Showing posts with label Homeless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeless. Show all posts

August 24, 2020

90-10 Charity Rule

There is a commandment of giving at least 10% to charity.

In Genesis 14:20:
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

In Genesis 28:22
[Jacob says] And in all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you. 

In Leviticus 27:30:
A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the L-rd, it is holy to the L-rd. 

In general, G-d lets you keep 90% and he commands that you give 10% to charity.

I understand that some righteous people even give 20% of their income to charity.

I learned from Rabbi Yaron Reuven that:
For those that are miserly and not charitable and don't tithe, G-d reverses the equation, and He takes back the 90% and lets you keep the 10%.

Very ingenious and where the punishment fits "the crime" so to say.

So what do you want the 90% or the 10%--it's your choice to give or have it given for you!  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 18, 2020

Freedom But Disparity

America is a great country.

The freedom, rights, and opportunities we have is exceptional and enviable in the world and history.

But the disparity between rich and poor, majorities and minorities is grotesque.

On one side of the street are the mansions, and on the other are the slums.

One on side of the train station are those going off to work, and on the other side are the homeless lying in the gutter.

On one side of the scale are people fat with money and power, and on the other side are people hungry and decaying.

Wealth is overflowing for those that are the fortunate, but also corruption runs systematically deep.

This isn't an issue of political party, but one of the righteousness of men's hearts.

G-d watches and man disappoints, but the the future is still wide open.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 22, 2020

We Just Magically Found $2,000,000,000,000

It's amazing how we can magically find $2 trillion for a Coronavirus "Rescue Plan."

This after we already wasted over $6.4 trillion (and thousands of our dead and wounded) through 2017 in unexplainable and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no known or lasting benefits to this country (while archenemy, Iran continues their pursuit of nukes unabated). 

And for decades, we haven't been able to find money for:

- Decent healthcare for all Americans.

- Ensuring our national security, including adequate planning and disaster preparedness for things like Coronavirus, cybersecurity, WMDs, EMPs, and for critical infrastructure protection. 

- Repairing our aging roads, bridges, and infrastructure

- Fixing our broken public education system.

- Helping our countless of homeless and needy lying the streets of our nation. 

- Restoring our space program to get a man on the moon again or put another shuttle into space. 

When politics are in play, there is plenty of money to go around. 

But when the nation needs proper care and feeding, there are no adults in the room. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 22, 2020

How Are These Unlivable "Living Conditions" Allowed To Persist?

Continued to be appalled at the unlivable "living conditions" of the homeless in the Capital. 

Makeshift tents line up and down under the train tracks to Union Station. 

Spikes overhead make this an extra frightening looking arrangement. 

People walking by and to/from work--after a while, is there a mixture of acceptance and indifference?

It's freezing outside and this is NO WAY for any human being to have to live. 

Can we put partisan politics aside for any period of time to deal with the very harsh problems facing real people?  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 13, 2020

Roosters or Homelessness?

So I had to drive into downtown Washington D.C. 

Along the way, I saw this colorful artistic rooster. 

I appreciate this quick pick-me-up from this. 

Yet, all around the streets were homeless people. 

One was literally collapsed on a narrow island between the opposing lanes of traffic.

Some horrible-looking food, rags of clothes, and two bottles of liquor lay next to him and one of his arm hang almost into the moving traffic. 

This was just one of many that I saw in abject poverty and desperation. 

So I really feel conflicted looking at this colorful rooster. 

What good is it when the people are homeless, sick, and starving? ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 13, 2019

Monument To The Homeless

I really had to take a second look at this. 

From a distance, it looked like another homeless person sleeping on the bench in Washington., D.C. 

But as I got closer, I realized this was a statue of a homeless person.

And the only thing real about it was the empty cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee next to it. 

Honestly, I am not sure what the point of this statue is. 

There are enough REAL homeless people to remind us of their serious plight and the critical need to help them. 

