A true story, and a lot of fun..
Daily Archives: April 3, 2008
Karelis, a professor at George Washington University, has a simpler but far more radical argument to make: traditional economics just doesn’t apply to the poor. When we’re poor, Karelis argues, our economic worldview is shaped by deprivation, and we see the world around us not in terms of goods to be consumed but as problems to be alleviated. This is where the bee stings come in: A person with one bee sting is highly motivated to get it treated. But a person with multiple bee stings does not have much incentive to get one sting treated, because the others will still throb. The more of a painful or undesirable thing one has (i.e. the poorer one is) the less likely one is to do anything about any one problem. Poverty is less a matter of having few goods than having lots of problems.
Poverty and wealth, by this logic, don’t just fall along a continuum the way hot and cold or short and tall do. They are instead fundamentally different experiences, each working on the human psyche in its own way. At some point between the two, people stop thinking in terms of goods and start thinking in terms of problems, and that shift has enormous consequences. Perhaps because economists, by and large, are well-off, he suggests, they’ve failed to see the shift at all.
If Karelis is right, antipoverty initiatives championed all along the ideological spectrum are unlikely to work – from work requirements, time-limited benefits, and marriage and drug counseling to overhauling inner-city education and replacing ghettos with commercially vibrant mixed-income neighborhoods. It also means, Karelis argues, that at one level economists and poverty experts will have to reconsider scarcity, one of the most basic ideas in economics.
“It’s Econ 101 that’s to blame,” Karelis says. “It’s created this tired, phony debate about what causes poverty.”
This is the tale of two churches. And one Alaskan village. And a road trip with an Episcopal priest.
I met the Rev. Bessie C. Titus at the Chena River Convention Center in Fairbanks. Bessie was sitting behind a laptop at a registration booth next to a table where beaded wallets, beaver skin hats and other native crafts were being sold.
Ten minutes into our conversation about faith, Bessie suggested I visit a village in Alaska’s interior. I jumped at the opportunity.
The drive to Minto winds into the Alaskan Interior over mountain passes with blowing snow, icy pavement, steep hills, and semi-trucks hauling supplies to Prudoe Bay. Roads are few. There are Moose, bears and other animals.
I was traveling with a priest, I reassured myself. How bad could it be?
What more could we expect from the bishop of Rome than that, like Peter, he strengthen the whole church’s faith in Christ’s resurrection? How could he better serve the unity of an Easter people than by proclaiming insistently the event that brought the church into being: the resurrection of the crucified Jesus? The pope must also lead the church with the loving authority of a chief pastor and be a model for all worshipers in celebrating the sacraments. But his great task for all the world is to announce that Christ is risen. Nothing can or should ever count against the power and joyfulness of that unique message.
One picture of St. Peter has fixed itself forever in my mind: a huge 17th-century painting of Peter’s martyrdom. The painting had been taken down from a church and brought for restoration to the studio of an Italian friend of mine. It shows two soldiers using ropes to pull Peter upside down onto a cross. The saint looks stiff and old, but his face is calm and peaceful. Two cheerful little angels watch the scene as Peter faces death and prepares to meet his master in glory.
Classical painters aimed to express the final character and significance of those they portrayed. They wanted to lead us to the reality and identity of the persons they had chosen to represent. That old painting of Peter in my friend’s studio in Rome catches the apostle’s courage in the face of death. Originally martyr (a Greek word) meant “witness.” Peter the great witness became Peter the martyr. He could face martyrdom with such serenity because he had faithfully witnessed to his master’s victory over death. He knew that Jesus had died but was now alive forever. In that resurrection Peter found his destiny and final identity.
When he was elected pope, Benedict XVI found his own final destiny and identity. A serene figure in white, he faithfully preaches the Easter faith that holds us all together. When I see him proclaiming the resurrection, he reminds me of another figure also dressed in a white robe: the angelic messenger sitting in the empty tomb of Jesus and announcing to Mary Magdalene and her companions: “He has been raised” (Mk 16:5-6).
Dr. Michele Morgan migrated last fall from Detroit to Phoenix, taking a job as a psychiatrist. She expected her husband, Sam Kirkland, to soon join her, since he was accepting an early retirement package from his employer, General Motors. But he cannot move, he says, because he has not been able to sell the four-bedroom family home.
“As things now stand,” said Mr. Kirkland, who is 51 and intends to seek work in Phoenix, if he ever gets there, “my wife might decide to give up her job in Phoenix and come back to Detroit for a while, until we can sell the house.”
The rapid decline in housing prices is distorting the normal workings of the American labor market. Mobility opens up job opportunities, allowing workers to go where they are most needed. When housing is not an obstacle, more than five million men and women, nearly 4 percent of the nation’s work force, move annually from one place to another ”” to a new job after a layoff, or to higher-paying work, or to the next rung in a career, often the goal of a corporate transfer. Or people seek, as in Dr. Morgan’s case, an escape from harsh northern winters.
Now that mobility is increasingly restricted. Unable to sell their homes easily and move on, tens of thousands of people like Mr. Kirkland and Dr. Morgan are making the labor force less flexible just as a weakening economy puts pressure on workers to move to wherever companies are still hiring.
