VOICES | Bailout


It’s a good thing my 7-year-old daughter likes to raise money, because as a public school student, she’s expected to. Right now it’s time for her school fundraiser, a catalog famous for the wrapping paper. The fundraiser pays for things not included in the school budget. We’re not talking overnight field trips or posh “extras,” but things like maps, globes, a part-time Spanish teacher, a science fair.

Each night at dinner Vivian asks, “Mom, can we go fundraising tonight?” She has already sold enough items to earn a digital camera and a limousine ride to McDonald’s for lunch.

The first week of her school fund drive coincided with the start of the Wall Street bailout. I couldn’t help but become outraged to think that my 7-year-old is schlepping wrapping paper door to door, while Congress is giving $700 billion to Wall Street. It took several days before I could even repeat that number, $700 billion, I was so angry.

It’s been said that people vote with their pocketbooks. We live out our values by how we spend our time and our money. The government has allowed schools to be underfunded for years, but now that the greedy and powerful need help, our senators are running to the rescue, checkbook in hand. Now, I understand the argument that average people on Main Street can’t weather the financial storm without the help of the bailout package. But how many average people on Main Street have suffered, awaiting a bailout of the healthcare system? How many people suffered from the literal and figurative collapses of our bridge infrastructure? How many students have been left behind as schools desperately try to raise money by selling wrapping paper at $12 a pop?

Now that the bailout has been passed, it should be clear to the American people that the government is willing to spend big money on things that it values-in this case Wall Street. So now’s the time to let your representatives know exactly what you value, whether it’s safe bridges, quality healthcare or strong schools. Oh, and if you happen to have a little bit of extra cash, I have some beautiful wrapping paper to show you.

Camille Sime Scheel fundraises for a major Twin Cities nonprofit by day, and other nonprofit organizations by night. A breast cancer survivor, she’s writing a memoir of her cancer experience.