While statistics are notoriously easy to manipulate, grouping U.S. Society into two wealth brackets -- 1% vs. 99% -- has caught hold of our collective imaginations. (Here's an interesting article on the topic, from 2007.)
|This chart is from The World's Best Ever. Full disclosure, this is not an unbiased source.
I like using poetry as a jumping off point for these types of discussions. Sharing a poem, talking about what it might mean and exploring a child's reaction, provides a shoreline -- a safe place to begin when we're about to navigate a choppy conversation together.
This week, I've been reading Gary Soto's A Fire in My Hands. The poem "How Things Work" is simple enough that even young children could begin thinking about the interplay between money and society.
Soto opens the poem with a note, "Our young daughter was always asking impossibly difficult questions. Where do the stars come from? Why is the world round? How come we sleep at night? I could answer some of the questions, and other I couldn't -- like the questions about the economy of our nation."
How Things Work
by Gary Soto
Today it’s going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother’s violin.
We’re completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won’t let go
Of a balled sock until there’s chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
Are passed on helps others buy pencils, glue,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.
Like a poem, the economy is an elusive thing. There are many ways of looking at how capitalism affects the way we interact with others. Similar to reading a poem, the point is not necessarily finding a "right" answer. It is to begin the practice of looking.
Today's Poetry Friday host is Laura Salas at her new blog, Writing the World for Kids.