The money that went into creating this monument would've been far better spent on helping these real people in need. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2018

Some Reflections From The Procedure

So I had a little procedure this week. 

I hate going to the hospital--who doesn't?

But I figured better to take care of something before it gets worse. 

I think of it like taking the car into the mechanic for a tuneup every once in a while. 

This analogy stuck with me years ago, when the orthopedist told me I needed to get a hip replacement and started to describe it as having a flat tire that needed to be repaired. 

Leading up the the procedure, someone sent me this funny cartoon:
This really hit a nerve too because even the best medicine these days reminds me of the truly horrible medicine not so long ago.  

Ah, have some liquor, bite on this piece of wood, and now we'll saw your leg off!

I remember my father never even liked to go to the doctor, and he had total faith that G-d was his doctor--I think he actually managed to avoid the doctor for literally something like 30-years.

He also used to joke that many doctors were butchers, and he didn't want to get caught under their knife. 

So that's certainly some apprehension going in to this. 

The other thing that was interesting-sad that I saw this week when I went for an MRI was someone taking a homeless person into the radiology center for a scan. 

But when the lady asked for insurance the person didn't have any, so the lady asks for "proof of homelessness."

I was flabbergasted at this as the guy was obviously homeless and literally was wearing tattered clothes.

They wouldn't do the scan until the person escorting him would come back with this proof.  

I felt so bad for him and thought to myself is this what the healthcare system and care for the poverty-striken in this country has come to? 

While I am so truly grateful for the miraculous care that I received this week, I am equally saddened at the care that others don't get that need it, and pray that we as a "caring society" will do better. 

Anyway, I want to express my gratitude to the doctor, the hospital, my wonderful family who stood by me, and most of all to G-d for seeing me through the procedure this week and for watching over me always. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 7, 2018

Nimbyism By All

So I learned a new word this week:

Nimby, which stands for:

Not 
I
M
Back
Yard

It refers to people who object to and don't want something unpleasant or dangerous in their neighborhood. 

Prisons
Homeless Shelters
Garbage Dumps
Radioactive Waste Sites
Oil and Gas Pipelines
Noisy Railroads
Polluting Factories
Adult Entertainment
etc. 

Yes, society as a whole apparently wants or needs these things, but the individuals just want to see it someplace (anyplace) else. 

People want the benefits, but don't want the costs and risks associated with these things near them. 

The problem is when everyone feels this way then you are left either choosing somewhere despite the nimbyism protests or you have to locate them in remote places that are not always functional, fair or efficient for society. 

Perhaps this is where incentives or compensation comes in for people to get in order to "put up" with the placement of things in their backyard that they rather not have there. 

Is that what it means that nimbyism aside, "everyone has their price"?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to creative2/usa)
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May 15, 2018

The Embassy Arrives In Jerusalem

Please see my new article in Times of Israel today

Never Homeless Again

The U.S. Embassy has moved to Jerusalem, but unfortunately, our enemies still attack us. 

Hope you enjoy the article. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 16, 2018

Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.

And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 

The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 

Those that have fallen by the wayside.

People who are down on their luck.

Human beings--that's right human beings--that need and deserve help or even just a chance.

Why does anyone have to live--if you can even call this living--like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 

I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.

Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between "the haves" and "the have nots" and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.

Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 

Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a "silver spoon in their mouths" and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.

Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.

Money and power is ephemeral.  

Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 

Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 

Everything goes around and comes around. 

This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 

G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 

Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2017

Pennies From Heaven

So I ran into this lady in downtown Washington, D.C.

She posed for the picture and made sure to line up the top and the bottom posters to get it just right

It says:
"Not One Penny In Tax Cuts For The Rich"

Makes intuitive sense doesn't it: the rich already are blessed with...riches!

Any more pennies in their war chest is sort of a drop in the billionaire bucket. 

With tax reform is on the table now...we need tax relief for the middle class and to grow the economy. 

The rich really do not need to get any richer.

