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Stand up for the Average Joe

What about the working stiff, barely making a go of it? What about the Average Joe, the unemployed and underemployed neighbor? Who is worried about them? Worried in something other than a how-wonderful-am-I way?

You listen to talk about the economy, about healthcare, and too much of it veers into partisan rhetoric — most originated and driven by powerful lobbies and the politicians they purchase. You listen to the dialogue and you hear parrots repeat what they encounter on talk radio, what they see on cable “news” shows, what they read on the Internet.

Who cares about the Average Joe?

On the national level, money has been poured into the coffers of the rich for decades, scant attention being paid to the working class, the poor, the middle class. We’ve been running the federal account dry. Banks and Wall Street profiteers have prospered mightily, all the while spouting the now obvious nonsense that money trickles down to a gullible public. Government bails out businesses that then dole out huge bonuses, and nothing trickles to the little guy. A huge amount of the country’s wealth goes to 1 percent of the population. The U.S. deficit is now at the highest level since World War II and there is no sign — since we will not tolerate increased taxes to pay for prohibitively expensive wars and programs— that it will change soon.

Unemployment and underemployment are at scary levels, probably much higher than official sources state, and there is no sign that joblessness will cease to be a major problem in the near future. A Whaddya Think poll in The SUN showed joblessness to be a significant problem in Pagosa Country.

Now, the toughest time of the year is on the horizon in Pagosa Country — winter — and the holiday seasons are near. Who is watching out for the little guy? Certainly not Washington, the bankers, the lobbyists.

Fortunately, there are local groups and agencies that make it their business to care about the Average Joe who has fallen on hard times in Pagosa Country. There are more than we can mention here, but these are representative of the entire group: Kiwanis, Rotary, Salvation Army, church groups, the American Red Cross, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Archuleta County Department of Human Services, Colorado Housing, Habitat for Humanity.

And there are traditional efforts underway to ease the burden for individuals and families during the upcoming holidays, programs that give every resident of Pagosa Country who is able the chance to assist neighbors struggling with tough times.

An article in this issue of The SUN provides a summary of the work done by Loaves and Fishes. The group provides a free, weekly meal to all who need it, with generous contributions by citizens, groups and local businesses. Loaves and Fishes has fed as many as 300 people at one of these weekly events and, no doubt, the meals will be appreciated by a lot of folks as the season deepens.

Then, there is Operation Helping Hand — the longstanding, collective effort that provides food for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, as well as clothing and gifts for the holiday season. OHH receives donations from the community and distributes them to children and seniors in need. Over the years, individuals and families in Pagosa Country have been able to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas because of the efforts of individuals and organizations involved with Operation Helping Hand, and the generosity of contributors who provide the goods distributed to those in need.

OHH donation buckets have been placed at both City Market stores and application forms for OHH assistance are available at the Department of Human Services office at Town Hall. Applications for Thanksgiving food boxes must be dropped off at the department office by Thursday, Nov. 12. Christmas request deadline is Dec. 3.

It is time to help the little guy, the neighbor dealing with tough times. And no lobbyist or legislator can get in our way.

Karl Isberg