Economic Gap Apparent During the Holidays

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Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ashura, Hanukkah or even Seinfeld’s Festivus around an aluminium pole, this time of year holds major significance for most Americans. For many it’s a time to share with family and friends and to reflect on the year almost passed – for some it’s a time of competition to get the ultimate gift for a loved one or themselves before it’s sold out.

Yesterday, pairs of retro Air Jordans hit the shelves and shoppers across the country went a little batty – or perhaps that it is an understatement. The New York Times reports that in at least 12 U.S cities, law enforcement was called in to assuage riotous shoppers, some who waited hours in line, fighting to purchase the $180 basketball shoes. Does police officer training include dealing with holiday-crazed crowds?

In Tukwila, WA’s Westfield Southcenter Mall, 2,000 people or so were waiting outside shops by the time they opened at 4 am. Police officers released pepper spray on a group of 20 who became violent in the name of the retro Jordans. The atmosphere was almost like a tailgating party as some were reportedly drinking and smoking weed. Extra law enforcement had to be called in from surrounding areas.

In both Charlotte, NC and Lithonia, GA, customers literally smashed and broke down store doors to get to the Jordan shoes first. And in Taylor, MI approximately 100 people pushed their way into a shopping mall before it opened. Benches were overturned, holiday decorations were vandalized and at least one arrest was made.
If only mayhem from loopy shoppers was the most worrisome thing going on in the country. Yesterday Reuters reported on the stark reality of homelessness in the United States, something that seems that much sadder this time of year. Last year, it was determined that approximately 1.6 million children had no place to call home. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau stated that almost half (48%) of Americans live in impoverished or low income conditions.

Reuters interviewed Nairkahe Touray at a shelter in Miami. She had been previously living in her car with five of her children. Previously she owned four small businesses that failed when the recession hit. She said, “I’m living the real deal. I don’t need for somebody to come up here and tell me what the economy’s doing. They (the politicians) need to get out here and see these children, see these parents.”

Who knows what 2012 will bring with Obama’s proposed economic plan and the upcoming presidential elections… Is the country’s state of unemployment and the poverty that many families face a genuine concern of yours? Consider getting prepared to make a true difference in the political arena. Look into taking a public policy degree or a political science degree to become a lobbyist, a policy analyst or even an elected political representative.

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