Monday, February 28, 2011

In the Black

My best ideas often come to me when I'm doing something mundane, usually washing dishes, taking a shower or on a run. Last night when Don and I were washing the dishes after the Academy Awards, we were talking about the budget crises across the country, when a possible solution came to me.

Nonfinancial Fortune 500 companies that are sitting on $1.8 trillion could lend to the states. No handouts, but a business relationship. Keep people employed, and eventually the budget crises will be resolved, allowing these companies to be repaid in due time, even earning a profit. Sounds like the patriotic thing to do.

I can already hear the familiar refrain: "But that would be socialism." So tell me, how well are those companies going to fare if hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of state employees are laid off because their states are bankrupt? Unemployed people aren't buying GE refrigerators or smartphones--they're living off the government dole, they're cancelling cable, eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and doing whatever they need to do to make sure the bank doesn't foreclose on their houses--those who manage to keep their payments current under these circumstances. How's it going to prosper major corporations if elementary-school students are stuck in classes of 40 or more because a couple hundred or even a couple of thousand teachers in their districts were laid off?

Our country has asked thousands of people to defend our interests in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have died or been severely wounded. If we can ask soldiers to spill blood, it's not too much to ask corporations to spill their black ink.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I don't have any problems

I started writing this blog to talk about worth and worthiness, for what my two cents on the subject of worth is worth. I figure I'm uniquely qualified to write about it because I spent most of my life not feeling like I was worth much. I don't write this to get anyone to feel sorry for me, or to be curious about why. I write to get as close to telling the truth from where I stand as I can. Starting with myself and my one wild and precious life seems as good a place as any. If you've been reading The Low Three Figures, you'll have some idea why. Hell, if you're human, you'll have some idea why most of us walk around feeling unvalued.

I was listening to the program "Outlook" on the BBC this morning and heard Liz Murray's story. Hence, the title of this post. I don't have any problems. She has written Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard. It's already on my list of books to read. She had to teach herself how to ask for what she needed, which for her began with wanting a high school education. After knocking on a lot of doors, she was finally accepted into a high school in Manhattan. That led to her being one of six socially disadvantaged kids who got scholarships to Harvard from the New York Times.

But what if you don't know what to ask for? What if you've given up asking for what you want, in the face of so many rejections? What kept Liz going?

I have the idea that she kept going because she was becoming someone who would teach others how to identify what they have to offer, what training they need to hone their natural skills, and then to gather the resources they need going forward. That is precisely what Ms. Murray is doing with Manifest Living, the organization she's created.