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ELCA World Hunger

What’s in YOUR Basement?

Say what you will about capitalism, it has its place! If there’s a demand, a supplier will appear. And the latest business I’ve run across is so perfectly American that I can’t help but admire it, although it makes me cringe a little at the same time. Pehaps you’ve heard of it: 1-800-Got-Junk.

This is a business that exists because we’ve got too much stuff and no time (or desire) to deal with it. Some nice, uniformed employees will come to your house and haul away a whole truckload of stuff you don’t want for a little over $500 (here in Chicago; pricing varies by location). Plus they recycle or donate some 60% of what they take away, and they’ll sweep up the place after they’ve emptied it out.

I so enjoy the irony. We work long hours to earn money to buy stuff, and then we pay people to come take it away, all the while complaining that we don’t have enough time or money! And it’s not just one or two of us; the company expects to earn around $150 million in revenue this year.

In the time that I’ve worked for ELCA World Hunger I’ve become much more aware of what I buy and what I waste. Here’s to hoping that once the truck leaves my house and I have a cleanly-swept floor, I won’t set to work filling it again.

— Nancy Michaelis

$35.9 BILLION spent on pets. Seriously!

Talk about an affluent society! According to the February 4th edition of Time Magazine, Americans spent $35.9 billion on their pets in 2005. $35.9 billion! I contributed to that, and I don’t even own a pet! (My brother-in-law’s dogs get Christmas presents, too.)

I’ve got nothing against pets. I can understand that Fluffy has an important place in the family, and deserves to be fed and vaccinated. It’s just that, so do people. My point is simply this: If we can fork out $35.9 billion for our pets – just one category of discretionary spending – can’t we do better in making sure everyone has enough to eat? And if so many of us are willing to take on the responsibility of caring for pets (and, boy, are we willing!), can’t we do the same for people?

Just think about it. If Americans gave as much money to one poverty-fighting group (may I suggest the ELCA World Hunger Appeal?) as they spent on their pets in a year, it would create an organization nearly the size of the Gates Foundation. Think what we could accomplish…