October 14, 2008
Today is Blog Action Day, when bloggers around the world band together to bring attention to a pressing issue. This year’s issue is poverty.
When I was a young man, I worked as a legal assistant (not in Minnesota). My boss, a very prominent attorney, was a recovering alcoholic. One day we were walking downtown and I gave a buck to a panhandler. After we’d gone a few yards, my boss turned on me and in a surprisingly agitated tone, said, “Don’t ever give money to panhandlers! Almost all of them are drunks and they’ll just use the money to buy booze.” Minneapolis not too long ago ran an anti-panhandling campaign along these same lines, urging people to give money to homeless shelters and service agencies instead of directly to panhandlers.
Most people in poverty aren’t out panhandling, of course. But it’s sobering to realize that nearly one in every 10 Minnesotans lives in poverty. According to the latest figures, released just a couple months ago, there were 482,000 Minnesotans in poverty in 2007 — up 60,000 from the previous year. The poverty rate of 9.3 percent was up more than a full point, from 8.2 percent.
The poverty line in Minnesota is $13,690 for a family of two and $20,650 for a family of four.
So, if you don’t already give to the United Way, please consider it. Or choose any one of the dozens of worthy church or social-service groups and either volunteer or donate. This blog thanks you.