. The key sentence is the first one in the Haaretz article: “Despite the improvement in all of Israel’s economic indicators in 2007, a rise in the minimum wage, increased employment and higher real salaries; the country’s poverty level remained almost unchanged in 2007.” The Israeli economy is doing very well, so why are so many people so poor?

    The fundraiser I supported today seeks to address this issue by going to restaurants, caterers, and military bases, and bringing leftover food to people who don’t have any. This is a wonderful idea, and I’m all for it, but it’s a bandage on a much bigger problem. The poor people who don’t have food need fundamental policy changes, not scraps from the tables of rich people. I’m happy to have helped via this organization, but I would be much happier if there was no need for this group (among many other private groups dedicated towards helping Israel’s poor). Poverty in Israel should be on the extreme fringe, as it used to be.

    UPDATE: The charity is Table to Table. I didn’t originally post the name of the group because I didn’t want it to seem like I was singling them out (since the point of my post is that the people benefiting from T2T and similar organizations need reform much more than they need charity).


    Double-Clicking The Grey Lady

    A friend of mine showed me that if you double-click on a word on The New York Times’ website, it will open up a dictionary definition of that word. I find that a bit pretentious, but it’s also a smart idea, especially if it frees the Times writers to use bigger words!


    p.s. Yes, I enjoyed coming up with the title of this post…

    Punished For Pennies

    This story brought a smile to my face: twenty-nine middle school students in Readington, NJ were given detention for using pennies as lunch money, as part of a prank, CBS reports. Not a few pennies, of course – each student involved brought in 200 pennies, resulting in almost 6,000 pennies that the cashiers had to count. Students say that they were protesting the lunch period being too short.

    Punishing the kids was probably not necessary, especially since many of the students rolled their pennies up (where does one get 200 pennies anyway? This must have taken some planning). I understand the school’s position, but the students came up with a creative and (admit it) funny way to express themselves. Instead of throwing them in detention, why not have an assembly and discuss why the lunch period is so short, and what the kids could have done to protest it?

    Anyway, the kids aren’t done. They continued their protest the next day by bringing their lunch from home (always a sensible option anyway) and are wearing t-shirts that say “Got Pennies?”.

    Hopefully the school will realize they’ve got some pretty smart kids there, and try to find a way to work with that instead of alienating and fighting them.

    Via Consumerist.