Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Many Mosquito Nets Could Your Beer Budget Buy?

We had a lovely 4th yesterday.  We went to a friend's house for a cook-out.  They have a pool, so we swam and talked.  We talked about whether or not we could afford to retire early, especially if we put the money we spent on alcohol into our retirement accounts.

Then our talk turned to the graduation speaker who had addressed our students.  The graduation speaker talked about vision boards and how a vision board allowed her to buy her first Infiniti, even though she admitted that $35,000 was a lot to pay for a car back in the early 90's.  Indeed.  I bought a house for $35,000 back in the early 90's. 

We talked about a colleague who plans to buy a Lexus with the proceedings from her divorce and the sale of her wedding diamonds.

My friend said, "Just think about how many hungry children you could feed with that money."

Let me pause here to note that I didn't introduce the social justice turn into the conversation.  But once she steered it that way I could not resist.

I said, "A mosquito net that protects a child from malaria costs just $4.  How many children could we save with our monthly beer budget?"

There was resistance.  I knew there would be.  I don't want to give up my wine either.  My friend said, "Yeah, but a Lexus costs, what, $40,000?  That's a lot more than my beer budget!"

I gently pointed out that our colleague would drive that car for many years.  How much do we spend on alcohol every year?

My friends conceded my point.  I offered to take alcohol money and transform it into mosquito netting if anyone wanted--money laundering of a different sort!  The talk moved on to other subjects.

I'm not going into details here--my mom might read this blog!--but suffice it to say, if we donated just half of our alcohol budgets to buy mosquito nets, we'd save a great many children.  And we'd be healthier in all sorts of ways.


Lucille in CT said...

This resonated with me. I think of this all the time. When news show talk about how much one candidate or another raised in a single day (or whatever), all I can think of is how many people could LIVE on that money for years... those people who make $15K a year, for instance... or the unemployed.

There's a commercial I see now and then from Unicef where it talks about a mere $15 a month (50cents a day) and implores you to sign up. Help the children. (I currently sponsor two children thru various organizations, so I am not immune to these types of requests). But I thought, wow, $15 a month---or like you say, the $4 mosquito nets. I mean, there's no reason ANYONE should not have a mosquito net. For $4, we have enough money being spent on crazy things as a country that could be diverted so that every baby gets a mosquito net at birth!

It's stuff like that that boggles the mind. A candidate wrote off $77000 on his taxes as a loss for his horse's upkeep (apparently that is legal/correct). Can you imagine having $77000 to spend over a year's time?

Our country is so lucky, and even some of our poor are lucky. Sometimes when I'm sitting on my back porch enjoying the summer breezes and reading a book or praying or whatever, for some reason, people living in the slums in India come to mind, or the family living in the one room with a bare lightbulb in rural China (I saw a photo of this once and it continues to haunt me). And when that happens, I find myself flummoxed. I give, and I pray, but I feel so powerless. There shouldn't be a soul who dies of hunger, but so many do. What do we do????

I'm ranting I know. I just wonder sometimes about the inequities and how we manage to sleep at night.

On a side note, I watched the movie Amistad last night for the first time and I was ranting to my son why something like that that happened in New Haven, right in our backyard, was not ever discussed in all my years of schooling here in CT....and then about the moral qualms that people didn't have in the face of slavery. And I could go on.

Aren't you glad I commented today? ;-D

Kristin said...

I always enjoy your comments. And what a treat to get the kind of thoughtful responses that you leave.

In fact, you left a Vacation Bible School comment that I never thanked you for, but that I found very helpful.

In short, thanks for your interest in my blogging!

Anonymous said...

.thanks for sharing

independent midwives said...

It's especially important if you're traveling on a budget. Air conditioning helps keep mosquitoes at bay but I often stay in huts or out of doors - and there's nothing to protect you then.