CHARITY AT HOME
By Jim Redwine
JUNE 11, 2022
In Act I, scene iii of Shakespeare’s tragedy of Hamlet, Polonius gives advice to his son, Laertes, and to his daughter, Ophelia. Laertes is preparing to leave on a trip and Ophelia is being courted by Hamlet. Polonius gives his children sage advice but ironically fails to apply it to himself. He ends up spying on Hamlet and is mistakenly killed for his treachery. I guess Polonius was sort of like a newspaper columnist, it is easier to give advice than take it. Regardless, his advice has been good enough to stand the test of time for over four hundred years:
“Beware of entrance to a quarrel,
but being in [it] bear’s that the
opposed may beware of thee.
This above all: To thine own self
be true, and it must follow, as
night the day, thou canst not
be false to any man.”
Perhaps Putin should have reviewed his Shakespeare before invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Russia’s “Special Military Operation” was initiated with little planning and even less thought for the possible consequences. Had Putin remained true to his stated goal of helping the Ukrainian people instead of attempting to conquer them, a symbiotic relationship between the two long-time neighbors might have been possible. Now, thanks to Russia’s reckless behavior, both countries are suffering greatly and will most likely continue to do so for years.
The collateral damage is spreading through numerous countries and some experts on international relations fear World War III might result. I think WWIII is unlikely but worldwide economic and social damage has already occurred. From a selfish parochial view, I blame Putin for helping drive inflation and divert United States taxpayer monies from many critical needs such as school security, COVID prevention and infrastructure right here at home.
America has already given Ukraine over fifty billion dollars in military and economic aid and is preparing to send another fifty billion. Of course, the United States and allies such as Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and France are already laying the groundwork to re-build Ukraine when the war ends. A figure of one trillion dollars for this purpose is tossed around as if it were a child’s allowance. One wonders how much good could be done at home; the American cobbler needs to shoe its own family.
According to an interview on National Public Radio on May 26, 2022, by hostess Ashish Valentine, the University of California at Berkeley economists, Drs. Yuriy Gorodnichenko and Barry Eichengreen, see the Re-build Ukraine project as an opportunity to build Ukraine better than it ever was with an emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution controls. Neither doctor addressed why such projects should be paid for with American tax dollars instead of first fixing such things as our western drought, mass shootings and murder rate problems, among many other domestic needs.
My suggestion is that before we either encourage WWIII or spend ourselves into a northern version of Venezuela we, also, revisit our Shakespeare where Polonius gave his children this additional sage advice:
“Neither a borrower nor a
lender be for loan loses
both itself and friend and
borrowing dulls the edge
Polonius further cautioned that when it comes to spending money, “Costly thy habit (clothes) as thy purse can buy.” In other words, only spend, or give away, what America can afford.
Yes, we can and should help others but, with eight billion people on Earth, we must not just write checks to Ukraine and then look for funds to make them good nor should we sacrifice the legitimate needs of three hundred and thirty million Americans in the name of charity or belligerence abroad.
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