Signaling an incipient recession, nearly 85,000 jobs disappeared in the United States from December through February, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to announce on Friday that March failed to produce a turnaround in hiring.
“You hear a lot about foreclosure and the thousands of families who are being forced out,” said Joseph S. Tracy, director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “But that is swamped by the number of people who want to sell their homes and can’t.”
An impending foreclosure is a highly stressful situation ”” certainly for the people that could lose a home, and sometimes for the people trying to help them. Richard Pittman, a counselor with a HUD-approved agency, talks about the challenges of being a mortgage counselor these days.
One of the all-time greats in baseball was Babe Ruth. His bat had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained unbroken until Hank Aaron came along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves. In one of his last games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe’s legs and held on tightly. Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together.
It’s crucial to note that these very different bishops begin with references to the Resurrection — expressed in different ways — and then build on that doctrine to talk about issues in modern life, noted Phyllis Tickle, an Episcopalian best known for writing “God Talk in America” and other books on spirituality and culture.
The bishops do have different reference points, she said.
Jefferts Schori seems to be “starting inside the church” and then saying, “Look out there. Look at the world and see what we need to go and do.”
Meanwhile, Minns is “starting inside the church” and then saying, “Come in here. This is what happens when the church is really alive.”
The sad reality in Anglicanism today, she said, “Is that both of these leaders are talking to their people, to the people that they lead, but they are no longer part of the same body.”
Over the weekend, 18-year-old Chavez Clarke became the 22nd Chicago high school student to die violently this year. Clarke was trying to earn extra credits towards his diploma, when he was shot to death after Saturday classes.
The killing triggered student-led protests for tougher gun laws and exasperation among school administrators and police struggling to shield city schools from gang violence.
Improved security has contributed to an economic revival in Baghdad, and the United States has a “moral imperative” to keep bringing violence down, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Wednesday.
In a likely preview of his report to Congress next week on the state of the war, Ryan Crocker told USA TODAY that the Iraqi military’s recent attempt to disarm Shiite militias “had its share of problems.” He said the United States only had about 48 hours advance notice of the operation, which caused a wave of violence in Baghdad and southern Iraq.
However, Crocker said security and other areas have shown significant improvement since he last testified in September. “I think you can expect to see a continuation of that political and economic progress,” he said.
The chief executive of Wal-Mart has criticised US business for not taking a lead in the debate on the future of US healthcare ahead of the presidential elections in November.
Lee Scott said in a Financial Times interview that he was “not particularly encouraged” by the public debate on the issues.
“I think business has been absent in this debate on healthcare. I’m not sure why,” he said.
“I think government is going to be engaged after this election regardless of who wins, and I think business should be more involved in the discussion. I think it has long-term ramifications for our global competitiveness.”
Mr Scott said Wal-Mart, which has more than 1.3m US employees, had not taken “a firm stand” on what a national healthcare system might look like.
Is the pope Catholic? That used to be a sarcastic way of saying, could anything be more obvious? Is fire hot? Is water wet?
Now, however, that nothing in the world is obvious, when Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the United States on April 15 there will surely be voices in the media apparently disconcerted to discover that, yes, the pope is Catholic.
Yes, he disagrees with Richard Dawkins that atheism is necessary for salvation. Yes, he believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the son of God and the center of human history. Yes, he thinks that Catholic Christianity is truer than Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or even Protestant Christianity. Astounding. What next?
This will now be the eighth or ninth papal trip to the United States, depending on whether one counts John Paul II’s several hours of layover in Anchorage in 1981. What is surprising about every papal visit, at least after 1965, when Paul VI addressed the United Nations, is what so many people find surprising. Each time they are surprised, for example, that the pope hasn’t abandoned the notion that all human lives, even in their earliest, embryonic phases, deserve protection and that therefore abortion is wrong.
They are similarly surprised that many American Roman Catholics honor the pope yet disagree with papal positions, whether about using contraception, restricting legal access to abortion, ordaining married men or women to the priesthood, or recognizing same-sex relationships.
This kind of disagreement may signal, as some argue, a severe crisis in church authority. Or it may be more of a norm throughout Catholic history than is widely realized. But whatever it is, it is not new.
Hackers have turned their attention to search engines in the latest attempt to invade the computers of unsuspecting Web users.
One goal is to infect users’ computers, possibly by installing a device to capture keystrokes, and therefore passwords and other sensitive information.
Benedict XVI says that even consecrated persons need to guard against an increasing process of secularization that is gaining ground in modern times.
The Pope said that today when he received in audience participants in the 26th General Chapter of the Salesian Society of Don John Bosco which is, he told them, taking place “in a period of great social, economic and political changes,” of “more intense communication among peoples,” and of “lively debate on the spiritual values that give meaning to existence.”
“Don Bosco,” the Holy Father added, “wished the continuity of his charism in the Church to be guaranteed by the choice of consecrated life. Today, too, the Salesian movement can grow in charismatic faithfulness only if it continues to maintain a strong and vibrant nucleus of consecrated people.”