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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy

Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture

Sunday, 20 November 2011

My 99% Story.

A wide variety of people are telling their 99% stories. I think everyone should read them. Like any cross-section of the populace, they vary from person to person, and may be wildly different when you consider age, race and gender factors to name but a few. The main theme is, there is enough for all, yet the few have most of it and the many don't have enough. I don't see people saying they should get handouts like the banks & big business get. I see people asking for jobs that pay a living wage, for enough security to know they will have food, and a roof over their head, and warmth, and dammit, maybe just a bit left over. I see many students, well educated, did all the right things, saddled with debt for a piece of paper that isn't earning them enough to pay back the loans and live a meager existence, let alone plan for a future. I see people who worked their whole lives, some who worked more than one job who have lost their homes. What a slap in the face, the banks get bailed out, the banks now own their home, and they get told to "Get a job".

I don't see anyone saying fabulously wealthy people or corporations should not be allowed to be rich or make profits. I see people saying they're fed up living in a world that is no longer taking care of its people. Tired of world where we can spend trillions of dollars on war but let people go hungry, sick, homeless, and stand by watching countries where people who are starving are ignored by governments and media alike.

I see people who just want some dignity. Most of all, I see people who care enough about the global state of affairs they are prepared to be beaten, shot, and even give their lives so they can live in a world where no one gets left behind. That's admirable. There are a lot of people out there thinking the human race working together is a whole lot better than our current "every man for himself" theory.

So I support. Here is my 99% story.

The first few years of my life were great. My dad was a newspaper editor, my mom a syndicated columnist, we lived, along with my 2 brothers, in a nice house, we had a car (not everyone did in the early 60's), we had a lot of love and fun. My dad was a WWII vet who'd been shot down twice, he still suffered from his injuries, and eventually died, one week shy of my oldest brother's 12th birthday, three weeks shy of my 7th.

In 1967 nobody cared much about a single mother with three young boys. Things spiraled downward, and even though my mother never went on welfare, she always worked 2 or 3 jobs, we were forced into "public housing". Public Housing is a polite term for Ghetto. A place where the hardworking poor meets the nonworking dysfunctional families. I could write a book about what it's like to grow up in that environment. That's not for here.

I worked my whole life. I got my first part time job at 13. I'm 51. I've worked part or full time for 38 years. I've been lucky. I have a decent job with good benefits and a pension. I am happy to live a minimal life, I'm not big on possessions. I do not use credit. I don't borrow money. If I want to buy something more expensive than usual, I save for it and it's that much better when I get it, because I own it.

All my possessions will fit in a 10 X 10 storage room, that's how I choose to live. I'm not critical of those who feel they need more.

My wife passed away in 1988, just shy of 4 months after the birth of my daughter. I chose to bring her up as a single father the majority of her life. When she was a teenager, her grandmother (my mother) had a bad fall and lay in a parking lot in -26 degree weather, she was never the same. I moved her in and cared for her and my daughter and held her hand until after she took her last breath, one week before my birthday last year, due to complications from leukemia at the age of 88.

In my free time since I've raised $25,000 in relief for Tsunami victims in Japan, joined 5 friends to raise 6 1/2 tons of food for local food banks just before their donations dropped off in the summer, and participated in a single day food drive that raised an additional 40,000 pounds in September, to help relieve the back to school expenses for those in need.

I've been a volunteer and a fundraiser since the age of 20.

I don't need help. But too many others do, and we should not have to rely on charity, mostly provided by those who are not getting rich by any means. Fairer distribution of wealth globally doesn't mean the end of the world, it just means doing things a little differently.

It's an admirable goal, and I can't not support it. I'm still the 99%, by a long shot. Just not the most desperate of them. I'm here for them.

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