Especially with a national debt over $20 trillion already--and not including future entitlement obligations that exceed projected revenue for social security and medicare, which bring the debt in excess of $70 trillion!). 

The gamble with this whole tax reform plan is that the $1.5 trillion or so in proposed tax cuts over 10 years translates into a much bigger economic expansion that makes up for that revenue loss to the government and more. 

If not, well then Uncle Sam bet wrong and our annual deficit gets bigger and bigger (already $666 billion in FY 2017).

Tax cuts for the rich today and estate tax cuts to pass wealth between generations--when they impact the top 1% are ridiculously targeted to those who really don't need it, and many of the decent ones, like Warren Buffet, don't even want it

Let's have a heart and help the people that really need the help--let's narrow the growing divide between the haves and the have nots, and move to eliminate the class system that elevates one child of G-d over another. 

- While some live in McMansions, others are homeless.

- While some eat steak and drink expensive bottles of wine every night, others go hungry and thirsty.

- While some wear fancy designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and different outfits every day, others don't have a clean shirt on their back. 

It's nice to think that some "deserve it" more than others, but we also have to think who really needs it more. 

And if the pennies do ultimately come from Heaven (as all blessings do), then let us distribute these with compassion and lovingkindness as we know our Creator would want us to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 22, 2017

Treating The Homeless With Dignity

I love this organization, Think Dignity.

They do hands-on advocacy and activism to help the homeless. 

From providing them storage lockers, bathrooms, showers, haircuts/shaves, clothing boutique, hygiene products (e.g. tampons etc.), drinking water, legal services, and more.
While others looks away, they jump in to actually do something real. 

They actually bring mobile showers to them!

The video show on the left, one person living a regular life with a home, job, and everything they need, and on the right, another person down on their luck, homeless and needy.

Both are G-d's creatures--one just needs a fresh start!

At the end of the video, it says:

Don't Look Away.
Think Love.
Think Hope.
Think Strength.
Think Worth.
Think Dignity. 
I hope you are truly moved in the same way that I am by this organization and their beautiful mission and meaningful outreach activities. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 17, 2017

It's Gazillions Baby!

So being a millionaire is no longer anything.

You're still considered sort of a poor schlub!

Even a billionaire is not such a big deal anymore. 

It takes at least $2 billion to make it unto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans List

Further, a recent episode of CNBC Filthy Rich Guide asks who will become the world's first trillionaire!

They say trillionaire as in a number with "4 commas"--never really thought of it that way.

...but it's definitely a big,(1) big,(2) big,(3) big,(4) big number.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $90 billion currently in the bank and growing fast is forecasted to be the one who will make it. 

So no longer are we betting on which mega corporation--Apple (with a current value of almost $830 billion)--will become the first trillion dollar company.

We are talking individuals with that much moolah too. 

So with the median net worth of Americans a measly $69 thousand dollars, it's no wonder that billionaires like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank) calls more than one entreprenuer looking for an investment, a cockroach!

What's a shame is not only the complete social inequity and class system that we have and that continues to grow with those in McMansions and others homeless, but also that so many can't see that what's really important is not the beautiful pocketbook full of money, but the decent soul filled with good deeds! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 4, 2017

The Excuses We Make

So on the way to the airport, I am talking with the Uber driver. 

"There is such a discrepancy between the rich and the poor here," I say.

"Yeah," she says, "When I drive and stop at the lights, there are many poor people that come up to the car looking for a handout."

She continues, "I usually have a few dollars here" pointing to the little cubby hole under the parking break. 

"But my friends make fun of me saying, they [the panhandlers] are just going to go out and buy a beer!"

Excuse #1 not to give poor people--they'll misuse our charity and buy alcohol, drugs, or prostitutes. 

The driver says, "But so what...if I were in their shoes, I'd buy a beer too."

I'm thinking, hey this is nice...she's fighting the bad inclination and her friends pressure and still wants to give--this is great!

Sure enough, we stop at a red light, and a really poor man starts walking up to the window to ask for help.

