Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jan Schakowsky signs onto HR 2139!

Breaking news: WE DID IT!! On Thurs, Jan Schakowsky signed on to co-sponsor HR 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act.

This bill (co-introduced by Mark Kirk, R-10th) will start the process of revamping our outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (which controls all the ways we provide help to people in poverty around the world). For more info on it, you can see the Bread for the World video: There will be more for us to do on this in the fall when it involves the Senate, too, but for now please thank her for her support if you are a IL-9th district constituent.

Bread for the World and RESULTS have worked together and diligently with her office to get this to happen. When I called her staff about about HR 2139s, her global affairs aide pulled up the bill and said "Yes, what IS this exactly?" and didn't think they would be needed to sign on. Because of constituent letters and phone calls, we were able to open a door of communication for the DC anti-poverty staff, educate her office about HR 2139 and gain her co-sponsorship.

I've provided a sample letter for you to personalize if that can help you.


PS Don't forget your address on the letter and on the outside envelope! Sending it to her district office in Evanston will be fastest...

The Honorable Jan Schakowsky
820 Davis Street, Suite 105
Evanston, IL 60201


Dear Congresswoman Schakowsky,

Thank you for co-sponsoring H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act. This bill is a good first step in making our nation’s foreign assistance more effective and streamlined. As your constituent, I am very happy to see your leadership in our country's effort to help people in desperate need. Please work to ensure the bill maintains a focus on poverty so that we can provide the most good for the people who need it the most.


Your Name
Your Address


Some additional points to play with...

-U.S. foreign assistance has helped reduce child deaths, improve agricultural capacity, and increase school enrollment. But more lives can be saved if we improve the way foreign aid is delivered.
- By making our foreign assistance more efficient and effective, U.S. assistance will have a greater impact on poor and hungry people around the world - critical in these tough economic times
- Reforming foreign aid get the most of our tax dollars makes good economic sense for our country and for people in extreme poverty struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Justice Themed Verse and Voice from Sojourners

"Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you."
- Deuteronomy 16:20

"Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth; justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance. Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table."
- Bill Moyers, Television journalist and social commentator

Pray for the leaders of the world’s richest countries, that the aid they have promised developing countries will be delivered and that the crippling debts still owed by those countries will be forgiven.
Source: Micah Challenge USA

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"You have to be rich to be poor..." Wash Post article

The Washington Post ran a great article on May 18, 2009 called "Poor? Pay up" shedding light on an unjust paradox. The poorer a person is, the more things cost. This whole thing just makes me ill.

A lot of is has to do with the food and convenience issues (milk at a Safeway...$2.29 for 2 gallons. milk at a corner store where you're forced to shop if you have no car? $4.99), but there is even more that really burns me up. The poorest people in our economy don't have decent access to financial services. Those who provide services to this sector are often little more than predators piling service fees onto people who can't afford it. The image of a villainous landlord twirling a mustache comes to mind, but it's much more systemized than any individual baddie. Here is an excerpt, but click here for the full article.

Hopefully, Bread for the World's Offering of Letters campaign next year may take on this very issue!!!

"The rich have direct deposit for their paychecks. The poor have check-cashing and payday loan joints, which cost time and money. Payday advance companies say they are providing an essential service to people who most need them. Their critics say they are preying on people who are the most "economically vulnerable."

"As you've seen with the financial services industry, if people can cut a profit, they do it," Blumenauer says. "The poor pay more for financial services. A lot of people who are 'unbanked' pay $3 for a money order to pay their electric bill. They pay a 2 percent check-cashing fee because they don't have bank services. The reasons? Part of it is lack of education. But part of it is because people target them. There is evidence that credit-card mills have recently started trolling for the poor. They are targeting the recently bankrupt."