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Citizens and the government should take responsibility for mortgage, food crisis

Monday, March 31, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:29 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I am a carnivore. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Missouri that claimed it fed the nation that I have a really hard time with what passes for meat these days. So when I spent Easter weekend in Minneapolis with family, I went on a mission. I went in search of a kosher delicatessen and found one. And so, for the first time in years, I was able to enjoy a cold-cut sandwich with real meat.

Actually, I associate the loss of real meat with a change in our regional culture. We lost a lot in our move from an agricultural to an urban society: Such things as realizing the importance of families working together, a willingness of neighbors to help neighbors, an appreciation of our relationship with nature and an understanding of death in the natural order.

It is too bad that it seems sometimes these days that is only when survival is threatened are we willing to respond to the human need of others. It’s amazing that so many people are indifferent to the number of people being turned out of their homes in the current mortgage crisis. There are people opposed to the government assisting these victims. If, on the other hand, a natural disaster had caused these folks to lose their homes, the same hard-hearted people would move like gang busters to try to save them. The idea seems to be that these mortgagees wound up in this situation through their own bad judgement. Of course, they would have everyone believe those of us not caught up in the problem have never made mistakes or gotten ourselves in trouble.

I am certain there were many people who, in their anxiety to own their own home, failed to read the fine print but I’m equally sure that some mortgage lenders and realtors intended to mislead their clients just to make more money. But the fact that the government failed to protect people from unfair business practices is our fault because we are the government. As citizens, we don’t get to pick and choose the roles we want to play in governing. If we’re going to reap the benefits of citizenship, then we have to bear the responsibilities.

The mortgage crisis is driving the economy, so many of us are suffering because of the irresponsible acts of a few. Experts can argue all day about whether or not we’re in a recession, but times are hard for some people.

I disagree with those who are trying to compare these times to the days of the Great Depression. The situation may be similar but we are not the same kind of people we were then. In those days we felt that we were all in it together because we were concerned about the plight of the country. Today the CEOs and other folks living on the high end are totally unaffected. Gas and food prices mean nothing to them.

I would hope that before long some of our political leaders would get concerned with the way our food is being processed. The recent scandal in the beef market where sick cows were allowed to get into the food supply is just one example of the kind of scary things we read about in our newspapers. Every day some of us see chickens being trucked to food processors that appear to not be in the best of health. But what can we citizens do about it?

For a civilized society we seem to be notoriously indifferent to what is being fed to us and our children. We don’t care that the water we drink is contaminated. Since we claim to be the best country in the world, do you really think other countries should become like us? Are we the example of what a civilized society should be?

I don’t know how many times I have heard that the Food and Drug Administration is understaffed and unable to test our food supply. My question is, what is being done to remedy the situation? Or better still does anybody have plans to do anything about it.

Well, I suppose, we just have to wait until the two political parties quit snapping at each other for somebody in political office to take some action on the problem. But I hate to think how many people will become ill from eating bad food and drinking bad water before somebody takes this matter seriously. In any case, when we were an agricultural society we had enough sense to be concerned about what we put in our stomachs. The adults watched out to make sure that the children knew what was safe to eat and what was not. In those days, somebody responsible seemed to always be in charge.

I never thought I would live to see the day when a person should be afraid to eat bread and drink water. What’s next?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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