This person is dressed in dirty battered rags of an undershirt, and has sores on their arms and body.

The driver says, "Yeah, if I gave him, he'd probably just switch his shirt inside out later [as if the other side would be magically less dirty and ripped] and go home to his Rolls Royce!"

Wow, when excuse #1 doesn't hold...

Excuse #2--the poor people are just faking it...really they aren't poor, but rather they are fantastically rich and trying to pocket some more money for free.

It's like the evil inclination sitting on one shoulder telling us "don't give,"  even as the good inclination is sitting over our other shoulder beseeching us to have mercy and "give, give, give."

In this case, the evil inclination won out. 

I reached for my wallet and wanted to open my window, but honestly this person looked scary--dirty and maybe sick--I was afraid of this person. 

I hope G-d forgives me, because I feel it wasn't my evil inclination making excuses, but this time it was genuine for me. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 28, 2017

People Literally Eating Garbage

So I saw another homeless person yesterday eating out of the garbage on the street. 

They had flipped open the top, reached in, pulled out a half-drunk cup of something awful looking, and in one shot, gulped it down. 

I was choking watching this--it was so upsetting that any human being has to live this way. 

Like so many of these poor folks living off the streets, their belly was sick and widely distended. 

And their pants were very worn, with holes, and wrapped ill-fittingly around their waist. 

They dragged a small suitcase behind them. 

When people say that things are bad in their life, perhaps we often don't stop to think about how bad things can really get (bli ayin hara).

G-d should have mercy on his children and bless us not to know any loss, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or hunger.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 7, 2017

Is Man An Angel Or Beast?

So is man an angel or a beast?

On one hand, we see small and great acts of love, kindness and generosity. 

People feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, donating clothes to the poverty-stricken, and standing up to defend those that are abused, discriminated against, and victimized.

Every day is an opportunity to be a gracious, heavenly angel!

At the same time, we are witness to horrible acts of hate, cruelty and inhumanity.

The strong preying off and committing gross acts of violence against the weak, the rich elitists taking from the poor lower-class, the powerful violating the human rights of the masses and ruling with a brutal iron fist. 

Every day is the possibility to act the vicious, lowly beast!

It's a choice as we stand here teetering on the world we are injected into. 

The angel and the beast fight within us. 

Our souls yearn to emulate the spirit of our Holy Creator, while our bodies look for raw physical and material satisfaction. 

It is truly a battle that rages within us, and can tear any or all of us apart. 

Yet, our mission is for good to overcome evil--in everyday small and large ways.  

To fight the urges that torment us and to rise, rise, with the wings of an angel to reach our potential and fulfill our destiny. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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February 6, 2017

Smell The Roses

I am a big proponent of stopping to smell the roses. 

These purple, yellow, red, and pink flowers were sitting on the counter in Whole Foods, and I had to stop, back up, and take this amazing photo.

They were absolutely gorgeous!

Sometimes, I can't believe the beautiful things and people that G-d has made. 

We're part of a most-amazing and perfect world. 

Of course, there are also hardships and suffering in this world - illness, disability, hunger, homelessness, violence, loneliness, and loss. 

Perhaps, these are the most difficult of things for us as human beings to reconcile with the beautiful world that G-d has set us in. 

While surrounded by beauty, people are also beset by life's many challenges. 

Maybe all the more reason to stop and smell the roses even for just a moment--to enjoy the spirit of life and of our amazing Creator, and the opportunity to make the most of it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 26, 2016

Homeless And Hungry

I took this photo in Washington, DC.

Two statues of back-to-back homeless people in the grit on the sidewalk.

They sit as everyone rushes on past them--many stone faced as well as too many stone hearted.

In this case, someone put the newspaper Street Sense on the lap of the statue. 

As many in DC, the homeless are trying to get back on their feet in this case by writing articles for and selling this newspaper about homelessness, poverty, and social issues. 

