The parable of the two pennies

Budget cuts are fearsome and wars are waged between special interest groups for the money to sustain and maintain current operations and benefits.  There are many types of justifications for what is and is not important to spend federal and state  money on…when there is any to spend: Public opinion counts, return on investment counts, social problem elimination counts, and the list goes on and on for criteria used to evaluate monetary spending by a government with precious little to spend.

This reminds me of the parable of the two pennies:

“Two children, one boy and one girl lived in the same house.  The boy was allowed outside to play and the girl always had to remain inside. They both had two pennies and they both wanted a piece of gum costing five pennies. The boy was out on the sidewalk playing and he found three other pennies. Being a good boy, he thought he would pick them up later if the owner did not reclaim them. The next time he went outside the pennies had gone. Their single parent also only had two pennies. Knowing the boy had found three pennies and missed his chance to pick them up, the parent wanted to buy a piece of gum for the girl and let the boy suffer under his mistake. There still was not enough for a piece of gum for the girl with four pennies. The parent was wise and realized the boy and girl could split one piece of gum between them if the children put their pennies together and the parent only contributed one more penny. Since the boy and girl were willing to share, this worked out and the children both had gum while the parent kept one penny.”

If there is one problem of the same nature within any suffering part of the population, wisdom does not start to define criteria for those who might have had a solution if they had done differently or been wiser. Drilling down for different categories within one problem set does not solve the problem; this just differentiates elements within the set.

We need to be careful. Solutions are better than condemnations and alienations to determine who is and is not worthy of our help. Penalizing for preventable or remediating factors does not better a situation that already exists. Judgments need to be suspended on causal factors when dealing with an immediate problem. Assistance in many areas is needed in our population crossing economic, social, and ethnic strata.  Perhaps we need to decide to allocate resources like the wise parent in the parable of the two pennies.  A parent left penniless can do no more for his or her child and the children must offer their own resources for their own benefit.

This is not a day and time of the “good” child or the “bad” child.  In our struggles to emerge in this economy it is more important that the children are together.





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