Left Justified: Helping the poor and welfare for the rich

It’s funny, but I’m going to ask you to help the CROP Hunger Walk raise money for local and overseas starving families. At the same time, I’m going to complain about welfare programs for the rich: federal monies that help the wealthy get more.

First off, the CROP Hunger Walk has been walking since 1985 here in Rockford. Last year was our best ever—we raised just more than $25,000 to help Church World Service feed people overseas and here in northern Illinois. This year’s goal is $30,000, and we need your help. On Tuesday, July 20, 7 p.m., at the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St. (upstairs on the second floor), we will hand out materials for the CROP Hunger Walk. You can pick up sponsor records, videos, posters, fliers, balloons, and learn how to put these materials to good use raising money for the poorest of the poor. We call this a CROP rally, where we encourage people, especially from congregations, schools and corporations, to try to recruit walkers for the Hunger Walk.

If you would like to walk, you are welcome as well. The CROP Hunger Walk will take place Sunday, Oct. 17. I know this is far in the future, but for a lot of churches and organizations, they need quite a bit of lead time.

If you want more information, please give me a call at Rockford Urban Ministries, (815) 964-7111.

Now about how the rich are ripping off our government (is there a relationship between more poor and more wealthy?). You should read Take the Rich Off Welfare, by Mark Zepezauer (South End Press, Cambridge, Mass., 183 pp. with index, $15.)

Even though I’m a lefty, I find most liberal books pedantic, overbearing and boring. Not so with the latest from South End Press. Mark Zepezauer has written an excellent critique of how wealthy corporations are making 100 times more money than the poorest of the poor off the government. And he writes it in a readable format! There is more than enough information to get you angry about welfare for the rich, and what to do about it. I suggest buying a copy and sending it to your congressman.

This is a second edition; the first edition was published in 1996. Then, he listed $448 billion a year as the total “wealth-fare” as he called it. The amount of money going to corporations now totals $815 billion, and that doesn’t include the pork for the defense industries. From timber subsidies to oil and gas tax breaks, insurance loopholes and how transnational corporations avoid U.S. taxes, Mr. Zepezauer lists them all in an easy-to-read format that can make you a tax expert and have you lusting after corporate America’s largesse. It’s all annotated, and the index is very usable (as opposed to most polemical diatribes). He also includes an activist tool kit after each chapter so that if you feel particularly angry about agri-business, or nuclear or mining subsidies, or other thefts, you can actually do something about it and find organizations that will help.

In his acknowledgments, Mark Zepezauer states, “Everyone at South End Press has been wonderful, and you should go right back to the store and buy some of their other books.” How true, but first you should buy his book.

And speaking of buying books:

“War at the Peace Store!” What’s this? Are we under attack here? Not really. But you can “capture” some great acquisitions of military books and other collectibles at our “War at the Peace Store” sale, Saturday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., here at 623 Seventh St., Rockford.

A large donation of used books relating to wars from the French and Indian War up to Iraq, will be on sale for $1 apiece. The Book Stall, one of the best used bookstores in Rockford, generously donated the books. The Peace Store is a non-profit second-hand store operated by volunteers. Proceeds will go toward Rockford Urban Ministries’ Peace Fund as well as Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee.

Also on sale will be military paraphernalia, uniforms, medals and other items. Shoppers can choose from the largest collection of peace and political buttons in northern Illinois. Donations are still being accepted by calling RUM at (815) 964-7111.

Take no prisoners! But you can take home some great bargains to add to your collection and show your family a bit of history.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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