Impressive that they sell about 16,000 of the biweekly 16-page paper and that the homeless vendors make about $45 per day doing this. 

Like this picture of the homeless on the street, bracing back against each other and sort of huddled up among the masses of the fortunate around them, I imagine that they must really feel like these statues--odd, uncomfortable, lost, scared, and painted over by society that marks them as dirty, dangerous, and unwanted.

But these homeless and hungry are G-d's children, no less than any of us!

I applaud Street Sense and other advocates and activists that see, hear, and feel beyond themselves and help the needy and downtrodden. 

Helping these people in desperate need is truly G-d's work, and like recently sainted, Mother Teresa, is an act of unbelievable kindness and mercy that we can all learn from and should emulate. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 26, 2016

Poverty Is An Illness

Poverty is not just a phenomenon of poor, homeless and hungry people. 

It is a social and economic epidemic, and here are some sobering statistics:

- "Nearly 1/2 of the world's population--more than 3 billion people--live on less than $2.50 a day."

- More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty--less than $1.25 a day."

- "1 Billion children worldwide are living in poverty...and 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted...due to malnutrition."

- "1/4 of all humans live without electricity."

- "80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day."

Those empty stomachs, battered roofs, and tattered clothes are leaving indelible marks on so many impoverished people, yet many at the other end of the spectrum are living so high and mighty...it's a crazy contrast that fails to make any sense. 

Passing by the stronghold buildings of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., I found these striking "End Poverty" t-shirts that they had in their storefront--although I couldn't help think how far removed this place was from this sorry state of global poverty and chaotic and violent world affairs. 

We are living in an incredible bubble, and while I often hear how grateful people are to be here and have "all this," somehow I just don't think we fully get it what's going on out there! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 7, 2016

Getting "Unf*cked"

So on July 4th, I wrote and did a short video about how messed (f*cked) up things are in the world today (of course, technology-aside), and I advocated for people being a good influence and for constructive change. 

On the positive side, I saw this neat bumper sticker to "Unf*ck The World," and I checked out their website utwnow.org

It was impressive to see people advocating for, banding together, and engaging to do good things to help others such as assist the homelessness by giving them haircuts, doing laundry, providing "mobile hygiene," and helping with a thrift shop and job opportunities.  

In contrast again, it was interesting in the Wall Street Journal today, there was an editorial on how Brexit (Britian leaving the EU) has nothing on Amexit (America's disengagement from global affairs). 

Around the world, there is cause for not only pause, but great concern.

- From allowing Syria to cross the red line in using chemical weapons (on civilians!) to the recommendation to not charge the former First Lady, we are in moral and leadership retreat.

- Russia takes over Crimea and agitates in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, while China continues its island buildup in the strategic South China Sea.  

- ISIS continues to hold ground across the Middle East and Northern Africa and attacks targets literally everywhere in the world and routinely takes, enslaves, and sells women to the highest bidder on the Internet.

- North Korea and Iran test ballistic missiles, and nukes are a forgone conclusion for them. 

- South America and Europe are in economic and political turmoil with varying degrees of recessions, runaway inflation, shortages, impeachment proceedings, voter recalls, and fractioning. 

- The U.S. is struggling to maintain its leadership role as we fluctuate between recognizing the dire need and pulling back all around. 

In the election cycle, I think just about every single person I have heard from now says in near hopelessness something like, "If only there was another candidate that I could vote for."

What we can do locally to help--and certainly there is a lot more to do there with poverty and homelessness--perhaps people can do nationally and globally in demanding more--not material things, but rather a real caring about others and not just ourselves, a genuine discourse on policy and not just punch lines for the next election or media soundbite, a solutions-oriented mindset rather than a gaming the system one, and a big vision to settle the stars, cure vicious diseases, pull everyone out of poverty, and resolve endless cycles of global conflicts.

Do you hear much of anything on this these days and is anyone taking the high ground or is it just who is more crooked and untrustworthy--this cannot be the answer. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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