Yours? Or someone else’s?
You may be one of those people who tune into stations like CNN and MSNBC only accidently, and when you do, the first thing you notice is that your television has a lot of pixels. My, the clarity! And that the lady giving the news is kind of pretty. Look at the fullness of her lips. And that the man next to her is a sharp dresser. Where did he get that suit from?
And while you ponder all these very important things, your right ear might overhear – also accidentally – something about a cliff. Someone fell off a cliff? Oh, a fiscal cliff. Whatever that may be, it sounds like it’s related to money. And it’s something that Obama and those government people have to worry about. Oh, but wait, you have to switch back to your other channel. Access Hollywood is coming on. That Lindsey girl needs to stop acting crazy.
To have it be just a government problem would probably make a lot of people very, very happy, but it isn’t. It’s a you-and-me problem. If the Lord tarries, and we make it to January 1st 2013, that would be a blessing. But if President Barack Obama and the congress fail to reach an agreement on how to avoid this fiscal cliff, we will start the New Year off with a brand new problem. And we all need that like the beach needs sand.
Contrary to what our Nigerian and African minds might tell us, the fiscal cliff is not just an American problem, something that only actual Americans have to deal with. If you live in America, if you depend on someone who lives in America, and/or if you receive any kind of benefit because of the existence of this America, then you ought to be worried.
Earlier this week, I was privileged to be on a conference call organized by the Cameroon American Council, with several other Africans and with Kevin Lewis, White House Media Director of African American Affairs, and we discussed the fiscal cliff. According to Kevin Lewis, both the democrats and the republicans want to extend the tax cuts and avoid the fiscal cliff; the difference is that the democrats want to extend the tax cuts only for the middle class people, while the republicans want it for everyone, including the top two percent wealthy people – those making more than $250,000 per year. This, also according to Kevin Lewis, is proof that the republicans are holding our pockets hostage.
So you must be wondering, what exactly is the big deal about this fiscal cliff? And why am I interrupting Access Hollywood to discuss this? Well, if the fiscal cliff is reached, several things are sure to happen:
1. In addition to what you already pay in taxes, you will also pay an additional $2000 per year. That’s about $166 per month. What could you have done with this money? Send it to mom in Nigeria? Pay a utility bill? Pay for your son’s football gears? Help out your favorite charity? Your niece’s school fees in Nigeria?
2. Those little perks you currently enjoy, you may no longer be able to afford. Like going on a vacation, like buying a new gadget, and like upgrading your house.
3. Funding for programs and institutes like NIH (National Institute of Health) will be cut. NIH is one of the few federal agencies that hire immigrants, even if they are not citizens. With their funding cut, you are less likely to get a job there, and if you are already there, it may not be for too long.
4. Funding to cancer and HIV research will also be cut, among other things. And did you know that in Washington D.C. alone, Nigerians are the second largest HIV-infected group? Cameroon is number one, and Ethiopia is number three.
5. Non-profit organizations like Cameroon American Council will lose some funds, and that means that the work they are able to do will be drastically cut, too.
6. Critical programs like Medicare and Welfare will lose funding, and some might even be totally eliminated.
So what do you do now? There are several things actually:
1. Call your congress representatives and tell them that you do not want the Bush tax cuts to be extended to everyone. Certain States’ congress representatives like Rep. Chris Gibson of New York, Rep. Jim Morgan of Virginia, Rep. Dan Webster of Florida, and much more are yet to sign for this. If you are in a State where your representative is still holding your future hostage, make your voice heard. Check http://call.theaction.org/members to see if you need to call your congress person, and if you do, his/her number is also available on this site.
3. Spread the word in person. Do it at home, at work, and in church. Did you know that the Redeemed Christian Church of God has almost 600 churches in America, 40 of which are in Maryland alone?
4. Spread the word in virtual communities. On Facebook, on Twitter, and on all other social networks. On Twitter, there is a hash tag that you should use and follow: #My2K
While it may all seem tiresome and overwhelming, I cannot help but remember a quote that never fails to encourage me, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” And let’s hope that all our mouths get fed.