One Bookish, one not. I will start with the Bookish one, as politics periodically offend, but they are BOTH important, so I hope you'll hear me out.
I have a friend Jenny who is a writer, but is also a passionate promoter of independent bookstores. There has been a lot of talk of late about the unavoidable extinction of the bookstore, and for those of us who LOVE BOOKS, this is a terrifying thought. As the landscape changes and bookstores try to find their footing, the smaller places are the ones who have smaller margins and a trickier job adapting. But the smaller ones have also been friendlier to the occasional author who has had trouble on a larger scale—perhaps their book is too edgy for a larger place—maybe they are local and the run is small, so there is trouble getting into the big chains. Perhaps the most important piece, is that the independents are run by our neighbors and friends... they are us. I don't have any desire to have the big ones go under, and confess to ADORING being in a huge building full of books, but the quirky, nooky, friendly, homey independents are something special.
So Jenny had this great idea... and idea to bring a little traffic into bookstores... to inspire a little love of bookstores in our kids... maybe to urge us to pick up a few of our Christmas gifts in a bookstore. December 4 will be the First Annual 'Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day'. And you can help!
Do you have a bookstore you frequent? TELL THEM! Of COURSE they have a vested interest in getting customers to come in. Maybe they will offer a special promotion, or have a kids or YA author come in to do a reading... Maybe they will put up a poster, send out a newsletter, spread the word. All of us want bookstores to succeed, so this is a great chance to advance this possibility!
If you want more information, check out Jenny's blog, and contact her. She is great at this stuff and may have some ideas on how you can advance this project in your own town.
(now for my political hat)
This one is potentially more divisive. My opinions are not necessarily those of my fellow Burrowers, and certainly don't reflect on us as a collective. In the US there are some important laws that have some decisions coming up in this lame duck congressional session. My intention here is to share a blog about a very personal journey through the dysfunctional US economy at the moment, present my opinion, but then just to urge you to let your congress people know what you think is right. What do you want your representatives to do?
My friend Lisa was laid off quite a while back when the organization she worked for seriously downsized. But I recommend you read her version of it, rather than my cliff notes.
I encourage you to look through Lisa's blog a little—she is extremely articulate on the difficulties of making it in this economy...
So what are the deals? Two things.
The Bush Tax Cuts in the US are set to expire at the end of 2010. And of course everyone is worried about their own pocketbooks. Obama says we can't afford to keep this in place for people making more than $200,000. Warren Buffett, multi-billionaire who would be hit hardest, agrees. We are running a huge deficit and lose our ability to provide services if there is no money. Now I know that is every good Libertarian's wet dream... no government. But the reality is, people are falling through the cracks... real people with real faces who are trying very hard to keep their heads above water.
There is some argument that these people with these higher incomes are the job creators in this country, but I argue it's a separate issue. The cut-off is for PERSONAL INCOME. You create jobs with that money, it REDUCES your recorded income and you are off the list... and the fact of the matter is, people in this income bracket SAVE more (so the money leaves the fiscal engine altogether) and invest more of their money abroad (vacations, luxuries, investments)--for each dollar 'not taxed' here, only about forty cents becomes part of our economy. This is contrasted to the middle and lower income groups for whom upward of 80% of any maintained dollars are then 'spent'. Oh, I get it. With the rich you get to call it reinvestment, and with the poor they are just spending the damn things, but it is the SAME THING.
Contrasted to this is the Unemployment benefits for people who are trying like hell to find work (anyone who has stopped looking doesn't get these, FYI—my hubby, who is currently a student in hopes of a better future, does not qualify)... But that doesn't change the fact that he was laid off two years ago, or the fact that he tried to get a job with no luck (that was when the school idea finally kicked in).
But some people already HAVE their education. They just work in sectors that saw big downturns. This weekend there was an article in the Detroit Free Press that Michigan's economy is finally going to turn around... do you know what the numbers are? Michigan's unemployment rates, past and anticipated are as follows:
See that whopping turn around? And these are just the people who have NOT YET GIVEN UP.
I think most of you know in the US it really takes two incomes to survive unless you are in a dinky, cheap place, or have a serious wage-earner—an engineer or a doctor... So how are these families getting by? The answer is BARELY.
So while congress debates extending tax breaks for the wealthy, shouldn't they REALLY be debating extending unemployment benefits for the people who are already suffering? Who HAVE been suffering and will most likely continue to suffer? I happen to think using that money for food and heat is a better investment than using it for boats and vacation homes...
At least that is my opinion on the matter. You don't have to share it. What you SHOULD do, is tell your congressional delegates what you want. If there is a flood of public feedback, it can't be ignored.
And if you need some help FINDING THEM, this should help:
Take Your Child to Work Image borrowed from site with permission