Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fireworks... at What Cost?

According to the Foreign Trade Statistics, in 2010:
$3.2 million of American flags imported ($2.8 million from China)
$197.3 million worth of fireworks imported to the U.S. ($190.7 million from China)
$98.3 billion in trade between the U.S. and the U.K. making our 1776 adversary our 6th leading trade parter

U.S. Census Bureau records estimate that:
2,500,000 lived in the U.S. in 1776
311,700,000 were living in the U.S. in 2010

(Numbers taken from U.S. Census Bureau)

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2010, 925 million people were, by definition of being undernourished, hungry. 

The increase [in numbers] has been due to three factors: 
1) neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies
 2) the current worldwide economic crisis
3) the significant increase of food prices in the last several years which has been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend

925 million people is 13.6 percent of the estimated world population of 6.8 billion. In round numbers there are 7 billion people in the world. Thus, with an estimated 925 million hungry people in the world, 13.1 percent, or almost 1 in 7 people are hungryChildren are the most visible victims of undernutrition...Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year--five million deaths.*

*All information taken from the World Hunger website

The numbers may not be completely accurate since they stem from one source, but I'm willing to bet they're not too far off. I don't have any delusions that throwing money at the problem helps things and it often exacerbates the situation, but honestly, do we really have to spend $197,300,000 on fireworks? I am, however, convinced that our actions speak for what we believe. It goes to football, TV, "emergency" McDonald's trips, cars, clothes, loans for those nice cars...

I'm guilty of spending my money on things that reveal what I really care about and boils down to one thing: me. AGH. I think we don't believe our efforts make a difference- I've often felt that way. I'm safe in the woods of Livonia, far from the cries of the wounded in Sudan as those in the south fight for their own freedom. This article (photos by Tyler Hicks) Sudan Approaches Split has almost nothing to do with me. Yet as I read the article about those in the Nuba Mountains fighting, I think about Awal and her family at Mary's Place. They didn't make it out of Sudan and here on their own- someone poured their time and effort and surely some money out-of-pocket to help them get out. $197.3 million could go a long way. My meager bank account doesn't need to be tapped for Starbucks when Wegmans has free wi-fi and surely doesn't care if I borrow it and drink from my water bottle. 

Thoughts, comments? 

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